January to March
January 1st Crumlin
TB and PC
As there were only two available today the wet conditions were considered problematic to drilling in Fraggle Rock. So PC took TB to the site discovered on the 29th December 2015 with NB. After some confusion PC located the site which they probed and found a layer of good top soil over stones. TB confirmed the value of the site so PC will call James Callinan to inspect the site prior to erecting a fence. The pair then wandered south along the karst looking for evidence of other cave, which was absent. Its noteworthy the site is close to the slope that ascends to the base of the higher benches. The site appears pre glacial.
January 4th Fraggle Rock
CC, TB and PC
LW 19:03: neaps: very little wind: sea state rough. The large stream issuing was measured at thirty millimetres. The plan: as the regular elevated stream, and available room, prohibits the use of drills in the “Freezer” it was decided as an alternative to commence digging “Jim's Passage”. After a swift assessment the stone revetment into “Jim's” was removed and passed to PC who placed the rocks in front of the spring at the beginning of the “The Burrow”. As CC dug the minor rise of the floor unexpectedly descended to a depth of some four inches allowing a pool to form. With TB stacking the skids, PC packing cobbles behind the revetment and CC digging progress was swift. A distance of one metre was removed achieved exposing differing coloured clay deposits. The exposed edge to the entrance shows it undercut the corner during its formation, this will require revetting to avoid stream erosion. CC hopes to have the truck serviced for Thursday. There are some twenty odd skids now stacked at the Terminus. 7095
We may be joined by another digger this Thursday.
January 7th Fraggle Rock
JW, CC and PC
LW 21:31; a cold easterly wind, sea state very rough. The issuing stream was measured at twenty millimetres at the reference point. No evidence of deposits until the bends and at the Terminus. The plan; to set up the tram serviced by CC and remove the twenty six skids. CC to the Loading Bay, JW tramming PC dragging to ten metres past the old hauling position. The grease given to CC for the tram service is of such viscosity as to be closer to glue on the lubrication scale. This will be replaced next week. All skids out into heavy rain and tumbling seas; two waves broke the lower bench during operations. The first skids of the year out. To the Roadside where, after giving surgery to his Landrover, Matt joined the throng 26 7021
January 9th Crumlin Dig
CC and PC
The plan was to show CC the site and its location. The team did take a large shovel to clear some of the top soil to obtain a better view of its perimeter. Taking turns on the shovel the area was cleared of grasses and the site dug down. Stones of varying sizes appeared between the sticky soil. An odd light brown course gravel appeared below the top soil and below some of the larger stones: is this of glacial origin? Having dropped the floor an average of two feet CC took some photos while PC was the model, which may the shaft look bigger. PC used two G.P.S.R.'s to locate an accurate position both units did not reconcile each other, the 64s device being off from the 300 by 2 m east and 3m north. En-route home the team went to the Roadside to warm up from the bitter cold conditions.
January 11th Fraggle Rock
CC, JW, MR, AB and PC AB = Aileen Byrne.
HW 18:07 springs: Very cold north-westerly winds; force seven gusting eight at times; the stream measuring fifteen millimetres below the reference. The original plan was for CC and PC to re-grease the tram and tip away in “Jim's Passage”. As the team had swelled to five MR, JW and AB started at the “Loading Bay” to show AB around, with CC and PC at the “Terminus”. Using a pulley once again at the “Terminus” the tram was not so difficult to move; so re-greasing appears unwarranted for the moment. Digging commenced with skids being stacked at the hauling point until JW arrived filming to record the whole digging process and system. PC then moved outside to haul, supplied by CC. Whilst tramming JW sent back empties so the possible twenty six skid session increased to a total forty six. A very much shorter and shagged out PC was joined by JW who managed to film the last part of the digging process. Once again the wind force, and direction, required the tipper to stand in the empties to avoid them blowing away. Should the team manage to regularly achieve six in number then digging along “Jim's Passage” would be very swift requiring no stacking of skids; each session having spoil straight to surface: hurry back TB!! Following a swift change the team headed to the Roadside where AB was introduced to Billy together reminiscing of their home county of Carlow. All in all a fine productive evenings work. 72 7067
January 14th Fraggle Rock
CC, JW, CM and PC
HW 20:18 going to neaps: very cold wind from the Northwest; the good size stream issuing was level with the reference point. The plan; with no stacked skids to remove first of all, the team set to digging immediately, PC and JW took turns at the face in “Jim's Passage” with CC at the “Terminus”. As the face progressed the stratigraphy became pronounced with several isolated small pockets of clean washed gravel amongst the layering. The sandbags in place were caulked with clay to water proof against the main stream; PC then managed to bale the pool dry. This exposed a slight rib in the floor that separated two depths of trough the deeper being the right hand side, this developed the adjacent undercut that enters the “Loading Bay”. Any large cobbles found were used to continue backfilling “Quasimodo's 'ump”. CM arrived later on to take photos. Twenty six skids were sent out into the biting cold. To the Roadside for a warm up and drink, where talk turned to cave names, winches and metal suppliers: Clod Pot, a possible alternative to Pegasus; a long story. 98 7093
January 16th Crumlin Dig
CC and PC
Milder temperatures with occasional banks of low cloud; generally overcast with a threat of rain. The plan was to erect a secure fence around the dig site as soon as possible to demonstrate to James and his Father our resolve, appreciation and respect. Early today PC rang James, (the Owner), to inform him of the plan, also asking to drive along the track to drop off the materials and tools; permission was as ever eagerly given. After assessing the area for the potential installation of a future winch, and surface tramway, the fence was finally erected to create a rectangular “paddock” about five metres by eight metres. This offers plenty of room to manoeuvre inside. The barb wire provided by TB was barely long enough, but did complete the job. Outstanding is the need for two further fence posts to complete the task and two four foot slats of timber secured to the wire stays on the corner posts to avoid damage to inquisitive cattle: all in all a very professional job indeed, which will certainly be scrutinised. The wire was secured to the exposed bedrock by fixing to steel bars inserted into drilled 12mm holes. To the Roadside for a well earned pint.
