After the last two visits to this area being a rush, we decided to
come again a take a more sedate trip through the stopes. We made our way in via
the surface shaft into Smallcleugh and then down into the Caplecleugh Stopes
via the re-belay shaft we had discovered.
We made our way through the
stope to as far as we had been before. Here we took lunch in the little series
of flats on the south side. Coming again we also took the opportunity to have a
detailed look in the flats, finding items that we had missed before. After
lunch we headed west deeper into the stopes, coming across many artefacts -
boxes, tools, threaded bar, ore trucks, cans, jugs to name a few. This is a
truly rich area which is beautifully preserved due to the inaccessibility.
Shortly we came to a ochreous hole in the roof which led to a shaft heading
upwards, to the north of this was a little area with a wooden dressing floor.
Moving further west we came to a drop of about 3m, a little ledge and then a
largish shaft heading down. Around the shaft there was a little ledge, however
this was more of a slope really and it would have been fool hardy to attempt
it, the drill came out at this point and we put in a few anchors to make a
traverse line. On the ledge before the shaft was a little alcove with another
We all crossed by the shaft only to be disappointed as this was
as far as you could go as the stope looked to have been run in or back filled,
however a nice hand winch made up for that coupled along with an oil can and
metal jug. To one side there was a small hole which was drafting very strongly,
this opened up into a cross cut which was between 1 and 1.5m high. Once in the
cross cut, we found that it was on an incline heading down, shortly we came to
a sump that had been rigged with a traverse line. The rope looked in good
condition, but the crabs where on the old side and the hangers had started to
electrolytise. Past this the cross cut ended with another sump which dropped at
a bit of an angle, this one was rigged up, but when Karli pulled on one of the
hangers it came out (how many times have you climbed up an in situ SRT rope not
knowing the condition or what it was attached to?) - not so good. It looked
like the bottom of the sump was a level with deep water, this could only be
Caplecleugh Horse Level, approximately 15-20m below.
From our surveying
the last time we came here we know that from the flats where we had lunch it is
only a 100m or so to the junction of where the Caplecleugh / Blackashgill Cross
Vein comes in from the portal. The shaft in the crosscut or the one that we
traversed in the stope must be one of the ones shown on the cross section of
the plan we have - but which one? It is very difficult to make sence of the VM
abandonment details as we cannot see anything that follows our path this time.
I think that dropping down in to Caplecleugh from the crosscut and the stope
will be a good marker. More things to sort out again, what every happened to