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Smallcleugh Mine - Middlecleugh Vein Stopes and Sub Levels, (15/07/06)

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After finding the stopes on the Middlecleugh Vein during the last trip we wanted to explore them in more detail and to do a bit of surveying as well as dropping down the laddered manway in the sublevel to see if the connection with Caplecleugh was open.

We headed towards our target vein and quickly rigged up to get down into the stopes. It was good to be able to have a look around the stopes with plenty of time to spare this time around. As soon as we dropped into the stope we entered another parallel stope that last time we missed, here we found another ore shoot to the sub level and a few artifacts, however it did not go too far as both ends where blocked. After this we did some surveying and photography as the main stope had some very interesting features and remains of artifacts. We found calcified buckets, pipes, clog prints and very colourful formations on the floor. In the northeast end of the stope there was a shaft breaking out of the roof, which may lead back to the Smallcleugh horse level, if it could be reached, an area that is blocked could be accessed.

The ore shoot we dropped down last time was rigged up and before abseiling down we stopped to have lunch on a small shelf on one side of the stope. This time we had a look up the southwest side of the sublevel passage, which had many ore shoots going back up into the stope, only one was open and the others where either blocked or boarded and stacked with deads at the top. About halfway along we reached a fall from the roof which had partially collapsed on a bogey, it was possible to get past the collapse as long as you did not disturb the keystone. The other side went on for some 35m, from the look of things the stone arching was dressed at the end and looked as it went no further, past this there was just rubble, rocks and deads, the end of the stope working?

We returned to the bottom of the ore shoot that we had emerged from and proceeded to rig the laddered manway which would lead us hopefully to Caplecleugh. Karli when down first and put in a deviation. The manway dropped about 2.5m and then when down at 45 degrees to the main shaft. A lot of gardening work was carried out by Karli as there was plenty of loose material to clobber you if it was to fall. One thing struck us here, most of the loose material was slightly calcified orcherous sludge, hummm, following what we found on the other side of the sublevel last time the bottom was not promising to be pleasant. I joined Karli at the bottom of the incline on a platform and he abseiled down. I went down after him, to be greeted by slimey orcherous mud, however if was wellie safe - at the bottom of the manway that is. From the sublevel to bottom we made the shaft to be 20m.

From the Vieille Montagne plans we have there should have been a passage way paralleling southwest the sub level above, but there was no sign of it, the level we where in did go in the right direction to meet up with main Caplecleugh Horse Level at the point where the calcified ladder is on the through trip link from Caplecleugh to Smallcleugh. The VM plans are not exactly clear in their portrial of sublevels and the sublevel above us could be the level below the stopes and not Caplecleugh itself as depicted by the plans, checking with the PDMHS plan this does appear to be the case. From Smallcleugh we had dropped a total of 34.5m which makes it about the right horizon for Caplecleugh. Now this could have been concluded easily by going along the level, however it was not that inviting as it just looked like a sea of orche. I tried to get Karli to go along it (reasoning that being the younger of us both he would like to have the fun), but he refused (also at this point he failed to tell me that he had clocked on to the fact that we where stood on built up debris from the manway and that judging by the hieght of the ore hopper the level in the passage would definately not be wellie safe). After cursing him I put a leg out and immediately sunk up to my thigh, he then pointed out the hopper hieght and proceeded to laugh. Well, in for a penny in for a pound, I stepped into the passage proper and got up to my waist. The mud was slimey and very clingy, I tired to make some progress, but it took me about 10 minutes to get 5m in and back out, very hard going and unpleasant. When I got back to the hopper the weight of the mud was terrible, a slow climb back up was had, well and truely Tango'd, oh and more laughter as the orange orche coverage could be properly seen.

When we got out, it dawned on us that it would be better to try and link in from the other side of Caplecleugh proper so that we had no doubt of the level. It took a long time to clean up in the water drain of Caplecleugh, still got orange stained toes a week later.