MinesMine PlansLinksContactLinksHome

Smallcleugh Mine to Unknown Level - Part 1, (09/10/05)

Back to Smallcleugh Trip Index

There are many sumps and shafts along the Smallcleugh Cross Vein which lead to the sub level that runs underneath it (see Smallcleugh Cross Vein and Sub Level. We suspected that further sumps from the sub level should connect to Carr's Level.

We rigged a shaft that from maps shows it should connect to the sub level and to see if it was blocked or open as it was impossible to tell from the top. If it was open we were sure that it would lead us to some new ground. Using an SDS drill we placed 3 anchors and rigged the shaft for a look see. I descended first and surprisingly found a level half way down the shaft, a quick pendule in showed me that it was driven in rather unstable shale. It only went in some 5m, ending with a partial collapse, which you could get past - maybe another time. I came out and abseiled to the bottom. Bingo, the shaft was open and dropped a further 3-4m down a muddy slope, almost a dog leg. Thankfully there was a handy metal pole and I could put in a quick deviation for the rope to go down the slope. The walls that framed the slope where bulging and loose, some shoring up will be needed. At the bottom of the slope there was a tee junction which was collapsed on both sides - at a push you could check it out, but I was more interested in the little short drop some 3m which was venting. Dropping into this, it turned out to be a stone lined bell shaped chamber, with a half blocked archway showing at the far end, I shouted to Karli and he joined me at this point. We crawled through the archway which doubled back under the main shaft we had come down and this led to another tee junction, heading more or less south and north. According to plans we know that the passage running south should exist, but the north one should not, questions...

Immediately to the right there was a shaft going down and this was the route of the air flow. We quickly ventured down the south passage, and passed some junctions which could lead to the sumps before Proud's, but this was speculation, after some 120m we came to a dead end - the passage was walled up. A very strange thing, Karli started looking round and quickly spotted some rail lines with pieces of rope, and a bolt in the passage wall - this gave the impression that the other side of the wall had a shaft. We removed some of the top rocks and after throwing a tester stone, it hit some rails and then clanged to the bottom - yep a shaft. Questions buzzed in our heads - could this be the walled up passage that can be seen at the bottom of Proud's Sump? Returning to the tee, we went north and this continued for some 15 minutes of walking. We passed hoppers, and a few large rises, including a lined shaft going down. There also was a passage to the west which paralleled the one we where in (this rings bells of Carr's Level when I did a though trip around 15 years ago, but I cannot be sure). The passage went on further, but at this point we turned back to get back up, whilst we de-rigged Mark kindly got some hot Lebanese coffee on the go with his micro stove and we had a quick brew and snack.

A number of questions have risen from this little jaunt: a) is the sublevel we explored actually the sub level that parallels the cross vein, or was the collapsed passage at the first tee the sublevel, if so was the passage we entered Carr's Level? b) the 2 shafts going down, do they reach Carr's or Rampgill? Another trip is required, ideally with a party going down Proud's Sump / Hangingshaw Branch Level to see if any contact can be made.