October to December
October 2nd Considine's Cave
CC and PC
Quite a cold morning, winter temperatures appear to be sneaking in; dense fog, vis barely twenty metres. A Sunday trip owing to predicted bad weather tomorrow. The plan to review how best to consolidate the southern rift debris fill, secure tramway pallet and lift the freed boulders from beneath the stream pipe area. Ten millimetre steel mesh is available F.O.C. from PS and CS at least one full sheet along with other cut off's. These will be collected by trailer a.s.a.p. though TB's battery mini grinder will be required. Carrying a pile of kit the pair arrived as the fog finally cleared to bright sunshine. PC hauled as CC sent up the boulders, which became quite a task as removal exposed an open narrow rift requiring some jamming of stones to garden the area safely. Almost a tonne was lift to surface. Further floor clearance meant the bottom is now some eighteen inches below where the west wall steps under. Once cleared attention turned to unblocking the hose reached by using the long ladder a useful resource to wash hands free of mud prior to handling the pulley etc. The slope of debris from the southern end of the rift has become increasingly vertical and unstable since the dig began and the effect of the recent rain event; falls occurred as the ladder was installed into the outriggers, which will be its final position. The end of the ladder is presently suspended some distance above the floor against the slope, the shorter ladder is installed at its base to accommodate complete descent. Measurements were taken for lengths of cut telegraph pole to bridge the undulating wall of the rift in order to support the upper section of clay, some metre in depth. Some video attempted; a superb days work. To the Roadside for pints,
Hours 7, (90.25)
October 5th Considines Cave
Having spoken to "Noel the Pole" PC went to the yard and cut up two short sections and one whole telegraph pole; this proves fifteen sections at eight hundred and fifty millimetres in length; these will form the shoring for the debris in the southern section horizontally across the rift. Once cut and loaded they were transported by truck into the upper field area and by sack trucks to the gate: the three pallets were also trucked across ready for the Thursday evening session. Hours 2.5, (95.75)
October 6th Considines Cave
CC, JW, MR and PC
The plan, to commence installation of shoring in southern rift area to support the clay and boulder debris, to extend the tramway, and prepare ground for winch location. The normal stream volume trickled in both pipe and southern pot. A chilly autumnal evening; CC, MR and JW began to dig out the area and move the stone pile to lay two more pallets, extending the tramway the length of the stone wall presently being constructed from larger stones lifted out from the dig, the smaller rocks cast into the surrounding undergrowth up against the existing field wall. PC set to digging out the clay fill in the southern rift, gradually lowering its height to allow installation of four horizontal sections of telegraph pole, the removed spoil thrown back over the shoring into the open southern rift behind. The clay slope was eventually cleared to some three feet below the lowest piece of shoring exposing multicoloured clay layers inter mixed with pockets of brown humic soil, an unstable mixture, the majority of the composition surprizing dry in nature; these deposits are not glacial, rather sediments from the surrounding landscape. Stones encountered were thrown to the very back of the rift so only loose clay spoil lay up against the poles offering a better chance to "lamp" them downward using the sledge. MR replaced PC removing the remaining layer of clay to begin exposing boulders beneath ultimately allowing the long ladder to move from its awkward angular position to the vertical. The stiff clay area exposed beneath the shoring requires attention as soon as practicable to reduce the chance of slumping should rainfall become heavy or protracted. Both east and west sides of the rift appear to continue down, which is good news for future shoring with the prepared lengths of pole. Once the remaining debris slope is removed from the base of the shaft area the base of the shaft will be that much more elongated to facilitate retreat from falling items. The pallets for the winch platform were finally set in place, the ease of surface work enhanced by JWs installation a flood lighting illuminating the platform, an excellent facility. To a busy Roadside where extensive joke telling caused serious personal injury to stomach and jaw muscles. An superb evening of work and fun.
Hours 8, (103.75)
October 7th Considine's Cave
CC and PC.
