July to September
July 2nd Drunken Horse Hole
CC and PC
The plan; prior to closing down the dig site a photographic record was required. A series of shots was taken by CC along with some video in reasonable sunlight, between the overcast. Hours 1.5 255
July 4th Drunken Horse Hole
TB, CC and PC
The plan; to clear and reinstate the site. The threat of rain reducing beneath a clearing sky, following a brief discussion, TB descended to retrieve a hanger, pieces of timber and some odds and sods; the pot is now entirely clear of digging associated equipment. CC and PC recovered the hauling frame and investigated the best way of securing the top. Virtually all the rawlbolts were recovered for another day; the fence posts were loosened in preparation for removal and landscaping the mote wall. There remains the two ladders, the scaffold bars, three planks and ultimately the fence materials. Thursday evening the top frame will be finished, the fence removed and hopefully the landscaping commenced. To the Roadside where among the crowd Kieran showed the team to a reserved table! Hours 6 261
July 7th Drunken Horse Hole
TB, CC and PC
The plan, to continue to reinstate the area of the dig. TB used his battery angle grinder to cut off the rebar mesh fixed into the tyres; upon this limestone flagstone were placed, these will be covered with sods of turfs placed by some other old sods. A dry stone wall was completed in front of the tyres and the stone debris pile tided. The scaffold poles were brought down; this leaves several short planks, the fence materials and one scaffold bar. To reduce the mote wall will need two shovels, a mattock, wire cutters, gloves and something to roll the wire onto. One more visit will likely complete the work, requiring only one other trip to survey the pot. To the Roadside. Hours 6 267.
July 18th Joe's Hole
CC and PC
Joe O'Loughlin's Hole Ballynahown, New site.
Following the walkabout with Joe O'Loughlin, (30th June), the team decided to have a look at the hole on his land at Ballynahown. A seven hundred and fifty millimetre diameter shaft, some four foot deep enters the limestone some two foot beneath the surface. Directly below the shaft continues for at least two metres, seen between the loose packed stone. to the south side beautifully worn tower pinnacles are present. The west wall is solid, the east wall is suspect; this is the route were the flood stream occasionally enters so the debris will be of assorted loose stone. It is in rough alignment with Pat Collys Hole, the opposite side of the boreen and another new site found below the cliff adjacent to this site. All downstream - downhill from Poulnagrinn; a chanced visit to the McMahon house for permission was unsuccessful. Joe's site needs covering asap; to the Roadside.
July 20th Drunken Horse Hole
TB, CC and PC
The plan; to complete reinstatement of the site. The Team swiftly set about the remaining tasks. The mote wall is now half its height; the removed spoil scattered across the adjacent area, the entire fencing materials were removed, including the buried wire sections, the shaft is now covered with turf and the adjacent rock heap has been lowered in height by eighteen inches and leveled off. With the removal of the plastic bags there are no superfluous digging materials whatsoever left within the dig. There only remains the plastic pallet and several short planks of timber, these can be retrieved after the final trip which will carry out the survey. Hours 6 273.
July 20th Drunken Horse Hole
Planks and plastic pallet removed in 4 trips, nothing on the surface now.
The 2 ladders down the cave will be needed for the survey & removed afterwards.
July 24th Hopton Mine Nr. Wirksworth
Kelvin, Malc S, Dave G, Sam, Andy, Mark and two others
Started out as a discussion on What App. We initially met at the Café on the Via Gelia. Malc and Myself set off first because we were the only members on foot, the rest formed the Tour de Mine team and had arrived with bicycles.
Inspection of the mine entrance revealed the gate locked from inside but whilst I attempted to get through the bar high up Malc managed to fiddle the locking bar until the gate opened.
This is a huge undertaking cut into the hillside above Middleton t extract limestone. Worked on the pillar and stall methods the roadways are 10 metres wide and equally as high. Efficiently operated with large driveable machines, the roadways had traffic lights and communication was via radio.
Most of the machinery and the vehicles have now gone but the size without the noise and dust which would have existed is impressive. Both other entrances and exits were visited as well as most of the roadways. Very little in the way of artefacts.
I exited with Sam and Andy to see a security vehicle nearby but we weren’t apprehended and the vehicle had gone when the others exited. Since our visit security has been tightened.
Stone from Middleton was used to make headstones for the war graves.
We retired to The Nelson in Middleton to have a drink.
