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Smallcleugh Mine - Barron's Sump, Longcleugh, Carr's and Cowhill Cross Veins, (03/06/06)

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On our previous visits to this part of the mine it has somehow always been a bit on the rushed side. The idea of this trip was to have a more leisurely look around and to follow up things that we did not get a chance to see before. On the way at the start of Middlecleugh Second Sun Vein we were surprised by the fact that the first puddle of water was dry, all that could be seen was a damp residue - cogs going here, water level drop? Moving past the little collapse we entered the deep should be wet bit, the water was all gone. At the first deep blue sump the water level had drained away some 70cm below the passage level - we wondered if someone in Rampgill had got a soaking?

Once past the two tight crawls at the start of Carr's Vein we took a right at the first junction and had a look up a rise with was very high, you could see a lot of woodwork that seemed in good condition. The rise must have lead into the flats and levels above in this part of the mine. From here we got to the main junction of Longcleugh and Carr's Vein. Taking the left (east), we had a look at how far the level was open for - not far, at some 90m the level was blocked. There was even no chance of getting into the back end of Carr's Vein as that junction was on past the blockage. We did find some wooden planks here, that someone had brought in for a dig - a big project if it's to connect with the dig on the Ballroom side. Turning back, we had lunch at the main junction, followed by going south down Carr's Vein. We passed many rises including the one that takes you in to the flats above. Just after Walton's Rise we took a left down a cross cut to a small stope which carried on north and south, north did not go far and south went on for a while. We did not look at it in detail, but it might be worth while to see if it does go on as this could be a link to the further southern reaches of Carr's Vein. Returning to the main level we only could go on a little bit further as it was blocked just past Elliott's Rise. From here we turned back and climbed up the rise on Longcleugh Vein that takes you up in to the levels above and eventually to Barron's Sump.

From Barron's Sump we headed down Longcleugh Vein to the junction with Cowhill Cross Vein, yet more disappointment here - straight on and right was blocked with masses of deads, The only way to go was left heading south on the Cowhill Cross Vein. At 40m in we came to a sump which had to be crossed on a single rail track, past this the level went on and was in very good condition. We eventually came to George Barron's Rise and just past this a blockage of large rocks. The striking feature of this level was that there were no artifacts and that the wooden dividers in the rises we passed had been taken out, all that could be seen was the odd stump in a socket and yet no debris could be seen at the bottom of any rise. Turning back (using this expression a lot) we had a look at Atkinson's Sump on the Longcleugh Vein wishing that we had brought our SRT gear with us, past this we took the parallel passage that follows the Longcleugh Vein to see how far this was open for, quickly we came to a collapse, that you could get through and then finally to another collapse that was open, but you could see through it that the way was blocked past it. In this passage we came across an interesting artifact that we could not identify - it was a metal cube some 100mm on its sides with a hole through it, one side seemed to have what looked like a funnel - Karli thought that it could have been something to do with black smithing - funneling air or a jet of something?

When we got back to Barron's Sump we had another round of lunch and then took some pictures of the chamber and sump with flash powder. After this we made our way to the big flats above and had a bit of a potter before taking more flash powder photographs. The trip had been 8 hours long and we really should have taken some more gear along so that the sumps could have been explored. Also if we could get our maypole into this area it could open up all sorts of possibilities as there are so many rises, however there is no chance of getting a 2m length of scaffold pole through the crawls at the moment, unless we dug out some slots for them to go into when passing through the crawls.