Man hours 3 + 5 = 8
January 18th Fraggle rock
CC and PC
LW 17:53: neaps: increasing fog/low cloud, a very light, fresh, north-west breeze, sea state rough. The stream was level with the reference upon entry; upon exit it had risen six millimetres. With two the plan was to send up the empties and rotate the digging. Once CC had bailed out the face area worked commenced. The entire face now seems to be very much looser, the previously compacted nature of the fill has eased. The stratigraphy remains constant, but possibly wetter, with the same mixture of gravels, pale cream clays and various sized cobbles/erratics with the added appearance of a pocket of very soft grey clay. Progress was about a half metre; the exposed floor exhibiting a curious mixture of ridge and furrow like undulations not quite the expected continuation of the main passage; the first of the bends begins to appear beyond which the passage widens perhaps to double the present. Distance now dug is some two and a half metres, which broadly means there is another five to the previous limit of exploration. The floor surface continues to slope down; the deepest point now being some 0.15 metres below the, then, stream level outside the sandbags. There is the hint of the floor surface levelling off, perhaps even rising. Twenty five skids were filled and stacked with the equivalent of five skids worth of cobbles back packed into “Quasimodo's 'ump”. Swiftly to the Roadside for pints. 98 7093
January 21st Fraggle Rock
CC, JW, AB and PC
HW 15:09; going to springs. South-east wind force 3, sea state rough. The stream was noted at ninety millimetres below the reference, though plenty of water flowing. The plan was to remove the stacked skids and press on. AB and CC to the Loading Bay, to first send out the full skids then to dig away, with JW at the Terminus and PC outside. With the stacked skids swiftly sent outside the pace slowed as those being filled made their way out; this pace, with a team of four, actually worked reasonably well; the toughest work being for the poor sod at the Terminus who had to tram, drag, and send them out. In all four skids of cobbles are ready for packing into Quasimodo's 'ump while fifty one went outside. The density of the deposit has reverted to a hard compacted fill, bugger, however the floor is beginning to rise. AB produced some eighteen skids from the face, a significant effort: AB is a very welcome asset to the team, please note that in this context asset means useful and does not mean a little donkey.......... which does in fact apply to the work outside. Swiftly to the Roadside for drink and stuff. JW entertained with the video of Pegasus. 149 7144
January 24th Crumlin Dig
CC, AB, MR and PC.
Mild temperature with an easterly wind. The plan; to install the outstanding two fence posts and the wooden wire stay protectors to complete the fence and to dig. While AB and MR installed the posts CC and PC dug away; CC throwing spoil up to the grass where PC shovelled it to begin a mote wall along the line of the fence with the ultimate plan to bury it. AB joined in the digging, MR had to take a back seat with a sprained back. The base of the shaft was eventually flattened with its edges squared off and exposed, there are at least three large boulders beginning to appear. The water worn features of the walls continue. The two posts need tidying with a saw. Best part of a tonne and a half of spoil, in total, was removed. The situation will soon demand a lifting frame, and windlass, of sorts, to reduce digging effort of throwing up the spoil to surface, also, ideally, a wheel barrow would be of great use. In the Roadside talk turned to winches and frames. Six man/girl hours of labour 14 hours.
January 25th Fraggle Rock
CC, KW, AB and PC KW - Kevin Walsh.
HW 18:09; springs. Cold, blustery conditions with intermittent showers, sea state very rough. The stream was forty millimetres below the reference. The mountainous sea was accompanied with a southerly wind causing waves to crash, and cover, the lower bench; after five minutes assessing it was decided to enter. The plan was to fill the skids and stack them at the Loading Bay, as KW was an unknown quantity. CC found that the pool of water at the dig face was higher than the stream, so removed a sandbag to drain some of it; the rest by bailing. It was wondered if the water was from elevated main stream flow, (no significant rainfall noted of late), or whether it had percolated from ahead? Taking turns KW, CC and AB progressed the face to over three metres from the revetment. Some seven skids of cobbles stacked; not much room remaining. On completion of the session the face exhibited the most unusual stratigraphy yet encountered. A clay like deposit in the form of an isosceles triangle pointing to the roof. While to the left a light coloured granular matrix occupies the area to the wall, the other side appears of normal deposits. It desperately warrants a photograph prior to commencement of the next session! Twenty six skids were filled and stacked. It appears that KW is the son of Noel Walsh; members would have met Noel long ago when he lived near Doonagore Castle. Equipment secured the team scampered off to the Roadside where talk turned to homes for the elderly, and bewildered, winches and engine sheds. 149 7144
January 28th Crumlin Dig
KW, AB, CC, JW and PC
Storm Gertrude supplied the cool, high winds and accompanying light rainfall experienced throughout the session. The plan was to continue on down and expose the boulders that threaten to be large in size. While KW and AB commenced the others took turns offering "encouragement" and abuse, whilst transporting the spoil to the mote wall. Taking turns at each task, to maintain warmth, the depth swiftly increased to the point where PC couldn't see over the top; at either end of the pot is evidence of some type of water action, to the north the wider gryke suggests a point of entry, the south end too exhibits water erosion; going into or coming from the gryke is unclear at this stage. The pothole walls remain vertical. After some ninety minutes of constant digging the suspected boulders were fully exposed estimated at weighing between fifty and one hundred and thirty kilo's. Injuries were confined to PC regularly hitting AB with his spade during the digging frenzy. The site now requires a better method of removing spoil, or longer shovels. The smallest boulder was heaved out; the team deciding to cap the rest next Monday as sea conditions may not have settled sufficiently to enter Fraggle Rock. Hours 7.5 21.5
January 31st Drunken Horse Pot; A.K.A. Crumlin Dig
CC and PC.