July 25th Considine's Cave
Spoke to Michael Considine, a real gentleman, recognized from the Team drinking in the Roadside. He has given PC permission without any hesitation. During the one hour chat MC regaled PC with the locations of many other holes, the landowner names, etc. Judged from his kindly demeanour the idea of digging will not be an issue. A description of JN's cave, and a little of what the team done was outlined; the intention is to revisit MC and show him JW's movie. He explained that his son had recently bought a rake of land......... also with holes in it; (Quinlands land?). He has very kindly invited PC, of a Sunday, to show the numerous holes he knows of; gleaned from hunting Woodcock for some fifty years. He is entirely fascinated with all things topographical. Mobile numbers were exchanged; PC explained that he'd ring prior to visiting the cave so MC would know when called by a neighbour if its rustlers. His field is both steep and very wet, PC will ask JN for permission to utilize access through his land via the newly constructed house. Ideally another route will be needed to reduce possible inconvenience to the Normoyle family once they have move in.
August 8th Considine's Cave
After several attempts to locate him spoke again to Michael Considine about his cave; requesting permission to dig, once again he very kindly said to "work away": a copy of Caves of Clare, (1981), was proffered as a thank you gift.
August 10th Aghaglinny Point - Cappanahaille
AB and PC The aim to explore a cave that the owners want explored, BUT, kept under wraps. Using the Hilux permission was given to use the rough steep track to access the area above the pass at the 280 metre contour. Following given directions the pair spent a windswept couple of hours on the summit and found very little; Gleninagh South Cave is in the vicinity of the furthest area investigated. AB spoke later to the landowner who will guide her to the actual site shortly.
August 11th Considine's Cave
JW, CC, MR and PC
With permission granted, the 8th August, the plan was to clear the surrounding dense foliage and expose a large working area around the of the top of the rift and open up the narrow cut path through the copse that leads from JN's field in which Pegasus Pot is accessed. Previously JN was asked if access through his land could be used while digging Considine's, his reply was, "I'll cut the grass there to make things easier for you"; what a very nice man.
A possible important relationship of these three sites; Considine's at ITM 510925 x 700308, Pegasus Pot at ITM 510828 x 700289 and Poulnagun collapse at ITM 511341 x 700295. They are all within ten metres of the 700300 northing; an east - west, 270/090 degree, alignment: its all in the jointing.
The team set to work and within two hours an area of some ten by five metres was cleared. The shape of the rift collar is clearly exposed and the necessary platform position identified so as to be directly over the base of the rift to haul efficiently. The dig area at the bottom of the rift is two metres by 0.7 metres; to the west the rift pinches in a little, to the east vertical formation will allow for shoring, if required, to be installed securely. The building of the platform will take several weeks to complete; meanwhile a pushing trip beyond the "Freezer" in Fraggle Rock is planned as soon as practicable. Next Monday the survey of Drunken Horse Hole will be carried out to conclude that project. To a busy Roadside for excellent pints.
August 13th Euro Speleo Conference, Dalesbridge Centre, nr Austwick
Met up with Mac and the Granvilles, Roy Harper and Martin Grass
Decided to go off piste on the Saturday and visit a cave that was not pre-rigged and selected Notts II.
Having been found by Barry Suddell on a dive from Notts 1 then the next process was to find a way out.
We entered by the excavated shaft just over the wall from the cattle grid on Leck Fell. The shaft is mainly vertical and heavily engineered but easily climbable eventually finishing in a rift passage which takes you to the main stream way. Downstream is sump 2 and 3 and upstream is sump 1 and the connection to Notts 1. A sporting trip with the stream high due to the rain of Thursday and Friday. Visited most locations up stream and went part way to the downstream sumps.
On the way out met a guy who had dived through from Ireby Fell caverns. We helped him transport his gear to the surface.
Retired to the tea shop in Cowan Bridge.
14th August 2016 Lancaster Easegill via Wretched Rabbit
Mac, David, Roy and Keith from Newby
Wretched rabbit is a relative easy way into Easegill without the need for tackle. Pitches though slippy have heavy hawser laid ropes in situ and the route through to the main stream way is relatively dry.
Visited various locations en route including Eureka Junction, Holbeck Junction and Gypsum Caverns before retracing our inward route back to Ease Gill Beck.
An enjoyable trip
Another visit to the tea shop in Cowan Bridge.
