With our recent explorations of Hangingshaw Branch I really wanted
to have a look at the level south of the Hydraulic Shaft, to see how far it
went and what was there, if anything. This was also an opportunity to do a
through trip from Smallcleugh to Rampgill via the Hydraulic Shaft. We also had
a few members of WMRG with us who had always assumed the shaft was blocked, so
the area would be new to them as well. It's strange, why do people think it is
blocked? We had also been told it was blocked, until a few years back when we
actually went down and saw otherwise.
We made our way to Elliott's
String and started to rig the top of the shaft up. I had planned for this to be
a pull through, but Karli thought that it would not work, so it was agreed that
he and Sally would come back up and meet us in Proud's Workings for lunch. One
by one, we abseiled down into the flat below the string. After having a look
around we then proceeded down the shaft. Just so you know, make sure you abseil
down the compartment with the pipe, as the other one is blocked.
all of us were down we entered the deep water and headed south, wondering what
we were going to find. The level was in relatively sturdy shale, with a flat
roof. Some of the sides had peeled away, but apart from that that it was in
good shape. On the top of the water was a crust of calcite, a shame to break it
up, but it will grow back. After a while we came to some arching and this took
us through to a chamber with a junction. The chamber turned out to be the
bottom of a very wet shaft with a fair bit of debris, rocks, timber and small
sections of ladders. This was keeping some water back from the level heading
straight on, Karli immediately started water management, to drop the water
beyond and of course to raise the water from were we had come from. To the
right some more arching could be seen, but the branch only went about 5m and
ended in a fall.
Entering the now slightly dewatered level, the arching
gave way to flat shale roof again. Karli was in front of me and a breeze block
sized piece of shale came away from the roof, missing him by a metre or so. We
all know rocks fall, but its nice to think it never happens when your there.
Moving on we came to some really thick calcite on the water and it looked like
an Artic ice sheet. Shortly past this we came to the end of the road, another
Returning to the bottom of the Hydraulic Shaft (in much deeper
water than before - thanks Karli), Karli and Sally climbed back up and the rest
of us headed down the level to meet up again in Proud's Workings. Approaching
the Middlecleugh First Sun Vein we were greeted with fantastic iron stained
calcite formations. Here was the only sign of workings above, and from this
point to Proud's there was nothing really more apart from a few little
crosscuts. I had only been in this part of the level once before and I was
surprised at how deep the water was in sections - easy to forget. Finally we
reached the hopper that leads up into Proud's Workings and we headed to the
jack roll for lunch. It was a very late lunch and we just got stuck in, Karli
and Sally arrived some 5 minutes later.
After lunch we had a look in
the western section of the workings, a lot, of which we had not seen before -
showing yet again that it is so easy to dismiss things close at hand. After
looking around we dropped back down to Hangingshaw Level and made our way out
to the Rampgill portal.