The early effects of Storm Henry were becoming manifest throughout the day. As Fraggle Rock would not be accessible tomorrow PC suggested removing the boulders left on the 28th January. This would mean digging could commence without delay on the Monday evening. In fierce wind conditions the pair struggled up with the battery drill, capping equipment, sledge hammer and the gads. Using only the gads and the sledge, within an hour, all boulders were reduced and removed to the boulder pile leaving a clear work area. PC had made enquiries about the old Coast Guard tripod; he was informed "if it can be located the team can borrow it until further notice". Another session, or two, will see the depth perhaps too great to easily throw spoil up to the surface, with the present shovel lengths; perhaps we need utilize a Cornish shovel for the moment with its much longer handle. This would however mean only one digging in the pot at a time. An idea to assist shovelling the thrown spoil away from the edge of the pot is rather than use a piece of flat metal is to clear the turf from the edge of the pot down to the limestone surface; this could drop the surface level some 0.2 of a metre and also provide a smooth surface to, a) run the shovel along, and, b) prepare the area for a suitable supports for the intended cover. To the Roadside for abuse from Peter; ahhh bliss. Hours 2: 23.5
February 1st Poul Eich Oíta
Cave of the Drunken Horse
AB, CC and PC.
Storm Henry, the eighth such tempest this winter, arrived with all its ferocity; the walk to the dig, and back, was quite an effort. AB set to in the shaft probing the soil cover; several loud chinks were heard, these are either boulders or its the Chinese. Meanwhile CC and PC began to remove the turf around the very edge of the shaft, however the increasing depth of humus required AB to assist the pair. After ninety minutes, an area of bedrock, two metres by one metre, was eventually cleared, to the surprizing depth of sixteen inches, this surface exhibits water worn features up to the shaft edge. This flat surface will now allow digging in the shaft to continue without immediate recourse to hauling; the spoil can still be thrown out, only now onto a flat limestone surface for much easier disposal than trying to shovel it away from atop the heather. The cleared area will ultimately be used to secure the support frame for the impending concrete pipe. TB reported earlier picking up the winch drum materials from NB. To the Roadside for pints, a warm up and talk of winches and supports ......... Hours 1.5 25
February 4th Poulacapple Pot
AB, JW and PC
The plan: to retrieve the ladder and the huge angle iron it rests upon; installed in 2006. To also locate the other angle bar left somewhere nearby among the heather, again in 2006. During the drive up, to the nine hundred foot summit, the weather deteriorated with high cross winds and rain. While PC and JW descended to get the ladder and bar, AB probed the heather searching for the missing angle bar; alas no luck. While PC went back to the truck with the bar JW returned to the pot with AB to view the site. The stream still filled the four inch pipe directed straight down the shaft. When the flow abates a trip is needed to see what effects the falling stream has had on the sediments at the bottom of the shaft. Though a short session on the mountain side the team enjoyed a lengthy one in the Roadside.
February 7th Poulacapple Pot
CC, TB and PC.
The plan: to intensify the search for the missing angle iron, utilizing spades and garden forks. Storm Imogen, the ninth storm this winter, began to arrive as the team ascended the slopes of Poulacapple. In gale force winds and driving rain the trio searched for the angle iron required to build the frame over the shaft at Poul Eich Oíta; without success. Drying out, in front of the fire, at the Roadside, as they dripped upon the floor talk turned to alternate frame support materials. Several sources will be investigated. AB is unavailable this Monday, CC absent next Thursday.
NICK: Do you have a metal detector I could borrow to locate this dam iron??
February 8th Poul Eich Oíta
Cave of the Drunken Horse
CC, TB and PC
The plan: to measure the shaft dimensions to see how the proposed installation of a concrete pipe could be accommodated, and dig. Storm Imogen remained extant; the lee of the hill providing no respite from the ferocity of rain and hail, as yet the strongest storm of the winter period. TB was recovering from injuries sustained in the UK so remained on the surface clearing away the spoil to the mote walls, while CC and PC worked away below. Beneath a thin layer of mud large stones appeared once more. These were slowly exposed as the gaps between were quite narrow, the smaller ones were removed leaving one large boulder protruding from the northern rift this will be cleared next session as we now have the boulder net retrieved from Poulacapple. With the boulders cleared from the central area of the shaft the exposed ground is soft to at least a spade depth; a mix of clay and the gravel matrix again. The shaft depth is approaching the limit once again for the diggers to comfortably cast spoil onto the exposed limestone ledge; the scaffold frame will be needed soon for hauling purposes. The builders ladder recovered from Poulacapple was left on site; used to exit the shaft. As the team returned to the truck they endured the full force of the force eleven wind and hail and heavy rain. A swift change then to the the Roadside for cold points and a warm fire.
Hours 4.5 32.5
February 10th Poul Eich Oíta
TB and PC
The plan: to carry up a four foot RSJ, being part of the proposed frame support, and to see how it would fit against the back wall to accept the two other supports for the concrete pipe; to also assess a suitable route to convey the concrete pipe by tractor as close to the dig as practicable. The spontaneous afternoon visit was bathed in sunshine with no wind whatsoever! The clarity of the air offering superb views to the Aran Islands, and far beyond. Feeling light headed at the lack of adverse weather TB and PC set to investigating suitability of the rock as a foundation for the RSJ. If the RSJ is set at the back, parallel to the pot, atop a thin limestone bed, it will allow the other supports to be almost level with the bedrock of the recently exposed ledge. These may then be swung, or pivoted, to accommodate the diameter of tech concrete pipe before being permanently secured to the limestone. Still stunned at the lack of being battered by rain and hale the eagle eyed TB found among the spoil several pieces of stal and at least one small erratic. A medium sized crow bar was used to loosen the large boulder exposed by CC. The capping kit will be taken up tomorrow. Ambling back to the truck the pair meandered among the terraces - whilst a route appears to exist among the upper levels there are several areas where the safe traverse of a tractor, carrying a heavy pipe, becomes debatable; the idea is to show PS the area as soon as he returns from holiday and let him suggest what may be the solution. Hours 2 34.5
February 11th Poul Eich Oíta
JW, AB and PC
The plan: to arrive in daylight to make a photographic record of the site before work commenced, to cap the large boulder and dig. The team assembled around 17:00 on yet another fine evening, arriving at the dig after fifteen minutes; with good light levels remaining. The small dolmen, recently erected by persons unknown, was intact yesterday, (10th); today it was knocked flat; perhaps we need reflect on security of equipment intended to be left on site. While JW began to video and photograph the area PC commenced capping the large boulder; completed in turn by JW; this boulder turned out to be half as large again, concealed within the clay. Digging in turns exposed a further three large boulders, two of which were capped the third left; it can be lifted out using the net. As darkness fell the shaft was illuminated by JW's video lights; issuing a superb amount of light: perhaps we should consider using some L.E.D.s in the shaft fed off the generator? With AB driving the men folk onward to greater effort a depth in excess of another half metre was ultimately achieved. The walls remain vertical, as do the internal dimensions of the shaft. The rear of the half section pot has assumed a more vertical section. At this depth there is now need to erect scaffold to haul spoil out; throwing it is almost impracticable. A six inch diameter white/black erratic was found by AB at a depth of two metres in the heavy dry beige/brown clay deposits this has been placed safely in the area termed by JW as "Boykers Corner" to be inspected by TB at his pleasure; regular deposits will follow. Presently left on site is a crow bar, the boulder net and a four foot RSJ, no rope. Measurements were at the top of the shaft; a minimum length of support for the width of the pot is six feet this will allow sufficient length to be adequately secured to the bedrock.