August 15th Drunken Horse Hole
CC and PC
The plan; to survey the pot and conclude the project. The site is beginning to recover with growth of grass on the shaft covering; the mote wall will take a couple of years; according to JC. While PC to rigging up a vertical survey base line from shaft collar to the bottom of the pot; CC settled himself in the warm evening sunshine to "Catch some rays" and record the survey data called out from below. Following the occasional scream as acrobatics and ladder integrity failed, an accurate survey was completed. The large pool gone; only a small pool of water three inches deep was present. A good many spiders have taken up residence; fortunate for Jarratt he ain't about. Both ladders are ready by the trapdoor secured with dive line reachable from the trapdoor; no need to descend.....TB's roof rack is needed to recover them for B13. To the Roadside for some very nice pints. Hours 4 279
August 16th Considine's Cave
JW, CC and PC
The plan; to visit a sink which was previously described to PC by the owner of Pegasus Pot as taking "a lot of water", particularly now after he had installed a network of drainage channels across his large field. This site is upstream from Pegasus Pot by some hundred metres or so. It is located approximately in the north-west area of the same field, but, actually some ten metres beyond the wall, in the next field, of different ownership. The area surrounding the hole is a dense hazel thicket; a short session with the loppers soon cleared a roomy tunnel beneath the canopy, once inside the copse an uninspiring trickle was followed until disappearing midway along the length of an open rift. This elongated rift is some ten metres long and a metre wide. At the eastern end is a well developed area which narrows slightly on its progression westward; at the eastern end is where the main stream volume enters from the valley, the area testifying to high flow conditions. The western end exhibits an ancient hanger, (UBSS, post 1981?), above the entrance to a small tube in the base of a narrow rift this leads to a constricted, vertical pot. As JW was the youngest and the thinnest the team kindly volunteered his services to go see. After installing another bolt in a more suitable place JW descended the awkward route to finally hang at the end of the ladder, the narrowness of the rift meant the ladder was useless for the most part in returning to surface; having become quite attached to the happy Belgian a plan was hatched to try and recover him; passing down a rope and his SRT kit along with encouraging shouts like "its getting late" and "get a bleeding move on". JW, after a lot of difficulty finally reappeared at the top of the very narrow rift. Meanwhile, to the sounds of rustling in the rift, the bottom of the open rift was studied, among the clean washed area no silt was present, clean washed stone abounds. At the larger, eastern end silt and floral debris are deposited, the pot base here being slightly lower then the overflow channel leading to the western end. JW had descended some seven metres seeing down a further two or so to a lower gap, an area which cannot be easily/comfortably dug; however the contents of the open rift could be mechanically dug with little effort, IF, permission can be obtained. PC will speak to JN to obtain details on the name and address of the Farmer, he can only say no. To the Roadside where beer prices charged to locals were explained to a new barman; amid a throng of French visitors.......
Self C, Ed. 1981. Caves of County Clare p90. (note in B13 paragraph) Mullan G, Ed. 2003. Caves of County Clare and South Galway, p107.
August 18th Fraggle Rock
TB, CM, CC, JW and PC
18:00, HW 18:05, springs: sea state slight wind force two, a small stream issuing ninety millimetres below reference. The large amount of debris along the main passage to the "Loading Bay" had virtually gone. The plan; for CM and JW to push on beyond the "Freezer" and dig along the loose packed passage while CC and PC surveyed back to "Anvil Chamber", with TB collecting the tools spread along the length of the passage. On completion of this trip a decision had been made to put the dig in mothballs owing to logistical issues regarding regular manpower. Previous rain events had washed loose debris from the area enlarging the passage slightly, CM began to dig forward able to see a further seven metres. JW assisted CC surveying in the area beyond the squeeze near the "Freezer", somewhere PC couldn't pass. Difficulties aside the survey wasn't too bad in the space available. TB by now had all the tools back at "Anvil" so once the team assembled these and some of the ropes were removed to surface. A swift ascent to the truck and on to the Roadside. So as not abandon the dig entirely one suggestion is to nudge the two squeezes quite soon so PC can dig the face following significant rain events. 00 7171
August 22nd Drunken Horse Hole and Considine's Cave
TB and PC
The plan; for TB to load up four fifteen foot lengths of timber on his truck, then go up the coast to Drunken Horse Hole and retrieve the two ladders thus concluding the project. Then, travel to Considine's to carrying the ladders etc. to the dig. A fabulous evening with clear views across to Inis Mór beneath high cloud cover: thoughts turned to Cheg in hospital, at the moment unsure whether to buy grapes, or a shovel. Following recent rainfall the two foot deep pool had appeared in Drunken Horse once again. Midges descended in the humid evening air, therefore work was carried out rather smartish. At Considine's the gear was taken via Jonathan's field, normal route for the moment, and the timber threaded through the dense hazel and briar's an easy enough task, with a little more cutting the telegraph poles could use the same route. The timber was lain over the open rift and distances measured and support lengths calculated. With two central poles as main hauling frame support and two 4" x 4" supports set parallel the number of pallets required will be eleven. JW has three, PC has three, five more required. The tree on the north-east side needs cutting away to accommodate the pole installation; hauling frame centre will be some four feet from the end of the platform leaving just enough room to install the winch and allow the railway to pass by. Midges within the clearing became horrific; perhaps a brazier will help during operations? To the Roadside for pints.
