July to September
5th July Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Very warm: heat haze over islands: barely a trickle: Midges: Horseflies: The plan: to begin landscaping/covering the open rift. CC continued setting more stone along the Bunker retaining wall whilst PC laid a membrane over the plastic pallets and constructed stonework around the base of the Bunker wall covering the existing pole sections and gaps between the rift wall and pallets. This will reduce the chances of a digger, particularly TB, receiving another impact from above. The barrow way to the Bunker is slowly collapsing into the depression, likely from the lack of moisture reducing soil adhesion. Need to hack into some of the foliage away to increase the existing nine inch wide route. Two barrowing planks had mesh secured along them to improve traction when tipping spoil in the rain. Another pallet slat failed, four pallets need replacing ASAP. Covering the rift has removed all available light from the south end; work area lighting would be most useful. To a busy Roadside.
Hours 3 (1393), Southend (318), Kibbles, (767), Nets, (76)
7th July Tham Luang Cave Rescue, Thailand
Jim Warny departs for Thailand to assist in Rescue.
7th July Considine’s Cave (South end)
Overcast: warm: barely a trickle: midges: The plan; to remove some of the shoring pole sections. Descended into the rift its appearance superb, the walls continue down vertical, fluted and scalloped: impressive. The floor is level except the last metre or so which is mainly boulders up against the south end. Counted the exposed sections of shoring, numbering eleven; one large piece distorted from the vertical. Removed Gantry and lowered the shoring by four poles. Had difficulty removing the large staples used to secure the support cables without damaging cables too much. The new location for the rebar hangers, which secure the turnbuckles, is further into the northern area allowing the tension applied by the turnbuckles to pull the poles tighter up against the rift walls increasing overall shoring stability. Replaced gantry, to get out, and found it needs shortening by some eighteen inches so as not to project beyond the shoring into the dig area. Scampered up and down betwixt dig floor and winch to bring shoring pieces tools and equipment to surface. To do, gantry plank needs shortening: four pallets need replacement: timber left for handrail. With TB & CC in the UK and JW en-route to Thailand digging will be a slow process. To the Roadside for a cool pint! Hours 3 (1396), Southend (324), Kibbles (767), Nets, (76)
9th July Considine’s Cave (South End)
AM: Very warm: Cloudless: Haze: Almost dry stream: Midges: Horseflies: managed to get six decent pallets transported same to dig; informed another character is after fire wood; asked if the hotel owner would direct this request toward using the older and busted pallets whilst the good ones are reserved for us.
PM: Inspected the working platform amid a cloud of flying pests. As previously thought four pallets require replacement. Some were destroyed during their removal. The two remaining positioned in line with the barrow route across the existing platform to spread the barrow load. The new pallets have not been secured to the joists below. To a hectic Roadside absolutely packed with visitors.
Hours 3 (1399), Southend (327), Kibbles (767), Nets, (76)
10th July Grenville Bendigo Blatherwick's Funeral
EULOGY FOR GREN -- 10th of July 2018
Grenville Raymond "Bendigo" Blatherwick was born on the 10th of September, 1935, "Somewhere in Nottingham". I believe his childhood home was located somewhere near the bottom of Carlton Road. The young Grenville suffered a traumatic loss when, at the age of ten, his mother died in childbirth. Gren later adopted the name Bendigo as a tribute to his ancestor, William "Bendigo" Thompson, a bare-knuckle fighter who was the champion of England in the 1840s. Both Bendigos had varied and colourful careers although Gren never emulated his ancestor in becoming an evangelical preacher promoting the cause of temperance.
One of the themes running through Gren's life was his disregard for authority and his persistent attempts to subvert and evade any such tyranny. I believe, in this, he followed the example of his father, Arthur Blatherwick, who made his living as an illicit bookmaker, taking in bets from his neighbours on the Edwards Lane Estate. Gren said that his father would fill in his tax returns as a window cleaner, despite his never owning a ladder.
Born in 1935, Gren's early education was inevitably disrupted by the war which brought the conscription of vast numbers of teachers, their replacements being drawn from the ranks of the retired plus hastily trained wartime staff. Leaving school at 14, Gren would not have had the best of education but more than made up for this via his native intelligence and an inquiring mind. His early years spent working in the pit reinforced Gren's ability to look after himself and developed his gift for wit and repartee.
By a stroke of ill luck Gren was called up to become one of the last draft of national servicemen, spending his army service in the Signals Corps. As ever Gren made the best of his situation which provided him with a business opportunity - liberating War Department radio valves which he then sold at The Valve Shop on Radford Road when on home leave.
A more useful aspect of his army training gave Gren considerable skills in the world of electronics, his particular forte being tape recording. Gren was a pioneer in the experimental dubbing of reel to reel tapes which led to him performing, on tape, with many of the outstanding musicians of the day. His harmonica solos with the London Philharmonic Orchestra were truly ground-breaking while Gren's duet, with Frank Sinatra on "Come fly with me" is a classic of its kind. In fact it was his project to record live music in the local jazz and music clubs that led Gren, by chance, to the Co-op Folk Workshop and gave him his first real experience of folk music. This led to decades of involvement as a performer, club organiser and co-founder of the Carrington Triangle Folk Club, still thriving after more than three decades.
As a trainee folk singer Gren was already equipped with a few songs from the famous "Rock and Heather Club Songbook", an eclectic mix of climbing songs, comedy pieces as well as rather sentimental ditties concerning lochs, glens, isles and other features of the Caledonian world. More typical of Gren were his stirring renditions of favourites like "Paddy McGinty's Goat", learned from his dad, "Under the Bamboo Tree" or "Salome", always performed in true belly-dance mode.
Besides music Gren's other great passion was for outdoor pursuits, particularly weekends spent in the Peak District of Derbyshire, singing in the local pubs after a day spent walking and rock climbing. One of the joys of these weekends was travelling up to the Peak with a happy band of friends, male and female, all kindred spirits, where the journey on the X2 Manchester coach and the subsequent walk to the rendezvous was a very positive part of the whole experience, making for enduring friendships and a great sense of comradeship.
Gren had an extremely charismatic personality and was (generally) wonderful company. Gregarious, generous, thoughtful and always taking the side of the underdog. He could be bloody-minded, stubborn and devious at times and it was unwise to cross him but he was resourceful, original and rarely at a loss in any situation. Gren's ready wit and outgoing nature made him friends everywhere - friends whose loyalty he returned in full measure. I'm sure all who really knew him will hold it to have been a privilege to have known such a genuinely admirable and larger than life character.
11th July Jug Holes
Malc. Scothon, Roger Hall & Ian Gould
Lower series through trip, exiting the adit (Intended)
10:30 am - 12:45
Initially, Ian had some rope practise off a tree and down a steep slope in Jug Holes Wood , using a figure of Eight descender and then the normal stop. We didn’t let him loose on a rack, leaving the fun for another day ! :-)
Whilst there, we met a walking group , headed up by Paul Chandler (PDMHS and the guy who started Masson Caving Club). Also In the group was the guy who owned Caving Supplies. We exchanged pleasantries, and took the opportunity to quiz why Caving Supplies are not selling both fleece undersuits and oversuits which Roger and Ian were after. The excuse was that someone had left the business who used to make these but it hopefully should be sorted in the near future. Personal callers are still to ring the outside bell to Caving Supplies for attention.
Because Paul’s group was heading downhill towards Darley Dale, passing the adit and exit for us, I asked him to check the gate and release the bolt for us. He duly agreed, and we parted company (Big Mistake).
A rope was placed at the top of the free climbable slope, for the benefit of Ian to try out the Figure of Eight using a waist belt. Once through what is known as agony crack we explored all the interconnected water chambers. Larger than what I remember them, we admired the pretty flowstone in the roof spaces. It was still very muddy in places.
We reached the final Chamber before the surface shaft, where there was a sloping dodgy climb into the roof space on the right, recalling Terry’s failed attempt, no one wanted to repeat it. On the opposite side, and a short muddy climb down, is the start of the lower series which is a maize of crawling and hands and knees passageways amongst dead’s. There’s a big fracture on the left hand side of the lintel holding several hundred weight of loose dead’s. Because it was the only entry/exit we made a retreat back into the main chamber and took the adit passage. We showed Ian one of the shafts he would be practising on and the additional hanger bolt we installed about 4 metres off the floor to accommodate a rebelay which helps us if Ian or anyone got hung up. It worked for Terry and Mark Staples.
Looking back at the adit entrance to Jug Holes
Ian starting the climb up to the entrance chamber
15m pitch to surface from the adit. good for practice in fine weather
The other cave we’ve always used in the past, to practise, is Devonshire which Ian has got to visit yet. Devonshire is still used by DCRO for practise.
Continuing along the adit passage, we admired the impressive stonework in the roof built by the miners ending abruptly at the metal tube that follows an upward incline to the low gated exit/entrance. Originally you could exit the adit just by stooping, but the landowner put a stop to that and decided, a number of years ago, to collapse the adit area.