As the fetch of the sea has subsided perhaps we should visit next Monday to remove the skids and maybe progress Jim's passage while we await the scaffold installation. To an empty Roadside and a warm fire. Hours 9 43.5
February 15th Poul Eich Oíta
AB and PC
The Plan: manpower would be less this session: CC attending DL's funeral in Nottingham and TB at CS's funeral in Bristol, PC opted to cap the protruding bedding to accommodate the proposed RSJ, and to remove the remaining debris pile in the south end of the shaft. To make use of available daylight he arrived at 16:45 and carried up spades and capping kit; AB arrived soon after. Capping the bedding proved awkward, working off the ladder, but there is now a cleared area which only needs trimming by hammer and chisel to provide a flatter surface. AB worked away on the debris pile using the longer handled Cornish spade to cast spoil up onto the surface; tough going. The compacted spoil consisted mostly of small fractured stones among which were several sizes of similar coloured erratics to previous ones all taken from a depth of two metres and deposited in "Boykers Korner". Once the debris pile was removed it allowed a view into part of the narrow southern gryke which is surprizing clear of silt but with several jammed stones. The peak of a large boulder emerged from the shaft floor as PC dug down eventually managing to topple it into the prepared void; at around ninety kilograms it needs attention from the gads. The digging situation is now impracticable without a hauling system. The origin of the "Dolmen" turned out to be NG, searching for the digs location; leaving a calling card. NG has offered an "elderly" wheel barrow to the "elderly" team. NG also visited Poulacapple with his metal detector to search for our lost angle iron; unfortunately it ain't there. To the Roadside for drinks. DL = Dave Lucas and CS = Charlie Self Hours. 3.5 47
February 18th Fraggle Rock
AB, JW, SB and PC
LW 20:10; neaps; sea state very rough. Stream depth measured at eighteen millimetres. The plan: to photograph the fascinating stratigraphy previously exposed, (25th January), prior to its removal, and remove the twenty seven skids from the "Loading Bay". A piece of sea weed jammed at the entrance announced the sea had earlier entered the cave, likely at HW 14:02, further in deposits of sand were regularly encountered as were more pieces of weed and a great number of very dead mussels. The inlet at fifteen metres has become further enlarged; the jammed boulders now washed away making its length now five metres for a slim person. At the "Terminus" the two hauling ropes were a knotted ball wrapped around the rails At, and in from, the "Boars Heads" a large amount of sand has been deposited up to and including the "Loading Bay". At the "Loading Bay" the truck was off the rails, several of the stacked skids washed down "Jim's Passage" along with the four by three inch wood spar and the red hauling rope. Some of the stacked "Deads" at the "Spring" have been disturbed and are likely the stones found washed downstream. The hollow in the floor leading to the face was filled with an estimated one tonne of sand and a lot of sea weed. The pair set to collecting up the weed into a plastic bag, unravelling the rope and placing the sorted equipment above the working face that too has been subject to some minor destruction though the stratigraphy remains reasonably clear. With tidying almost complete PC moved back to unravel the hauling ropes at the "Terminus" during which time AB with sister SB arrived after having difficulty locating Fraggle in the darkness; the pair went in to JW to view the place and prepare to tram. AB and SB at the "Loading Bay" with JW and PC at the "Terminus" all skids removed into a cold evening wind. The sand needs removing. To the Roadside where Billy thought he was seeing double as the Twins, AB and SB entered the bar several minutes apart! 176 7171
February 22nd Poul Eich Oíta
As members of the team were unavailable, or nursing injuries, the plan was altered to just remove the two boulders in the shaft. Making use of the bright evening PC arrived on site at 17:40. Both boulders were drilled for the Gads, first with an eight millimetre drill bit then enlarging them to sixteen millimetres. Using the thin Gad the largest split into three pieces, the larger piece requiring a further Gadding to achieve a size suitable to lift; the other, smaller, boulder split very easily too. Three of the pieces appeared suitable for the proposed "stile" so were set in place in line with the shaft on the proposed wheelbarrow route through the mote wall. CC has come up with a clever alternative for the proposed concrete pipe, three tractor tyres secured together: a far easier option to transport up the terraces and to finely position once in situ. In the meantime, ideally for the Thursday session, using his long van, JW need pick up the scaffold poles from PC's place, at the same time collecting a pole at CC's: PC has renovated seven scaffold clips. Hours 1 48
February 25th Poul Eich Oíta
JW and PC
The plan: to take up the three scaffold poles and clips, (three fixed and four swivels), and to dig away. Team members were remained unavailable due to injuries and work commitments; to maintain momentum digging continued in the deepening shaft surprizingly successful, though the depth requires significant effort to throw spoil out from this level, (or a perhaps longer shovel?). The character of the deposit has changed once again; the mid dark brown stiff clay giving way to a softer, lighter brown matrix, immediately beneath this a finer deposit can be felt. The half metre of depth achieved was over two thirds of the base exposing the ridge of a large boulder, estimated at least two feet long by a foot square, possibly weighing over a hundred kilos. The need is now for erection of the frame, preparation of two plastic kibbles and the hauling kit for same; this kit should include pulleys to achieve a minimum ideally of a 3:1 mechanical advantage. MR is going to contact his mate in Kinvarra who may have some tyres available. Also needed soon are the struts, two metres long, to support the tyres across the shaft. To the Roadside where the place was packed with eight people! Talk turned to Caverns measureless to Man. Hours 4 52
