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To the End of Middlecleugh 2nd Sun Vein, Smallcleugh Mine (24/07/21).

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I've personally not been undergound for over 18 months - very bad, but I am trying to address that and get back into mine exploring again. Karli on the other hand has been working down a mine until recently and doing COMRU exercises so has had more than enough of underground exposure.

With a view of me being rusty and not that supple we agreed to doing something relatively easy and had a trip down Smallcleugh to the far end - the New Cross Vein. A few days before this trip I had been told that there had just been a fall in the flats before Gullyback Crosscut whilst some explorers were nearby. It had sounded really loud and assumed to be a major fall. At the time it was not investigated. So, this was something we wanted to check out as well.

At around midmorning we arrived at the adit and made our way to the Smallcleugh Flats via the Hard Crosscut. Whilst cresting over the slippery slope I noticed a large amount of fresh shale on the floor, it has been ages since anything came down here. Some of it was the size of breeze blocks. Once past this all looked normal and after a short while we were in the main flats. Just before Robinson's Crosscut where there is a large slab that forms part of the roof in the main level, we found the fall. A large chunk and a couple of smaller flakes of the roof above the deads had come down. These had fallen on the deads and skidded / rolled down into the level. That's what made all the alarming noises - lots of thumps and crunches. The main chunk that came down, must have been over a metre long and about 0.5m square. Food for thought.

We carried on and whilst in George Hetherington's Crosscut we noticed that the floor was slightly wet with a few puddles of water towards the exit onto the 1st Sun Vein - what was going on here? To our surprise, there was water on the 1st Sun Vein and it was coming in from the right hand wall. Somethings moved up there. From here we headed to the Middlecleugh 2nd Sun Vein and had another surprise. Where all the sumps start on the right hand side, the water level in these had risen again after 15 odd years being low and out of the level. Probably not to the original levels in the mid 2000's, but not far off - 0.8m ish. As we headed towards Cowhill Cross Vein some of the more dubious looking hoppers has been shored up - works in progress.

Past Cowhill, nothing much had changed as we carried on down the incline towards the New Cross Vein and forehead. Once there I started to take some photographs and whilst retracing out steps, we had lunch in one of the stopes above - the one with the ladder and platform. Here we also had a bit of poke around climbing up the big shale slope to discover two massive bell chambers in the roof - a bit like the ones at Bog Shaft. This explained all the shale we had climbed up. Going further along we saw some sumps and manways going back down to the horse level below. However, getting back down was best done the way we had come. In this stope we also found a new style empty 0.5L can of Stella - come on muppets, take it out with you.

On our exit we stopped by the Ballroom just to have a token visit. Another surprise here, we saw a couple of home made adjustable box section supports just outside the main chamber. These did not look modern and had the feel of a dig from the past - maybe Moles? In the actual Ballroom, where all the deads are, we found what looked like an exposed hidden stash of these supports along with a bottle jack and old rope inset into the deads. Along with this find we saw the whole area littered with pieces of tissue and more of the Stella cans - all sort of half arsed covered with deads. FFS.

We exited via the Old Flat Crosscut and rather than going straight to the bypass had a look at Luke Hall's sump. Another surprise, it was completely filled in with shale. Past the sump the whole horse level in this area seems to have dropped material from the roof and sides - it was looking much worse than the last time we had been here. It is amazing how things have changed in Smallcleugh recently. Back on the surface both of us had grins on our faces - it had been great to get back underground in a pastime capacity; we need to start getting back into it on a regular basis.

One thing that comes to mind is that there was a small earth quake centred around Nenthall on 13/07/2021, however the magnitude was only 0.9 so not sure if this could have anything to do with loosening things as far away as Smallcleugh?