Crawling, I reached the gate, only to find it was locked and the bolt you could easily unscrew in the past, had been replaced with what appeared to be a self locking nut. Despite several attempts to undue the nut, I had to admit defeat and retrace our steps. Not before Roger, who was back in the adit passage, saying would this adjustable spanner help that’s hanging-up back here. A Total wind up merchant which had me going for a minute. After a few expletives at Roger’s expense, we got back to the top of the entrance climb about 20 minutes later. We exited, and went off to the Miners Standard in Winster. Despite the unintended extended trip, we all enjoyed it.
On Saturday 14/7/18, I received an email from Paul Chandler to say they couldn’t undo the Adit gate.
11th July Poulawillin Cave
18:00 Aim: to locate its entrance hidden in the cliff face. En-route called to landowner to confirm it OK to remove foliage. Laden with drill, machete and loppers carted the kit across to the top of the twenty metre cliff. The limestone overlooking the cliff is severely weathered therefore not suitable for bolting. In order to reach the lower ledge PC moved around to the western side of the depression to access the steep slope down onto ledge. On this side of the “depression” a dense copse of hazel obstructs progress. A route was cut through this during which a small choked tube was uncovered. The previous trip noted a small diameter tube almost at roof level heading off to the left toward this surface cavity; perhaps one and the same? Potentially the area of cliff face obscured by the vegetation is where Poulawillin actually is? Carried on cutting through the hazel thicket only to be forced out toward the cliff; standing on a projecting rock could not get a clear view of the intended area. Climbed back to the top of the cliff and managed to find a way down onto the east side of the surface depression. Nothing came to mind as to where exactly ML and PC originally climbed down; 20 years back. Found an area of decent rock and drilled four 14mm holes ready for the hangers. The plan is to drop over the edge and work down through the vegetation; memory serves a 20 foot ladder was used previously to access the entrance so a three metre tether is also required. Landowner is up for a trip.
12th July Cullaun II
18:00. Warm: no stream in entrance series. An interesting trip in such low water conditions, the chert floor exposed for great distances: down to the terminal pitch wetted by a very small cascade.
13th July Tham Luang Cave Rescue, Thailand
Jim Warny flies back from Thailand to a press conference at Heathrow Airport.
Jim Warny, Chris Jewell & Rick Stanton (BBC Breakfast 13th July)
15th July Souterrains CL009-022006 & CL009-022007
Raining. Eventually managed to locate the landowner and, via the postal service, requested permission to survey and record these two souterrains. Some twenty years ago the larger of the two was noted during cave prospecting in the townland of Lisnanroum by ML and PC. Personal memory conspired initially with the hazel and associated vegetative growth to confound the searcher. After a brief spell the smaller souterrain, not previously noticed in the 1990s, was found some thirty metres to the north of the larger. The openings and breaches of the flagstone roof were referenced in ITM. The roof covering of both is elevated above the immediate surrounding area, though this is not quite as conspicuous as you’d imagine. The vast karst - pasture plateau landscape has a number of walls suggestive of farming dating from the Bronze Age, 2200BCE – 500BCE; souterrains are broadly accepted as an early medieval feature, 400CE – 1200 CE. There is no vehicular access to the site, though room for one motor to obstruct the gateway on the single track road. Hazel and nettles shelter in each souterrain opening so some amount clearance will be the first task. This fascinating landscape is crisscrossed by very many field walls stretching away into the distance as far as the eyes of a shortarse can see.
16th July Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC & PC
The Plan was to dig after several sessions of maintenance. CC digging for the first time in several months and PC winching, Unloading and barrowing. The addition of a rope to allow the lid to be closed from the winching area greatly reduces the time spent by the surface person when only two people are available. Some mud was removed from the base of the hauling shaft and the floor was gradually leveled towards the South end, this mostly consisting of clean washed stone and chatter. The clay and chatter was deposited beyond the generator, the boulders along the northern field wall, and several loads of cobbles by the Bunker. Usual place for refreshments.
Hours 5 (1404), Southend (331), Kibbles 28 (795), Nets, 8 (84)
18th July Lathkill Head Cave - Top Entrance
NBA & SG
It was a fine evening and after arriving at the top of the dale and preparing we walked to the top entrance. (Present: Sam & Nathan) the long grass of the field made the entrance lid difficult and the anchor stake impossible to find. Luckily, a nearby tree served as the first anchor for rigging. A short handlined climb down the shaft led through a short diagonal squeeze to the head of the first pitch. Nathan rigged the two pitches, Sam followed and although the descent was slow (due to some faffing on the leaders part; a first attempt at lead rigging a trip) the fine Waiting Room Chamber was met with many formations to be seen on the walls and ceiling.
Entrance shafts. Daren Drum has the log book in it
Nathan rigging 2nd pitch
Nathan in the Waiting Room
Following the marked path to the boulder choke wall down the slope, led to a broken down climb (3m or so) and a crawl over formations to the left over a smooth silt bank which led to another fine chamber, Lathkiller Hall with very long straws. No water was seen or heard, the summer was one of thee driest in decades. After continuing towards the crawl of tiger 4 over sharp water cut features we decided to turn back. The route was reversed and the pitches ascended and de-rigged without incident. The last squeeze however did prove difficult with some effort required to fight the strong gravity experienced that day. Learning from previous experience the bags were hauled pitchwise, avoiding a repeat of previous recent trips where the bags were less easily recovered.
Sam and Nathan at the entrance Shaft
July 18th P8
Malc.Scothon, Dave Walker & Roger Hall
11am - 2:45pm. Aim - To explore as much of the sumps, due to the extended drought we’re having , and without having to use breathing apparatus. We all met at the usual parking space for P8 around 10:15. Visited the farmer to pay our dues of £1 each. The main topic of conversation with the farmer was the lack of rain for the fields. There were no issues raised by the farmer about P8 access and the cave itself. Tackle wise, we decided to use wire ladders. The walk over to the entrance was a lot further than what we remember and as we shared memories of past visits, we realised how much it ranged, between us, 10 to 20 years ago! Those memories of the cave, in some instance, had also been lost in the mist of time. The Three old farts in a boat story came to mind.
Geordie Dave Walker, Roger Hall & Malc Scothon at the Perryfoot Parking Area
Reaching the entrance, water was still flowing in the brook and into the cave but more of a trickle as opposed to what we are normally greeted with. Weather was overcast with the threat of small showers, so we were conscious of the potential increase in sudden water levels whilst underground. We got to Idiots leap and found rope aids were in place so used this route as opposed to climbing up into the roof space. Continuing along the meanders we reflected on how pretty the passageways were. Pools were still deep in places which made me think the water levels may not have receded as much as we would want. We reached the first pitch and rigged a ladder and a line. A traverse line was in situ, with the option of traversing round to the right and onto the ledge. Once on the ledge, you could easily climb down using foot holds. We all descended on a figure of eight using waist belts. Climbing back into the roof-space opposite the pitch, we took the low passage as opposed to taking the right passage to the 2nd pitch into cascade chamber.
At the end of the low passage we traversed the now reduced water level passageways , well at least me and Roger did, Dave decided to take an easy stroll along the passages through the shallow water. We all kept repeating ourselves ‘can’t remember this bit’ advancing age can be cruel !!!! We then crossed the ‘bold step’ and quickly came to the alternative climb down where there use to be an iron ladder. Unfortunately, removed some years ago due to potential liability issues. The worlds gone mad! It makes it far harder to tackle this climb using in our case a wire ladder. The alternative is taking the roof passage that has a fixed traverse line. At the base of the climb we entered Gour Passage and then onto Mud Hall. On the right, the passage leads to the traverse line in the roof and the top of what was the iron ladder climb. Continuing on from Mud Hall we passed ‘Ben’s Dig’ a climb on the right into the roof space with a fixed hand line. Continuing along, the passageway gets bigger until you get to the impressive ‘Tow’d mans rift’ and finally the start of the sump with the lovely calcite flow beehive on the left. We hoped the sump was low enough or even dry to explore but unfortunately we could only progress about 10 metres into the heavily silted passage. Surprised really, considering the lack of rain we’ve had over the last several weeks.
We took our time to exit and back at the first pitch, Malc.S used the traverse line and used the remaining rungs to the top of the pitch. Roger and Dave used the ladder. We took the opportunity to have a look around, reminding ourselves how pretty this little cave is and realising we should be getting out Caving more!
We ended up at the ‘The Moon’ in Stoney Middleton for a refreshing pint.
Here’s to the next trip!