February 29th Poul Eich Oíta
AB, CC, KW and PC
The plan: to assemble the hauling frame and secure it in place, and, if sufficient boy/Girly-power available, to dig too. Carrying up a pile of kit, including the drill, shovels, rope, gads and sledge the team arrived as daylight faded. CC and PC began to assemble the frame while KW dug and AB used the kibbles to haul out the spoil: a tough undertaking. With the frame erected the front "A" frame section was positioned by dropping the ends of the poles over large protruding bolts hammered into sixteen millimetre holes drilled into the bedrock, the frame will be finally secured by turnbuckles and cables also fixed to the bedrock. The rear spar of the frame is almost horizontal onto the terrace behind, and only requires a steel strap to secure it from moving back and forth. CC began to dig away the overhanging spoil from the northern gryke; PC assisting from beneath until a half metre of fill was removed from the rift vertically down to floor level, at the bottom a large boulder protrudes from the rift. KW tipped away at the clay floor gradually exposing the boulder previously uncovered by PC. This boulder grew in dimensions as the stiff clay was cleared from around it, as did other boulders appear as the floor was lowered; fearing the worst PC located a gap among them and dug down the vertical wall to see if it continues; fortunately it does! The pile of spoil in the south end actually turned out to be another huge boulder. In short there are now two very large boulders; the northern one is estimated at four hundred kilograms, the other greater than five hundred. Could these form a cap to an open shaft below? Between these two boulders are at least three other each in the order of fifty kilos apiece. Removing these will require the frame, and hauling equipment to be working; the lifting net is on site. CC intends to make the securing strap for the spar perhaps by Thursday while PC hopes to have the other cross member for the tyre support too for that session, JW too may have at least one tyre by then. The northern boulder should split partially by Gadding as its in a suitable position to wield a sledge. As the pot is now two and a half metres deep, with a slippery edge, it needs covering as soon as practicable. The wheel barrow kindly offered by NG will be picked up ASAP. as it will reduce the effort of moving the spoil to the mote wall enormously. With the floor of the shaft reasonably cleared up the team finished at 21:00. To the Roadside for refreshments. Hours, 10, 62.
March 3rd Poul Eich Oíta
CC, AB, JW and PC
Earlier in the day, 10:00, PC had borrowed a large trailer and delivered two more scaffold poles, two short scaffold planks, two six foot by six inch concrete lintels and two tractor tyres,; all dropped off at the field gate: JC, (Farmer), informed by text. AB and JW "girl-handled" the immensely heavy lintels up to the dig one at a time, while CC and PC attempted to follow the distant laughter whilst struggling to roll the tractor tyres, at times, up vertical rock faces. What at first seemed a straight forward task eventually the team took two hours to perform; getting all the equipment up to the site and setting the lintels and tyres into place so as to assess what else may be needed for the next session. AB then scampered off into the night, back down the hillside, to fetch the remaining two scaffold poles left at the gate. Discussion ensued regarding the positioning and heightening of the hauling frame to accommodate tipping the kibble above the tyres, and how best to cover the remaining openings left and right of the tyres; steel and steel mesh is needed. CC came up with the idea of using the thick turf planned for removal to secure to the rock the temporary hand winch, to cover, (landscape), the area surrounding the shaft: a much lighter option to stone, and already grassed. The diameter of the tyres has successfully covered the principle area of the shaft leaving only the southern opening, ( 2.5 x 3.5 feet), and the northern opening, ( 3 x 2 feet), to be covered with steel mesh and plastic voting posters. The entire evening was tough work, involving giggles and exposure to an extremely painful cold temperature; descent and changing was therefore swift, as was the drive to the Roadside; where the team drank pints and compared aches and strains: PC suggested taking up more kit up tomorrow ahead of the Monday session. Hours 8, total 70.
March 4th Poul Eich Oíta
CC and PC
The plan: to carry up the extra kit needed to heighten and secure the hauling frame, and to fix the lintels in place that support the tyres. After the pair had struggled up with the drills and extra ironmongery; the scaffold poles, fetched by AB last night, were cut to prepare their ends for insertion of the clips that would allow their length to be extended thereby offering room above the tyres to tip the kibble into the waiting wheel barrow. Once assembled the frame alignment was checked for centring over the shaft opening; finally the rear spar was secured with a metal strap and two rawlbolts to the bedrock. The five foot steel angle was secured up against the tyre lintel ready for the next set of lintels intended to cover the southern gap; measurements were taken to manufacture two other metal bars as additional supports. Alas,a late afternoon finish meant no Roadside. Hours 4 , 74.
