April to June
1st April Lancaster Hole, Main Downstream Sump
S Halliday & A Smith
This trip has been a long time coming. Previous efforts to set up a dive of the main downstream sump having proved unsuccessful. See previous Log, 3rd March 2019.
An early finish and a quick visit to Ingleton for supplies. Stopped at Cowen Bridge to access potential vis. A habit Ive been trying to get into to gain a feel for the conditions in Lancaster. What looked like excellent visibility added encouragement to an already excited SH.
To Bull Pot Farm for 12:30, quick change and started carrying the small mountain of gear needed for this trip toward Lancaster. AS soon arrived and carry was completed. That was the easy bit. We formulated a plan, where SH rigged to Y hang then AS lowered to SH utilising Crap trap rope we managed to get both heavy bags containing cylinders down and abseiled with remaining two. A slight learning curve here as SH dropped both ropes down pitch before attempting to lower, this turned out to be a mistake and should have left bagged as rope management proved troublesome.
An uneventful but hard carry to the top of the crap trap. SH again rigged, with the intention of lowering again. This proved impossible due to the nature of pitch and because of the logistics of our positions SH ended up abseiling with 3 bags whilst rigging. This is best described as entertaining. AS followed with remaining bag and tidied rigging whilst dropping into the main drain.
SH and AS both agreed on location of our lead stash, unfortunately this was under several tons of shingle, both attempted to dig but this proved an exercise in futility. A dive base was established about 20m back from the sump pool and we improvised some weight with some Ease Gill cobbles.
SH assisted by AS kitted up and prepared to dive. Located the original dive line and descended sump pool to find line heavily buried and pulled into a tight corner. In reducing vis SH tied in and previous knowledge (CDG Sump index and consulting with JNC) meant he knew where to look. A sizeable bedding was soon located and the original line again found.
Line was in good order but with many lost belays and somewhat loose. Replaced/rebelayed as progress was made down this fantastic tunnel to top of the ramp. This chamber is awe inspiring, possibly the biggest under water chamber in the country. The line here needed considerable work, very loose and few belays remaining. Loose line gathered in and zip tied to make safe about half way down the Ramp before continuing this stunning decent to -31m. A brief swim into the metro, mainly cos I couldn’t resist, before hitting 1/3’s. In an unfamiliar sump a long way from the surface a prudent diver stuck to protocol adding belays to line on return swim.
Line was removed from bedding into sump pool, Id already formulated a plan for a better line route in this area, job for next time. I located a thread belay on accent of sump, zip tying into it to aid finding again in the future. Surfaced after a total dive of 43min to find AS waiting with a go pro running. A somewhat chilly diver quickly got changed and had something to eat before the hard work began.
We repacked the gear and taking a lighter bag each climbed the chock out of fall pot to leave bags at top of crap trap.
SH and AS then returned to main drain and prusiked out of the Crap Trap with a cylinder apiece. SH finding this far from easy. Steady progress was made back through Kath’s way to Lancaster Hole before we each climbed the pitch with a lighter bag each. This left two cylinders to be retrieved, SH rigged a protraction and both bags were hauled to the Y hang and then AS pulled out.
SH completed the derig and fell out of the top of pipe. STILL in daylight. Total time underground around 7 1/2 hrs. We managed the carry back to BPF in one, AS doing the lions share as SH was by now flagging.
A Massive thanks to Aaron for the assist. This is a team effort and be in no doubt dives of this nature wouldn’t be possible without the team approach.
A return is planned. Lets get Pegasus’s name in the Ease Gill record books.
1st April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Chill: Overcast: Ground drying: Minor trickle. The Plan: dig. CC digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. CC dug the area of the hauling way maintaining the level of the “Plank”, (-14.7m), working south clearing up to both east and west walls creating a working face some one metre high sloping up to the south end reaching around two metres. Of the thirty lifts twenty three were kibbles, of which seven were large gravels. Each of the seven nets was well over fifty kilos. The 9mm lifeline, which passes through The Late Martin Bishop’s descender, performs well; however for ease of lifelining upward it requires a hand jammer to better pull the line. Last week CC completed replacement of the generator weatherproofing. The walk back to the trucks in twilight, hooray for the extra hour: to the Roadside, where the conversation following chance introductions by Peter Curtin, lead to what may possibly be a new cave, or, at the very least, a new dig site in Ballynahown. Fascinated, the landowner enthusiastically invited the team to visit at anytime. Quote from Mr. Walsh “there is a tree sticking out this hole, and after rain the sound of a very large stream, much louder than normal”.
Hours 8 (1893), Southend (843), 23 Kibbles (2745), 7 Nets (562), Total 3307
4th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Cold: Bright: Ground drying: Connemara and the Islands clearly visible: Twilight around 20:45: Small stream. The plan: dig. CC digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Initially CC had lowered part of the vertical support brace for the RSJ, to offer into place and assess its length, during which PC installed a hand jammer bequeathed by the Late Martin Bishop, to assist with taking in the 9mm lifeline; it works superbly. The lines that open and close the receiver/shaft lid were separated to pass through individual steel karabiners, removing friction, will sort some pulleys, though this works well enough. Of the twenty five kibbles four were course gravels; two of the five nets weighed in excess of eighty kilos. Elongated rocks, (0.45m x 0.2m x 0.2m) remain commonplace. Progressing southward CC noted gaps appearing in the floor of depths ≥ 1m; also, the south end appears to be reducing in width, the main rift width remains a maximum at around 1.7m. Standing at the far south end, during winching, CC clearly experienced the draught from the northern shaft; outside temperature being somewhere around +5°C. The replacement hauling line works well, though creaks a bit when under load; it coils well into the rope drum during hauling; two turns are required on the capstan when lifting a net. From this depth the total time required to haul a lift to surface and return to the bottom takes an average of four minutes; this includes loading the barrow with two kibbles worth of spoil: not too great a weight to trundle. The speed of the winch is quite sufficient allowing for operations to be conducted safely; from bottom to top takes around seventy eight seconds; at surface is where the time is consumed, unloading the kibble into the barrow, barrowing to disposal locations and final deposition, and to return the kibble, or net to shaft bottom. The boulder pile ever increases; thought need be applied to future alternative, accessible locations. To the Roadside; found packed with 53 Italians: thought turned to visiting the possible unrecorded cave or dig site in Ballynahown; if Michael can be contacted PC will arrange for tomorrow early PM.
Hours 5 (1898), Southend (848), 25 Kibbles (2770), 5 Nets (567), Total 3337
5th April Walsh’s Cave
ITM 511055 x 701561
Elevation 120 metres
CC and PC
Bright: Cool: The Plan: A chance introduction in the Roadside Bar, (1st April), led to Mr. Walsh inviting the Team to visit a site adjacent his house located on the west side of the bóithrín, (green road), leading up from Ballynalacken Castle to Ballynahown townland. Mr. Walsh recounted how a stream may be heard from a hole out of which also grows a tree. PC rang Mr. Walsh, (5th April), at 10:00 requesting a visit, which was mutually agreed for 14:00.
The site, a depression, is close to the cottage driveway; actually situated in their front garden. It is a steep sided depression some three metres deep by eight metres diameter. Whilst PC spoke to Michael and Kate Walsh CC made a brief inspection of the depression; whilst no obvious opening was found the site is interesting being at the edge of the shale covered hillside, descending to the west, and in alignment with a wide, shallow valley heading off to the southwest. Explanations followed with Michael Walsh and his wife Kate demonstrating an interest in all matters of the surrounding countryside; they also own an adjacent field which contains a ringfort. Curious of the teams accounts describing the addiction of digging KW accompanied CC and PC to Considine’s Cave to see the practical commitment. Fascinated by Considine’s site; the dry stone walling enclosing the boulder large piles and the overall neatness of the site, I believe The Pegasus will be granted permission to dig the site.
6th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Poor visibly: Cool side of mild: Haze: Ground drying: Small stream. The Plan: dig. CC digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. PC arrived early and prepared for the session among the tasks replace the winchman’s seat, (Beer Keg), with a chair; at 18:00 went back to assist CC carry down the large comms battery. CC had finished fabricating the RSJ vertical support, which was lowered and successfully positioned; this only requires securing to the west rift wall. The two horizontal stemples required to hold the “Guillotine” upright against the west wall are the next job. Leveling the floor southward from the “Plank” is all but beneath the RSJ which is fixed in the narrow part of the rift. Minor delays were again experienced during hauling whilst the digger retired to a safe location from working directly beneath the hauling way; up top delays were compounded by the continued presence of a torn calf muscle hampering scampering about disposing of spoil. Even so thirty lifts were brought to surface. Of the twenty three kibbles five were course gravels; the seven very heavy nets contained large boulders, one well in excess of eighty kilos many around thirty kilos. The lower west end of the boulder pile approaches the top of the northern field wall. To the Roadside for well earned pints; talk included the recent visit to “Walsh’s Cave”. Opinion regarding its potential differs, slightly; so, the plan is to hit it hard on a single day then, with accurate data, decide how best to proceed with the site. TB likely returns this week.