19th July Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Overcast: warm: barely a trickle. The plan; Dig. PC installed a scaffold bar handrail to enclose the east end of the platform. CC digging, PC doing the rest. The south end was attended to reducing the clean washed boulders to a point below the general floor level. This is mud free and a good place to work back toward the hauling area, remaining out of the mud. As the depth has increased winching is practicable from the far south end, the winch rope not having to endure severe angles or creating stress on the shaft collar. No clay tonight, cobbles were sent to the north wall, larger flatter stone to the Bunker, chatter to beyond the generator. Steady progress removed fifteen kibbles and eleven nets all of which were heavy to very heavy; hooray for the winch! The installation of a draw rope from the cover to the winch position means the cover can be swiftly closed beneath the rising loads without the need to leave it suspended above the yawning maw of the open shaft; to the Roadside for very nice drink.
Hours 5 (1409), Southend (340), Kibbles 15 (810), Nets, 11 (95)
19th July Pollaloghaboo Downstream
JW, CM & KN
Dive Duration: 130min Max depth: 15m
After Jim’s Return from the Thailand rescue he was keen to get diving again.
The plan was for Konrad to dive first and have a look towards Polbehan.
Jim and Cathal would dive after him and go towards the downstream end and then Jim would go past the FRX restriction and retrieve a reel left a few years ago.
Jim and Cathal set of 10 minutes after Konrad and had a nice scenic swim to the FRX restriction. The visibility was 10m at least; we have had no rain for weeks. Cathal turned the dive after having a quick look in the restriction. Jim Proceeded to have a quick look at a possible bypass of the restriction on the left hand side. This bypass seems to bypass the first part of the restriction; the line was removed on the way out.
Then Jim proceeded in to the restriction with the rebreather removed. The sequence is as follows: First with the line in the left hand until past the rock pillar, then cross over the line and line in right hand passing a silt bank. After the silt bank 180 turn and revers in to the rift in the floor.
Once past the restriction Jim re fitted the chest mount rebreather and proceeded further downstream. The visibility was perfect and it was possible to see the whole passage for the first time. The nature of the passage is very different than before the restriction. Dimensions are roughly up to 3mx3m and loads of bends and ducks make for a somewhat chaotic passage. At the end of the line which seemed a long way from the restriction Jim had a quick look at the air bell end the lead to the North, no way on seemed obvious.
The old reel was retrieved and Jim turned back towards the exit. +-50m before the Restriction Jim noticed a passage going off to the left. The reel was tied in and Jim set off to have a look. The size of the passage was 1mx1m with bends and turns every few meters and a silty floor. 100m of line was laid and the reel was left in place. The passage seems to be trending north. The way back out of the newly found passage was accompanied by 0 visibility.
The rest of the way out was uneventful. One fresh 200m reel was left 5m beyond the restriction. A great dive was had by all owing to the great visibility and the unexpected find of some new passage.
21st July Poulawillin
Townland: Eanty More Parish: Kilcorney
Can you spot a Cronin in the woodpile?
CC and PC
Warm: sunny spells: The plan: to locate the entrance hidden by foliage somewhere in the cliff. Fitted the remaining anchors, 2 for the SRT rope, 2 for the ladder. Once on the rope leaning over the cliff managed to double check where the path was previously cut, and moved east some two metres. Arrived level with the end of the 25’ ladder to find no entrance, so LM and PC must have used two ladders. Continued on down to where a shadow was seen; cut away the foliage using machete and loppers. Fortunately uncovered the top of the entrance, continued cutting away Ivy, Briars and Blackthorn; a painful process. Finally swung into the entrance finding it larger than remembered: five metres square and some 1.7 metres high: as further foliage was removed the lower area of the portal was revealed. To the left a small corridor of 0.8 metres wide descends steeply, to the right appears a made up area; likely to form a shelter to the prevailing weather, from the southwest. Descending further cutting the Briars and Blackthorn continued to be a real sod dangling on a rope. Eventually cut a swath down two big limestone block steps to the top of the grass covered talus. The cave is now accessible via a builder’s ladder; (with permission). The comment of the landowners Father that as a child he once climbed into the cave is very likely, without the present scatter of post cutting thorny debris it is an awkward but practicable scramble. Its location in the valley suggests an opportunity for archaeology, which is very likely in this intensely active ancient landscape of continuous farming since the Bronze Age. Updated the landowner’s wife with today’s progress and ran: to the Roadside for well earned pints, Bliss!
23rd July Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC and PC
Warm: humid: 100% cloud cover: trickle: no midges: no horseflies: mushrooms: The plan; dig. CC digging, PC up top. CC had altered the original rope drum for the forthcoming change of a longer hauling rope; it now sits on a turntable which allows it to be spun to take out the twists that form in the hauling rope during its pass around the capstan. A reoccurrence of the curious grey marl like clay occurred through which, CC dug a sondage, the stratigraphy continues below 0,4m. TB returns Friday, which will increase our present productivity. Twenty two kibbles were lifted of which twelve were clay; six very heavy nets were also brought to surface. The clay was sent beyond the generator; shrubs and trees in this area now need their branches trimmed to allow the barrow to be tipped correctly. A perimeter for the stone piled along the north wall was prepared to receive the finished dry stone wall facing required to stabilize the pile around the adjacent rift opening. A student from University Collage Cork, (U.C.C.), is doing her masters on bones, and is willing to assist with identification and dating of bones found in any of our digs. Her supervisor is Billy O’Brien, known to cavers/miners, who has previously conducted work on the Bronze Age copper mines of Ross Island, Killarney, Co. Kerry and Mount Gabriel, County Cork. To the Roadside
Hours 4 (1413), Southend (344), Kibbles 22 (832), Nets, 6 (101)
24th July Doo Lough, Galway
JW, CC and PC
Warm: bright: no wind. A chance thought during the day led PC to suggest an alternate evening plan. As water levels are the lowest in some sixty odd years, perhaps investigate Doo Lough Sink and its environs. Also, to look for two dive sites found in the mid 1990s by Messer’s Farr, Geh and Cronin in Garryland Wood. There followed a three hour trip which after a brief attempt didn’t locate the 1990s sites. However, the team did find a fascinating landscape exposed by a reduced lake level, several choked sinks and a rather large resurgence with dry passage. Doo Lough Sink is recorded as being at the base of a small cliff at the North end of the lake; ten metres in length when visited in a dry period. Logic guided the team to look in the SW of the dry area, here two significant sinks were found, one with a very nice draught requiring the removal of only three rocks to access. Following an ancient, shallow overflow channel a further choked sink was found, and adjacent this a magnificent Oak tree, maybe ≥500 years old. An obvious larger overflow channel to the east led to an extension of Doo Lough and, en-route, another large artificially blocked sink. The area beyond begins as a broad basin with exposed cliffs some six to ten metres high, this narrows to the north to yet another sink against a curious rock formation within which is a narrow rift down to water. Further north are several more choked sinks. In the distance is another impressive rock formation beneath which is a large resurgence possibly only active during periods of high flow. Behind, and to the right the resurgence is a jumble of boulders, within this pile JW entered some fifteen metres of dry rift passage. All site locations were recorded in I.T.M. (Irish Transverse Mercator), photographs taken; likely, this data will be best set out as a project. Perhaps CM could fly his drone around the place and perhaps NG his microlight? An evening of great fun.
25th July Poulawillin
Short version: escorted Archaeologists, Dr’s Comber and McCarthy to the cave; neither baulked at climbing the electron ladder up to the entrance, through the briars etc. They conducted a thorough assessment of the site suggesting the chert bed in the limestone had been possibly worked based on several observations. Therefore, if so, the site may potentially be an early mine. Returning back to Caherconnell stopped at the landowners place to give an update, informing him that PC has left the ladder for him to have a look see himself. He asked if PC could accompany him and this was agreed, so no digging for PC Thursday week.
July 25th Devonshire Cavern
Malc. Scothon, Roger Hall & Ian Gould
Time in : 11am Out: 2:15
We parked up at the Holy Trinity Church Car Park , in Matlock Bath. Tight arsed as we all are, to avoid parking fees! I checked the night before with the vicar whose name is Nicholas. He likes a pint, and occasionally, I see him in my local. We all know him by the term ‘Nick the Vic’
Ian and surprisingly Roger, have never visited Devonshire. I thought besides a short trip we could include some ladder work and SRT practise on the short pitches. These pitches are located to the left and right, of the main inclined chamber which has steps in. There are good photos of the chamber in the PDMHS publication ‘Mining History’ volume 17, No 3. Summer 2009.
The walk up was more taxing for us than normal, due to the heat. Although I tipped them both off about the climb up to the cave, I still got a few moan and groans from Roger. We reached the lower entrance, situated close to the walled footpath to Bonsall. The entrance is located on the Western side of the Derwent Valley and on the Coalpit Rake. Originally, it was mined for lead and later fluorspar. The low metalled door was easily undone with a spanner and we descended a short fixed ladder into a small chamber. Two passages lead off. The one to the right is a sloping passage which leads back down the hillside. I can remember David Epton once telling me the story, he had heard, of passages leading down as far as the River Derwent, although this had not been proven. I’ve explored the lower reaches of this passage before, but it does close down to a tight crawl quickly, especially for me!