March 5th Poul Eich Oíta
CC Having prepared a wooden form to support the inside of the top tyre, CC went to the dig to assess its form, shape and snugness of fit prior to mass production; also carrying up a five foot galvanised steel channel support, it was installed ready to accept the four foot lintels on Monday evening. Upon arrival CC noticed the Good Fairy "Nicklearse" had gifted the team a present in the form of a wheel barrow. On closer inspection the wheel barrow was found to be a changeling, a Pooka, in appearance the shape of a wheel barrow. It looks like a wheel barrow, it squeaks like a wheel barrow, it handles like a wheel barrow........if only it were a wheel barrow; a priest need be sought to exorcise, or at least exercise it.... Hours 1.5, 75.5
March 7th Poul Eich Oíta
CC and PC
PC was informed earlier in the day of the death of Ray Mansfield; an immense loss to Janet and his friends. The plan: to carry up another three concrete lintels, length of timber, drill and fixings to finally secure the tyres in place and cover the opening to the south. Arriving at 18:00 the pair swiftly brought the kit to site; while CC began to drill and secure the tyres together, also inserting the wooden forms to stiffen the tyre walls and drill drain holes, PC placed the lintels and fifty millimetre galvanized mesh in position with a cover of plastic voting poster sheeting to stop any small deposits migrating through. After much heaving and straining the session finished with several flat stones being positioned around the tyres and over the lintels. Next session with see the south area virtually completed. The northern gap, the wide gryke, has been suggested as an access route, rather than through the tyres: PC has a large piece of steel that, as a trap door, would certainly take the weight of any inquisitive cow. Several more lengths of scaffold pole are needed; ideally two pieces two metres long. To the Roadside, where the place is beginning to receive the first signs of the tourist season, and an increase in the cost of the drink. Hours 5, 80.5
March 9th Poul Eich Oíta (Drunken Horse Pot)
CC, AB and PC
A bright but very cold day; the wind from the north. The plan: to press on with the "preparation work" of securing the big 'ole, so as to get digging again as soon as possible: so the team arrived at 10:30. More gear was carried up allowing the tyres to be finally fixed and the area to the south and rear of them back packed and landscaped. It was decided to install a "lid", or trapdoor, over the north gryke for ladder access; JW's plastic pallet forms the perfect lid, it completely covers the shaft opening and will allow any passing visitors to look down, but not fall in; the plan is to secure the pallet with a bolt through a chain, rather than a lock. The final piece of timber was secured to the bedrock completing the fixing of the tyres and lintels into place; some photographs were taken. The turf was cut back from in front the shaft and used to complete the landscaping; the only liability remaining is the northern opening. The plan is to return tomorrow afternoon to open the required gap for its installation and measure up for the trapdoor lid and frame: so no digging for Thursday, (10th), night; but certainly digging next Thursday (17th). To the Roadside where the early appearance drew comment. Hours 7.5, 88.
March 10th Poul Eich Oíta
CC & PC
The plan: to break away the small bedding to make room to accept the proposed trapdoor frame and to measure up the metal work to assess its fit prior to welding up the frame. The pair encountered the neighbouring farmer "John", who related that he and JC's Father, "Jim", had visited the dig site...................conversation ensued which included permission granted by John to the team to visit the old Silver Mine on his land; when convenient to ourselves. This permission confirms in the most subtle of ways that the team has conducted the correct approach installing the fence etc. so as to protect the cattle; so no problems so far with the work carried out, or indeed for the foreseeable future. Today's loads consisted of steel and tools so the gentle walk up was more of a stagger. On arrival CC pressed ahead redoing some of the bolts in the tyres while PC excavated rock for the trap door. While CC measured up the metalwork an idle PC began to tidy the stone heap constructing a dry wall; ultimately levelling the area: the place now looks cared for to anyone passing with an opinion on such matters; and there are a lot about. A heavy duty pulley, chain and hauling rope were left on site. To the Roadside for a very nice pint. Hours 6, 94.
March 12th Poul Eich Oíta
CC and PC
The plan: to install the trap door, and frame made by CC, to close off the northern gap, landscape the area, install a support, and Tell-Tale, beneath the southern covered area and align the hauling system ready for the Monday session. Shouldering the metal work, and associated bags of equipment, the pair waddled up the hill as sunshine tried to break through the thinly overcast sky. With minor juggling the frame was swiftly installed and secured to the bedrock with rawlbolts; as CC completed this task PC installed a bolt to accommodate a deviation pulley for the hauling system. The two large "flat" boulders previously accumulated at "Boykers Korner" were utilized, as was the enormous boulder found hiding beneath the clump of heather; together these three large stones now landscape and successfully secure the northern gap. In the shaft, previously noted by AB, an existing sag in the galvanized C section girder was attended to, supported, for peace of mind, with a substantial vertical galvanized support: this sag was actually present when the team "borrowed" it from a dead electric pole. Installation of the support to the girder effectively shortens the overall span by about half. A Tell-Tale bolt was inserted into the top hole, to indicate any subtle movement; whilst a sixteen millimetre galvanized bolt was hammered to a depth of six inches into a sixteen millimetre hole drilled into the wall of the gryke, this substantial bolt has a large hook that may be utilized for other purposes. The hauling system was set up and adjusted for centering in the tyres; the mechanical advantage proposed is 2:1. For the uninitiated of the team, a 2:1 system effectively means the hauler will be lifting half the weight of the loaded kibble, though to do so means pulling twice the length of rope through the system. This system will incorporate the end of the hauling rope secured to the top of the "A" frame. It will then descend, again vertically, passing through the pulley attached, by karabiner, to the kibble handle. It then rises vertically back to the top of the "A" frame where it passes through another pulley hanging on a chain, to then pass, obliquely, down to the deviation pulley, secured to the bedrock, arriving horizontally into the hands of the hauler positioned off to the north side of the "A" frame. Away from any accumulating crap on the ground that would dirty the rope, also leaving room for the removal the kibbles, and also allowing room for the proposed truck and rail system to facilitate swifter transportation of heavier loads. In testing the hauling system, as PC filled several kibbles, a lengthy horizontal crack was exposed in the very large boulder, which was easily prised apart. However this top chunk is still too large to lift, so was drilled with two sixteen millimetre holes in preparation for the Gads, as were two other boulders. Beneath the trapdoor the gryke now needs to be scrapped clear of all loose debris, as indeed does the southern gryke, to reduce future risk of injury; this should be carried as soon as possible before much more depth is achieved. The hauling rope and pulleys are stored below, hanging out of sight, in a tackle sac on the hook. One outstanding task is fitting the shaft grill cover; this will be secured by a bolt, as is the trap door: to complete this job two scaffold poles are required, 1 x 5 foot and 1 x 6 foot six inches. At one point the sun shone through a gap in the cloud raising the temperature to a very pleasant level around the shaft, however stepping away, to fetch tools, coats were swiftly applied as the cold breeze cut into the soul. To the Roadside where pints were thoroughly enjoyed among the increasing number of summer visitors; another phase completed, a step closer to resumption of digging. Hours 5, 99