Consider, if a kibble has an average weight of twenty five kilos and a net is a conservative fifty kilos, the total raised from the South End approaches 100 tonnes.
Hours 5 (1903), Southend (853), 23 Kibbles (2793), 7 Nets (574), Total 3367
6th/7th April Installation of access Lid to Cowclose Founder Shaft
Dave Gough, Kelvin Eady, Malc Scothon & Alan Steans
MS arrived early on site, to erect the safety netting stored at Leadmines Farm. Then went onto Homestead Farm, Elton to meet KE at 8:30am.
After a brief chat with Alan, the Farmer and Landowner, KE assisted by MS took measurements with his hi tech equipment of the elevation and Grid reference for Elton shaft. Elton shaft is located to the rear of the Primary school in Elton, and in close proximity to Homestead Farm. The shaft was lidded in 2000 by Pegasus and links-up with the Cowclose mine complex. MS also used his handheld SatNav to make a comparison, a reading of SK 22238 60993 with an elevation of 284metres. Surprisingly it wasn’t that far off KE’s readings (refer to his report).
MS and KE then loaded the intended lid for The Founder Shaft, a manhole cover stored at Homestead Farm previously left by Cheg Chester.
DG arrived and we left Homestead Farm to park-up on Exlowmere Lane. SH was there already and had made a start in removing the middle of the 3 concrete slabs covering Cowclose Founder Shaft.
The Pasture field from the lane to Founder shaft was suitable to take vehicles and with the Farmer’s permission we took advantage of the conditions to transport the ironmongery, cement, ballast and tools to the site.
We left KE to continue his survey of the Founder and Boundary Shaft fields (see KE’s separate report).
SH quickly got things organised, and whilst the author doesn’t want to bore you with the process, we were all impressed with the final result. The job was completed in an impressive time and we were loading up to go off site at 11:35am ! This included a 10 minute deliberation on where to have a drink before going onto Wheel’s shaft! We decided on ‘The Miners Standard’ at Winster.
The security netting was left up, with the intention of it being removed the next day.
One question was raised as to why the lid had ‘ 2 D ‘ painted on it, a reply came back ‘its the size innit ? double d as in cup size’
Following a nights stay at Magpie mine and a mornings re-visit to Wheel’s Shaft, MS returned to Cowclose Founder Shaft in the afternoon. While removing the security netting, Simon Redfern came over from Leadmines Farm to inspect the work and was suitably impressed. MS thanked him for continuing to store the tripod and would arrange with Dave Gough to have it picked- up.
Finally, a big thank you to all who helped in the task, especially SH who without his skills etc.. would have made the job more arduous and drawn-out, a bit like Brexit comes to mind.
2D or not 2D, that is the question
We could have had the choice of 1D, UL1 or UL2 or just a plain one back in 2000. When I was working at the Siemens site, formerly GEC-Plessey-Telecommunications, Plessey and Ericsson Telephone Ltd, they had a garage for the fleet vehicles on site. When Siemens took over from G.P.T. the garage was demolished and the underground storage tanks removed. Four tanks in use, two for Diesel (D1 & D2) and two for unleaded petrol (UL1 & UL2). After a quiet word with the site manager I was told to load them in the back of the company Peugeot estate and say nothing. So now you know.
The manhole frame rest on the two angle iron beams whilst Simon Halliday cuts the centre slab in half to cover the sides. Malcolm Scothon looks on in amazement
The finished manhole cover on Cowclose Founder Shaft complete with graffiti to record the event, courtesy of Malcolm Scothon
6th April Wheels Shaft, Harthill Parish, Alport
S Halliday, A Walchester, M Scothon, K Eady, D Gough
Arriving at Wheels Shaft after previous investigations, SH peeled the old netting only to find the water was no longer there!!! As Kelvin was asking how long we planned to dive we stared into the bob house and wondered if we’d be diving at all!
However closer examination showed the water level to have dropped but not disappeared. A 3.5m ladder was lowered into the entrance and SH investigated the proposed dive base. All looked good with water approx 600mm below the floor level, about 3m lower than last time we were here.
Rigging a sling to the existing scaffold a shot line (4kg) was lowered approx 20m. SH and AW then returned to vehicles to kit up whilst MS and KE proceeded with above ground survey.
Back at dive base with 2x7lt cylinders well filled SH entered the shaft after some gymnastics in order to don equipment. Unfortunately this meant disturbing the surrounding silt and the once gin clear shaft was by now decidedly murky.
A steady decent to the pump at -12m was conducted without incident but in limited visibility. continuing the decent the first timber stagings were encountered at -17m, in now zero vis, SH decided to return to surface and discuss dive plan with surface support. A plan was decided where SH would continue with decent AW surface feeding line to a series of pull signals.
SH noticed some workings going off from side of shaft slightly higher than pump head. A brief look in without leaving the line, left for future exploration.
SH returned to first staging, leaving 2x2kg lead blocks on pump head to aid later operations, and began a very steady decent feet first in zero vis through a labyrinth of old timber. A bit like playing jenga blindfolded, steady but slow progress was made until the line ran out with the diver at -37.7m. Approaching Deco and only having a thin line reel SH decided discretion was very much the better part of valour and a tentative return was made, leaving the line in place.
The shaft was duly ascended and with a reverse of the previous aerobics to dekit.
Sufficient gas remaining in these cylinders, AW then kitted up and in similar fashion perched on side of the shaft.
AW first dived to the pump head to familiarise himself with the layout and then returned to base to retrieve preloaded line reel. AW again descended to the pump head and after some rejigging of the lead weights lowered them down the inside of the pump to try and ascertain distance to next valve. (Measured at 2m, however see later for further info).
AW returned to dive base and all exited the shaft and made safe, leaving shot line in place.
After consultation with rest of the team, a plan was made to dive to pump head again, conduct some further measurements and investigate the workings noticed yesterday off the side of the shaft. A line reel was duly loaded and marked at 5m intervals.
SH dived on 2x7lt, Without the activity of yesterday vis at the staging was considerable better and SH decided to descend again. As yesterday a steady descent through the timber work, to end of line. Today making -40m before reaching end of line., By now vis had gone completely. A search of the locality by feel gave the impression that the shaft continued in a similar fashion.
During the descent a careful inspection of the shaft, as best as possible in the limited visibility, was made. The pipe work continues as above with laddering in place which appears to be both iron and wood.
Ascending back through the stages to the pump head zip ties were placed on the shot line at the pump head, the next lower flange and then bottom of the next section of pipe. These were later measured at 620 and 2560mm respectively. This obviously means the 2m measured distance above was to an obstruction. Allowing for errors with method of measuring and flange thicknesses, it is the divers opinion the said pipe lengths will be 2 and 8’ respectively.
A new line reel was then tied in and an investigation of the aforementioned workings were undertaken. Proceeding with caution, belaying the line in a couple of places the workings were investigated to approximately 20m. At this point an area of deads was encountered supported on ancient stemples. With thoughts of hanging death, a prudent diver reversed to enable a turn before removing line and exiting.
SH then ascended the shaft and with assistance dekitted in the shaft. SH and AW then proceeded to “garden” the top of the shaft in the hope that any future diving would be assisted.
Shot line was removed but leaving the sling in place to mark our point of descent.
All equipment removed from site and mesh replaced, before tiding up and a return to the van.
Many thanks to all concerned a great couple of days with some very useful information gained to add to the growing project file.
9th April Lancaster Hole
Trying to keep up the impetus that Aaron and I have going with this project the opportunity arose for a quick mid-week trip.
Early start saw SH at Bull Pot farm for 7:30, quick change and off to Lancaster without delay. Trying to save weight SH had decided to dive in a wet suit and only carrying single kit. However make no mistake this is still a monster carry for a solo trip.
Having got the kit to the bare minimum it still took 3 bags to get the required gear to the entrance. Lowering the heavy bag down the entrance shaft SH rigged and abseiled with the remaining kit, now thankfully down to two bags.
A steady cruise through to fall pot, again trying to save weight I had made the decision to not bother with a rope for Crap Trap and to climb the boulders. In hind sight I would say this was a mistake, twice up and down with a couple of bags isn’t easy. Also, I hadn’t appreciated how difficult some of the boulder pile would be with a heavy bag, carrying dive gear.
At dive base a quick snack then SH located a suitable sized rock for use as a belay. Trussing said lump up, I had all gear at the sump pool and ready to go. The objective of today's trips was to sort the dive line in the sump pool and into the bedding, where it had previously been found to be buried. I tied a new reel into the thread belay at -4m and descended to find the entrance to the bedding plane. Only on a single 3Lt cylinder I didn’t want to dawdle neither did I want to spend much time in the bedding, so depositing reel I returned to surface and retrieved previously prepared belay.
Carrying a large rock made for an exhilarating decent of the initial 12m where the rock was deposited pretty much in the center of the sump pool adjacent to the bedding entrance.
Belaying the new line to this was a job of a few moments before reentering the bedding, tying into the existing dive line and cutting the buried one. Adding a couple of snoopies a steady ascent was made removing the old line as I went, this could be drawn out of the undercut now cut. Joining the lines at the thread and an exit was made.