August 25th Considine's Cave
TB and PC
The plan; to clear more vegetation from the immediate area and to get a better idea of where to position the hauling gantry so as to be directly above the dig site chosen below. The pair swiftly set about clearing the overhanging tree and other foliage, in doing so exposed, and made their way through, an old path into Considine's field emerging in the bottom of a narrow gulley from among the dense undergrowth. This proposed route will be too difficult to deliver the poles through so they need to come via Jonathan's field. The old path was back packed with bushes to impede beasts. With the brazier lit the midges disappeared making life very pleasant. While PC scratched his head how to best place the timbers, TB descended to view the site and a reported elderly hanger; likely of 1970s vintage. The heavy showers earlier in the day meant the small cascading trickle was significant larger than an average Fraggle stream, this will definitely need diverting and piping to avoid breathing issues below. When MC has the digger in to clear the drainage ditch at the bottom and side of his field its very likely the choked end of the rift will have a constant flow from the lowered water table. Photographs taken; to the Roadside for superb pints.
August 29th Considine's Cave
CC, TB and PC
The plan, to set in place the main beams over the shaft to carry the proposed hauling platform, and, maybe, fit several of the pallets. After assisting TB to load his truck the two heavily laden vehicles made off. The drizzle and mist earlier in the day made for slippery driving across the field, so both trucks were parked on the crown of the slope to unload and avoid destroying the field surface. The route through the thicket was widened to allow the passage of pallets; the five yard long timbers were maneuvered through without too much hassle. The hauling template was removed and stripped down for other use later on, the prefabricated support timbers then set in place; blue heavy type pallets secured them parallel to each other with a 900mm square hauling opening finally sited centrally above the rift. The availability of two battery drills meant construction of the platform was swift. After further discussion the third main support was assembled and installed; the centres of the main supports for hauling are at 1000mm, (pallet width size), the adjacent, (southern?), area is set at 1200mm to accommodate pallet length dimensions a mid position support for the 1200mm span will be fitted to reduce movement. Final positioning of the tripod legs remain fluid until the route of the tramway, and winch location, are confirmed. It was realized that pallets have differing heights, the heavier blue pallets being seven inches, the others less. In the Roadside, whilst wondering where the hell to scrounge enough of them to complete the platform, luck struck, inquiring of Kieran discovered he has a regular supply so within a week or so there'll be plenty: more pints, and talk of getting to actually dig the place! Hours 6, 20.5
September 1st Considine's Cave
CC , TB and PC
Rain for most of the day, well over an inch, reflected by the stream volume and field surface. Good fortune earlier on allowed PC to scrounge six blue pallets well ahead of expected delivery date, which meant most of the platform floor was completed tonight leaving only the Northwest? side open, and the frame supports to be cut and fitted. En-route to Galway TB had dropped off timbers to complete the supports. Mid afternoon PC assisted CC preparing the tripod supports; CC will finish the tripod shortly, so another two or three sessions and actual digging can safely, and efficiently, commence. To a packed Roadside for pints and fine music.
Hours 10, (30.5)
September 2nd Considine's Cave
The plan; with a forthcoming absence from Doolin another six pallets were obtained, delivered and unfortunately stacked in the field near the parking place owing to the sodden surface. Upon return, if ground has dried out, they can be reloaded for further transportation; otherwise its a long heavy carry. Called to Pat Colley's to seek permission for his land in Ballynahown, no one home.
Hours 2, (32.5)
September 4th Considine's Cave
TB & CC
Collected drainage pipes & connectors from Poulacapple Pot, delivered all to Considines and moved the 6 pallets across the field.
September 5th Considine's Cave
TB & CC
Finished fitting the framework with 6" screws this time & fitted several more pallets; all pallets on the frame are now screwed down, and are all good quality 7" ones. Planned the stream diversion pipe route and sunk a trap for the start. The route for the pipes needs a bit more clearing and some connectors & seals obtaining. Hope to finish the pipe and erect the tripod on Thursday and can then actually start digging. We have enough pallets to finish the platform, but 3 or 4 more would create a clean path to the site.
September 8th Considine's Cave
CC, JW, TB and PC
The plan; to erect the tripod, pipe the stream away from the digging area and complete installing the final two pallets of the platform. Earlier in the day CC and PC had assembled, (tested), the tripod prior to carting it to site. Its totalled weight was an issue so two of the legs were disassembled to reduce the effort of lifting it. The stream had increased flow to greater than noticed previously, this soon abated. Without too much effort the tripod was manoeuvred through the dense foliage, assembled and erected, the entire affair finally positioned centrally over the shaft collar. A video camera was set up to record the auspicious erection..... however such was the concentration involved activating the "on" switch was overlooked until later on. The aluminium ladder recovered from Poulacapple Pot is the perfect height to access and maintain the tripod apex. Further items required, more pallets, length of pipe and some pipe fittings. To the Roadside for pints, only to be surrounded by lots of girls, the Matchmaking season has arrived, phawww!