Malc, Roger & Ian at the lower entrance to Devonshire Cavern
Roger at the top of the pitch
Ian trying to make a decision, Ladder or rope?
We took the left passage, agreeing to return another day and explore the right hand passage. The left passage follows the old tourist route, as Devonshire, became one of several show caves in the area. It opened as a show cave in the 1820s but closed sometime in the late 1800s. The passageway takes a steep upward incline following the hillside and through some high stopes. Within 5-10 minutes we arrived at the top entrance on the right. We exited into daylight to look at the surroundings, with Roger commenting it was his shortest ever trip underground! A new gate was waiting in the entrance area to be installed. We returned underground, and immediately climbed the impressive staircase of the large chamber with the bedding plane roof.
Where it levels out, and before climbing again, is the location of the 2 natural pitches, albeit they had been mined out, and situated on the left and right hand walls of the chamber. Both have been P hanged and used by DCRO for practise. We used the right hand pitch, being the easiest of the 2. The electron ladder was installed first, part was free-hanging but most was against the right hand wall. The pitch is about 5 metres in depth. Roger went first. I life-lined Ian and between me and Roger we showed and talked him through the techniques of climbing. It was an entertaining half hour watching Ian tackle the descent and ascent of the ladder that would have complemented any circus act that included clowns. The dreaded horizontal stance on the ladder was a picture.
We all agreed to move onto the SRT and return to the ladders another day. A traverse line was rigged up to a Y hang but we didn’t include a rebelay . The rope was mostly free hanging. After a couple of uses on the stop and prusic gear, Ian looked as though he was getting the hang of it. However, his frogging reach was a bit limited, due to not having his foot loop connection extended to take account of him being lanky! In-between, Roger was testing his gear that had not been used for up to 20 mothballed years.
The pub was calling, and after a couple of hours of play and entertainment, we packed up and headed for the ‘Miners Standard ‘at Winster.
26th July Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Overcast: mild: small stream: trickle from south pipe: midges: The Plan: Dig. CC digging, PC up top. The earlier rain had dumped some inch of rain across arid north Clare. The wet surface of the platform combining with the thin layer of spoil dust to produce a superb skating surface; pirouettes worthy of John Curry were achieved. Very wet clays, grey marl and mud were brought to surface, and many large greasy rocks; twenty four kibbles, fourteen nets. CC has managed to drop the floor a half metre level back to the base of the shaft from the south end, upon which thinner larger stones have been placed as steeping stones-work surface. Probing the clays they appear to remain as thick deposits. TB back Friday. Oil levels OK in generator; its noise level becoming an issue when the comms system is not available: to the Roadside for a superb brew of Gold.
Hours 4 (1417), Southend (348), Kibbles 24 (856), Nets, 14 (115)
28th July Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB, CC and PC
Mild: 50% cloud cover: bright: small stream: midges: light showers: The plan: dig. CC winching TB digging PC unloading and barrowing. TB concentrated on the hauling shaft area lowering the “hump” almost to floor level created by CC exposing some nine pieces of shoring. Forty kibbles and fourteen often large net loads were lifted, among which was the 1000th load from the South End. Digging in the South End actually commenced on the 31st March following 139 man-hours of infrastructure relocation; since then of the accumulated 215 man-hours 68 were expended upon ongoing maintenance and preparation, leaving 147 man-hours of actual digging to bring a total so far of 1025 loads to surface and deposited neatly about the place. The occurrence of the blue coloured marl like clay has been a matter of frequent discussion. CC located the following info.
Soil Colour: Spatial variation in soil colour through the soil profile distinguishes different soil horizons and provides an indirect measure of important soil properties including drainage, aeration, organic matter content, as well as some of the chemical processes occurring beneath the surface. Generally, dark brown or black soils are associated with high levels of organic matter. Soils frequently saturated with water will often be a light grey or blue colour because iron and manganese particles have been leached away.
Maintenance urgently required; the foliage along the barrow route behind the generator desperately needs trimming in order to tip the barrow fully. The foliage along the barrow route to Das Bunker also needs trimming back. Weather canopy above winch needs attention, the platform surface needs cleaning, the generator needs relocating, the gantry needs to be a 6” wide plank, and the South End pipe needs extending and securing. To the Roadside for cracking, fine pints; the tasty ones bought by the owner.
Hours 6 (1423), Southend (354), Kibbles 40 (896), Nets, 14 (129) Total (1025)
29th July Clooncoose Cave
Catherine? Julia? Rebecca Kropp, PC
A Grand Day Out: warm: sunny: Three students from this seasons Caherconnell dig fancied an underground trip. Limited for time PC decided a swift trip to Clooncoose to offer them a cross between archaeology and caving; none had been underground before. On arrival bumped into the landowner who, several days previous, had received the Clooncoose Cave report prepared by PC. During the following brief chat, (30 minutes), the landowner granted PC permission to go anywhere throughout his land. The caving trip eventually began and explanation given to the various archaeological features throughout. A grand time had by all. Walked up to the 9th century high status trivallate cashel of Cahercommaun; the vast panoramic visibility illustrating its superb location.
30th July Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Warm: bright: small stream. The plan: maintenance. As it was dry and little wind CC and TB began to re roof the winch weather cover; extra to this is an apron to reduce the weather blowing in onto equipment from the side. PC arrived an hour late delayed at the Caherconnell archaeological dig and began to trim the foliage. A good bit done with more to do: to the Roadside.
Hours 6 (1429), Southend (363), Kibbles (896), Nets, (129) Total (1025)
31st July Pollduagh
The plan was to do a scenic dive and test the new dive computer I received from shearwater yesterday. The water level was extremely low and this resulted in excellent visibility.
The line was dislodged in several spots in the deep section (-36m) so some time had to be spent re belaying it. It seems to be someone had been messing with the line and tried to re-belay it by wrapping it around some rocks. The dive was turned just past the debris cone.
There was a distinct pocket of cold clear water in the deep section. The temperature dropped from 18 to 14 degrees and the water was crystal clear.
The dive computer worked great, the bungee strap needs more work. Video was shot before, during and after the dive.
2nd August Poulawillin
TB & PC
The plan: to accompany the landowner to the cave. On arrival found he had already visited the place and was fascinated by it; left him at home and continued on to show TB the place. A short and sweet visit: intend return to survey, photograph and conduct a dig to ascertain if archaeology exits.
4th August Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB, CC and PC
Warm: excellent visibility: small stream: The plan: dig. Preparing to dig the generator pull system failed to engage; alas, requires attention, as does Cheg’s shoulder. Employed Plan B, TB cleaned the walls of the rift of loose debris that could be an issue for diggers lower down, and later on. PC assessed the area for further boulder deposition along the north wall, CC checked over the winch status; the No-Go-Back-O-Scope removed for general servicing. The new canopy works well; recent heavy rain had not penetrated the rear of the “hut”. CC likely to have a look at the generator tomorrow.
Hours 4 (1433), Southend (367), Kibbles (896), Nets, (129) Total (1025)
6th August Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Increasing visibility: overcast: some light rain: small stream. The plan: dig. CC had previously inspected the generator pull cord issue, finding within the cowling the old fashioned starting cord attachment, so back in business, though awaiting parts for actual repair, likely c/o Barry Sudell. TB digging, PC unloading and barrowing, CC winching. Fifty five kibbles and one net were produced; a good session. Mostly clays the spoil was deposited beyond the generator creating a gentle slope to access the far end now at a height of some four feet, (1.2m). The stream requires piping to allow the spoil to spread over the wider area; the generator will need relocating soon to also allow for further spoil deposition. The improved weather canopy works well, perhaps extend it to shelter from the northeasterly winter winds. To the Roadside.
Hours 6 (1435), Southend (368), Kibbles 55 (951), Nets, 1 (130) Total (1081)
10th August Frankenjura, Bavaria, Germany
On a climbing holiday with non-caving friends. The area is also known as Naturpark Fränkishe Schweiz-veldensteiner Forst. Many Höhlen and Dolines (Caves) are marked on the local maps and visible on dolomitic limestone crags and pinnacles peaking out of the wooded valleys. I did manage to visit an incredibly well decorated show cave (Schauhöhlen) Bing höhles in Streitberg but it seems likely many potential caving trips exist. One is even described in a tourist leaflet Fellner-Doline (see photo) appears to be a vertical system to a sump. More research is needed but it seems there is lot to see underground here. Next holiday I'll be taking my gear and headtorch.
Plecher Cave Walk
A varied route through majestic Nadelwalder and quiet meadows, past fantastically shaped dolomite rocks and a total of 6 caves, Fleischhohle 7, Saalburggrotte 8, Rohenloch 9, Raumhohle 10, Felsenloch 11 and with a detour (+ 5 km) on [O O] to Geißloch 12 (closed in October-end of April to protect the Fleder mouse). Starting point is the church square in Plech, trail marker E, Weglange about 12.5 km. Flashlight recommended!
