Tom Calpin, Scott Nixon, Ray McGarry
Scott and I had fancied figuring out the Smallcleugh to Rampgill through-trip via Proud’s Sump for a while, and with Ray we decided to give it a try.
We headed up to Nenthead for a leisurely 11am start after coffees and muffins at the Alston services, and wandered up to Smallcleugh. Dropping the bags at Proud’s Sump we headed round the near flats for a quick round-trip. Before long we were back at the sump and kitting up for the descent on the in-situ ropes (which were in good nick).
At the bottom of the first drop were 2 routes on – Scott wasn’t liking the look of a traverse over a pit with the rope secured to rusting rails, and thankfully the route on was the other way, with a short crawl dropping to the second pitch. The in-situ rope for this was almost new and had a deviation in which left no rope rub. This pitch dropped eerily into a flat, with the shaft carrying on down but at this point we swung off into the flat. We then spent a good hour wandering round Proud’s Flats, there’s plenty of stuff to see in here.
After we were done we headed down the continuing aluminium ladder and into the running water of the Rampgill drainage level. From here on out it’s easy, following the water past plenty of bright colours and rotting ore chutes, until we hit a rope climb up that we recognised from a previous visit. Onwards for 20 minutes and we were at Whisky Bottle Junction. After a final stop to peer over the edge of the Brewery Shaft, we headed out into warm sunshine right next to the car.
Photos by Ray