Hours 11, 51.5
September 10th Considine's Cave
CC and PC
Prior to PC's departure for Dublin CC requested a swift trip to discuss the hauling system. The method of securing the shaft collar to prevent debris falling was assessed particularly during transfer of spoil into awaiting transportation. The rail gauge will be three feet to safely close off the collar opening, a wheel barrow used to empty the spoil into. PC will make another ladder to access the rift. The rift is aligned on bearing 012 degrees; virtually north - south. The Banksman will have to be on a cowstail whilst emptying kibbles. To the Roadside for some very nice pints and as the drink passed the threat of being sung at by a wandering troubadour plainly desperate to entertain some poor sod; an unsuccessful Matchmaking individual among wall to wall women.
Hours 3, 54.5
September 12th Considine's Cave
CC and TB
Because of the ever increasing depth of mud near the access point the stream bed was deepened and two pallets placed over it. Several more pallets would make a completely mud free walk to the digging site. The possible site for the winch was levelled after cutting out several large tree roots. The remains of the large tree trunk that lay across the Southern side of the entrance rift was sawn off to give open access for the soon to be installed ladder way.
Hours 3, 57.5
September 15th Considine's Cave
CC and PC
The aim to install the platform supports, sort out the spoil transfer arrangement and perhaps sort the stream. The team arrived in drizzlable conditions, this one of the latest words entered in the O.E.D, superbly describing the conditions of the ominous lowering thick, dark, cloud base, and accompanying misty shower blanketing the area; the lower half Ballynalacken Castle visible against the distant seascape: the bend of the track is becoming terminally slippery. Removing the tree from the bottom of the rift PC set the ladder place and completed the two supports directly beneath the shaft collar, whilst hanging there the top of the stream pipe had fittings installed to direct the pipe down vertically; it awaits the delivery of the next bit of pipe. CC sorted out the truck arrangement for its location over the collar. The Banksman will have to be on a cowstail when adjacent the shaft collar. To the Roadside: the sombre mood reflecting the funeral earlier today of a local Volunteer of the Doolin Coast Guard Unit lost whilst on active service.
Hours 3.5 (61)
September 17th Speedwell Cavern
A trip organised by Paul Chandler for members of PDMHS which had been postponed from earlier in the year due to high water levels. Meeting on the lane up to Mam Tor we proceeded to the Cavern after getting changed and awaited our turn in the queue with the paying guests soon to be transported by boat to the Bottomless Pit. Here we left the tourist behind and set out on our voyage of discovery.
Travelling easily along the main stream way we came across the remains of an old boat used by the miners, only the bottom was under water on the way in. Nearby the entrance to the Bung and a visit downstream here to Egnaro Aven and the end of a long muddy crawl from Peak Cavern. Having returned to the Bung we carried on along the main stream way negotiating the Whirlpool before visiting Main Rising and the Bathing Pool.
A look into Cliff Caverns, the scene of more passage excavation and then onto Leviathen before taking in Whirlpool Passage. Having negotiated the Whirlpool as we exited we arrived back at the Bung to find the old boat completely submerged. Reaching the Bottomless Pit, we became the attraction when the next tourist boat arrived. Some managed to get a seat in the boat whilst other had to swim in its wake.
September 19th Considine's Cave
CC and PC
A pleasant evening, with midges; the ground too wet to drive on. Laden with kit, two loads a piece, tools, wood, rails and truck frame were ferried in turn to site. Whilst CC assembled the new truck PC completed the pipework that conveys the stream down the northern end of the rift leaving the digging area dry. However, elevated rainfall would over come pipe capacity and flood the area to resume the original stream route. The shaft collar surround was finished adding strength to its edges, the rails were temporarily installed and the truck tried out, all seems to work well; some minor elements to be finished. The entire suspended platform is now secure and solid providing a level working area of some fifteen square metres directly above the rift making digging here a two man task. In fading light, 20:15, the pair headed to the Roadside only to encounter four lost Americans heading down the overgrown lane, south toward Ballynalacken, into a briar hell. Totally lost, unable to find their way back to their rented cottage the team lost valuable drinking time assisting them find their way home in the darkness: no details written down on a piece of paper. Comment from driver attempting to use Tablet in car, "Gee, there's no Wi-Fi out here", spoken at the side of the lane overlooking the Atlantic.......................? To the Roadside, at last, only to hear from John Brown, (Doolin Show Cave), that Myles Arkins had died yesterday; Myles Arkins, 90 odd, was a very nice bloke who owned Cregg Lodge Swallet Hours 4, (66)
September 23rd Considine's Cave
With the Matchmaking in full swing traffic was crazy throughout the day. Therefore unable to access the pallets yesterday in early afternoon so a visit at 09:20 today meant obtaining more was not an issue before the frolics kicked off again. Managed to squeeze in five dropping them off above the well sodden track by the house. Took the opportunity to call on Petie Garner senior, brother in law of Joe Garner, (Poulfaoicaislean), whose house overlooks JNs field to advise the family of the forthcoming presence of lights during digging operations this winter and not to become alarmed. This gave an opportunity to reconnect with the family. Took a chance on visiting Sheila MacMahon, (Poulnagrinn); as SM was arriving today, using it as an excuse to call to ask if I could show him the site after so long, no issues there either. Sheene et al not seen by Sheila for many months. Called to see if Pat Colley was about, also no; finally called to Jimmy Garner, again advising of lights after dark being informed that there's no problem and to "work away!" Jimmy has the fields to the west of the dig which accesses Poulnageh and continues on southwest ish to Ballynalacken Castle; wherein are several known sites requiring revisiting. The Milner arrives shortly.