Information: Tourist Information Plech, Tel. 09244/360, www.plech.de or Tourist Information Betzenstein, Tel. 09244/985221, www.betzenstein.de
Karst Hiking Trail near Neuhaus a. d. Pegnitz
About 13 km long trail that leads to Hollow and other typical karst forms, which is informed on notice boards. The starting point is Neuhaus a. d. Pegnitz, the entry can also be made at the Maximilian's Grotto. Trail marking \ W \ (see detailed map of Maximiliansgrotte), walking time approx. 4-5 hours. Hollow on the wayside are the Distlergrotte 13 (October-end of April closed for the protection of the bats), Mysteriengrotte 14, Maximiliansgrotte 4 (Schauhdhle) and the Vogelherdgrotte 15.
Info: Markt Neuhaus a. d. Pegnitz, Tel. 09156/92910, Fax 929117 www.neuhaus-pegnitz.de o. Gasthof Grottenhof, Tel. 09156/434, Fax 232, www.grottenhof.de
Montse, pleasently surprised by the many curtain formations of Bing höhlen
A very well decorated aven in Bing höhlen
11th August Considine's Cave (South End)
CC & TB, PC absent on callout.
Heavy showers tested the canopy, gaps in the battens need closing to encourage water towards the rear rather than splashing inside.
Changed oil in the generator.
Cleared a path to the east in preparation for relocating the generator.
Extended drainpipes upstream to enlarge dumping area.
Got fed up with the rain & midges so went to the roadside.
Hours 3 (1444), Southend (377), Kibbles 44 (995), Nets, 5 (135) Total (1130)
13th August Considine's Cave (South End)
TB & CC
Evenings weather started off OK but gradually changed to miserable, wet and murky. TB digging, CC doing the rest (Slowly). Mainly mud with a few boulders were removed from the centre stretch of the dig lowering the floor in this area by around one foot. A total of twenty three kibble were raised. All the large boulders were piled to one side and will need the net for removal at the next digging session. Roadside as usual.
Hours 4 (1448), Southend (381), Kibbles 23 (1018), Nets, 0 (135) Total (1153)
15th August Considine’s Cave (South End)
Overcast 100%: small stream: The plan: relocate generator. As TB became unexpectedly absent due to family commitments decided to re-site the generator to the previously cleared area east of the site, while impeding potential route of curious cattle. Set two vertical stakes into the sloping ground upon which was levelled a pallet to which was secured two more pallets - north and south sides, which will allow exhaust fumes to vent unhindered. Weather proofed, but need secure the side aprons which can open for normal working. Relocated generator and secured in new position; ran and tested same. Re-routed winch power supply cable. Suspended pulley through which threaded rope from the shaft lid closure system to avoid chaffing of adjacent relocated power cable: all ready for digging tomorrow night. Heading across the field the heavens opened rewarding the digger with a thorough soaking.
Hours 3 (1451), Southend (384), Kibbles (1018), Nets, (135) Total (1153)
16th August Considine’s Cave (South End)
Showers: small stream: windy: The plan: dig. TB digging: PC winch, unloading, barrowing. A slow, steady pace produced nineteen kibbles and eight nets. Fierce rain showers tested the canopy, no leaks. New location for the generator requires minor tasks to complete; engine noise not too much of an issue during communications; signal system requires battery charging. To the Roadside; cracking fun.
Hours 4 (1455), Southend (389), Kibbles 19 (1037), Nets, 8 (143) Total (1180)
16th August Pollnacapel
Dive time: 93mins Max depth: 24m
Visited the site last Tuesday where contact was made with one of the brothers who own the land and permission was granted to drive to the cave with the van. It had been 4-5 years since the last visit so a bit of bush wacking had to be done on Tuesday.
Today I was contacted by Tomas from TG4 and RTE, he wanted to do a short show about cave diving in the Gort lowlands. So I invited him along. So the plan was as follows: Dive to -21m and repair the guide line. And Thomas would film me setting off. Once on site I installed an electron ladder to climb down the entrance. I brought down the rebreather and bailout cylinder. Then suited up and went back down. I dived down after a quick interview with Tomas and shot some diving footage with his go pro in the entrance pool.
After this I said my goodbyes with Tomas and set off for the proper dive. I tied my reel in at - 6m. The entrance pool is filled with trees, more than before. this makes for a difficult start. Progress was slow as the line was broken every few meters. Once past the squeeze the line became more consistent but I kept laying new line in parallel with the old one. I used cable ties to join both lines in a bundle. At -21m I had laid 200m of line and finished my reel. The way on will require more re-lining for sure but hopefully not as much. On the way back more cable ties where installed until I ran out of them.
A return is planned soon. The plan is to set up/re familiarise with the cave ahead of planning to push the cave next year. The last time I pushed here I reached 1600m and - 72m, this was a 5hr dive.
I had a quick look near the entrance between - 9 and - 6 to see if a decompression habitat could be installed against the ceiling. But this will be tricky as the ceiling is far from flat and horizontal.
Tomas reckons the footage will air on TG4 tomorrow.
18th August Titan
On Saturday 18th August I set off at 6am for Castleton to meet with a large, joint, team of Pegasus and Red Rose. My group, Aaron, Dave G, Nathan, Geoff H and Jack O, were descending Titan and exiting Titan while the others were going in and out of Peak.
The start wasn't great as I was to pick up the key at 8am from under a rock by an axle stand, by a gate in the back garden of a a house on the back streets of Castleton ..... the key wasn't there and home owners were in bed. I tried again at 9am and 9:30am to find the key ..... the spare key was finally located at Litton with Moose and we began our trip at 10:15am instead of 9:15am.
Next was a case of finding the cave ..... just a general idea and a hunch ..... then we found it. All descended the 50m entrance pitch and gathered at the head of the 80m abseil. TSG had already rigged the pitches a few days before hand but we added our ropes using spare anchors as we decided we would rather trust our own gear. A nice smooth abseil for me (fearless!) And an issue with the best position for the 3 bolt rebelay at the Event Horizon. Jack Overhill was the second down and, when he was close enough, I asked him to check the hang and change it if it was needed and then off down the 60m pitch I went to go and see the boulder choke at the foot of the final pitch ..... An hour passed and Jack didn't appear ..... I was rather annoyed and chilly so I went caving for 20mins. I came back and sat at the bottom of Titan for another 40mins until finally accepted that someone had buggered up the trip!! I was really pissed off! I'd been planning this trip for 2 months. I ascended a total of 174m and not very impressed to hear that the second person down had rerigged my ropes at the Event Horizon and then decided not to descend and instead, eventually, retreated and took so long about it that the others gave up too ..... a poor show. Luckily Dave G got to see Titan and I (Aaron) got to the bottom. (And a very lonely place it was). I was and am still really annoyed about the whole day!! I'm not an angry man but I could be if pushed ..... believe me I was on the edge ..... literally!! ..... a couple of beers, food and a chance meeting with Larry Blanchard helped ease the issue a little. The mission now is to get Nathan and Geoff to the bottom and out of Peak Cavern ..... maybe we can get some other bugger to de-rig that monster!
18th August Peak Cavern
Sam G, Malc S, James ( Red Rose), Roger H, Malcs young protege? & Geordie Dave
All met at the TSG for 9:15 and changed in comfort. Indemnity Chit and fee paid. The Pegasus Titan Team was there too but there was some issue with the key so we left before them. We were soon at the entrance and took a steady plod through the various large chambers before we reached the end of the showcave. At this point we went through the gate and slid down the ramp that has been left by a film crew; Dr Who I think. At Buxton Water sump junction we had a wander down to the sump which was about 50m or so, though the water was very low. We then wandered back up to Victoria Aven which I was going to do when we returned from doing the main cave. The mucky ducks came next where you can't avoid getting wet which is always a little annoying. Steady progress was made up to Surprise View as we looked at the main side passages - I went up the ladder to the start of Colostomy Crawl which looked as muddy as ever.
We also went up to Treasury Sump. At Surprise View we let those who had not done Peak before go down first to allow them to be amazed at the size of the streamway. We went downstream first and as ever I was astounded at the fantastic passage . Once we finished here we then went all the way to the upstream sump, Far sump I think where Malc wanted to push on as the water was low, whilst he spluttered in the crawl we waited for his return. He had no luck convincing us that the passage was going and the formations were amazing - too old in the tooth for that one Malc!