11:45: PC had been experiencing increasing unrest regarding possible concerns of the landowner, and his son, over the size of the platform and the projects overall similarity to that of a small mining operation, (see photos). Therefore a visit to MC & PDC was felt required to update them both on the Teams progress, explaining the reasons how and why the platform had evolved, and what the stout tripod was for. After lengthy descriptions during which there was much smiling and incredulous shaking of heads, MC very kindly replied "Work away", which evaporated existing concerns. Having also explained that all caves have a name, his permission was sought to call the site after his family, Considine's Cave; this was received with a little surprize but granted with what appeared to be appreciation.
18:00, the plan; to secure A.S.A.P. the unsupported vertical clay face beneath the present shoring, as CC and PC would be absent, in turn over the next seven days. A normal size stream was present. CC set to fitting the three remaining handles to the tram facilitating its ease of movement for the haulier, meanwhile PC, using a gauging trowel, undercut the existing shoring preparing for its downward movement from being "Lamped" with the sledge. A vertical opening of two feet was cut out the full width of the rift beneath the shoring and ten inches deep into the clay deposit. Two larger pieces of pole were manoeuvred into the opening leaving a gap to be closed off once hammered down on the topmost pole of the shoring. Bit by bit, in response to CC wielding the sledge, the entire stack of poles successfully slid down into place between the soft clay and the rift walls to dock upon the extant base of the slope. At this juncture it was decided to fit in another so the process was repeated. There are now nine sections securely in place supporting a vertical height of five feet, the bottom pole appears to be only some six feet off the existing shaft bottom. A suggestion is to extend the shoring upward toward the surface creating an area behind to dump spoil utilizing an area so close to the hauling point. At the base of the shoring the eastern side of the rift appears to be turning in, therefore the poles in stock may not be of sufficient length, so another pole need be bought, also a further pallet needs fitting into the slope behind the winch location. With the debris slope further reduced the long ladder is now suspended, (15 feet), so expect a bouncy experience for the moment. To the Roadside where the place was entertaining Transgender, Lesbian and Gay attendees enjoying the final weekend of the Matchmaking Season advertised as "The Outing" a happening for those looking for love..........? Over the heads of this mass of customers jostling for service the muddy faced pair, far to the rear, were swiftly handed their pints, attracting an array of confused, indignant looks: ah well, that's love for you.
Hours 4, (107.75)
October 11th Carlswark Cavern
Dave Epton, Malc Debbage, Malc son in law x 2, Mark and Dave Gough
Malc wanted to show the son in laws the beauty of the netherworld and arranged to take them into Carlswark Cavern.
We initially entered by the Resurgence Entrance but could not locate the way through to the main passage although we could hear a party of youngsters above.
Exited the Resurgence Entrance and made our way to the Gin Entrance. Travelled through the cave to the junction with the passage coming from Eyam Dale Shaft. After a short break we set out for the far side of the lower sump but Malc was having knee problems and returned leaving just three to traverse through Dynamite Passage and Stalactite passage to the sump.
Refreshed ourselves in the Moon at Stony Middleton.
Now where is Fingal’s Cave mentioned in the Stoney Middleton brochure?
October 13th Drangonsby Mine, Nr Scunthorpe
Paul, Cheg, Alan Harrison and Dave Gough
A large complex developed to mine ironstone but now under care and maintenance.
A personal invite by the mine manager to visit the site and travel underground by Land Rover.
The mine had been abandoned in the past and had flooded most of our visit was to the area which had been underwater. A large amount of machinery had been left in situ from conveyors to loading machinery to which the flooding had given an eerie coating.
There had been a large underground workshop which still had spare parts in place and a large compressor house.
Trial of various types of cutting and boring machinery had also taken place.
