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Caplecleugh Mine, First Explore of the West Side of the Horse Level (24/02/07)

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At long last we have finally had a look at the west side of the Caplecleugh Horse Level, this as always with Nenthead has just opened up another can of worms for exploration.

Entering the Caplecleugh adit, we made our way to the main junction through many shale collapses. Taking the west fork the first exploration was started. We had a quick look up the south passage that eventually leads to the Black Ashgill Cross Vein and the south end of Archers Vein, this area is driven in shale and some of the passage was in a bit of a mess. We only went as far as the first rise into Black Ashgill Cross Vein. Returning to the main horse level we looked at branches and slowly followed the main route in. In general the state of the mine seems to be not to bad apart from the collapses which cause the water to back up and become deep. Eventually we reached a dry area which lied between Hewitson's and Barron's Rises. Lunch was had here. Afterwards we had a more detailed explore of the area, finding many interesting artefacts. Karli climbed into the flats above this area and tried to get myself and Karl to climb up as well, but since we had two pairs of wetsuit bottoms on, bending the legs was not that easy so we gave it a miss - for next time just wear the 3mm. When he came back down, we did not really want to hear what he had to say.

After this area we carried on heading west along the horse level, in and out of water. Further along we encountered lots of rises and hoppers, some of them on a scale we had not seen before - all beckoning us to go up. Finally the water gave way to a dry section where the horse level opened up with twin parallel passages spanning the vein. We felt a long way in, and the mine here was beautifully preserved. Finally whilst taking photographs of this area Karl came back, urging us to come and see what he had found. He took us to some large flats which were filled with set rail tracks and many artefacts we had never seen before. Cameras were taken out!

At this point time was getting short and we needed to head back as we were going to exit via Smallcleugh so Karl could do the through trip. Making our way back to the main junction we headed east passing the bottoms of rises where we had at the end of last year explored via Smallcleugh. At long last we reached the Middlecleugh Sump and I peeled off my extra bottoms as otherwise there would have been no chance of me climbing the calcified ladders. All of us got to the sublevel above and after another short climb we were on the Cowhill Cross Vein in Smallcleugh and on our way out.

All the interesting features in Caplecleugh are in the flats and stopes above the horse level and this is were hopefully our next trips will focus on, now that we know the lay of the land. The section of plan I had taken with us had been cut just short of the flats we came across at the end and so not having any idea of how far there was to go we missed out on reaching the forehead by some 150m - this will not happen next time.