On our return we decided we would like to have a go at the round trip via Galena Hall. James had the survey on his phone so what could possibly go wrong……. The first mistake was assuming Malc had followed James and Roger down the right passage. The three remaining cavers including a novice went up a flat out crawl in water, Malc naturally suggested that the novice ( sorry forgot his name) go first as it would be a good experience. The crawl was long and got progressively smaller and wetter as we progressed as did the protestations coming from the front. At one point we went through a small trapdoor and warning bells started to ring for me but Malc was confident that the way lay ahead. On we went until the young novice declared he could not go any further and he was not particularly comfortable with the dimensions and aqueous nature of the passage. Malc then decided the best strategy would be for him to crawl over the novice and asked the young lad to lay flat on his stomach…….. After some groaning mainly from Malc I believe the passage was declared a dig and we needed to turn round; easier said than done so we reversed for about 100ft or so and made our exit. 30 mins later we were back at the main drain with a very subdued and white face novice. The route to Galena was perfectly obvious upon the return and should have been impossible to miss!
We then made our exit without incident. I went to climb Victoria Aven ( 100m) but as someone was on the ropes above I thought it prudent to abort as there is some pretty loose stuff up there. We got back to the TSG hut to find James and Roger changed and having a fag, having had a great trip to Galena.
Geordie Dave, Malc Scothon, Roger Hall, James (Red Rose) & ?
Footnote to Sam’s write-up
The lads name is Ian Gould.
Me and Geordie Dave were convinced we were going in the right direction and kept Pushing Ian on, although we did wonder why there was old digging tools left in the passageway. It was when Ian said ‘I can’t get any further, the passage is too small!’ Me and Dave then said well if Fat B..... Roger can get through you should be able to. Ian went into denial and I quickly said I’ll have a look. I told Ian to lay flat out and I’ll attempt to climb over and look forward. At this point Ian let out some unusual noises, whilst Dave broke out into fits of laughter. Looking over Ian, it was evident the passage closed down into a dig!
Whilst backing out Sam closed the trap door to the dig which normally held the seapage of water back, leaving Dave ,who was following immediately behind, to think we are now locked in. Choice words were made whilst all the time Sam had his feet against the door.
18th August Doo Lough area
Warm: humid: lessening rain: As there was a break in the weather headed to one of the sinks noted 24th July. The lough water level seemed to be a little higher than three weeks back; but that could just be imagination: the lough water is touching the very end of the southern boundary field wall. Armed with pulleys, tapes and a rope constructed a 4:1 mechanical advantage system suspended from a bough almost directly above the boulder blocking the sink. With TB heaving and PC wriggling it, the awkward shaped boulder emerged from the ‘ole. The other followed just as swiftly. Head down, PC observed the cavity to be a narrow two metre long rift with one side possibly a large rock; with a roaring, repeat roaring draught issuing. With head in hole listening hard could not pick up any sound of running water, though there was something like faint distant traffic noise, almost echo like. The water of the lough is some twenty metres, and some two metres lower. A piece of fractured limestone was lifted from the floor revealing an undercut on the left. It is from this gap the draught emanates. TB then took a look to confirm findings. This sink is a little higher than what appears to be normal lough water level, only taking water in times of flood. The entrance and wider area are surrounded by large boulders some overhanging the sink, their stability suspect, poised to move, each averaging between seventy to three hundred kilos. The worst two could be supported in-situ, the remaining snappered or plug and feathered. Following assessment of the adjacent sinks its worth committing at the very least two sessions to assess the practicalities of a dig here.; it may be that the sink is full of rock, but if these are large enough a possible route may exist between them, or be engineered. Adjacent the sink entrance are expanses of solid rock, so it may be that this exists beneath the boulders around the sink, so that stable ground may be swiftly entered.
Though this site appeals enormously the next sink, some sixty metres further south, formed along a narrow gryke warrants a closer look; not least it may be far more stable.
The present wide pedestrian driveway path, which was followed by the team on the 24th July, did not appear to match PC’s memory of twenty years ago. Then the team walked along a narrow muddy path from which several open dive sites were found not far off that narrow path. An encounter with a local walking party revealed that this wide driveway was the carriage drive up to the “Big” house, therefore always this width, and that muddy paths do exist, though less used, a little to the north, closer to the “Swiss Cottage” previously used by the team in the 1990s as a location reference point.
20th August Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC & PC
Overcast 80%: warm: small stream: misty: TB absent nursing an injury: The plan; lower the timber shoring. CC up top and PC below. Of the twelve exposed horizontal pieces of shoring four were removed, lowering the height to around 1.2m above south rift floor level: (reminder, the other side of the shoring drops vertically to the Plank at -14m, and so on to -25m). Greasy conditions created difficulty handling everything, shoring, tools etc. Resumption of ground water content, and increasing run off is beginning to issue over the edge of the water catching system in the top of the south end. Using the three metre builders ladder a further section of plastic voting poster was inserted and bent to capture errant trickles. Comparing both halves of the entire rift at around -7m the southern half is much more vertical and parallel than the subtly undulating northern half. Meanwhile, up top, CC began to assemble the safety frame around the shaft collar to reduce the chances of items dropping into the shaft. The safety line belay needs relocating; perhaps better if the digger is lifelined directly from the winch drum? The gantry span from the fixed ladder to the shoring has reduced to around 1.2m. Discussion turned to local surface drainage, reflecting on how Considine’s Cave and Pegasus Pot were formed? The general idea is that prior to the modern system of excavating deep field drains the many springs issuing from the top of the fields, along the shale boundary, amalgamated to create Considine’s Cave, hence the better developed South End? Meanwhile, Pegasus Pot appears to have formed from water traveling down the valley, along a route just the other side of the northern field wall, which passes Considine’s to sink in Pegasus some ninety metres further west. To the Roadside wherein encountered the Landowner, who spoke of yet another site, visited in his youth, close by Dylan’s Bridge, which he adamantly insists we look at; as he owns the adjacent land we were to “work away”. Arranged to meet with him to view maps to find out who owns land near Ballynalacken Castle wherein are two other sites of special interest.
Hours 4 (1459), Southend (393), Kibbles (1037), Nets, (143) Total (1180)
21st August Pollnacapel
Dive time: 94mins Max depth: 29m
Today the plan was to continue re-lay the line from where I stopped last week (-21m). The other objective was to measure the entrance for a possible decompression habitat. Some work remains to be done regarding the access to the dive base. The ladder I brought this time was helpful but to short. Building a step over the wire where the old entry point was might be a better option (Fence 1.2m height).
Once the gear was down at the bottom I got in the water. Having had a leak in the dry suit for quite some time I stepped in gradually, to my relief it started leaking before the level of the zip. So the zip might last another while.
Staging oxygen at -6m and 50% at -21m I went quick and I set off with a fresh reel. I laid about 200m of line, the last 50m was heading a solid N/E direction, this means I’m back in the main tunnel. I couldn’t find any belays at the end so I had to reel back 30m to the last belay.
During decompression at -6m I managed to find a ledge in the entrance that could be big enough for a habitat, but it doesn’t sound very solid when I thumped it with my 3x2 measuring stick. The entrance is roughly 1.5m high and 2m wide, so a habitat would block most of the entrance.
23rd August Considine’s Cave
CC and PC
Overcast 100%: mild: showers: stream: The plan: dig. CC digging, PC up top. Prior to descending minor work carried out securing the shaft collar frame; it now awaits its side covers and a brace. PC set up a different system of lifelining, secured around the winch drum, through a pulley, threaded through the pallet to the ladder below; it worked well and is far safer for the climber. CC found the place a quagmire, (beware quags!), lots of standing water; starting at the southern end CC worked toward the shaft clearing both liquid and mud, sending up thirty kibbles. Area levelled and a drain dug along the west side of the rift, CC also opened a drain hole so the lake at the base of the shaft has drained. Vocal communications becoming inefficient unless directed up the shaft due to generator noise. Spoil dumped in respective locations; the cleared area near the old generator position makes for much easier barrowing; to the Roadside for some fine pints. NB, 31st August is Jarratt’s 10th anniversary assemble for session in the Roadside from seven.
Hours 5 (1464), Southend (398), Kibbles 32 (1067), Nets, (143) Total (1212)
24th August Souterrains CL009-022006 & CL009-022007
Intermittent heavy showers: The aim; to assess the best way to survey the entire site. Conducted a circuit of the outer wall most of which is of single stone width. Much of the base of the wall is grassed over obscuring a clear view of its foundation. However in several places the original base is visible suggesting a width of at least 1.2 metres, (estimated). The absence of so much wall material is likely been used as a source of stone for farming needs; the central dividing wall too is much reduced. An idle estimate suggests that there has possibly been some 720 cubic metres of wall material removed from this site. The two souterrains are twenty seven metres apart; the larger, southern souterrain is constructed within the central east-west dividing wall. In each of the corners of the enclosure appear to be smaller enclosures possibly pens for stock. Throughout the enclosure are a number of buildings, some quite small; most unclear as to their purpose. The survey proposal is to set up two secure datums forty metres apart each to plane table the entire interior. The datums, likely to be concrete blocks will ensure security for additional planning trips.
