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Clargill Vein Trial Level (16/06/16), Newshield Moss, Cumbria.

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I received an email from a land owner asking if I knew anything about an old mine entrance that they had found on their land, they had been into it as they had some caving experience, but turned back once they came to a junction. Out came the books relative to Alston Moor, but after searching for a while I could not find anything and I was beginning to think that the entrance might be an undocumented trial level, looking at OS maps from the last 100 years did not reveal a level at the location either. Knowing its position and closeness to other mines and veins I came to the conclusion it was a trial level searching for the Clargill Vein. Someone though, must know about it as the owner had found some piping going into it - so only two possibilities a local farmer or explorer activity. I spoke to Karli about it and it rang a bell with him, it turned out that one of the lads from the local pit had found it and installed the pipe as a syphon, but no one had bothered to look further into it.

A time was arranged with the land owners, Margaret and her son Jake and we met up to explore the level further. Coming to the entrance we saw that some rocks had come down from the roof and this was what was causing the water to back up, there was no gate. Climbing in over the fallen rocks we quickly entered cold and thigh deep water. The level was unlined and driven in through sandstone, which looked to be fairly competent. We did notice thin shot holes along the way and at approximately 100m in we came to a crosscut, heading left and right with the level continuing past this. This was the eastern end of the Clargill Vein.

The crosscut was about 1m above the main level. At the junction there was a blind rise some 4m high. To the right (east), the crosscut went on for maybe 6m and ended. Left (west) the crosscut went on, and we made our way along it. It was quite low and in places there where stemples with fill above them. Across the stemples thin branches had been placed, instead of the usual planks, which made me think that this was maybe a much older working compared to what we normally get to explore. In the mud and calcite crust on the floor there were no signs of footprints or anything else to indicate that modern explorers had been in. Once past the stemples we came to another blind rise, this one some 10m high, past this the crosscut seemed to turn more into a level with no workings above. Maybe some 70m from the junction we came to the forehead.

Back on the main level we continued up the drive heading south. The silt at the bottom of the water here started to stir up and soon we were walking in tomato soup. There were a few falls along the level, but nothing major - just loose material from the roof. The strata south of Clargill vein was completely different from the north side. We were in a shale band which seemed to be stable. Many ochreous formations could be seen on the walls and some spectacular ones hanging down from the roof. At around 50m on the left hand side we came to some pack walling constructed from shale blocks with upright wooden pillars. Here we found the one and only partial artefact down the mine - the ceramic bottom of a jar or bottle. Past this we came to more formations and then maybe another 50m brought us to the forehead. At this point we were truly getting tango'ed. We turned back to go out and to repeat the experience on the way out.