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Thursday, 7 June 2012

Mining At Nenthead: Prouds Sump & Scaleburn Vein

With: Alan & Kevin
Weather: Forecast for heavy thundery rain
Where: Nenthead, North Pennines


Alan Abseiling on First Pitch of Prouds Sump
Wednesday 06th June had been in the diary as a caving day with Alan & Kev, however, typically after a dry spell the weather outlook became distinctly difficult to interpret. The forecast was for a wet morning followed by heavy thundery showers in the afternoon. After much debate we finally, reluctantly, opted to head for Nenthead. Travelling east   bright sunshine gave way to towering black clouds, dry road surfaces to recently soaked surfaces - a difficult day to call. Al fresco changing at the Heritage Centre car park was in the rain as was the walk up to the Smallcleugh portal.

Through the gate into the cool dark atmosphere of the mine: past the first sump; bear right; Proud's Sump always takes slightly longer to get to than I remember. Alan abseiled first - an awkward shuffle off the log which presumably doubles as a deviation, all down and its another short shuffle to the head of the second pitch. This time the deviation is more conventional and provides a landing on the right side of the sump for the journey on through Proud's Sump flats and some good mine archaeology. Next is an oddly rigged ladder which gives access via an ore chute to the main horse level. Heading towards the Rampgill Level entrance deep water is encountered!


its a fair distance to Whiskey Bottle Junction from where we headed on towards the mine entrance ultimately taking a sharp right into Scaleburn Vein where some excellent formations can be seen (below). Up the steps to Top Sills - its quite a while since I've been here. Alan has had a good explore of this area recently in an attempt to locate the Rampgill-Brownley Hill connection, today we passed the miner's graffiti (1795 from memory) on our right, ignored the first left and took the second left passage (running in a NW direction). Its quite shaley in this part of the mine and a couple of collapses have to be negotiated by crawling. Ultimately a sump was reached which all but blocks the way ahead, on this occasion I was the "probe" and traversed the sump on a life-line backed up by a couple of quite dubious anchors. Safely across a flat out crawl through shale was the only way on, it appeared to get progressively lower prompting the decision to reverse back out (hope it didn't go or I'll have to come back & do it again!). Fifteen minutes saw our steps re-traced to the Scaleburn Junction and just a short walk out to humid daylight.


Formations in Scaleburn Vein


On the way out we were interested to see the door which has always guarded against entry to Brewery Shaft had been removed.


Brewery Shaft is a 3.6m diameter shaft which is a full 100m in depth from the surface down to the Nent Force and Rampgill Deep Level, it is concrete lined and from our vantage point on the Rampgill Level it drops for a further 75m.


This was the first time any of us have got to look into the shaft - it really is quite an impressive sight. 













Brewery Shaft

George Helping With Decontamination of Filthy Kit

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