24th August Ballaghaline, Mesolithic site
TB and PC
Accompanied TB to offer assistance stabilizing a three/four tonne sub rectangular storm beached boulder; it dominates one proposed area which may provide further Mesolithic remains. Though resting across some 50% of its base on adjacent rocks it is at a thirty degree angle; it arrived here by wave action. The small proposed area of excavation is surrounded by equally large boulders. The limited excavation area will allow only one individual to work in there with some vague semblance approaching safety; there is no room to install timber bracing or supports. To reduce or rather slow its possible movement by sliding into the excavation, cargo straps will secure the boulder to 20mm steel rod anchors inserted into holes drilled into other, similar adjacent boulders. TB has so far over several trip successfully reduced a one tonne boulder using plug and feathers.
Showing the cargo strap in position and the limited digging area. Photos taken 28/08/2018
25th August Considine’s Cave, (South End)
TB, CC and PC
25% cloud cover: mild: bright: Threatening heavy rain. The plan: dig. TB digging CC winching PC unloading - barrowing. Dug from the base of the shaft to about halfway along the rift; the longitudinal channels along the west and east wall have captured water running down avoiding its pooling on the mud floor, so the place is now somewhat drier. Forty kibbles and one net lifted. Two further sections of shoring were exposed. The excess coils of cable used to fix the pieces of horizontal shoring together, to avoid their possible falling out of place and onto a digger below, in the event of significant movement of the debris behind, was removed as it was becoming increasing in the way when using the Gantry to access the dig. Extended the new area of tipping, adjacent the old generator located, up to the boundary wall. Repositioned the lifeline pulley higher up the scaffold tube, out the way of those on the platform, replaced the webbing tape with a steel karabiner. Fitted a second pulley to the shaft cover closing rope to lift it out the way of the operatives Rain arrived; ran to the Roadside.
Hours 7 (1471), Southend (405), Kibbles 40 (1107), Nets, 1 (144) Total (1252)
30th August Pollaloghaboo Downstream
JW & KN
Dive time: 112min Max depth: 14m
The plan was for both of us to dive past the FRX restriction. Jim would then go and explore further in to wild boar passage found on the previous dive. Jim set off in the lead closely followed by Konrad. The visibility was 1m at best and there was a noticeable in flow. The FRX restriction was reached in 40min. This was negotiated in single file. Once past the restriction Jim proceeded to the side passage and Konrdad turned the dive. Jim Carried on in to the wild boar passage and laid +-20m of new line in small low silty passage.
The return to dive base was uneventful.
30th August Considine’s Cave , South End
KJ, PE, CC & PC
Overcast 80%: cool: small stream: All three Islands and Connemara very clear. KJ and PE had arrived earlier todayfrom the UK so immediately put to work. The plan: dig. CC digging, PC winching KJ and PE unloading, barrowing and photography. CC continued to dig down below the shaft to create a step to gradually move southward. Forty one kibbles of rock and clay brought to surface. Considering the bewildering array of safety protocols, ropes and procedures the boys done good. To the Roadside where welcome pints went down well. Jarratt's piss up is in the Roadside tomorrow; eating from 19:00, pints from 20:00.
Hours 8 (1479), Southend (413), Kibbles 41 (1148), Nets, (144) Total (1291)
31st August Souterrains CL009-022006 & CL009-022007
PE, KJ, PC
Promised improving weather: Overcast 90%: The plan; to survey the site. Set up a base line to establish two datums from which to construct a plane table survey of the entire site that will allow the exposed sections of souterrain to be fixed in relation to adjacent remains. Set up datum “S” = South and datum “N” = North on even ground surface 25.7 metres apart, represented as two yellow pegs. A further walk around the southern enclosure found sections of original foundations protruding from vegetation and tumble. The central dividing wall is ruinous, the tumble obscuring both its original northern and southern edges. In the gloom of overcast conditions a laser distance measuring device was experimented with against the light coloured limestone dry walls. It was then tried again against a dark target board measuring 600mm x 750mm with inconclusive results: will try again. The “Kelly” kettle was tried out and found successful boiling water in a few minutes; just as heavy rain set in. Abandoned the site to the weather and set up a new base in an almost empty Roadside at 14:00. Pints flowed; Jarratt’s do was for 19:00, left the bar at 18:30 for a quick change swiftly back for food, fun and a great night. The Lisdoonvarna Match Making Festival begun tonight with a wonderful array of the well heeled promenading the town in search of a mate.
1st September Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB, CC and PC
Cloud cover 20%: warm: small stream: The plan; dig. TB digging, CC winching, PC unloading & barrowing; TB continued to deepen the area directly below the shaft. The steady pace produced forty kibbles and three nets. One boulder raised came in at around eighty Kgs. The weight of an average kibble is estimated at 20kgs. So, total volume raised in the South End, including tonight’s session is around some twenty six tonnes. This doesn’t account for the nets, many weighing in at thirty kgs, minimum, so perhaps a further four tonnes: totaling thirty tonnes. Arising maintenance issues will take place after TB departs next week. To Lisdoonvarna where hundreds of frenetic love hungry people from sixteen to ninety were out on the roads enjoying the dry weather and eyeing up each other. At the Roadside, joined by KJ and PE, a manic PC calmed sculling pint. Eleven Gardai running about, and one ambulance: quite the party.
Hours 8 (1477), Southend (421), Kibbles 40 (1188), Nets, 3 (147) Total (1335)
2nd September Roadside Tavern
KJ, CC, PE, PC
Jarratt’s 10th Anniversary finished with an afternoon session; 13:00 until late, the fine pints creating a liver crippling event. Learnt the ambulances and Gardaí running about on Saturday night were for three males who fell from the Spa Bridge into the river some eight metres below, fortunately there was very little water in the river or drowning may have occurred, unfortunately the river bed broke their fall, all three in hospital with serious injuries to spine and neck.
Tony Jarratt outside the Old Pegasus Hut, late 1960's
Tony kitted up for a dive somewhere?
3rd September Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB, CC and PC
Warm, turning chill: bright: small stream: The plan: dig. CC winching, TB digging, PC unloading-barrowing. TB continued to lower the base of the shaft to create a working face some one metre high, which will be removed back to the South End; this process is a slightly easier method of excavation, allowing the spoil to fall into waiting kibbles. Fourteen sections of poles are now exposed. Briefly played with an additional water barrel and reconnecting the hose pipe. Nice sunset. KJ and PE departed for the UK today, TB too, shortly: to a lively Roadside.
Hours 6 (1483), Southend (427), Kibbles 40 (1228), Nets, 5 (152) Total (1380)
6th September Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC & PC
CC digging with PC winching, unloading and barrowing (Busy Busy). Progress was towards the south from the beginning of the narrows with a digging face of approximately half a metre. Mainly the blue/grey mud which in places is the full half metre in thickness with very few stone/boulders in it. A total of 41 kibbles raised. The normal drinking venue was visited.
Hours 5 (1488), Southend (432), Kibbles 41 (1269), Nets, (152) Total (1421)
8th September Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC & PC
18:00. Visibility ≤ three miles: light rain showers: decent size stream: The plan: maintenance. The four inch pipe which conducts the southern stream above the southern rift excavation was extended to span the main shaft discharging tonight’s substantial flow into the original choked -9m shaft, explored by the U.B.S.S. in the 1980s; the resultant crescendo quite impressive as it amalgamated with the discharge of the diverted northern stream. The main shaft is now free of both streams. Timber lathes were fitted to either side of the weather cover to convey heavy rain to the rear of the “Shed”. The hose pipe was recovered from the “Plank” -14m, a replacement hauling rope was prepared and installed, the very slippery working platform surface was washed down: a good session. Abandoned the Roadside no parking available; this, being second weekend of the Matchmaking Festival is normally much quieter. Not so tonight, hundreds wandering about looking for Luv. The first ever knee trembling caravan was announced, proudly supplied by local Match-Maker, “Willy Daly”, (I kid you not), for those in need/search of urgent relief. You can’t make this stuff up. Comments expected during tomorrows mass.
Hours 6 (1494), Southend (438), Kibbles (1269), Nets, (152) Total (1421)
9th September Souterrain CL002-068002
Sunny intervals: windy: The plan; to continue the survey of this significant three chambered souterrain. Previously the first and second chambers were recorded leaving the interconnecting passages, the smaller third chamber and the fixing of the souterrain entrance within the garth of the ringfort to complete. Use of the auto laser level made offsetting and transferring the survey levels much easier in the confined spaces maintaining accuracy of measurements along the drystone walling and flagstone roof. A photo session is the next task as is completing the video for the landowner.
13th September Considine’s Cave (South End)
JW, PC & CC
Heavy showers making the platform work surface and the barrow way very slippery. JW spent a few minutes taking photographs both above and below. To work, with JW digging, PC unloading and barrowing and CC winching. Digging proceeded by removing the half metre working face towards the South end. Still predominantly mud and clay. A total of 49 kibbles and 2 (very heavy )nets were raised. After touring Lisdoonvarna for a few minutes a parking space was found and a quick pint had in the Roadside. Roll on the end of the matchmaking and a bit of peace and quiet!