October 13th Star Rock Resurgence, Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire
ML, KL, Dylan The Dog and PC
Following The Lumleys setting up home in Castlemartin, West Wales. An investigation of the surrounding Limestone has established several interesting sites. Star Rock Resurgence being one of the most surprizing. A stream cascades for twenty metres to the sea, issuing from impenetrable beddings and among huge boulders coursing between a sea stack and twenty metre cliff face. As the stream passed over a short section of sand its dimensions were estimated at 3 metres wide and 0.1 metre deep, flowing at 1 metre in 1 second, suggesting 0.3 of a cubic metre in one second, this part of the stream does not include two adjacent, lower streams each of equal volume. So a cautious total of 0.9 cubic metres per second is estimated to be resurging! A small tube is located just above low water mark, tucked away in a sea worn cavity, behind a large buttress at the western end of an idyllic beach, seemingly formed along the fracture, or joint, it can be entered for two metres before becoming choked by sea cobbles. The entrance is protected, in part, from the south-westerlies by the buttress, this position offers a fair chance to excavate the site without the recurring deposition from winter storms. NB. no rain had fallen on the peninsula the previous week. A Grand Day Out finished off in St. Govans Bar, a home for the thirsty and geologically bewildered.
October 17th Considine's Cave
CC and PC
An overcast evening cooled by a south-westerly. The plan, to reduce the remaining boulder slope extending from beneath the shoring and remove the thixotropic clay deposit covering same. Evidence of a flood was present, the area clean washed, likely from the heavy showers earlier in the day. CC digging, PC hauling. A steady pace removed a lot of crap, PC ensuring the spoil was dumped as close to the wall as possible making as much stacking area as possible available ultimately to be faced with a stone wall. As work progressed hauling became problematic owing to migration of clay from digger to kibble to haulier to rope, due to only two digging; thus, on occasion, the haulier had intermittent "wheel spin" when underload. Matters became quite desperate as rain increased the slip factor. Even so the long slope was reduced to a vertical face to within two feet of the shoring, also the removal of the clay cover achieved a clear area below the bottom of the shoring of some eighteen inches this will allow insertion of the next piece of horizontal shoring. The exposed rounding corner of the left wall is not too severe so will likely take the prepared lengths of sawn pole, (850mm), for at least another two feet, vertically. The reduced area of slope at the base of the ladder is unstable so care alighting from the ladders is required. The mud covered hauling rope was removed for washing in The Good Doctor Boycott's Caving Kit Washing Emporium, the Pyjama cord rope will be its replacement next Thursday. Construction of another fifteen foot ladder need be undertaken soon, also a tub on site to wash/soak rope/kit in. The locking mechanism for the lid need be fitted a.s.a.p. TB returns this week. To the Roadside where thoroughly shagged out talk turned to websites and beer festivals.
Hours, 4.75, (112.5)
October 20th Considine’s Cave
CC, JW, TB and PC
The plan; to continue to shore the southern rift with the remaining sections of pole. Another cool evening, darkening even as the team set up shop at 18:20; a small trickle of a stream. PC to shoring, TB to digging, JW hand hauling and CC completing the tramway, hand hauling and anything else that needed doing or fetching. Accessing the excavation area directly under the vertical shoring was difficult to reach so most of the remaining debris slope was removed, which exposed some half dozen very large boulders, mostly other than limestone, however one limestone block, equal in size to the others, needed three to haul; Limestone really is a heavy rock for its size! The completed tramway and shaft closer system works superbly well; all loads lifted are swiftly made safe at surface by the tram rolling over the open shaft collar where it automatically locks in position, closing the shaft off completely beneath the suspended load. If this fifty kilo limestone block fell the seven metres down the shaft its impact would be an unhealthy 3,500 kilograms: even a Petzl helmet won't avoid that sort of headache. As work progressed some slippage occurred of the shoring precipitating urgent action to contain the movement. Eventually three further sections of horizontal pole were inserted, later these were "Lamped" downward into position, with another fitted at the top most location to retain any migrating clay deposit: depth of shoring now >2 metres. Each side of the southern rift appear to continue downward, so that's good news for the length of shoring chosen as these can be inserted without too much excavation behind and beneath the existing timber work. As the slope was removed the clay deposit is reducing in size to pockets between the stones; another session and this should disappear entirely. Clean washed stone is clearly visible beneath. Two plastic barrels are on site, one for rope control from the capstan winch the other as a water butt for cleaning kit. To the Roadside for pints and even more fun.
