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Stopes around Archer's, Hewitson's and Barron's Rises - Caplecleugh Mine (05/07/09)

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A poor start to the day, no sign of Karli, a few calls discover he had woken and then fallen asleep, due to being out till 04:00 on the lash at Alston Gala - trouble with the youngens yet again and not a good show for a trip where we are being the guides. Sod that, leave him to catch up later. Myself and Kate headed for the Caplecleugh Vein at a more leisurely pace, once we reached the toilet junction we had a little look around and with no sign of the troublesome youngen we left a trail of slings and rope to show him where we where heading for - the stopes around Archer's Rise.

Once up in the stopes we had a look around in more detail and finished of looking towards the east side, which proved to be a dead end. Attentions turning to the western end introduced us into some new ground that we had not seen before. Dropping down the rubble I had reached last time with the semi collapsed ore truck (which at first glance makes it look like a new type of truck) we made our way along the significantly large stopes. Moving further west another rubble slope was reached, which we climbed up. Here a wooden floor and barrow planks brought us to a hopper with air pipes coming up and a few rail tracks across it. The rails being a bit wobbly we put them together and Kate doing a good Lara Croft impression made her way across only to find a heading. In this new section of stopes we saw a great deal of interesting artifacts: the remains of iron work, news papers, explosive wrappings, fuse and detonator tins. With Kate returned back from the heading we started to wonder if Karli was going to turn up at all? Speak of the devil, shortly a flash of light was seen and a very alcoholic vapor breathing Karli appeared. Cursing and mickey taking followed by a quick elevensies (more like onesies) seemed the order of the moment. Whilst Kate was rooting in her dry bag a strong smell of banana wafted out, turning said dry bag out produced a rather mashed banana from the bottom - hummmm. We retraced our route to the horse level and carried on into the section of passage between Hewitson's and Barron's rises for more stope exploration.

The area between the two rises is dotted with manways and ore chutes, Karli climbed up one and dropped a belay line down for us mortals, completing the climbs up we did manage on our own, but it does give you that mental safety factor which enables various undergrounds feats to be done. The first thing that hit us was the amount of artifacts everywhere, beautiful to see. Again, detonator tins, fuse, ore trucks, wheels, air pipe fittings to name a few. Moving through the stope we came across a large pillar, which Karli had to climb up onto, nothing to report though apart from old planks and woodwork. Past the pillar a steep rubble slope took us up higher into the stopes and enabled us to see onto the pillar. Here there was a section of isolated rail track and a set of wheels, along with pipe fittings and airhose. Thank god the VM workers left us airhose to oggle over! Carrying on we had to climb over a largish rubble heap that came from above. Looking up it looked like a collapsed ore chute, but climbable. Karli shot up and found a large oblong chamber in shale, some 8m above. I struggled up, having to make an impromptu hand line out of my foot loops and saftey line to get up the steep compacted slope. The chamber was a bit strange and at one end was partially walled up, with tonnes of deads ready to spill out from above. Near this was a nice area of white calcified rocks. I climbed and slid back down ungracefully, whilst Karli ended up rubble surfing and jumping down - trouble with the youngens again (or maybe I wish that my discs weren't bulging). Kate had in the meantime looked past the rubble mound, to find an interesting multilevel section of stoping. Here you came out along a ledge with an ore chute and manway to your left, past this the stope petered out, but at the shaft it was possible to climb down around 5m to a lower area of the stope. Here the remains of a barrow could be seen, as well as another manway going up and down. The entrance into the manway was almost kind of hacked out of the wall of the stope, with another similar window higher up. Karli just had to climb up to the window, with the sounds of many loose things dropping down - not good for the nerves.

Returning back to the area that we originally entered the stopes from, we rigged an ore chute up with the mind to do a pull through and abseiled out of the stopes without having to climb - so civilised. Sitting down, you guessed it, it was time for a very late lunch, and then out. Exiting the adit we were promptly accosted by humongus swarms of midges. Not a sound was to be heard in the heritage car park, apart from slaps and cursing.