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A trip for the Young'ns - Ballroom via Gullyback Cross Cut, and back out via Northend Flats. (30/12/16)

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I contacted Alistair to see if he and his son Sam would be up for joining Hannah on our Christmas trip down Smallcleugh - they were. The kids had never met each other so it was a bit of a shy start, but very quickly things got up and running - running about everywhere. We kitted up outside the portal and made our way in. Both where carried on backs over the deeper water just inside, much to their amusement. Once out of that, they were dropped down and we proceeded deeper into the mine.

Our route took us along Smallcleugh Cross Vein and through the Letter Box and into the Mini Ballroom. Here we let them have a good look around and soon they were collecting shiny things and burying them in a corner of the Mini Ballroom as apparently there were too many to carry. We then headed up to the climb into Gullyback Cross cut, rather easy this time round as a ladder had been put in by someone. In the crosscut we showed them the clog and horse prints. Carrying on along the crosscut we made our way into Smallcleugh Flats. Here we had a bit of a chat and chocolate break. I found some galena and iron pyrite's lying around and showed these to Hannah and Sam. Then we heard voices coming towards us, another mine explorer group went passed us - 4 of them I think. Quick hello's and that was it. Time to move on, rather than going along the horse level through the flats we deviated along the workings on the east side of the flats and had a bit of crawl and scramble eventually joining the horse level again just before the junction with the Old Flatt Crosscut. Then it was onto Wheel Flats where I took the kids up to the higher workings for a look around - more secret chocs away from the others. Coming back down it was time for George Hetherington's - oh, to be only 1.3m high.

Once out of George Hetherington's misery we headed for the Ballroom and it was lunch time. On the menu - spaghetti hoops. Mark did the catering for the kids and whilst waiting for them to heat up, Hannah and Sam set about exploring the Ballroom. They tried to climb up on the walls and then they pretended to be zombies. After we all had lunch and of course a lunch photograph, I took them up the level passed the Ballroom to see all the sparkly water droplets on the roof. Returning back we packed up and made our way back through Smallcleugh Flats, taking the Northend Flat exit.

When we climbed out of the horse level into the start of Northend Flats Karli took Hannah and Sam on a few of the maze like crawls that formed loops in the south end. They loved it, wanting to do it again and again treating it just like a playground - it's easy when you're only 7 and 8. I carried on along the exit route and they followed me wondering what I was doing - setting up a photo opportunity. With the others joining us we made our way along the flats soon dropping back down into the Hard Crosscut. Here we had a look around the small working on the north side and then it was time to leave and get out.

When we got out Hannah and Sam started running riot outside, Karli took them under the bridge and it was a slog to try and get them changed. Happy bunnies I think. The mine explorers we saw underground came out as we were getting changed - turns out they had been to Barron's Sump.