That was the easy part. Repacking gear now into one bag, SH made a quick foray upstream to a previously found spot and stashed 4 lead blocks and a pair of fins ready for future exploration, these are in a secluded alcove about 1.5-2m above stream level and under several heavy rocks, fingers crossed they survive the next flood.
A very slow exit was made, the climb out of fall pot was interesting with a heavy bag on my back and I wouldn’t recommend it. Sweating my way to Lancaster I eventually made the pitch and by good fortune found one of Aaron’s crabs!! Placing a knot in btm of the pitch rope to measure at home, wanting to know minimum rope length. Climbing pitch with bag attached was hard work but deemed easier than trying to haul on my own with tired arms. I eventually fell out of the top in glorious sunshine.
Re-bagging the rope and a very slow walk back to BPF which I’m sure someone moved SH returned to van after a total trip of 5Hrs.
On the edge for a solo trip but useful work completed, it’ll make the next trip that bit easier.
11th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Bright: Light breeze: Ground drying: Small stream: The Plan: Maintenance. CC in support above, in between raising the level of the retaining dry stone wall perimeter of the boulder pile. PC descended to complete installation of the RSJ brace, drilling a 16mm hole to take a 16mm galvanized steel pin securing the south end of the bar which is bolted to the top edge of the RSJ; hopefully preventing said RSJ from tipping from its vertical position should weight become applied. Further 16mm holes were drilled, just above and inline with the axis of the RSJ, between the lower part of the “Guillotine” and the east wall, into these were fitted more 16mm pins to locate each end of the horizontal brace, hopefully preventing the “Guillotine” from any movement along the RSJ, should it try to take place. All this took place standing on spoil which regularly slid away beneath the digger’s feet. The builder’s ladder was then balanced on the collapsing fill to drill at some three metres above the floor level, two more holes between the “Guillotine” and the east wall to locate an upper brace, again to prevent the “Guillotine” from toppling out from its present position. With the pilot holes drilled the battery ran dry so this task requires completion. Forthcoming photographs will help explain these ramblings. On completion of this support there will be two horizontal braces, top and bottom, of the “Guillotine” to the east wall holding it in its present position, and a third brace from the wall to hold the RSJ vertical. Wedges are required for either end of the RSJ and the walls. To the Roadside, for pints
Hours 5 (1908), Southend (858), 0 Kibbles (2793), 0 Nets (574), Total 3367
13th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
Cold: Rain: Overcast: Wind S/SE F6 gusting 8: Approaching storm: Small stream. The plan: install the upper stemple and new signalling system, and possibly dig. PC arrived early, at 17:00, hoping to finish the upper stemple holding the “Guillotine” before CC arrived; maybe a third stemple is required? CC arrived having carted down the entire comms system boxes and cables using a WWII pack frame; both comms boxes were fitted and the cable ran along a new route, down the north side of the fixed ladder. As storm strength increased digging began. To make best use of time the scatter of boulders that collapsed from the face, (as PC danced about on it fitting the “Guillotine” supports), were cleared and sent up in nine large nets; two boulders ≥70kg. During operations the new, mandatory signalling protocol was successfully trialed and implemented, utilizing the good old S.U.D. system, (1 buzz stop, 2 up, 3 down); this will ensure the shaft cover may only be opened when the man at the shaft bottom permits; he/she will have total control. The exchanging signals were clearly audible, thus removing the winchman’s previous desperate screams down the shaft to “repeat message”; made all the more difficult tonight as the easterly storm conspired with the generator noise making verbal comms impossible; nice one Cheg. Outstanding is installation of the telephone cable and handsets. This will allow shaft bottom, shaft top and winch positions the ability to speak clearly to each other; this is of particularly importance when only two are digging. To the Roadside for a fine pint: TB arrived back from the UK earlier in the day, as did Basher, Martel, Nicky and Martin.
Hours 6 (1914), Southend (864), 0 Kibbles (2793), 9 Nets (583), Total 3376
The finished job. For more photographs and a full history of the RSJ installation see the projects page for 'Considines Cave Dig South End'
15th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
Cheg Chester, Tony Boycott, Martell Baines, (BPC), Martin Grass, (BEC)
Wind SSE, F6 gusting 8: Some rain: Chill: Small stream: The plan: Dig. TB and MG digging: CC winching: PC unloading: MB barrowing. PC arrived early to set up the session, replacing The Late Martin Bishops descender with a Petzl “Rig”, which works as a single eccentric cam, significantly reducing rope friction when lifelining upward. The new - improved signalling and comms system was also easily and swiftly assembled. Welcome visitors from the Bradford P.C. and Bristol E.C. ignored the turbulent weather to assist the team; duties specified, digging commenced. The new hauling procedure was quickly understood and became a regular process of sending up spoil, ably disposed of by MB. Of the forty lifts thirty three were kibbles and seven net; very little gravels among the spoil. The planned telephone at shaft bottom will help future communications enormously. It is considered, for the immediate future to perhaps relocate the signalling system at the “Plank” until becoming impracticable: to the Roadside to meet the others.
Hours 12 (1926), Southend (876), 33 Kibbles (2826), 7 Nets (590), Total 3416
18th April Considine's Cave (South End)
CC, TB, Basher & Martel Baines (BPC)
Trip to video & photograph the dig. Too windy for the drone. BB & CC on surface, TB & MB down shaft.
12 kibbles & 1 net lifted, 2 very large boulders exposed, will put to one side for a future 2:1
To the Roadside for pints before a determined evening session.
Hours 4 (1930), Southend (880), 12 Kibbles, (2838) 1 Net, (591) Total 3429
20th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Warm: Bright: 20% cloud cover: Light breeze: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Though hampered somewhat by injury TB beavered away clearing the spoil extending the floor from the “Plank” toward the south end of the rift. Another session will produce a near level floor, at -14.7m, which will be surveyed to produce a cross sectional image illustrating the contrasting development between the north and south ends. Thirty three kibbles were brought to surface of which five were gravels in addition were seven heavy nets. The new safety protocol works well, the shaft “lid” not opened until the digger below signals permission to do so over the loud speakers. To a busy Roadside for fine drink and music: its Easter tide.
Hours 8 (1938), Southend (888), 33 Kibbles (2871), 7 Net (598), Total 3469
22nd April Lancaster Hole
Bank Holiday Monday, had been hoping for some support from the Wessex but when that didn’t materialize I decided to keep things rolling and a quick solo trip would keep things moving in the right direction and also allow time for a bit of family stuff.
Early start at BPF and ready by 7:00 on my way to Lancaster with the aim of bolting Crap Trap, in order to facilitate a gear stash, also place a couple of bolts at dive base so a “washing line” can be rigged when dive operations are ongoing, hence keeping gear off the floor.
I'd previously knotted Lancaster rope so a search through my rope stock meant taking the bare minimum which worked out perfect. Quickly down Lancaster and through Kath’s way to the head of the Crap Trap.
Rigged better than last time off two resin anchors, I used the deviation to land on the rock bridge about 1/3 of the way down. A quick examination of the roof at this point found an ideal spot for a gear store but requiring protection. I placed 4 bolts and using my SRT rope rigged a traverse and sorted out somewhere for the gear. We now have a bolt just above a flake from which cylinders can be hung and a ratchet strap round said flake will prevent any movement. This area is usually dry but in extreme flood the main stream does reach this high. I doubt however there will be much appreciable current at this height. Backed up by the nature of the fine silt deposits.
Leaving a 7L cylinder with 75% O2 in place I dropped to stream level, rigging a re-belay, and placed two more bolts at dive base. Pity no diving today vis looks stunning. Not having any hangers left or cord I just left the bolts in the wall ready for next time. Quick check on lead/fin stash, fine saw no point in moving higher up. Climbing back out of the crap trap I clipped line reel into new bolts before de-rigging on way up. Next time another rope required to rig a permanent traverse line and to enable gear to be passed to re-belay. Crap Trap rope is mm perfect, I’ll check what I have could maybe do with another meter. If someone else rigged with a slightly longer loop may have a bit of issue getting back on.
Tempted to have a trip into the high-level stuff but really couldn’t be bothered dragging bolting kit around with me.
Uneventful return to the van. Back out in a shade under 3hrs. Job well done, moving in the right direction
22nd April Souterrain, CL004-062002
Sunny: Wind southerly F4: The Plan: investigate this site. Left the Hilux near the church in Oughtdarra to walk up onto the next limestone terrace; bumped into Noel Thynne. Cut northeast across his land and up through the hazel thicket beneath the right hand limestone bluff. Using the archaeological database ITM reference, and a six inch map image, PC followed the karst landscape to the edge of the hazel and blackthorn thicket; encountered stone wall remnants of an early field system, possibly circa 400–1200AD. Working through the dense thicket located a small clearing, further thrashing about found what is likely the remains of the ringfort rampart; the souterrain located within. Moving south/ish found a hole behind a blackthorn bush, some three metres beyond, still within blackthorn was an area which suggests roof collapse into the souterrain passage. Some four metres further south still, adjacent what may be the ringfort perimeter wall, is another opening, all three within unyielding thicket. ITM’s taken on all three openings, (North 510547x702416), (Middle 510548x702413), (South 510549x702408). Elevations 104m. Ingress will only be achieved by first cutting away the thicket to access the obvious entrances; loppers required. Returning, stumbled across a very interesting sink; photos taken; ITM 510267x702355; elevation 88m: possible commonage, will ask.