March 14th Poul Eich Oíta
CC, KW and PC
The three enjoyed the walk up in warm glorious sunshine. After the hauling system was set up CC commenced breaking up the previously drilled boulders and swiftly sending them to surface via the new hauling system; inclusion of the waist high deviation pulley affords haulers the capacity to comfortably hold onto the rope and also reach the raised kibble without too much effort: hooray! NB: a cleat secured to the "A" frame would significantly improve control of the hauling rope and safety. The huge lump that was previously separated from the large central boulder required further Gadding; even after attention from the sledge it still remained a big lump; as is its obscured partner in the floor. All boulders were removed with the boulder net, including several others which appeared, fortunately these were smaller or fractured in two. KW then began to clear out the northern gryke, which thankfully narrows off; sizeable limestone flakes were teased out from it along with much coarse clay and other detritus; an excellent effort considering the awkward situation and inappropriate tools available for the task; removing this debris will reduce the chance of future injuries. Climbing access was discussed; another metre depth and the present builders ladder will be too short: if the northern gryke continues downward in its present profile almost any form, or method, of vertical access could be easily accommodated within its shape, being sufficiently far enough away from any hauling procedure. As a crystal clear night formed the temperature plummeted; wind chill grew as wind speed increased. To the Roadside radiator for warmth, pints and talk of men's stuff. PC away at Ray Mansfield's funeral Thursday. Hours 7.5, 106.5
March 21st Poul Eich Oíta
CC, TB, AB and PC
The welcome return of TB also meant an extra pair of hands, feet, teeth and ears. With the replacement wheel barrow, two scaffold poles, drill etc. the team waddled up to the dig in failing daylight; no breeze present at all. While PC drilled the terrace to accept the scaffold clip for the rear pole, CC and TB descended to start work. TB in the southern half, with CC clearing out the northern rift/gryke down to floor level. In doing so CC uncovered a small gap among the debris, soon a larger hole appeared, through which a depth of a metre could be seen, and a draught felt by both CC and TB; this implies a cavity below, (albeit of unknown size), and most fortuitously, as the shaft depth increases, any build up of CO2 will not become an issue with such natural ventilation. The volume of debris CC removed from the northern rift was considerable, estimated to be equal to lowering the entire shaft bottom by some six inches. Meanwhile TB managed to loosen several large boulders from the southern debris pile, these, with others from CC, were swiftly removed using the hauling system and boulder net. The two larger boulders lifted were each approximately one hundred kilograms; the 2:1 mechanical advantage allows two people to just about manage such a weight. A safety lid is needed to close the shaft while such lumps are suspended above. AB then changed places with CC and set to clearing the compacted clay from around the larger boulder in the floor, as TB removed yet another large stone; as depth increased around the big rock AB exposed the western edge and finally its northern end; ultimately moving it much to the surprize and relief of the team who had feared its increasing size could present a serious removal problem; whilst large it is a triangular flake. As equipment was gathered up for the night PC drilled three sixteen millimetre holes in the two boulder for Gadding next session. Several of the large rocks were placed on the flagstone covering the north rift for added security. To the Roadside for pints and fun. Hours 12, 118.5
March 23rd Poul Eich Oíta
TB and PC
The plan; a late afternoon trip to finish securing the scaffold clip to the rock ready for the rear scaffold pole support, to assess ladder access and to Gad the two boulders drilled on Monday. A nice bright day with very little breeze. PC swiftly completed the scaffold clip fixing and began to set up the hauling system to the musical accompaniment of TB wielding the sledge below: the rear scaffold pole looks as though it requires refitting at a slightly higher level to accommodate the intended "rails" for the safety cover. By now both lumps of rock were reduced to a variety of sizes, two of which remained quite large-ish. With the boulders removed TB began to reduce the large debris pile at the south end eventually clearing the area: noticing a draught emanating from this rift too. Work progressed well during which PC managed to install the front horizontal scaffold pole on the "A" frame to also accommodate the grill and the safety cover; using the two scaffold clips he brought up today, leaving the others stored below. As TB was finishing up JC, (landowner), arrived much to the delight of the team. JC was genuinely surprized at the depth, and other work, achieved by the team. PC then spoke outlining the ideals of avoiding hassle for the landowner, and negative, comment from others and to ensure the safety of the grazing beasts; JC dismissed all these concerns, robustly adding "do what you want, work away", and, wait for it.....as PC outlined the intended winch JC pipes up with "you could do with a shed up here to put it kit in couldn't you"!? This comment followed PC requesting permission to spread future spoil around the area; again JC repeated "do what you like". After helping empty the remaining rock and several kibbles JC accompanied the pair back down to the truck. Tomorrows session can now concentrate on digging out the clay fill. A quick change and swift journey to the Roadside where a very patient Billy attended to cocktail requests from bewildered visitors: all in all a cracking digging session and wonderful support from James. Hours 5, 123.5
March 24th Poul Eich Oíta
TB, JW,PC and JS = John Schmidt
The plan: with the boulders cleared away, to remove the exposed clay sediments beneath, hopefully without any boulders appearing too soon. TB and PC arrived at 17:30 and commenced work; water was noticed on the clay floor from the previous nights rainfall, forming a sort of unpleasant mush: something to avoid. TB began removing the debris from the "Sentry Box", to level off the base of the shaft: a small piece of plywood was positioned for the kibbles to land on and be filled, without becoming covered in crud from the sticky wet floor. Soon JW arrived and took over hauling so PC turned attention to opening the gap through the mote wall ready for future wheel barrow access. Within minutes JS appeared and joined the crew; JW changed positions with TB continuing to lower the floor of the "Sentry Box" area; digging continued at a steady pace; the mote wall steadily growing in height and width. The next shift change saw TB and PC working below together; the work becoming manic. While TB worked the south side PC cleared away below the opening of the northern rift; the bottom of the remaining debris fill that CC previously cleared rests upon a jammed stone, directly beneath this, through the fissure, the visible narrow area obviously experiences quantities of periodic water flow: above this the debris in the rift appears secure. Toward the end of the session PC dug down further to form a channel for future rainfall to drain away to the north; this practise should be maintained. The evenings session achieved a depth of some six hundred millimetres around the shaft perimeter, maybe a little more, the remaining elevated kibble stand in the centre indicating this. TB estimates the depth achieved below the surface is two Cronin's, which is around three metres. The only stones found among the clay fill were jammed into the north rift opening, with only two others of note directly below shaft opening; the nature of the clay varied between very stiff to soft sand and gravel mixes. This sort of digging is both swift and relatively easy. The ladder will be too short after another session like last night. A thoroughly shagged out team then headed down the mountain to the Roadside for very some nice pints: JS has expressed an interest to join the digging team. Hours 10.5 134.
