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Surface Shafts - Frog Shaft, (18/06/05)

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Having read about the project carried out by CATMHS with Frog Shaft over 10 years ago, it was high time to have a preliminary look at the famous Frog Shaft. Frog is not the shafts true name, it is a nickname given to it by the CATMHS members due to the frogs found down it when they first investigated the shaft. CATMHS say that the shaft is called Longcleugh Shaft (not to be confused with another Longcleugh Shaft on the moor). The shaft is in two parts, first there is a 27m drop, followed by approximately 5m of dog leg, then an incline and finally the drop to Longcleugh Mine in the area around Barron's Sump. The final drop is actually Armstrong's Rise and is approximately 100m in depth, with intersections of multiple levels. The shaft and rise help ventilate the the back end of the Smallcleugh complex.

After a trek across the moor with too much equipment for just two people to carry we finally found the shaft and proceeded to carefully lever one of the covering sleepers off to one side. The shaft top was in very good condition, and a large diameter pipe could be seen going into the depths. A horizontal pipe leading into the ground could also be seen, which we assume would have been joined to the larger one. We rigged the top up with a large steel pipe, and provided a foot loop to assist with exit as we did not have a electron ladder with us. I descended first, and on the way down about 4-5m from the top a small trial level could be seen which did not go anywhere. The little level was driven by hand as you could still see the pick marks on the walls. Carrying on to the bottom, I came to a ledge, and with a further small drop the bottom was reached. Stepping clear, Karli abseiled down. The first thing that hit us was that the dog leg was swarming with flies - a solution to why frogs where present in the shaft, but the big question was whether they could actually climb back up? Shortly Karli spotted a frog, but after taking a photo of it, it scarpered into some rocks.

The dog leg passage was littered with large shale falls and the walls where covered with calcification. Moving in deeper the top of the incline was reached and the top of Armstrong's Rise could be seen. Karli belayed our rope to the iron pipe at the bottom, with an additional backup to a stemple that CATMHS had installed. I then proceeded down the incline to see the top of the rise. The incline was quite stable as it was heavily calcified. We had brought with us a drill and anchors in the hope of dropping down the rise to the next level some 20m below, but the walls where in a poor condition and our plans dissolved away. The stemples that CATMHS had installed could have been used, but we decided against it as it would be better to think things through first as we were concerned about whether they were still sound enough. Another visit is in order to try and get down into the first level in the rise.