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Isolated East End, past Cowhill Cross Vein, Caplecleugh Mine (13/12/08)

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Well over 4 years ago, we had by accident dropped down into an isolated part of the Caplecleugh Horse Level whilst looking for the famous 'calcified rise'. Back then, my photography was a bit on the under developed side and so I wanted to have another chance to look into this isolated section taking hopefully better snaps. Making our way in via the Smallcleugh portal, we headed for the Cowhill Cross Vein and then dropped down into the sublevel below. From here we put a safety line down the second calcified manway and proceeded down. The ladders still were as far as we could see in the same condition as before, pretty much sound and heavily calcified - in fact, some of the rungs were covered with so much of the stuff you could hardly get your feet in. Reaching the bottom, there is only one way to go - east. This took us through a muddy, grotty crawl into a sublevel and stoping above Caplecleugh. All long this level there were ore chutes and a number of manways down. Just to the side of the chute that we would use to abseil down, there was a little flat which, we climbed down into. Inside, there were wooden planks, lots of fuse and detonator tins all over.

Coming back out of this we rigged the near by ore chute up and one by one we abseiled down into Caplecleugh Horse Level, some 12m below. First of all, we headed east towards the forehead end, passing many hoppers and a few laddered manways. In a little alcove on the left there was a wrench for square nuts and a little wooden box which, contained a detonator tin. We carried on and hit a large fall of debris underneath a hopper and manway. You could get past this, but a few metres on a shale fall stopped us getting further. Whilst myself and Pete took some photographs, Karli started prodding at the fall. He managed to clear it very quickly and you could see into the level for a further 5m or so, then another fall could be seen. We probably went around 100m along the level, and from the abandonment plans I would say there is another 100m to the forehead. On the plans, there are some dates that show this area was worked between 1913 and 1914, with the forehead being reached in April 1914. Also just before the forehead there should be a shallow sump, dated 01/07/13. Maybe it would be nice to come here in April 2014?

Returning back towards the hopper that weentered from, we headed west and after only 40m or so a big fall was reached. The fall was at a hopper and there was a hell of a lot of very fine material. We did not have ago at shifting it, maybe a mistake? Judging from what I saw a few months ago on the other side near the calcified ladder rise, this was not the fall from that end as that one consisted of large limestone deads. We prussiked back up the ore chute, climbed back up the calcified ladder, and finally emerged in the large stope just of Cowhill Cross Vein - a perfect spot for lunch. This trip is continued in Smallcleugh.