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Re-visit to the Stopes and Levels above Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein, Smallcleugh Mine (30/01/16)

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I had come up this Saturday morning with Sal from Manchester so it was going to be a later start, with this in mind Karli suggested that we should go to the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein stopes above the incline as Sal had never been there. Good idea as it has been some time since all of us did our exploration there - our last visit was in March 2007.

Making the standard way in, we finally reached the laddered rise into the stopes above, which itself is just above Pickering's Rise from Caplecleugh, near the bottom of the incline. You have to climb up onto a little platform above the horse level and then get on the ladder into the stope. When all of us were up, we had a look at the east end of the stope for as far as we could go. Now this actually filled in a few blanks because when we were here last we had come across a large pillar that we had climbed up onto, and going to the end of this stope brought us to the area below the north side of the pillar that we could not get to last time - lack of thorough exploration… Returning to the top of the ladder we then made our way along a short level and climbed up a hopper and shallow chute. This gave us entry into the short series on levels in the stopes. Following the various branches we showed Sal the area coupled with having a few more blanks filled in.

This whole area is split into three parallel stope workings that are all interconnected with crosscuts. You have the two main stopes on Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein and Longcleugh Vein and then a third one in between them. Once we had looked at the middle one we took a crosscut to the Longcleugh Vein and showed that to Sal. Around the sump that connects with the sublevel at Baron's Sump we noticed that the air was very fresh here - possibly coming up from that sump, but then someone stuck their head into a hopper on the horse level and it was coming from that. At this point the only thing above is the Middlecleugh Level, could the air be making it way via that?

We decided to do a round trip and headed out via Luke Hall's Crosscut, entering the rather shattered stopes on the Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein. Here a short climb down brought us back into the horse level about half way along the incline. We spent about 5 hours underground, a nice pottering type trip and the best bit was… we had loads of time to get washed up and then get over to the George and Dragon in Garrigill for our belated MES Christmas Dinner. Good food, good beer and warm roaring fires.