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Smallcleugh Mine - Middlecleugh Vein (19/11/05)

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Having met up with Peter who has not been to Nenthead for a while we decided to have a look at something in Smallcleugh that neither of us had seem before - the Middlecleugh Vein. In my early years of visiting Smallcleugh I had been to the start of this vein, but had never ventured into it mainly due to the fact of it being a nasty collapse.

We proceeded all the way along Smallcleugh Cross Vein and then took the right which leads to the passage that gives you entry into the Middlecleugh Vein. The collapse wasn't as bad as I had remembered and the most surprising thing was the air current here - it was very strong which means that there must be a open link going to Caplecleugh, Middlecleugh, Smallcleugh or Rampgill somewhere. We climbed into the collapse cavity and slid out back into the passage on the other side. Another collapse greeted us, the arching stones on the second one where in worse condition and it was not particularly inspiring, but we went through. After this we passed through another 2 or 3 collapses all with shale slabs that had fallen from the roof - ideal if you wanted to get into the pool table business. So far this Middlecleugh Vein was not particularly nice. Eventually we reached a branch and took the right (following the Middelcleugh Vein) fork, we passed a small chamber on the right that had a lot of debris in it - I suspect that this was Bowman's Rise. Past this we came to a junction heading right, bearing NNW, we carried along it for maybe a 100m, it turned left and then it came to an end due to, you guessed it - a collapse, however there was still airflow here. It also looked like there was a rise. Peter had a look at the blockage and decided that if you where a nutter you could go in. This was the Middlecleugh North Vein, according to a plan I have the rise could go to the Middlecleugh Level, also more or less directly underneath we should have Caplecleugh and Rampgill. We retuned to the main passage and explored it a little further - it did go on, but I was starting to get fed up with the collapses.

Retracing our steps to the very first branch we took the other fork, this proved to be more interesting. A left fork was spotted and this lead to a sump which in turn dropped to a sublevel (from plan), returning we carried on and encountered a ore truck which was a pleasant find. A number of rises could be seen along the passage, as well as another sump. Peter carried on a bit further and found a flooded passage with a flooded sump - could this tie in with the flooded sumps on the Second Middlecleugh Sun Vein? We called it quits at this point and returned via Wheel Flats and the Flatt Cross Cut.

From what we saw it is clear that the Middlecleugh Vein is not visited often and that is not surprising, the collapses I would imagine put explorers off, I was uneasy and did not like them, it could be real trouble if one fell in. However saying that, there is a lot of potential to carry on exploring in this vein, where is all that air going to, and what a bout the sub level?