Hours 9.25, (122)
October 21st Considine's Cave
The opportunity to obtain steel mesh arose as TB and his battery grinder have returned, the pair also picked up another five pallets, these are deposited in the field, the mesh should be suitable to form the bratticing, this is at PCs place.
October 25th Considine's Cave
TB, CC and PC
A mild, clear day with the normal trickle present. An afternoon session to avail of decent light to cut an area for the spoil and replace two pallets in the platform upon which to mount the winch. The pallets in the field where swiftly brought over, a further six required. TB and PC cut a swath through the undergrowth for twelve metres, following a contour in the depression to maintain a level wheelbarrow route. It terminates where the stream flows in from the southern field. CC fitted the support assembly for installing shoring, suspended from a scaffold bar. When slack was removed from the cable, by use of the turnbuckle, the lifting effect was immediate, it actually began to lift the lowest timber. This method will avoid hassle at the bottom of the rift, trying to support and install shoring simultaneously. TB removed several large roots to allow installation of the pallets at the end of the tramway to accommodate the intended route for the wheelbarrow, this also involved digging the slope out further to accommodate a third pallet. The pyjama cord rope was turned about, its clean end now ready for use. A spare rope in a tackle sack is also on site. To the Roadside!
Hours 9, (131)
October 27th Considine's Cave
CC, TB, and PC
Mild, and overcast, with a misty rain; the stream had increased, slightly. The plan; to remove a further percentage of the southern slope in preparation for inserting more shoring. CC digging, PC hauling, TB moving spoil. Having two at surface meant the haulier need not touch muddy kibbles or boulder net, so whilst PCs hands and the rope remained free from troublesome shite TB became mired in it. There is virtually no clay/mud remaining, only that present beneath the shoring. The smaller gravel like debris is shattered shale. A steady supply of stone, boulders and gravels were removed, used to revet the barrow route. Before departure TB cut away a chunk of old tree root this will allow an awkward opening to be closed by insertion of a further pallet. Meanwhile fog had descended causing the team to loose several valuable minutes of drinking time finding their way out the field. To the Roadside where a Jazz "happening" was errr....... happening, man.
Hours 7, (138)
October 31st Considine's Cave
CC, TB and PC
A mild overcast day, with only a trickle in the pipe. The plan; to install more shoring below, and the remaining pallets completing the platform. PC shoring, CC hauling, TB tramming and reveting the barrow route. The final section of clay overburden was removed exposing the expected loose compacted stone beneath, and behind, the shoring, all spoil lifted out immediately. The shoring support cable system works well controlling the weight of timber shoring whilst excavation beneath takes place. Minor twisting occurred with the pyjama cord; due for washing. TB continued preparing the wheel barrow route around the cleared area, reveting it with stonework. The two pallets that will form the start of the wheel barrow route were fitted after digging away the root strewn top soil. This will make barrowing spoil an easy task. A second area for spoil was opened to the north-west of the path this crosses the stream course heading to the corner of the field walls. Once the days shoring was completed an area was dug a foot deep in the shaft centre the loose stones still surrounded by open space. Both east and west walls continue vertically down, visible either side to a depth of at least one metre. The base of the shaft is a metre below the "Lip". The debris slope from the south end is enormously reduced; this is where most of the spoil removed has originated. Thursday will dig the floor back to the shoring. To an empty Roadside: winter approaches.
