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Smallcleugh Mine - Cross Vein Sub Levels and Letter Box Sump (05/12/05)

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After our last potter in the Letter Box area of the Smallcleugh Cross Vein we found a sump, but with no SRT gear with us we had to leave it until now (see Smallcleugh Old Fan Flats and The Letter Box).

This was going to be a quick trip to see where the sump went to, we made our way into Smallcleugh and headed for the Letter Box, and then the sump. We tied a sling around the rail tracks across it and I abseiled down, about 3-4m down a level could be seen which looked like it gained access into some flats, I passed this and in a few metres more I was able to swing into an intersecting level running southeast to northwest. Karli joined me at this point but he landed on the other side of the level - a quick looked proved it to be totally blocked. My side of the level was also blocked after 10m or so, but there was an ore shoot going up in very good condition - however it looked like it was capped with timbers and deads, we noted that the timbers where sagging so heads got retracted. There was a lot of wooden debris in this level and dry rot. We spotted some tools and even a tallow candle.

For the next part of the descent a deviation was needed and thankfully there were two iron rungs driven into the wall of the sump that we could use. Karli rigged it and descended down into a chamber - very quickly he shouted up that he knew where this was - it was the chamber we had found last year at the end of a sublevel with the rather dodgy stone walling! (see the last picture in Cross Vein, Smallcleugh Mine Trip Report). Before descending in to it he had to do some gardening as there was a lot of loose material. When I joined him he pointed out a large slab of fallen roof purched on a crumbling wall - is was like something out of Wile E Coyote. This was the long way round to getting to this part of the sublevels. We proceeded to refresh ourselves with the lay of the land.

From what we can gather the first level down the sump that was blocked could coincide with the level we dropped down in the trip report above. We could do with two teams here to see if contact could be made with sound on the collapses, also could the second sublevel actually be Carr's? We only have an estimate of the depth of it - some 20m, but this could be right especially if the level rises deeper into the mine - any information would be appreciated on this. The second sublevel gains access to some large flats below the Smallcleugh Horse Level and it looks like the multiple passages here are in the deads used to fill in the flat.

There are many ore shoots to still explore in this area and it would be useful to try and carry out a survey to link it all together - a full days work at some point.