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Caplecleugh North Vein, Caplecleugh Mine (07/11/08)

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Non of us had visited the Caplecleugh North Vein before and it was high time to go there to take a photos. We made our way in and an hour or so later we arrived at the main junction. After taking some snaps we started to make our way east along the Caplecleugh Vein (also know as the Middlecleugh North Vein).

Some 425m later we came to the junction with the crosscut that takes you to the Caplecleugh North Vein. Stepping into the passage, immediately a pronounced drop in temperature was felt, not only in the air but the water as well. It was like someone had turned on the air conditioning. Carrying on for another 350m or so and we reached a junction and glimpsed our first view of the old ventilation fan there. Lots of cooing. Cameras, lights, action. Straight on past the fan there was a hopper and manway with lots of water coming down it, the ladders looked in good nick, but non of us fancied a trip up this time round. A few metres past this and the level ended, interesting as the VM abandonment plans show it to go on for a further 100m? Unless it is the classic Vieille Montagne trick of not changing the colour of the level to show it is a sublevel.

From the fan we took the right hand crosscut for 200m, which links the Caplecleugh North Vein with the Middlecleugh North Vein. At the junction with the Middlecleugh North Vein we saw a hopper and manway - choked. Also just before this there was a stack of pipes. We proceeded along the Middlecleugh North Vein heading northeast, east, passing a few hoppers and a small fall. After 50m we came to a fall, a bit of a disappointment, as I had hoped that the level would have gone on a bit further. It is possible to get past the fall into the level beyond, but this is via the link in Smallcleugh (Middlecleugh North Vein) as explored by WCMRG in 1992. Not far from the fall it was possible to climb above the arching into the stoped area above, Helen popped up to have a look, but nothing of interest was found.

Retracing our steps back to Caplecleugh Vein we headed east having decided to exit via the through trip route. We hit the really deep water and Ben especially enjoyed this, since it was his first time. Helen mentioned that when she first did the trip (about 10 years ago) the water was much deeper - I suppose it was always harder in the old days. We reached the Middlecleugh Sump, took photographs, and I had a lonely lunch - strange to be with people who do not lunch underground. Then it was to the calcified ladder. Just before that I did take the north junction to see if I hit the horrible tango mud I had discovered with Karli a few years back when we found the link to what we guessed was Caplecleugh via the Middlecleugh Vein in Smallcleugh. Yes, it definately did look like it. I also had a look past the calcified ladder to see how far the level was open, not far - maybe 10m. We took it in turns to climb up and exited via the Smallcleugh portal. The ladder that had come away in the rise duringthe summer posed no real issue and it was easy to get past. Whilst climbing the rise, I noticed that many of the rungs were looking rather thin and it won't be long before some of them could break - keep this in mind.