Hours 7.5, (145.5)
November 3rd Considine's Cave
CC, TB, JW and PC
Dark by 18:00, with a cool wind, a trickle present. The Donkeys are around for the next while so securing all gates and electric fences is important. The plan; with much of the preparation completed, to get on and dig. The two planks brought along for the wheel barrow were lain off the platform up the minor slope, these need a non-slip surface. PC hauling, CC and MR digging, TB stacking spoil and reveting with JW taking photos, and assisting, everywhere. CC commenced digging at the north end exposing the rift narrowing to seven inches, this width temporarily removes concerns of a second area requiring shoring. Into this width "deads" were stacked to secure any small debris behind. The evenings session successfully incorporated the use of the wheel barrow from the shaft collar; kibbles of spoil and the net containing Rocks...... Little, Large and "Effing" Large were swung sideways from the lift straight into the barrow then trundled away. However, this process highlighted the importance to ensure the shaft collar was always covered by the tram locked in position whilst the emptying procedure takes place to remove the risk of falling debris, regular sweeping also removed the smaller pieces of debris falling through the pallets. MR continued excavating back to the ladder: the floor was lowered an average of eighteen inches, (450mm). Larger gaps between the stones were noted. The floor now averages a metre below the "Lip"; both east and west walls can be seen to descend vertically. An excellent session. To an entirely empty Roadside, where Billy was discovered using "Silvo" to polish his knobs.
Hours 11.5, (157)
November 10th Considine's Cave
TB, CC, JW and PC
A cool enough evening, the previous days heavy rainfall had drenched the field, though only a trickle was present in the pipe. Evidence of a flood was present, residual water flowing down the walls of the dig. The size of both stream channels and swiftness of response suggests any rainfall occurs, and passes quickly, as a single pulse. Earlier in the day a second trial of the winch was carried out at Chegs, the addition by CC to the rope winding method working well. The plan; to insert the two remaining sections of shoring, and dig. CC hauling, JW digging, PC shoring and TB barrowing. Making room for the shoring four large to very large boulders were removed, the largest a lump of limestone around 100 kilos. Subtle radii began to appear on both walls meaning the pole sections, at 850mm, are too short for the increased width, replacements will be available Monday. CC changed with JW to complete the session below. The shaft floor is now some three metres below the stream pipe. The pyjama rope was removed for washing. House keeping for Monday includes completing the hose pipe down the shaft, installing shoring, completing ginging, extending stream pipe along rift away from digging area and levelling debris along barrow route. A fine session with a lot of spoil removed. To a very empty Roadside, for pints.
Hours 10, (182)
November 14th Considine's Cave
CC, TB and PC
A very foggy day, mild, a small steam running. Evidence of a flood was present. The plan, to install the lengths of shoring, obtained earlier in the day from “Noel the Pole”, and complete any outstanding tasks. PC hauling & shoring, CC hauling and TB hauling & barrowing. An area three feet high was dug out beneath the shoring into which was horizontally inserted the one metre lengths of pole, the area behind back packed with stone and clay. The minor gap between the existing and new timbers was closed by levering upward the new pieces of shoring; this was difficult so a maximum of four should be easier to manage. A well washed gap among the stones was noted beneath & behind the area of shoring, some 1 foot x 2 feet depth unseen. CC, and his clean hands, arrived to reposition the support cable and bracket support. The large boulders removed during the shoring process were all cleared to surface. The edge of grey coloured clay deposit appears to follow the vertical line of shoring, once the wet surface is removed the clay is dry and firm beneath. The base of the twenty one lengths of shoring is now some four feet above floor level. The shaft hose pipe was rearranged and now working; the ginging also was attended too, the northern rift appears to be widening! The fifteen foot ladder was prepared for relocating beneath the platform. Another pole is required. To the Roadside where a thoroughly shagged out team enjoyed Billy’s company.