The souterrain is in Ballynahown, the Sink is in Oughtdarra townland. Image taken from archaeological.ie
View south/ish showing wider extent of sink depression
View west/ish showing actual sink and end of dry stream channel, note "cave tree"
Actual sink with Garmin GPS for scale.
21st April Considine’s Cave (South End)
Warm: 100% cloud cover, (13:00): Ground quite dry: Stream a trickle: The Plan: produce a survey image of the rift at -14m. To avoid surveying during the next session, decided to survey today. Set up the laser level and lightweight tripod directly below the hauling way creating a horizontal base line; off this measurements were taken to each rift wall along a tape measure which was secured to each end of the rift. Difficulties were experienced taking measurements in the constricted northern end as the surveyor obscured the projected laser beam; complicated acrobatics solved this issue above the northern shaft. TB is correct in his assessment of the pear shaped boulder; it will certainly require a 2:1.
Hours 3 (1941), Southend (891), 0 Kibbles (2871), 0 Net (598), Total 3469
22nd April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Sunny: Warm: Light easterly breeze: Stream, barely a trickle: The Plan: Maintenance. The Team set about various improvements and repairs. TB installed pipework for the section of surface stream close to the boulder pile to prepare the area for further spoil deposition. CC secured the generator with metal strapping to the floor of its shed; a three pin plug was fitted to the power supply cable, also lengthening the underground lamp wire to improve illumination of the working area; unfortunately the wire supplied by PC proved useless so requires an alternate cable. PC trimmed foliage around the gravel heap, increasing spoil deposition area then fitted a line, via a pulley to enable the sliding lid that closes off the lower part of the shaft collar, to be remotely operated from the platform above, removing the need to dangle over the gapping maw below to operate it; the main lifting pulley assembly was also stripped and oiled as were it’s associated karabiners and adjustment brackets. To a quieter Roadside: the Easter crowds all but gone.
Hours 7 (1948), Southend (898), 0 Kibbles (2871), 0 Nets (598), Total 3469
25th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Increasing overcast: Impending Storm Hanna: Ground dry: Stream a trickle: Islands clearly visible: The Plan: Dig. Delayed starting whilst the wiring of the underground light was completed and installed, meanwhile TB began filling kibbles. TB below: PC unloading and barrowing: CC winching. With TB levelling the South End floor area hauling was swift the entire session. The new signalling protocol system worked really well; though this didn’t stop a large cobble appearing next to TB from somewhere above as the shaft lid was closed after hauling; whence it originated requires investigation though it is possible that during the lamp installation the lump was disturbed; a bit like TB when it landed next to him. Forty lifts brought to surface, thirty three kibbles of which six were gravels, and seven nets. The 21st April 2019 survey of the north and south areas clearly illustrate their contrasting floor surfaces and volume of spoil to be removed; though to what depth? PC believes the rift shape and size could yet exceed 30m of depth. TB assembled several large boulders which will require a 2:1 to bring to surface; the 50m hauling rope will accomplish the extra length required. Under a lowering sky scampered off to the Roadside for well deserved pints.
Hours 8 (1956), Southend (906), 33 Kibbles (2904), 7 Nets (605), Total 3509
26th April Lancaster Hole
A bit of a weird reason to get a trip in, but the impending bad weather meant an early finish. Taking advantage to carry on with setting up for my hopefully soon to be push, I decided to take the opportunity to stash another cylinder and to conciliate previous work on the gear stash.
I had had a 7 Litre cylinder of nitrox mixed (32%) and blown to 280bar. Having the gear pretty much permanently packed I only needed to grab the bags and make my way to BPF for a quick trip.
Arriving at BPF just before 2, and its pissing down. Getting in the back of the van and its coming in sideways. Got changed and hood up for a slog over to Lancaster. Quickly dropping the bag down the pitch, I rigged top as per usual and dropped to the Y hang to get out of the weather.
Easy through Kath’s way to the crap trap and rigged to the bridge. Installed a new traverse line on the previously installed bolts and hung cylinder at our new gear stash. Now have a permanently installed traverse line under the roof.
I’ve cut a few steps into the mud slope to aid with the approach the next hanger. Rigged and dropped to the main drain. The lower (red) deviation needs shortening. Dropped into the stream way and finished the prep for the washing line at dive base.
Wanting to make a bit more of a trip out of this aft I then went upstream to Stake pot. Climbed the boulder choke, and then made my way back to Fall Pot.
Descended the crap trap again as far as the bridge and retrieved rope. Coiled and left at the gear stash. I’ve left the knot in the rope and should now be only a sec of a job to rig. 2 crabs required.
Next time in I want to sort a rope to lower gear from bridge to main drain. This will enable one man to move 3 bags per descent. Also will double for use as the washing line.
Climbed back out of Crap Trap and bagged the rope. Left a knot in to measure for future trips.
Leaving the bag, I now made my way toward Wilf Taylors Passage. Across the traverse to that interesting sideways squeeze. A little awkward but no problem. Then through to look at the pretties on the way to T junction with WTP. Wanting to go downstream to the Bull Pot sump I turned Left and quickly dropped in to the stream way. Id forgotten what a great passage this is and followed to the pitch, which unfortunately has had the rope cut, weather by flood or man I cannot say, but not safe to free climb so a return was forced. (After looking at the survey, I believe this to have been waterfall passage). Over shot climb out point but only a bit, reversed and then continued down WTP to the main drain, via the Double Decker and a few other interesting obstacles, what a stunningly scalloped passageway, years since I’ve done this route. Dropping out at dive base I then went upstream to Fall pot and climbed out via the boulder choke.
Had a snack at the bag and realizing I was well up on time I contemplated the high level traverse. Forecast had given heavy rain and being a mard arse I didn’t fancy the walk back across the fell in the pouring rain. I settled for the traverse as far as Oxbow corner. Then dropped through the boulders back into to stream way. Don’t think I’ve ever been through this choke before. Not straight forward but easy enough if you take your time. A quick stomp back down to Fall pot and out of the boulders once again. Just for variety I climbed the in situ SRT rope out of the Pot before picking up the bag and making my way back to Lancaster, out into sunshine, could have done the traverse after all!!
Project moving forward, if the weather gods are kind should be on for weekend of the 18/19th May. All in all a great afternoon’s caving, I love solo trips, reminds me why I got into caving in the first place. Turning the lights out and listening to the silence (can you listen to silence?) can only really be appreciated on your own. Had the system to myself today.
Total time underground about 5hrs.
27th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Storm Hannah, (Hurricane force), passed: Blustery: 50% cloud cover: Small stream: Cold. The Plan: Dig. TB below: PC unloading and barrowing: CC winching. An initial slow start contended with six very heavy nets using a 2:1 mechanical advantage; these contained the largest boulders lifted to date, a conservative total of 500kgs. Of the forty lifts thirty one were kibbles of which five were gravels, with nine nets in all. If a kibble weighs a conservative 2okg that’s an estimated total of 620kg; the other three nets weighed a collective 70kgs; so tonight the Team lifted around 1190kgs; no wonder they were shagged out. The hauling shaft was recorded at -14.4m, from the platform to the present dig floor. A fine session: to the Roadside, bumped into Eugene Lambe, (Piper).
The completed survey image of the rift at -14 metres can be seen on the updated "Current Projects" page.
Hours 8 (1964), Southend (914), 31 Kibbles (2935), 9 Nets (614), Total 3549
28th April Lancaster Hole
After the significant rainfall of 27/4. I wanted to determine the effect on the main drain after a period of relatively dry weather.
Date against mm of rain. Data taken from CDG website.
Family commitments meant an early start so a brief stop at Cowan Bridge to look at the water levels
Then up to BPF for a quick change. Surprised to see the farm alive, I stopped to say good morning to these keen cavers. Things made more sense when I realized it was a late night rather than an early morning. Them were the days!!
Quickly rigging and sliding down the pitch and across to the Crap Trap, I deposited a cylinder at the Cache. Slightly changing the rigging to make it easier to leave/remove gear then dropped another rope to the streamway to check length, spot on. Abseiling down I re-did the red deviation to keep a little further away from the rock then dropped into the main drain.
Stream level as expected, up but safe. I made my way to the sump. Water level was about 600mm higher than Friday, and I’d say it had dropped by about 1500mm since last night. Looking at the tide mark, its fairly obvious where the water reached. Standing at the normally dry edge I was in knee deep water and the tide mark was above my head. Took a couple of snaps but not come out I’m afraid.
Brief look at waterfall passage before making my way back up.
Cache now contains
3 x 7L cylinders, 1@75%, 1@32%, 1@21%, All labeled.
