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Caplecleugh Mine, West Forehead and Stopes (08/08/08)

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On the last trip to the west side of Caplecleugh we missed the forehead fall by some 100m, due to not knowing the lay of the land and that the last bit was cropped off our plan. This time I wanted to see the missed bit of the horse level and also to climb up into the stopes that we could not get up to due to excessive rubber wear.

We made a quick bee line for the Caplecleugh Vein, and within an hour or so had arrived at the main toilet junction. In the shale part of the drive we noticed some large fresh falls - beware. From the junction we headed west, stoping for a quick look up a sublevel which gives access to Archers Rise. Back down and we continued on to the stope that I could not climb up into last time, just east of Barron's Rise. As expected, many interesting things greeted us - pipework, fittings, rails (oh how many rails), drill steels, fuse and even a bate area. Eventually dropping back into the horse level our course took us to the west end flats. Here I saw a few things that I missed last time, including a newspaper from the 1st World War and dynamite. After our potter in the flat we had lunch. Returning to the horse level, we proceeded west entering new ground.

Shortly we came to a fall which was passed easily and then a second one, which was not in the best condition - anyway got to get to the end. After this we entered a wide passage and could hear running water. Pipe work could be seen in the distance and this could only have been Caplecleugh Shaft. Just before the shaft a right turn took us to a little heading which looked like a store room of sorts. There were pipe fittings, rags, pieces of air hose and a work bench which looks to have been used by mineral collectors for exhibiting their cast offs. On one of the fittings on the bench a file could be seen resting on it.

Back in the horse level we reached Caplecleugh Shaft, water was pouring down from the top and downwards the shaft was choked at about 7m. There was a mis-mash of pipes, along with large metal parts lying around. On a rock slab Alistair pointed out a large bell hammer. It was possible to cross the shaft using part of a ledge on the left hand side. Shortly on the other side, we reached a fall and that was as far as we got. The fall seems to have come from loose material in a small stope above and there was no clear route on. I don't know how recent the fall was, but it was possible in the past to get through to see two more sumps, which connected to the White Syke Level.

We retraced our route, to exit some 7 hours later with thoughts of having a larger group and maypole to assist in climbing the rises!