CC, JW & MR
Moved four of the five pallets to the site and extended the walkway through the mud, they now need leveling. Finished screwing down the rails and fitted the missing spacers to the truck wheels. (Missing screws needed for rail bearers)
The hauling system was set up as a two-to-one to test the positioning of the tripod over the shaft and this was satisfactory. Approx three quarters of a ton of rocks was pulled out using the net but kibbles are required to remove the large quantity of wood/moss etc. that entered the pot during clearing the site. The site experienced it’s first casualty when a fifty kilo rock that Jim was handling trapped his finger but he still managed to get it in the net and it was pulled up to surface. To sum up, the hauling system is OK at present and the truck works fine as a safety lid but needs some kind of catch to lock it in place when covering the shaft.
Hours 6, (72)
Pat Cronin & Cheg Chester
September 24th Considine's Cave
SM and PC
The rainfall during the night had produced quite an amount of ground water; the stream occupying some one quarter of the pipe during operations producing a symphony similar to consuming vast amounts of beer and curry the night before. The pair swiftly installed the new ladder built by PC: temporarily lashed to the platform. The large pile of stone drawn last Thursday is truly impressive, as is the depth achieved. SM descended and began to dig like he wanted to get back to Australia A.S.A.P., while PC hauled and sang to him. Once SM had removed several kibbles worth of assorted smaller debris he exposed a sequence of compacted flags arranged like cards weighing between thirty and forty kilos apiece. Little by little each was lifted out, toward the end of shift SM succeeded in loosening a particularly large shale flagstone, 900mm x 450mm x 250mm, (estimated 150 - 200 kilos), manoeuvring it into the net; it is ready to lift on Monday when, after replacing the now greasy rope, and perhaps installing a four to one, it can be lifted out. The present lifting system works supremely well for the haulier, who is able to easily shut the trap and handle the loads with significantly reduced effort. The pair were however thwarted in their attempt to visit the Roadside for some well earned pints owing to vast numbers of cowboy hats wandering about; looking for a ride?
Hours 4, (76)
September 26th Considine's Cave
SM, CC and PC
The plan; to review the rain cover for the pulley and support system atop the tripod and carry on digging. A small stream was present. A large nail bar and sledge were taken to site as was another hauling rope. Two come-hithers, removed from Fraggle Rock earlier in the day, were also delivered. PC hauled while CC began digging sending up quite large pieces of boulders reduced by the sledge, SM did the next shift and progressed the total depth to some five feet below original site level. The original assortment of jammed boulders had covered a looser compaction of smaller boulders; digging this area is swift and easy, the west wall steps back under itself by some eight inches; both walls appear to continue vertical. The combined truck and shaft cover system, built by CC, works excellently, the haulier, whilst hanging on to the suspended load, is able to close off the shaft collar easily moving the lid, (tram), into place by use of a foot; the load can then be safely lowered onto the tram for trundling away. The end of the sixteen foot ladder is now some five feet above the working level; oops. The depth has exposed stratigraphy of both northern and southern ends of the rift, each require stabilizing by partial grading back and shoring. One idea is to step back the southern end; though lots of rocks spades will be also needed. A great deal of rock was lifted, deposited nearby; this has yet to be levelled or disposed of further away. Dark by 19:50, though caving lights were in use the platform area would benefit from its own lighting, perhaps some LEDs fed from a battery? There were assorted bits of kit left about the place following myriad tasks, as PC hauled, the slack rope accumulating on the platform inadvertently caught around a loose telephone pole step, this jumped in a neat arc only to plummet down the open shaft where, far beneath, "The Milner" was digging totally oblivious. The scream "Below!" alerted SM who was fortunately missed by said metal bracket landing close by. NB, 2:1 hand hauling results with the rope coiling across the platform surface. It was during this process the rope wrapped around the step, unnoticed. Therefore no kit whatsoever is to remain anywhere on the platform surface during hauling. The replaced hauling rope is total shite and requires urgent replacement ideally the next visit. Its twists make hauling a sod as the kibble, or net, comes close to surface the number of twists increase, the effort exerted enormous. To facilitate spoil removal the tramway needs extending by three more pallets, so three more lengths of steel conduit will be needed. Another couple of metres depth and the winch will certainly needed. CC fitted two timber blocks at the open edges of the collar to avoid small pieces of debris rolling beneath the tram to fall down the shaft. To the Roadside for well earned pints; alas S&M?? returns to Adelaide Thursday.