Loaded reel. 70m tagged at 5m intervals.
Couple of ropes, Red for SRT, white for hauling/lowering.
29th April Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
60% cloud cover: Mild: Sunny: Stream a trickle: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. TB has dug/created a 20° slope downward from the “Plank” to where the floor presently levels off to the south end; it is now possible, (for normal people), to walk beneath the RSJ. The rebar steps at the bottom of the fixed ladder need to be inserted as the two metre ladder used to reach said fixed ladder will soon be relocated to ascend from the lowering dig floor up to the “Plank” level. Suspicions the hauling speed has increased are well founded; previously twelve lifts per hour were raised from between the depths of -12m to -14m; this session recorded a surprizing twenty per hour, (40 in 112 minutes); the Team delighted. Of the forty five lifts thirty five were kibbles of which five were gravels; among the ten nets were three boulders ≥80kgs. To improve lift capacity further the kibbles require redesign and replacement. To the Roadside, for tasty pints
Hours 7 (1971), Southend (921), 35 Kibbles (2970), 10 Nets (624), Total 3594
One of the small pebbles lifted to surface on a 2:1 system. See the log for 27th April above
We have been getting our teeth into this dig and also getting it's teeth out
2nd May Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Bright: Warm: Good visibility: Barely a trickle: Fuel TB: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. The first four nets were lifted by 2:1 mechanical advantage; three were boulders ≥ 90kgs. TB gradually progressed northwards removing part of the slope, the level-ish floor some 0.5m below the “Plank”, this approaches -15m. Of the forty lifts eight were nets with thirty two kibbles, of which five were gravels some used as foundation levelling material for the forthcoming retaining wall adjacent the western spoil area. The 30mm pulley previously used in the lifelining system was replaced with a 50mm; the difference in reduced friction significant; the extant Petzl “Rig”, which recently replaced the Late Martin Bishops Petzl “Stop” also has a similar sized diameter bobbin to the pulley, contributing further to overall improvements when deploying the system. Maintenance needed, main boulder pile retaining wall requires attention: rock fall from shaft collar area needs investigation: relocate underground signalling system box: lock on shaft cover requires attention: generator oil needs checking: assess top of north rift for installation of concrete lintels: voice comms to shaft bottom: improve fixing to generator shed weather cover. To the Roadside; where there was no Red, and no Gold, just misery.
Hours 7 (1978), Southend (928), 35 Kibbles (3005), 8 Nets (632), Total 3637
4th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
Maintenance session. CC checked oil in generator & carried on wall building around north side. TB below filling 12 kibbles & 1 net from under the hauling way, then extended the pipe in the stream to enlarge dumping area.
Hours 6 (1984), Southend (934), 35 Kibbles (3005), 8 Nets (632), Total 3637
4th May Souterrain, CL004-062002
ITM 510547 x 702416
Length 8m, (Estimated)
15:00. Warm: Bright: Clear: Visibility ≥15miles. The Plan: cut away foliage to assess if ingress is practicable. Parked the Hilux on Noel Thynnes ground, adjacent the corral. Approached the site from the southeast; traversing an area previously uninvestigated. Many of the thousands of Orchids beginning to fade with the onset of May; small groups of Gentians observed; perhaps two dozen blooms in total; Cuckoo seen circling the eastern limestone bluff. Mistook the precise location of the hidden site, being too far west by some fifty metres having referenced the wrong glacial erratic among the scrub. Pacing between two accessible points of the ringfort rampart, its diameter is estimated at 27m; consistent with the average ringfort of that era. Foliage obscuring the souterrain opening was not as dense as first feared, a dozen snips swiftly removed the blackthorn. The heavily foliated, uneven ground obscures clear visual evidence of buildings. The floor approaching the entrance was covered with vegetative material, once cleared it uncovered two low parallel walls each in line with part of the souterrains interior construction. Here is evidence of collapse but no roof flagstones are present; likely robbed for window or door lintels. At the end of this short section of unroofed passage the actual point of entry to the souterrain remains 0.66m wide; the original height here unclear due to tumble covering the floor. Inside the passage its width increases to 1.1m, the height to 0.83m: two metres further a surface collapse prevents further progress; here sunlight enters. Attention now focused on the far opening; cutting away a small area beneath extensive Blackthorn a curvilinear, overhanging arched area of dry walling became visible, some two metres southward was other area of stonework, suggesting this was once a mural chamber. Squeezing north beneath the unstable stonework a small opening offered a clear view along the small approach passage, (0.4m wide x 0.45m high x 3m long), coming from to the central area of collapse, (sunlight also enters); the same area which blocks the entrance passage. Interior measurements were taken using a Bosch GLM 50C hand laser; the next trip will conduct an accurate survey.
Brief summary. Academic opinion has long differed over reason and use for the souterrain; much depends on evidence encountered, in this particular case the confined nature of both passages exclude its use as a convenient storage facility, unless children were used to retrieve produce stored within. The confining dimensions of entrance and intermediate passage have been so designed as to specifically hamper an intruder pursuing a fleeing individual. To pursue and capture said refugee the intruder is required to wriggle along the narrow passage meaning upon emerging into the wider area he is defenceless against attack even from possible non-combatants armed with rocks or pointy sticks. Seriously injured, possibly immobile, the casualty becomes a salutary message to others in pursuit. This souterrain was built within a stone ringfort, a Cashel; such a construction is often associated with wealthy farming family/groups of the Early Medieval Period, (E.M.P. 400-1200AD); a period of population growth following significant agricultural innovation. The uneven, foliated landscape obscures much relevant evidence; the walls likely once an average of some three metres high and some three metres thick stand now, perhaps, only one metre high. Since their abandonment many buildings and sites, such as Cashel ringforts, became a convenient source of building material. It is possible that the circumferential uneven grass covered ground is in fact obscured tumble from the rampart, the end result of robbing out the wall by persons unknown. During such practice the mural chamber, in this case would become exposed. Alternatively if the ringfort and its defenders were overwhelmed, fleeing survivors may have sought refuge within the souterrain chamber; its exposure may have been the result of the attackers demolishing the rampart to reach the refugees.
5th May Lancaster Hole
Yet another carry.
Still reinforcing the gear cache ready for a push. Hoping to dive next week, the final preparations need to be carried out in order to make this somewhat remote dive site as safe as possible.
Today taking some spare gear and some emergency stuff, I had made a 9” gear tube to hold it all. This is the same size as I intend to use to protect the RB when it comes time to take the unit to the sump.
An easy Sunday morning trip, left tube at the Cache then dropped into the main drain. Placed 3 bolts near the exit of waterfall passage in readiness for next weeks hoped for dive.
Seeing as time wasn’t particularly pressing I climbed Wilf Taylors and then descended waterfall passage to check out the climb/pitch I’d encountered last trip. (with a brief foray to Bull Pot of the Witches sump for good measure) I can confirm this is climbable but not easy. There’re two large stainless eyebolts at the head of the climb so I rigged a pull through, 20m just right. I would have said a sensible option really, no good reason not to use a rope and you can drop the last bit out of the water. Would be a wet descent if climbing.
What started as an alpine style attack has defiantly morphed into a Himalayan siege.
We now have:-
1 x 7L @ 32%, 280 Bar
1 x 7L @ 75% 220 Bar
1 x 7L @ 21% 260 Bar
2 x Helly
1 x Thick Socks
1 x Thin socks
Spare Cells and Carrier
E Blanket, first aid
Spare Glove liners
Spare neck, wrist seal.
Spare fin strap
Emergency protocol sheets, laminated.
Still in need of another setup trip then I’m hoping to start diving. Plan at the moment, somewhat weather dependent, is to dive next week, 12th, as a prep dive for push weekend of the 17/18th.
Feeling a little tired on exit, but no drama’s
Time underground 3hr
6th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
90% Cloud cover: Mild: Small stream: Excellent visibility: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Prior to digging the phone/speaker system was installed and secured adjacent to the signalling position. Forty two lifts were made of which thirty six were kibbles, including three gravels; six nets. TB believes another session will level the present floor to some 0.5m below the “Plank”. Spoil was deposited extending the present pile ridge parallel with the northern boundary wall; previously reaching an acceptable, maximum, height it can now extended westward. Of note is the increase in assorted sized pieces of water worn limestone among the spoil each covered in sharp fluting generally 4mm wide. Loss of stream flow through the makeshift dam has become problematic; this arrangement has evolved as an important part of digging as the stream supplies, via an ½ inch pipe, two cisterns, one to wash the surface kit, the other supplying a hose pipe to the shaft bottom to wash down the hauling equipment. To the Roadside where the return of the “Gold” cheered the Team up no end.
Hours 7 (1991), Southend (941), 36 Kibbles (3041), 6 Nets (638), Total 3679
7th May Cloghaun Townland
Seamus Walsh, PC
Meeting with a representative of Met Éireann, (National Irish Weather Office), talk turned to rain volume, streams, water, etc. To illustrate a question PC accessed an aerial view of the Coolagh River Cave surface channel displayed on the display screen at the I.R.C.G. Station. Three sites were indicated by SW adjacent his holiday home; two were suspected, and latterly proved recorded. The third is much further west and has no ascribed reference; work continues.