Hours 8 (1502), Southend (446), Kibbles, 49 (1318), Nets, 2 (154) Total (1472)
15th September Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Mild: 90% cloud cover: stream running: The plan: maintenance. CC up top, PC below. The session began with removing the exposed sections of shoring, which totaled nine. This lowered the shoring level to the safe of 0.9 metre above the working area reducing the chance of a digger falling into the main shaft ladderway. Delaying removal of the shoring to this height presents a number of issues not least the balancing act required to do the task. The new Gantry system was installed and the wire support system for the shoring re-secured. Prior to lifting the shoring pieces to surface CC positioned the flood light supplied by JW; this 10w 240v LED lamp illuminates the entire working area, superbly; its height adjustable.. The hose pipe too was prepared and lowered, so PC used it to wash some of the mud off the walls to expose a beautiful surface of white-cream stal. The sides of the shaft collar were finally covered with 6mm plywood to prevent debris falling into the shaft: all in all a good session. Abandoned the Roadside as the crowds and traffic were crazy.
Hours 7 (1509), Southend (453), Kibbles, (1318), Nets, (154) Total (1472)
19th September Considine’s Cave (South End)
The effects of Storm Ali are still passing; visited site over concern for the integrity of the weather canopy. Meanwhile the landowner has given PC a key to the house should the team choose to use it to change during inclement weather. JN has also offered scaffold planks should we need them. Carried over two pieces of plywood to facilitate wheeling the barrow over soft spoil. On arrival the only damage appeared the “hat” over the top of the tripod, which shelters the main pulley.
Hours 1 (1510), Southend (454), Kibbles, (1318), Nets, (154) Total (1472)
20th September Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
100% cloud cover: mild: large stream: raining; ground increasing sodden: The plan: dig. CC below PC up top. Such was the daytime rainfall the southern stream was overflowing the arrangement of plastic sheeting, cascading down the South End drenching tonight’s planned dig area. So, CC deepened the shaft instead progressing into the beginning of the narrows, during which he uncovered a gap against the west wall some three metres deep; perhaps approaching the end of the upper clay deposits? The rain increased in volume and intensity making vocal communication between surface and shaft bottom problematic, the wet platform surface also creating issues around walking and barrowing. To reduce mud migration loaded the barrow with three kibbles of spoil instead of the normal two, reducing runs to the tipping area; twenty eight kibbles and four heavy nets lifted to surface: to a much quieter Roadside for fine drink; though the guy playing the spoons needs lynching.
Hours 5 (1515), Southend (459), Kibbles, 28 (1346), Nets, 4 (158) Total (1504)
22nd September Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Cooler: visibility ≥10 miles: large-ish stream: The plan: dig. CC below PC up top. CC worked away at progressing the step, (working face), toward the previous step, with the goal of removing all to a common level. Now the south stream is not overflowing, for the present. On reaching the other step the working face will be a total of one metre high. Other pieces of timber were laid on the floor to reduce the work turning it all to liquid mud. Though no cascade was present from the south end the east and west walls exhibited running water. The hose pipe was deployed again to great effect cleaning the muddy walls to expose the beautiful white coating, and clean off CC prior to his ascent. Twenty nine kibble and seven very heavy nets raise to surface. No Roadside the place still mad.
Hours 5 (1520), Southend (464), Kibbles, 29 (1375), Nets, 7 (165) Total (1540)
24th September Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
30% cloud: chill: stream: The plan; dig. CC below PC up top. The hosepipe was permanently installed down the west side of the shaft and put to good use. The pipework between the main cistern and the washing cistern completed. CC placed more plywood pieces over the mud floor to stand on whilst digging away at the face. Steady progress produced twenty eight kibbles and five very heavy nets, the floor surface level almost to the south end. A light would be useful at the main tipping area as would a plastic pallet in the base of the shaft. Reinstallation of phone system might be a good idea when only two are digging. Several items need attention so a maintenance session is required; to a quiet Roadside.
Hours 5 (1525), Southend (469), Kibbles, 28 (1403), Nets, 5 (170) Total (1573)
Friday 28/9/18 Robins Shaft Mine Nr Ilam, Staffordshire
Malc Scothon, Roger Hall & Dave Walker
Time Entered: 11:30 Exited : 2:15
We decided to ease ourselves back into SRT and decided on Robins Shaft. Whilst it is 91 metres in depth, it lies on an incline of 45 degrees with 6 Re-belays and several shelves. We kitted up in the farmyard at Hilltop Farm. Andrew, the farmer, now charges £1:50 each, a 50% increase from the last time we visited. After much clubbing together of small change, we duly handed it over. The farmer said that it looked too painful to watch, with a grin. I got the short straw to do the rigging. However, we had three lengths of rope which had dubious vintage. I think that’s why they sent me first, being the biggest FB size.
Malc Scothon descending Robins Shaft Mine
Malc Scothon and Dave Walker. The farmyard at Hill Top Farm. Location of Robins Shaft Mine
Roger Hall at Robins Shaft Mine
Robins Shaft was sunk in the early 1840s and was mined mainly for Copper, however, some lead was also extracted. The entrance is located on the other side of the farmyard and we negotiated the stockpile of manure normally associated with farms.
The shaft is Covered by a metal plate, we removed it gingerly. It was surprising how many loose rocks were lying around the hole, any of which could give you a nasty headache as there was little room to manoeuvre out the way once on the rope. Me and Roger descended and Dave remained on top, topping-up his suntan. It was all P hanged, making it easier to rig. In the entrance area, we noted the warning sign of potential bad air in the lower parts of the shaft. We carried on, unfortunately, I didn’t know what depth each P hanger was fixed and to avoid tying ropes together, I had to prussic back up to the last P hanger when the rope fell short of the next one. We passed two short levels going down, the first being on the right and then one lower down on the left.
With the 3 ropes, we just managed to reach the bottom where the shaft links into natural passages on the left at 91 metres. Leaving the rope, we entered the natural part. Climbing a high choked passage with impressive voids caused by, at one time, large volumes of turbulent water. Once at the top of the choke, the passageway splits off into 3. The left closes down quickly. The middle skirts round a drop of around 10metres which requires tackle. The right hand passage soon closes down with a dig in the floor on the left with remnants of dragging trays. We both thought there’s a lot of potential for what was once a very active watercourse and there’s still another 90 metres of Limestone rock between you and the river Manifold. It was obvious there was a lot of potential. The only hindrance is the occasional problem of bad air recorded, which we did’t experience, quite the contrary, the air was very fresh! Only feeding our imagination of undiscovered caverns measureless to man.
We returned to the rope and made a slow assent due to it being more awkward on the smooth but slippery slopes. The rope bags were hauled separately, in stages, to make it more easier and reduce the problem of snagging.
We exited into the welcoming mid afternoon sun without incidence. Finishing off with a pint at The Bell Inn, Cromford.
27th to 30th September Old Members Mendip Meet-up
27th Vurley Swallet – Cheddar Gorge
SM & PC
Arrived Bristol Airport picked up by SM, saw MM and straight off to view, and have explained, the landscape and geology surrounding a Mendip digging consortium's dig at Vurley Swallet. Continued the walk down into Cheddar to the White Heart for drink; returned skirting the edge of the gorge, very nice.
28th Plummer’s Farm - Hunters – Plummer’s Farm
SM & PC
A walk from SM’s place via various sights of interest to the Bar and eventually back, returning via the BEC hut. Be warned, the local ale, "Potholer" can produced effects similar to that of contracting Cholera.
29th 45th Anniversary of Sulo Sulonen
SM, PW, MM, GW, PC
Meal eaten, Drink taken.
30th Minneries Mining area
SM, PW, JW & PC
Walked from The BEC hut around the Minneries; taking in the extensive mining landscape.
30th September Alum Pot
Nathan Bartlett & Arron Smith.
A casual start after a good breakfast got us to the walled area around Alum at about midday. Aaron rigged the main (escape) pitch the South East route with an extended 60m. We then proceeded down lower long churn entrance through the pools with some pondering around the correct direction. Aaron rigged the dolly tubs abseil and we managed to get all the way to the greasy slab ledge in one. The sheer scale of Alum was then uncovered. A very special place!
Pulling the rope through, Aaron proceeded to rig down the greasy slab traversing the side ledge and down the rockbridge. Whilst I followed, derigging behind and pulling through when necessary. We then both proceeded down the two final pitches into the darker streamway at the bottom, scrambling all the way to the sump. Here, an impressive amount of water, falling from many angles disappeared to a relatively small pool. We then scrambled back up the bottom stream and pitches. Before ascending the preplaced rope. Another group just descending from the large north west pitch as we were making are way out. There can't be too many places on earth quite like Alum pot.
Photograph is Nathan Bartlett in Alum Pot