Hours 6, (82)
September 28th Mallorca Revisited 2016
For over a quarter of a century the club or its members have been visiting Mallorca, either for caving or for other recreational purposes. My first visit was in 1993, the early history of the Pegasus' escapades in Mallorca is recorded in the Pegasus Occasional Publication No 9, CAVING IN MALLORCA Parts 1 to 4 covering the club's visits up to 2000. Part 5 was added the following year to include the club's activities during their visit in October 2001. No further visits were made by the club, as far as I'm aware until 2014 when Malc Scothon, Dave 'Geordie' Walker and Terry Wheatley made a brief foray back to Pollensa. Following this visit, Terry undertook to arrange a larger scale Pegasus reunion on the island for 2016. As a consequence a group of nine intrepid, or should it be decrepid, cavers assembled at East Midlands Airport on the 17th September 2016 ready to fly off for a weeks caving and socialising. Unfortunately we lost Terry to the Big C earlier on in the year, but his sterling efforts did not go to waste. The team comprised of Mallorca veterans Malc Scothon, Malc Debbage, Andy Walchester, Dave Walker, Al Steans, Mallorca newbies Aran Smith and Sam Garrad, and Pegasus new members Mark Staples and Kelvin Eady.
We arrived midday Saturday, wasted an inordinate amount of time collecting the pre-booked hire cars (a lesson to be learned there), went shopping for provisions and then located our villa on the outskirts of Porto Pollensa. By the time we had comfortably settled in, it was too late to go caving so we settled down for a wee drink.
Sunday morning we were joined by the original Mallorcan explorer Lee Hollis who had flown in from Canada a couple of days previously.
Lee was accompanied by three American cavers, renowned cave photographer Dave Bunnell, Elizabeth Rousseau and Julie Schenk Brown. Lee and his party had been down COVA DES PAS DE VALLGORNERA the previous day on a photographic trip. VALlGORNERA featured briefly in my Caving in Mallorca book but at the time of writing had been closed to cavers and was a relatively short but extremely well decorated cave. The cave was subsequently reopened accidentally and a major breakthrough was made in 2004. The system is now over 74 kilometres long with extensive underwater sections, making it by far the most important cave system on the island. As a consequence the cave has now been classified as a SITE OF COMMUNITY IMPORTANCE IN THE BALEARIC ISLANDS, and access is not granted to the general caving populace. One of Julie's friends was an original explorer of the system and was able to arrange a visit to the cave as a photographic expedition, Lee met up with Julie's friends Dave and Elizabeth while assisting Dave on a surveying trip in Hawaii, and was invited to join them in VALLGORNERA. Lee has promised to do a write up of the trip, and Dave has promised some photos. Hopefully these will be forthcoming.
After joining up with Lee's party the thirteen of us trekked up to COVA DE CAN SION, where some of the more photogenic Pegasus members posed for Dave in the cave. We then all met up for a meal in Porto Pollensa, before returning to the ranch for a nightcap. We retired in the wee small hours of Monday and didn't surface until after midday. Monday was then designated a rest day.
While at VALLGORNERA, COVA DEL PIRATA was recommended to Lee as another cave with superb formations to visit, so we decided to attempt to find the cave on Tuesday. Lee had no imformation as to the location of the cave, but the two Malcs, myself and Andy had visited the area in 2001 to sherpa for J.J Lavergne who was diving in the adjacent COVA DES PONT (see Caving in Mallorca Pt 5), COVA DEL PIRATA is also shown on the large scale road maps of Mallorca, so we thought we had a good chance of locating the cave. Although we successfully found the private road leading to the parking space we had used in 2001 (recognisable by an overload of graffiti) the gate on the left leading towards COVA DES PONT / COVA DEL PIRATA approximately 1km away was locked. We were informed by a local that it was very risky to park on the private road, since it was patrolled freqently by over zealous wardens who were prone to handing out 200 euro parking fines. After returning to the main road and unsuccessfully attempting to reach the site by another road,(access being denied by the landowner), we returned on foot to the heavily graffitied end of the private road. A gate facing the end of the road was partially open and led to a large parking space with a foot path leading down to a beach at Cala Varques. We were informed by the local who had previously warned us of the parking restrictions, that if we followed this footpath down to Cal Varques, then turned left to follow the coastal path we would eventually reach COVA DEL PIRATA. We followed the footpath to the beach and turned left to skirt a small cove in a clockwise direction, directly opposite where we met the beach was a large open sea cave, accessible by swimming only. The coastal path took us up to the cliffs above the sea cave and across a small headland from where we could see another small cove with the exit to the sea cave on one side and a very impressive rock bridge on the other. We continued at clifftop level past the rock bridge following the coastal path which eventually petered out on a rough gorse covered limestone pavement, after a ten minute wander across this pavement keeping as close as possible to the shoreline we encountered another small cove, with an obvious cave entrance at sea level. We climbed down to explore the cave. It was definitely not COVA DEL PIRATA. It was however extremely well decorated and very spacious after passing through a deep lake where the roof lowered to within a foot of the water level. We researched this cave afterwards, it was almost certainly COVA DES COLOMS at Cala Falco. This cave was mentioned very briefly in Caves of Mallorca Pt 4, it can be reached by footpath and does not require swimming to get to it.