Hours 12, (194)
November 17th Considine's Cave
JW, CC, TB and PC
A chill evening, the previous days producing a lot of rain; the stream filling half the pipe. CC digging, PC hauling, TB barrowing, JW hauling, digging and photography. The base of the shoring had been thoroughly deluged, the small pieces of timber used for chocking were stripped clean of mud, (this area is normally sheltered). The steady pace removed a lot of spoil, much from the thrust slope at the base of the shoring, now prepared to receive more shoring. The two metre ladder was replaced with the three metre aluminium; this too barely reaches the bottom of the upper one. The depth is now some eight metres this requires a safety line, perhaps fitted when the ladder is repositioned to also serve as the brattice. This proposed work may require several sessions to install fixings in the rift to secure the vertical ladder, and prepare the approach staging at the top of the rift. Many large boulders were removed, at least ten await the next session. TB has progressed the “barrow-way” from the platform around the depression to the southern stream, some fifteen metres in length. The decision to fill the southern rift to ground level was taken, this will solve several issues, not least salving possible concerns of the Farmer. Stone laid where the stream enters, clay and gravel deposits forward of this filling the narrow area up to the shoring which will be extended the remaining three metres to surface. Enquiries reveal thirty inch ID corrugated plastic drain pipe is four hundred euro for six metres. Heavy hail showers added to the lubrication of the platform surface. Doolin Show cave, (Poul-an-Ionain), have approached PC asking if he wants to dig in the cave. To the Roadside where, shagged out, the pints tasted great.
Hours 9, (203)
November 21st Considine's Cave
CC, TB and PC
The plan; to install a lower platform to access the new, proposed ladder location which will also double as a brattice. A bitter cold bright day; the same size stream present. While PC removed the overburden to expose the limestone below the existing ladder position, CC and TB carried over the remaining one metre sections of pole: one way of keeping warm against the freezing north-easterly wind. A body harness was shared among the team working on the precarious area, this was finally cleared; timber and pallets swiftly fitted. TBs reciprocating saw proved useful once again trimming errant undergrowth. After a lot of awkward manoeuvring the ladder was eventually suspended from the joists supporting the main platform for positioning down the centre of the rift. Securing the lower section of the ladder needs completing before digging can resume so its planned to be carried out during the daytime on Thursday. So no digging Thursday evening. A cracking, if excruciatingly cold, session. To the Roadside for some freezing pints and to drool over JWs latest photos.
Hours 11, (214)
November 24th Considine's Cave
CC and PC
Another midday trip to avail of light, a much reduced stream, a very bright clear, but bitter cold, day. The plan; to secure the ladder near its bottom end. Unfortunately The Good Doctor Boycott, (G.D.B.), will be absent for a month. CC’s rethink of securing the ladder produced an infinitely more flexible and stronger method of fixing, meaning much less manufacturing, though needing a little more precision when fitting. After a series of acrobatics the upper brace was positioned, marked and drilled, the studs inserted ready for securing the horizontal scaffold bar; meanwhile CC had fitted a further pallet to close off the wide south-east opening above the top of the pitch; the place the dog fell from. Using his new toy video PC recorded the antics below, the results are dark, and atmospheric……..light required.Monday the first ladder will be finished and digging will resume. To the Roadside for very cold pints.
Hours 5.5, (219.5)
November 26th Mildam Mine, Great Hucklow
A trip organised by PDMHS with no limit on party size.
The members had a choice of being on an 8 O’clock trip or a 10 O’clock trip.
This is a working fluorspar mine which connects with Ladywash. Having had various owners over the years and been mothball the mine is currently operated by BFL on the Hucklow vein.
Quality can vary but the product is mined by a small staff before vehicle transport to the surface and then via road to Cavendish Mill for processing.
An interesting walking tour to see the operation in action on a narrow vein. New pockets are accessed for quality before production begins which can be on several levels.