8th May Souterrain CL004-062002
ITM 510547 x 702416
Length 8.7 metres, (underground passage), not unroofed sections.
Depth 1.2 metres, (max).
16:00. Cold: NW wind, F4: 80% cloud cover: Soft showers. The plan: complete survey. Walked through Noel Thynnes land; ascending the cliff to the east of the bluff. A few Gentians remain; many of the orchids have gone. Fixed markers in the Blackthorn bushes directly above either souterrain opening to obtain an accurate compass bearing; a direct view totally obscured. Set up an auto laser level on a mini tripod to project its cross lines into the low souterrain entrance onto the collapse tumble. Closer observation of the interior, (this time with a light), noted the precarious state of the roof; almost each flagstone is dislodged, barely resting upon the edge of collapsing walls; the likely reason for this, and perhaps for the entire collapse is the presence of grazing cattle disturbing the flagstone roof situated barely beneath the surface; though large diameter Blackthorn roots penetrating the souterrain may also have contributed. Due to the dodgy nature of the roof, and its upper walls only salient points were recorded specifically those where passage dimensions altered. Scrutinizing this collapse noted the west wall narrowing, reducing the overall passage width corresponding with the passage dimensions viewed from the collapsed chamber, some six metres to the south. Swiftly exiting the grim area began to record the collapsed chamber. Again, only primary measurements were surveyed due to the loose, unsupported stonework above the recorder. Chamber length and its surviving overhanging corbelled wall were recorded, as was an estimation made of the original width of the chamber; taking into account the adjacent tumble which obscures much. Eager to accurately plot the souterrain opening within the ringfort garth a datum was set inline (amongst the many bushes), with two gaps in the dense perimeter foliage obscuring the rampart, (aligned almost due east/west), took measurements and compass bearings from the centre of the collapsed rampart tumble, and the souterrain entrance to the temporary central datum: delighted to exit, returned home, drew survey.
9th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Cool: Bright: 20% cloud cover: Ground quite dry: Small stream: Fuel PC. The plan: dig. PC winching, unloading and barrowing: CC digging. CC began removing much of the course gravels covering the floor surface; in doing so lowered part of the area approaching the “Plank”. The floor surface is now around one metre below the “Plank” and 2.4m below the bottom of the RSJ. Excavation will next remove the boulder, and its packing upon which the “Plank” is secured. Removal of this material will expose the confined area and assist planning installation of the next section of fixed ladder; possible options being, continue the existing ladder straight down, or, the more likely, create a staging from which the next section of ladder could be offset to compensate for the shape of the rift walls. Options will become clearer as fill is removed, though the immediate plan is to utilize the three metre builder’s ladder as the shaft is sunk to around eighteen metres. Thirty lifts were achieved, nine being gravels, one very heavy net, and twenty kibbles; containing the usual cobbles and boulders. During the first hour of hauling fifteen lifts were brought to surface; this included delays whilst the spoil was barrowed away and dumped, and other minor operational demands at surface: the new system is without doubt much swifter drawing up from depth. Two well shagged out diggers made for the comfort of the Roadside, and pure Gold.
Hours 5 (1996), Southend (946), 29 Kibbles (3070), 1 Nets (639), Total 3709
11th May Lancaster Hole
Another early start saw me on Casterton Fell for an amazing sunrise.
This should be last gear drop prior to a preparatory dive planned for tomorrow. Steady progress to dive base with stop at the gear cache to get what I can carry.
Lowering plan works well and I soon have three loads at dive base, re-climb the crap trap to get the last of the gear and back to dive base. Doesn’t look much when you see it lined up, but it’s been an effort to get it all here.
Not quite there but I’m hopeful that a big carry tomorrow will see everything down. I re-stashed all this lot at the lower cache before climbing back out. I’ve decided to leave rope on the crap trap, just coiled it and hung at the head of the pitch. An easy walk back to Lancaster and out into beautiful sunshine.
A quite walk back to BPF to pick up some gear that Tony Seddon had dropped for me and a swift trip to IS for supplies then home for breakfast. All in all, a great morning.
Total time underground 4hrs
11th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00: Fabulous evening: Warm: 5% cloud cover: Visibility ≥30Nm: Ground drying: Small stream: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. A decision was made to pause hauling whilst TB filled kibbles from the exposed position at the very bottom of the hauling way, clearing fill from around the narrow location where the “Plank” was inserted; a slow, difficult task. This method of pausing so the digger can fill a dozen kibbles at a time was repeated with the surface crew making use of the pauses to extend the retaining wall, prepare and extend a new route for the water supply to the washing cisterns, and enjoy the beautiful sunny evening. Both “pauses” accounted for forty minutes “down time”, even so digging below continued uninterrupted, and in short was an easier method for the digger below. Of the thirty eight lifts, thirty five were kibbles, of which six were gravels, and three heavy nets. Comm.’s completed with the installation of the handset at the winch position. When the 6 inch rift at the “Plank” is completed cleared out only then can a design be finalized for the staging which will allow access to remain to the northern shaft and offer respite to a digger climbing up from the south end. To a “happening” Roadside; nice music… man.
Hours 7 (2003), Southend (953), 35 Kibbles (3105), 3 Nets (642), Total 3747
12th May Malin Head, Donegal
We've lost Mike Marek whilst he was performing a deep dive in the Atlantic, beyond Malin Head, off the northern coast of Donegal. Though not a member of PCN MM accompanied the Pegasus on several of its projects. Off the coast of County Clare MM followed up a local divers observation, pushing the lead to ultimately discover Cliff Cave, near Fanore, Co. Clare; to date the longest marine cave in Ireland and the British Isles; if not northern Europe. In close partnership with Jim Warny, over several years, Cliff Cave was steadily pushed to its present limit 2k+, despite the problematic, restless Atlantic conditions regularly assailing its entrance and approaches, significantly delaying exploration.
Solo, MM pushed Poulatoomary, County Mayo below Artur Koslowski's limit of -103m to achieve a record depth of -113m.
A cheerful guy, a pleasant man, a nice bloke.
Photo: Mike Marek in Poll na Gonzo, taken by Jim Warny.
12th May Lancaster Hole
Another early start Piccy this time driving up.
Arriving at BPF for 6:30, no one about which is hardly surprising. I quietly get changed and start the trek to Lancaster. Despite my previous efforts it still requires 3 bags for the trip and I’ve left all rope in place. However it’s a beautiful morning and I feeling a bit high with anticipation and also slightly nervous. This will be the first time the SF has been truly used in anger on the side. I’ve had numerous dives in both the pool and Capenwary but this is a whole other level.
Having tried a few different configurations I’ve settled on what works for me and decided to dive using a tri-mix of TMx 21/40. This should keep the head clear if the dive goes deep and also aid with work of breathing within the loop.
I almost make it in one trip but just over the stile and my arms are getting decidedly longer so I drop two bags and just take the RB in its protective tube.
Quickly back for the remaining bags and putting SRT gear on I lower the two bags and abseil with the RB under me whilst rigging the top of the pitch. Having done this pitch many times recently its becoming almost automatic.
Dropping the pitch and I make my way over to bridge hall. Taking it very steady, I’m conscious that I’ll likely be raking up some deco shortly and diving tri mix calls for some special care. Just playing it safe today and no heroics. However I’m down at dive base for a few minutes after 8 and start to assemble the gear. Glad I took the time yesterday to bring the cache down a level it still takes an hour to get everything ready. I’m determined not to cut any corners and do a full pre-breathe on the SF before actually taking to the sump. Dive base is about 30m back on a dry corner.
Once all the equipment is at the sump pool, a quick snack before getting into my dry suit. Again thinking about the expected dive time I’ve pre brought thermals so put an extra set of leggings and two helly hansons under my warmbac fleece.(This turned out to not be enough, more next time)
I’ve only ever kitted up this setup in daylight and doing in a sump is a different ball game altogether. It takes me a while to make sure everything is in place and connected correctly, plugging the O2 in was particularly troublesome. I’m wearing a 2L O2 cylinder on my spine so need to connect this after donning the RB.
Soon enough I’m ready to go but still need to get 2 bailout cylinders into the sump!!! Not easy but I settle on taking the 75% in first then coming back for the other 21% cylinder. Once underwater the weight becomes a lot less of a problem and the whole rig is easier to handle. However wearing 4 cylinders, plus the RB and O2 I’m massively over weight, I’ve put on 2 blocks of lead which was far too much but need to think worse case if I’m returning from the far end on OC and need to do a long deco.
Thinking it was a wise decision to use a wing as well as my dry suit for buoyancy I inject some air to get neutral. Well I would have done if Id remembered to connect the LP hose!! Faffing about trying to sort it isn’t easy so I surface again to rectify the situation, feeling quite glad I haven’t got an audience.
This time all good and I stage the 75% at the 4m thread belay and take another 7L of air through the bedding plane and stage at the top of the ramp. Now down to 2 cylinders and the RB I feel a lot easier and slowly descend to -30m and take my first proper look at The Metro.