The caves in this area are extremely difficult to find without the assistance of knowledgeable locals, and the naming of the caves makes it even more confusing, there are the Cuevas del Pirata (E.Martel 1901) marked as sea caves on the map, these are different from COVA DEL PIRATA which is definitely in a collpsed doline inland.There are several other inland caves in the immediate area of COVA DES PONT & COVA DEL PIRATA, including COVA SA GLEDA,COVA DES XOTS & COVA CAMP DES POU, all referred to in Caving in Mallorca Pts 1 - 5. There are also many sea caves on this stretch of coastline, some named some not. If you intend to visit any of these caves thoroughly research them on the net, and try to find out any access restrictions, local knowledge is invaluable.
On Wednesday I had a rest day back at the villa, chilling by the pool. Meanwhile Lee led a team to the entrance to AVENC DE FRA RAPHAEL, where Andy, Aran, Malc S, Malc D, Sam, Geordie Dave and Mark did the standard tourist trip to the top of the final pitch, visiting the upper series on the way out. We all met up again in Porto Pollensa for a farewell meal with the Americans who were departing the next day.
Thursday we split into two parties, after depositing a car at the end of the TORRENT DE PAREIS and dropping a small party comprising Aran, Sam, Andy and Mark at the SA FOSCA GORGE, the larger team of Lee, Kelvin, Dave, the two Malcs and Al set of to do the full TORRENT DE PAREIS canyonning cum walk. The trip took a full eight hours, as opposed to the standard four and we exited in darkness, this was down entirely to yours truly. Many thanks to the rest of the lads for their patience and endeavours in helping an unfit, obese, old bugger to complete a traverse well beyond his compass. The other guys also took eight hours, due to the low water conditions and the rank smelly nature of what stagnant water remained in the canyon, they aborted the trip shortly after the halfway point and exited by the escape route. Apparently they had an interesting trip, two points spring to mind, despite the low water conditions there are still a number of sections where the smooth canyon walls and deep canals require the team to swim. Point one; if you wish to avoid hyperthermia it's a good idea to wear a wet suit that fits you, ask Aran. Point two; if you wish to avoid drowning it helps if you can swim or have sufficient flotation devices, ask Andy. Incredibly the two separate teams met up at the starting point within a few minutes of each other, Lee and Malc shot off first in order to top up the beer and wine supply from a local garage, all the supermarkets being shut at this time of night. A session ensued back at base camp, and we finally retired at 05.50 Friday morning. The rest of the day was spent sleeping, resting and eating.
Saturday morning we had to leave early as all the roads in our area were shut for the Mallorca triathlon. After doing our packing and tidying the villa, we all drove to Porto Cristo to visit the CAVES OF DRACH showcave before having a leisurely lunch by a secluded cove in Cales de Mallorca. We then dropped the cars back at the car hire place, and awaited our flight back home. All in all a brilliant week spent in Mallorca with some serious caving and drinking done with plans being made to return next year.
September 29th Considine's Cave
With CC away, and SM and FM heading back to the Antipodes, the plan reverted to supporting the base of the stream pipe so the debris pile it rests on can be removed. Earlier in the day alternate hauling rope had been obtained along with six more pallets, these were taken down and left in the field; the ground condition very wet. Having carried down lots of kit, drill etc., much cursing followed realizing the required drill bit was left back home safe on the bench. Much phaffing about resulted with the pipe cut to suit and a timber support installed; the stones beneath may now be removed. The hauling rope was replaced, though stowed in a bag away from ultra violet deterioration. Loose timber and pipe was stowed in the eastern area. The ladder needs sorting. Measurements for a rain cowl to protect the iron work and pulley were taken. Alas no Roadside, as the wet digger made for home to avoid soaking the bar floor.
Hours 1.25, (83.25)