November 28th Considine's Cave
CC and PC
A slightly warmer day though the wind still NE, the stream much reduced. The plan; to complete securing the top ladder and to dig. Heavily laden the pair stopped en-route to feed the Donkeys. CC descended first and installed the bracing to secure the lower ladder, (videoed), once the top was screwed to the joists the entire ladder structure became solid. The shoring suspension cable was reinstated, now threaded down the back of the ladder access platform. CC removed some of the base of the shoring in preparation for inserting more poles, finding that the clay deposit appeared to be decreasing in volume. The session finally ended with several loads brought to surface. To the Roadside for good company and superb pints, reminiscent of times past; a few locals in conversation.
Hours 5, (229.5)
December 1st Considine's Cave
CC and PC
No rain these last few weeks though ground still wet, cold, the cloud ensuring a very dark evening, a small stream present. The plan; to mark out the next ladder brace-bracket position, and dig. Using two plumb-lines the vertical ladder was aligned, distance to the next stemple brace calculated and both anchor holes drilled. The required scaffold bar length measured. PC to surface to haul and barrow while CC dug, the northern rift width appearing to remain narrow, so good news. The base is now cleared of the loose stone; some eleven kibbles of gravel also lifted out. Stone and boulder spoil tipped into the southern end of the rift, gravel used to extend the barrow way. Nuts needed to secure top ladder to platform. Installation of lifeline to be completed. A short, (90 inch), ladder is being built to facilitate reaching the upper ladder whilst the team excavate the required depth to accept the next ladder of 3.8 metre. To an empty Roadside for pints.
Hours 5.5, (235)
December 5th Considine's Cave
NB, CC and PC
A cold day, overcast, a small stream running. The plan to install shoring and dig. PC installed the shoring using a different method which proved far swifter than previous, five sections of poles were swiftly fitted and less spoil excavated, the clay deposit has reappeared. NB & CC descended to review the dig. NB then dug, CC barrowed, PC hauled. A lot of spoil removed; large boulders are becoming common place. The average depth below the platform is now eight metres; the parallel walls seen to continue down. The original water pipe was removed and the four inch branch pipe redirected vertically. The placed washed down and cleaned, the team made for the Roadside to talk of caves measureless to man, and girls.
Hours 12, (247)
December 7th Considine's Cave
NB, CC and PC
A mild enough day, extensive cloud cover. The plan; to refit the shoring support and to clear away the base of the northern rift. CC digging, PC hauling NB barrowing. A steady removal of spoil as CC exposed the northern rift who then ginged its narrow opening, with a great deal of difficulty; the confined space and heavy work raised the question can CC become erect after this enormous amount of effort….? Ooo err. Meanwhile spoil was deposited into the southern rift opening. The northern rift is now prepared for further downward progress. Thursday, the area of the southern riftrequires removing; and thus more shoring. Alas, NB departs tomorrow. To the Roadside for pints.
Hours 9, (256)
December 18th Considine's Cave
CC and PC
A chill, bright day, evidence of a flood event in the shaft, a small stream present. The plan; to prepare the first ladder to accept the second and dig. The pair descended and set up both ladders to reach the drilling position. Once completed, the distance assessed, it was decided not to install the next ladder, (2.2 metres), until another metre or so of depth was achieved, allowing the digger to pass beneath to safety during hauling. There is insufficient room to squeeze between the ladder and the wall. With the spare ladders recovered to surface CC commenced digging. The gravels were deposited on the muddy path to the field, the boulders dropped into the southern rift and the flatter stones used to build the wall. CC managed to almost level the floor working from the northern rift. If this depth is maintained across the floor the second ladder and the next section of shoring can be installed. There is enough shoring for about a further 1.5 metres depth. The area adjacent the shoring remains dry, suggesting the presence of a draught, Hooray! No Roadside as PC hurried home for erection duties……………...involving a Christmas tree.