March 27th Fraggle Rock / Poul Eich Oíta
TB and PC
HW 08:19, Storm Kate was dissipating, sea state very rough, wind force seven south-westerly, occasional heavy showers of rain and hail. A large stream was issuing, measured at forty millimetres. The plan: to assess the status of accumulated storm debris throughout Fraggle Rock. On arrival the sea was breaking over the edge of the upper terrace; tasting the brackish water issuing from the bedding proved it had earlier flooded the terrace to a greater extent. PC watched the sea conditions for several minutes before deciding to abandon going to the far end; only focusing on assessing the effects on "Jim's Passage". En-route deposits of sand were noted along the passage, at the "Terminus" both ropes and skids were still intact secured in their respective positions. From the "Boars Head" to the "Loading Bay" sand, and other heavier debris lay in the stream; the truck was found secure on the rails. The stream was the full width of the step; at the base of the step heavier gravels have been washed down from upstream. "Jim's Passage" had not suffered further since the trip on 18th February. The place was still levelled with a sand floor and associated shrimps. All in all little change following the recent sequence of heavy seas. Mildly concerned about the sea state the pair exited and decided to go to Drunken Horse Hole. On arrival at the dig the normally sheltered spot was subject to the very cold wind. TB descended and began to dig away the "pedestal", upon which the kibble rested, levelling it to the floor; PC hauled. Difficulties arose with the clay having received a scatter of the recent heavy rain; this meant clay migrated from digger to kibble carabiner, haulers gloves and finally onto hauling rope: the hand winch will reduce this mess enormously. It will be wise to maintain a slope for rain to run off before sinking into the clay; hauling wet clay is.......difficult: perhaps provide a cover for the hole, or the surface of the clay itself? With the "pedestal" removed TB surfaced and assisted PC removing more of the turf to facilitate the installation of the proposed hand winch, manoeuvre the filled wheel barrow, create a clean route for the wheel barrow and to reduce transference of mud from walking to and from the mote wall onto the limestone. Once the "Gate Posts" are secure the barb wire between then can be replaced, with a gate so the wheel barrow can be used to tip outside. A trowel is desperately needed to clean out the clay from the kibbles. To the Roadside for a welcome drink; CC returns later today. Hours 3, 137
March 28th Drunken Horse Hole
CC, TB, AB and PC
A bright fine, cold evening; with only a few items to carry up digging swiftly commenced. The bottom of the shaft was a little glutinous after the showers. PC cut the fence wire; so a trial was initiated utilizing the wheel barrow to dump spoil in the adjacent hollow; until, alas, the supports for the wheel collapsed: back to basics. To avoid mud and crap transferring to the hauling rope, PC remained hauling while AB (Titan?) carried the kibbles, two at a time, to the wall. As CC and TB tipped away the depth and shape of the "Sentry Box" began to become less pronounced, likely in another metre or so it may merge into the east wall and disappear altogether. On the west wall a minor opening of the vertical joint was utilized as another source of drainage. Finishing up for the night, a shallow drain was cut around the shaft base perimeter to convey rainwater to the closest 'ole. A superb effort, particularly from AB who single handedly carried all the spoil to the mote wall. The depth of the shaft is now three metres; still no boulders among the spoil, its been about a metre now since the last group: the walls continue down. The ladder now rests upon the clay "pedestal" so is unsafe; without this extra height the ladder will not reach the tyres. Tasks; 1) Obtain new wheel barrow. 2). Prepare level wheel barrow route. 3). Secure "gate posts". 4). Obtain "gate". 5). Install hangers for builders ladder, and "step" beneath trapdoor. 6). Winch. To the Roadside where talk turned to hauling options, and winches. Hours, 8, 145
March 31st Drunken Horse Hole
CC, TB, CM, MR, JW and PC
Laden with the new wheel barrow, ladder and other items the team ascended to the dig. PC had the idea how to best utilize the barrow by depositing the spoil along the mote wall; using the short planks to build the wall in horizontal layers from the ends of the fence and working back to the gate; this works well, provided the barrow is loaded with only two kibbles worth of weight. CC and TB began to dig while the others rotated among the other tasks. The remaining area of turf was removed to prepare for installation of the forthcoming motorized winch. At the end of the session JW noted the bottom of the "Sentry Box" seemed to be returning to its original cross sectional shape and depth, this change occurring, possibly, from the appearance of a horizontal joint. The builders ladder now barely reaches the top; PC tried the new wooden ladder to see how best to install it, exploring various alternatives, in the narrow confines below the trapdoor. Safety lines for diggers will hopefullybe installed over the weekend. The risk of serious injury, from falling items, will continue to increase exponentially from the hauling process as the depth too increases. Total attention is now required from all personnel during the hauling procedure to avoid anything dropping onto unsuspecting diggers below: clear loud instructions with tight control of the hauling line are important at all times to avoid problems.
Consider this thought; in the event a half full kibble, weighing say twenty kilos, were to fall from the top of the shaft, landing, less than a second later, upon a digger occupied three metres below, the impact of said kibble upon will be in the order of 588.6 kilograms, or half a metric tonne, the resultant impact would spoil the session for all present. So, clear communications, and a flat refusal to let go the hauling line until the situation is safe, along with the forthcoming installation of a safety lid will mean we won't be home to Mr. Cockup.