Visibility is a disappointing 1-2m with a distinctive layering in the water. I’m still awe stuck at this amazing passage, massive scalloping a truly epic system. A very steady dive having to retrieve the line out of the gravel several times but I make steady progress. Eventually I come across a lead belay and knowing that JNC used these to terminate his dives give me an idea of where I am in the sump. The depth gradually shallows to -19m before the line is irretrievably buried. Knowing this is around the terminus of John’s penultimate dive I’m at about 570-580m. I tie in a new reel.
I’ve brought a 70m reel of 4mm line, expecting to have to repair/jump the line in places, the plan had always been to use this as a set up for next weeks proposed diving. I’ve read the sump index about a million times and been badgering JNC constantly so have a reasonable understanding of where I am. A long way from home!! This is by far and away the most committing dive I’ve ever attempted and more than a hint of nerves are evident as I start to lay line.
I’ve always planned to try and stay right as much as possible here, (After advice from JNC) and this I do. Shortly encountering a gravel/cobble slope whilst maintaining the relatively shallow depth. When ADS dived here in 2009 he went deeper from john’s terminal belay, I’m staying relatively shallow? I slowly ascend the slope only to find a roof. I carry on following this wall on relatively clean washed limestone, Noticeably shattered and jagged in appearance. There’s a distinct absence of loose belays but I’m able to tie into the bed rock in several places. As the reel run down my nervy disposition isn’t really improving but with line on the reel there’s no good reason to stop. I run out of line on a particularly clean section and scout around for a suitable belay, not wanting to wind in. I locate a point to tie off and the long swim back begins.
I should point out at the point that a better man would have surveyed the line but to be quite honest I didn’t really give it to much thought. Using what belays I had remaining I made my way back to base picking up my stages along the way.
Dive Time 1 Hour 45 minutes.
Pretty uneventful return really, Got a leak in my dry suit at the very end of the dive but suspect that may have been my pee valve?
De kitting wasn’t easy but easier than putting it on. Once sorted I had a few minutes to have a snack before starting to pack up the gear. Whilst packing a light appeared down Wilf Taylors and ALF Latham appeared. Alf had dived this sump in 1973!! What a coincidence.
I had planned on leaving the dry suit in the cave ready for next week but needing to determine the cause of the leak I decided to carry out.
A very steady climb out taking almost 2 hrs!! out into brilliant sunshine. Gave JNC a call to cancel my callout before the carry to BPF, didn’t even try and do this in one, just relayed back and fro, taking another hour.
All in all very productive day, stopped at JNC’s on way home and after consultation I’m fairly sure that I’m in new territory but this requires a survey to be sure.
Total trip, 11Hrs but only 9.5 under ground.
13th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB and PC
18:00. Fabulous evening: Small stream: Visibility ≤15Nm: 20% cloud: The Plan. Dig. TB digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. TB continued to dig at the very base of the hauling way so whilst he filled all the kibbles PC began to install the water pipe, sent over by CC, from the existing reservoir position to a new, higher location further up the ditch in JN’s field. Hauling began at a good pace; thirty one kibbles raised, of which seven were gravels; only one net. Four loads of gravel were deposited behind the new section of walling to stabilize it during further work. Fuel added to generator; gauge indicating ¾ full. Setting up comm.’s presented a minor delay as PC searched among the switches to turn on the underground circuit. Thoughts considered removing the “Plank” entirely to allow greater flexibility when choosing the precise location of the proposed “Staging”. When unloading, two kibbles of spoil were deposited in the barrow to reduce time sending the kibbles back down and running off to the tips. Whether containing gravels or boulders the barrow was dam heavy; the idea occurred the estimate of a kibble weighing around 25Kgs should be reconsidered. Less than six weeks to the turn of the year. To the Roadside for very fines pint of Gold.
Hours 5 (2008), Southend (958), 31 Kibbles (3136), 1 Nets (643), Total 3779
15th May Souterrain, CL004-062002 & Ringfort CL004-062000
TB & PC
Bright: Dry: Superb visibility: Wind SE F3/4. The Plan: photograph the souterrain features, and where possible, record the ringfort rampart perimeter. Called TB; come out to play. During the walk over noted few gentians remain, and fewer orchids. In an attempt to illustrate/record the perimeter of the ringfort, (Cashel), and to fix the souterrain opening in its context, set two temporary datums to improve accuracy. From these two datums several points around the perimeter were accessed, the distances and bearings recorded, (survey note book 6). Each distance was measured to a point close to central among the broad, confused tumble area as could be practicably established. The dry stone rampart appears almost levelled in places, though caution need be exercised as the surrounding area is quite uneven, masking the true outline of the rampart remains. This extensive unevenness of ground surface masks the presence of any remaining house features within the ringfort garth. Adjacent the mural chamber collapse, situated in the south of the ringfort a section of section of vertical dry stone wall rampart was found among the blackthorn of an estimated height of one metre above the outside ground surface. The proximity of the vertical exterior face of the rampart wall suggests the mural chamber as being no more than two metres in width. A section of the northern rampart is estimated as one and a half metres above the ringfort garth level; the foliage obscures much. Beyond the northern rampart the ground drops swiftly away among a sequence of low dry stone walls into a hollow wherein are numerous moss covered boulders and bed rock surfaces. This area may be the remains of a quarry used to construct the ringfort; it is now a pleasant shady, area of hazel bedecked with bluebells. There are seven other stone forts within a four hundred metre diameter of this particular site; suggesting, if all contemporary, it was a fertile area. A Fulacht Fia is recorded as two hundred metres northwest, whilst it may have been built in the Bronze Age, (2200 – 500 BCE); such sites may have been used also for ablutions, and when enclosed, as steam, or sweat cabins. Robbers Den Cave, an archeological site, is recorded in the national database as being two hundred and fifty metres to the northeast; this distance may be incorrect. As TB believes it may be further east along the cliff face. Thanks to TB for his invaluable assistance recording the ringfort rampart.
Souterrain, (ringfort garth), entrance 15th May 2019; ranging rods in 0.1 metre sections
17th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB and PC
Bright: 30% cloud cover: Visibility ≥30Nm: Small stream: Fuel TB: The plan; Dig. CC still absent. TB digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Hauling began at 18:15 and continued apace, resulting in a satisfactory session of forty kibbles lifted by 20:25, of which six were gravels. Cobbles and boulders were thrown three metres up and over onto the spoil ridgeline running parallel to the north boundary wall, gravels deposited behind the recent section of dry stone wall as both filling and support. Voice communications received at the winch were unintelligible; either PC is going deaf or TB was drunk……? Generator tank registers half full. Shaft bottom signal station needs relocating and the “Plank” area needs attention; perhaps remove it entirely whilst the staging’s design and installation are pending. To the Roadside for Golden pints: a near perfect session.
Hours 5 (2013), Southend (963), 40 Kibbles (3176), 0 Nets (643), Total 3819
"I was too far away from the microphone - more than 1m below it!"
17th May Lancaster Hole
Simon Hilliday, Andy Walchester & Sam Garrad
Another Big Dive.
After the previous weeks setting up this project and last weeks solo trip to reccy lines, SH had big hopes for tis week. The weather gods had been smiling and very little rain in the preceding seven days would hopefully translate into some relatively good visibility.
Setting up the RB Friday eve and an O2 sensor failed in calibration meaning a bit of a faff getting ready for sat morning but said sensor was swapped out and the unit recalibrated before being packed with a fresh scrubber ready for the morning.
The Derbyshire contingent having a long drive and small bladders meant a very relaxed start and we all met at BPF for 10am. SH had already packed the bags so after gearing up the intrepid explorers departed for Lancaster Hole. Upon arrival SH demonstrated his by now quite intimate knowledge of tis shaft by deftly tying on the bags and swiftly lowering down the main pitch. This would have been somewhat more efficient had he taken the hardware out of one of said bags beforehand, because he needed it to rig the pitch!!
Scrounging a few crabs amoungst our gear however we managed to avoid having to bring bags back up. SH rigged carrying the RB, AW and SG following shortly after. Pointing out a couple of possible trips for AW & SG we made our way to the main drain, SH rigging and getting dive base prepared. AW followed and SG can write his own report on where he went.
Previously stashed gear required gathering and sorting at dive base. Soon completed and while SH mounted valves and checked pressures AW and SG loaded a reel.
Andy Walchester, Sam Garrad & Simon Halliday setting of for Lancaster Hole
We moved gear to the sump pool and putting extra layers on (cold after last weeks dive) SH donned his dry suit.
With assistance SH geared up and commenced the dive, using same setup and gases as last week.