Hours 5, (261)
December 22nd Considine's Cave
CC, TB and PC
A cool enough day, with a chill wind, a lot of rain made during the night evidenced by a pristine platform surface and a well washed base of the shaft; a small stream present. The plan; to check the next stemple for length and dig. CC digging, TB barrowing, PC hauling. At one point TB thought he could hear voices. Was this divine intervention? Soon after, armed with a long pole, he went for a poke in the undergrowth… Ooo Err! Steady progress by CC lowered the floor southward to the base of the slope to the lower ladder, the ginging in the north rift is now just above floor level, the bottom of the shoring in the south end is almost two metres above the floor level. One metre of attainable depth is still visible down through the loosely compacted boulder floor. The length of the rift at bottom is now between four and five metres. Large boulders are becoming common place, as is the grunting noises from PC. Raised gravel spoil is now deposited along the muddy path to the field, to replace the pallets. The second ladder should be installed within the next two sessions thus improving brattice safety cover and climbing. A busy though straight forward digging session ending, surprizingly, in the Roadside, where the team enjoyed drinks from Peter with sustained abuse from Billy surrounded by his fairy lights, whose merry twinkling passed unnoticed by the thirsty throng….………...This the season to eat, drink and be MARY.
Hours 9, (270)
December 25th Considine's Cave
TB and PC
A mild, misty overcast day, with heavy showers, a small stream running. The plan; to continue digging toward the shoring. PC hauling and barrowing, TB digging. Large boulders continued to appear among the lessor spoil, therefore wall was increased in height and breadth. One boulder required a 4 to 1 hauling system to lift; the length of the extant rope is only just long enough to cope, another foot of depth and it would need a longer rope. The spoil slope was slowly reduced exposing the narrowing of the rift, fortunately this narrowing is temporary as through the gap beneath the slope the bulge in the wall, and the passage width can be seen to increase once again as the wall resumed its verticality. The clay deposit that has been a constant presence behind the shoring has now disappeared, this means a change in shoring tactics as the stone exposed is unstable. The area behind is very wet. The floor now slopes to the south from just below the northern ginging. Watching TB ascend the fixed ladder from the bottom of the rift the feeling of depth hits home; it must be approaching ten metres. If both long ladders were now stood on each other they’d be short of the top. As the slope is unstable several pieces of pole length was fitted to reduce the chances of a run in. The shoring needs completion this Thursday, so that will mean a boring session for people. The 90 inch ladder needs fixing soon too as joining them will become an issue for ease of work. No drink, gasp.
Hours 6, (276)
December 29th Considine's Cave
JW, CC, TB and PC
A cool dry evening, a small stream present. The plan; to get there an hour before JWs arrival to have the second ladder installed ready to dig. CC and PC managed to secure the ladder with only minor hassle, the task virtually complete when JW arrived flashing the assembled crew……Oo err. PC then attended to the very loose boulders that had emerged from beneath the existing shoring, whilst attempting to ignore the loosening area in his pants; a further five sections of shoring were swiftly inserted, the area now safe and secure. The voids behind the shoring was then back packed with the smaller stone removed earlier thereby significantly reducing the amount of spoil to be sent to surface. The shoring, or rather the bottom of the shaft, is now well below the clay deposit, the stones are therefore without a “glue”, so removal of stone to install shoring requires great care and attention. Vertical holes, some over one metre in depth are regularly appearing among the floor boulders, without a real sense of draught though, these glimpses show the walls continuing on downward. An observation from the 25th December session is the occurrence of a fog in the shaft bottom, when only TB was down there, (Wow, what speed was the Good Doctor digging at?!!). This occurrence appears to prove further the presence of a warm air flow that regularly dries much of the rift walls. Digging resumed, JW hauling, TB barrowing, CC and PC digging. As the pile of debris from the shoring process was reduced PC replaced JW hauling. There now remain nine pieces of shoring at one metre and about three at 0.85m, these offer the capacity to dig down a further five foot, or so. JW continued flashing, which clearly lit up the shaft; the completed ladders enhancing the sense of depth, later measured at thirty feet. To the Roadside for even more complementary pints.
Hours 13, (289)