MinesMine PlansLinksContactLinksHome

Middlecleugh and Middlecleugh North Veins, S,allcleugh Mine (02/12/17)

Back to Smallcleugh Trip Index

I can't believe that the last time I was underground was in April (can't include the Spanish potter). Karli had been going to COMRU exercises and has done a few trips with his dad, but absolute zero for me. End of the year, hopefully this will be a turning point to get back into the swing of things underground in the year to come.

I've had a busy year with my business and coupled with two episodes of back issues it wasn't a lack of willingness. We had been wondering on what to do and had decided to go see the Barneycraig Vein, but a very late night of beer soon stopped our 07:00 getting up fantasy. Late start, fuzzy heads and I suggested a curve ball of going to see the Middlecleugh Veins - seconded. I have previously been about 10 years ago as far as the Barron's Crosscut junction, but that was it and I have been meaning to get back for ages. So, with a slightly later start, but still not too bad we actually got underground at just a whisker before 10:00. Straight in and we headed to the Middlecleugh Vein junction via Smallcleugh Cross Vein and the Flatt Crosscut.

Arriving at the junction to the Middlecleugh Veins, we were glad to have taken a folding shovel; as yet again the forever collapsing bell chamber had come good with fresh material. Mike the Map and some others had been doing digging here, and had left a half barrel, so we spent 15mins or so clearing some of the debris out and widening the crawl to make it easier to avoid touching the key stones of the remaining arching. A strong airflow was noted flowing outbye. Up and over a few shale falls and we soon were at the large junction chamber where the branch of the Middlecleugh First Sun Vein starts. Since Karli had not been here before we took a detour to look at the branches and finally the forehead. Back to the junction and some more iffy shale crawls to get through and finally to the junction of Barron's Crosscut which was an earlier attempt of getting to the Middlecleugh North Vein. To the left a blind, and to the right the level went on until a right turn was hit and this was a complete fall now (I am sure 10 years ago it was open a bit more). Returning to the main level, we carried on, and the bad ground gave way to arching and solid limestone level. We came to a junction, straight on and right, this was the northwest continuation of Carr's Cross Vein. Taking the right, we entered a short stoned arched level which yet again split. To the right we had the continuation of the pinched level that Barron's Crosscut led to and straight on we entered a wide arched chamber. This looked like it should have had an engine in it or something, but just empty. Above the arching we could see a piece of wooden ventilation trucking. Past the trunking was an inclined rise, at the top of which some wooden stemples and shuttering could be seen. Returning to the main level (on Middlecleugh Vein) we came to another junction and some stoping above. A quick look in to the junction on the right and we could see some massive timbers. Back out and carrying on we came to a fall. It was not the end of the line, Karli climbed up into the stope above and I had a look at the timbers. Meeting back up, Karli reported that the stope was run in apart from a little window that he left. In the timber chamber which must have been an engine room (or intended to be) there was a rise on the west end, and north the crosscut to the Middlecleugh North Vein. I went through the small hole that was the start of the crosscut and immediately there was another fall - debris from a rise, but past this the level opened up in to a nice clear run. In the roof and walls there were a number of pockets with natural formations. Also, we noted a fair number of what looked like cobwebs on the walls. After a short run of around 50m, we came to the junction with the North Vein. There was no way on apart from heading west. The junction featured a fantastic piece of arch work that stepped up and turned looking like the illusion of the never-ending stairway - a good spot for lunch and a long awaited lunch pic.

Cracking on along the level we came to a sump on the right, this dropped down to a very clean looking platform with partial ladder - ahhhhh - why did we not bring rope and SRT gear? Looking around on the floor, we noticed that it all looked like there had been a massive flow of water along the level, all going down the sump. First thoughts where to the Middlecleugh Level and whether something had drained down? Down the sump we could see a level coming off to the west. Heading further along we noticed a few rises and eventually we came to the bypass loop. It looks like there had been a fall in the level and then a bypass was driven past it. Again, all looking like there had been a good water flow at some point. A little further on, and on the right, we came to what looked like the start of a crosscut. Here we could see the ends of shot holes and on the floor the fracture pattern of the rock from a vertical blast. Past this we came to a ventilation frame (missing the door) and passing through this the floor suddenly ran out. We ended up looking over a large void and an understope. Karli stepped out onto a ledge and pointed out the fresh air under the end of the floor, however further back it wasn't that bad. We started thinking about traverse lines.

Back through the frame, and we noticed an opening into a large chamber, stepping through we entered a large flat / stope working in limonite. Here there were a number of artefacts including a couple of spade ends, parts of brushes and some dynamite. Looking around my caplamp beam caught a number of very pronounced pick marks in an excavation - this was amazing to see. Whilst I took photographs, Karli bounced around checking all the nooks and crannies out, shortly there was a shout to come over to where he was. He had found a hole and it only led to a window in the understope! He popped through and reckoned you could get down. Indeed, you could. We stepped on to some stacked deads and this proved to be a good stepping stone to a wedged flake of rock in the stope. From that we could shimmy down past the flake, under the deads and into the remains of a large hopper / sump. Climbing out of the hopper we entered a sort of shelf under a big slab of rock, here we saw that the shelf was supported by a stack of rocks. Past the stack you could carry on for a short while. Here in the roof we saw a selection of Acme type timber constructions keeping the deads in the stope at bay. Back to the shelf and to the left there was a little alcove, stepping into this brought us to one end of a sublevel, but no way on as the floor had given way or never been there in the first place. Looking down, we could see a large inclined hopper and manway - surely the link to Caplecleugh? It looked like the first big hopper led to this, and stepping back it was possible to get to the inclined hopper by crawling under a rock ledge. Karli climbed up the wall by the inclined hopper and continued along the level to a fall. Looking at plans this looked to connect with the first sump we saw with the polished platform. Back in the first main hopper, we took some more photographs and we realised that everything was covered in timber splats - Karli said 'you know how those happen don't you?' Rock falls. Looking up, we could see the arching of the level above and the stacked / calcified wall that must have been the hopper contents - nice. On the east side of the hopper there was a little tight squeeze that gave way to a small flat, but no further than that. We reversed our climb down and had another look in the flats before setting off for the Middlecleugh Vein to look at the window in the stope.

Back on the Middlecleugh Vein, we climbed up into the stope at the fall on the level and popped through the window. A completely different world - gone was the limestone, in turn replaced with massive slabs of shale on the floor and a very messy fractured strata. Heading further along we came to a sort of junction, left into more stope workings that were in a poor state, right went to a partially filled in hopper - maybe if dug out you could get back into the horse level? Straight on, brought us into some more stope workings with stacked deads and some timbering. On a ledge in the wall we found a detonator tin and a wooden pricker. Whilst photographing these, I noticed another thin line of cobweb complete with dead fly. We climbed back out and down into the horse level and then headed back out.