As expected visibility in the bedding was better than last week, and after staging a 7 Litre cylinder at -4m (75% O2) steady progress was made to The Ramp. Descending with care, Line still requires some attention, The Metro was entered at -31m. At this point a 2nd 7 Litre (32% O2) was staged. Now down to 2 tanks and the RB progress was somewhat easier. A marked loss of visibility noticed at 4/450m, now certainly no better and possibly worse than last week. As the depth decreased I reached my line and paying a little more attention to the compass I slowly followed the line previously laid. Initially just west of south, as expected, SH began to think his compass was playing up as the needle (never lieing) swung round toward North. Tieing in a new reel, I continued to follow the right wall in poor visibility until after approx. 2/30m I returned to my own line. I had circumnavigated some sort of chamber? Visibility at no point good enough to give me an impression of the nature of this area, this is pure supposition. Todays line was rewound with difficulty and perplexed diver began the journey home.
Sam Garrad at the entrance to Lancaster Hole
Crap Trap pitch, 1st deviation
Dive Base, Simon kitting up
Just starting to gain deco penalties but I had burnt these off by the time I exited the shallow bedding.
A dive that has raised more questions than it answered.
Why did the visibility deteriorate at the 4/450 mark? Is this an indication that I have left the main flow? Noting that last week the temperature at the 570/80 mark was a little warmer.
At the 570m junction have I entered a chamber? I have the impression of depth with a few dark areas noted. I was following the wall rather than the floor. I failed to examine the roof. This area clearly warrants further attention. Both up and down. The idea of having entered a shaft is appealing but there is no evidence of this at the moment.
All information is good information, and with each dive I gain a little more familiarity with the sump. I’m not afraid to say that this is a serious dive being carried out a long way from home and the softly softly approach is most defiantly justified. No heroics today!!!
I need to ponder this dive for a couple of days and come up with a plan for a way forward. Tomorrows planned dive is being postponed for a few weeks, I want time to assess the situation and dive with a clear plan, it is my opinion that to dive to the end of the line in here requires a purpose and is beyond the realms of tourist dives.
Total dive time 1:48.
On reaching surface AW and SG were still off caving so SH dekitted with difficulty, I had become very cold, a leaking glove meaning my right hand was next to useless. (water temp today 7°)
I left the thermal gear on and just put my caving suit over the top before starting the job of sorting the gear. AW and SG soon arriving to assist.
After something to eat and stowing the gear we began the steady climb out of the cave, SH suggesting SG climb the pitch first, to give him a few more mins to fizz.
SH climbed next with the RB and leap frogging SG made his way to surface. We left the cave rigged ready for tomorrow. In lovely evening sunshine all 3 returned to BPF where we met up with Aaron for evening meal.
SH prepared a meal whilst the others generally lounged about gassing. Followed by cake, I’d like to take credit for the culinary delights but Mrs H sorted all that I just warmed it up. (Well I cooked the rice).
Royal in Kirkby for a few scoops finishing of a cracking day.
Total time underground 8hrs.
Photos: Andrew Walchester & Sam Garrad
18th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB & PC
100% cloud cover clearly swiftly: Spots of rain: Visibility ≥30Nm: Stunning sunset: Mild: Small stream: Ground dry: Both cisterns full. The Plan: Dig. CC still absent. TB digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Yesterday TB had accumulated several “Dam Big Boulders”, these were lifted using a 2:1 mechanical advantage, most ≥100kgs, the largest ≈120/130kgs: we’re going to need a bigger wheelbarrow! Processing these five loads consumed ½ hour. Leaving the area at the “Plank” until next Monday, TB worked away southward extending the hollow created at the base of the hauling way adjacent the “Plank”. Thirty three lifts were raised to surface; five nets and twenty eight kibbles, of which six were gravels. Generator gauge registers over quarter full. Justifiably knackered the pair staggered back up hill and swiftly to the Roadside. Inside the bar it felt like being at Bastogne; surrounded by German’s who shot glances at the shite encrusted drinking diggers.
Hours 5 (2018), Southend (968), 28 Kibbles (3204), 5 Nets (648), Total 3852
18th May Lancaster Hole
S Halliday & A Smith Caving
A Walchester & S Garrad Being Lazy
As usual SH up before anyone else, after a couple of gallons of tea and feeling like it was time everyone else was up I decided to ask them. This seemed to do the trick and everyone convened in the dining room for breakfast. SH once again excelling in the kitchen, I copped out of most the washing up and went to sort some kit.
Having previously decided to postpone the dive we needed a trip to keep AS and SH amused into which we could incorporate a visit to dive base.
Top sink through to Lancaster was decided upon. A trip which AS hadn’t done for over 20 years and SH for at least 10. We packed a rope and set off across the fell to visit the Pegasus stile. Easily locating the entrance, thanks Aaron, we put on SRT kit and set off into the cave.
Top Sink is the most upstream entrance to the norths most pre-eminent cave system, and the through trip to Lancaster is one of the Yorkshire classics. Most tend to do Top sink to Wretched Rabbit but today the Pegasus are playing out so we’ll opt for the far harder but vastly most satisfying full trip. For extra credit a visit to the sump pool and pulling some dive kit out. Now not a lot of team go down there on the through trip.
The short climb into top sink doesn’t really give much of an indication of what’s to come on this trip and following the narrow canyon soon bring you to the head of the wet Walrus pitch.
SH rigged as a pull through the 60m rope we are carrying more than long enough. Below the pitch what is described as awkward winding passage, Πr², is followed to penknife pitch. We then had a choice of route and more by good luck than good management we made the right choice and followed the higher level skywalker passage. Not entirely sure we were correct and pandering to AS we climbed down to the lower level about half way along, but after a quick look at the description we returned to the higher level, and located the climb up to Nagasaki via ythe bridge of sighs. Nagasaki is an extraordinary chamber. Huge by most standards (but perhaps not by ease gill’s), the silence is stunning and we take a moment to soak up the atmosphere and contemplate the accident which happened here a few tears ago.
Climbing down behind he rock of ages, (a single boulder perhaps 1k tons?) We made our way to the assembly hall. From here following the white way a beautifully decorated passage we followed the water until the passage becomes too low. Slight reverse and we again consulted the description to find an obscure crawl on the left, from here we quickly made Holbeck Junction. Now in better known parts of the system we easily found our way through first to Stop Pot and then to Oxbow corner. SH suggested we descend the boulder choke here and after a false start we found our way through and set off for a stomp down what is arguably the one of the finest stream passages in the country. Reaching the Stake pot boulders SH was feeling quite smug about finding the most efficient way through until AS called from the opposite side suggesting he get a move on.
Quickly to dive base and the obligatory look at the sump before picking up a few bit and beginning the climb out.
AS climbed first and SH followed coiling rope and leaving rigging in place. We were soon at Lancaster where a previous team had convinently rigged so we climbed simultaiously and out to a lovely afternoon. Easy walk back to BPF for a brew and look at the survey.
What a great trip.
Time underground 5.5Hrs
19th May Souterrain CL033-130002, Ennis
ITM 533865 x 678374
Returning from the bus station visited this site located within Ennis town, just off the Gort Road, (R458), adjacent a housing estate. The access route, Fern Hill road, leads up and toward an elevated area; the ringfort is recorded on this gentle slope. When originally surveyed a ringfort, (CL033-130001); a hut, (CL033-130003), and souterrain were recorded; nothing is now presently visible. The national database records all three structures at a single map reference, ITM 533865 x 678374.
20th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB & PC
Fabulous day: Visibility ≥30Nm: Mild: Ground dry: Small stream: The Plan: Digging & Maintenance. CC still absent; both descended the shaft where a weary PC perched in the north rift dismantling the “Plank” whilst TB relocated the signal system; there is slack available in both phone and signal wires, this is coiled in the rift at the fixed ladder. The floodlight was lowered almost level with the RSJ, which is now almost three metres above the floor of the hauling way. The staging need be secured on two scaffold stemples, set level with the existing stemple in the north rift to maintain level access between the two. Natural channels/features in the east wall require the staging to project some 0.9m from the fixed ladder into the south rift. This is no issue as the next vertical ladder will be free hanging; a bonus in fact when fitting the next below it. Hauling began during which much of the debris from the “Plank” area and the hauling way was cleared, which is now at around -16m. The generator was topped up to ¾ full. PC halted the session early overcome with fatigue creating severe loss of concentration during winching. No bar, just bed.
Hours 4 (2022), Southend (972), 8 Kibbles (3212), 5 Nets (653), Total 3865
Gazing up at the RSJ some two metres above him PC was amazed at the volume of spoil removed since its installation. TB has moved much, if not all the spoil single handed. In recognition of this singular achievement PC recommends TB be awarded an honorific.
“That between 21st April - 20th May 2019; despite injuries, Tony Boycott wrested spoil from the earth, placing into 104 nets and 531 kibbles the conservative weight of 20 metric tonnes in 25 sessions; for this outstanding achievement he is recommend the honorable title of “Popeye”.
And don't forget that Pat has moved the same weight above ground and further!
I wonder if the Roadside could brew a spinach flavoured beer - the stuff of nightmares.
23rd May Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB & PC
18:00: Bright: 100% cloud cover, (but thin): Visibility 20-25Nm: Ground dry: Small stream: Fuel PC. The Plan: Dig. CC absent; TB digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Before starting the 2.5m timber ladder was brought to surface and exchanged with the 3 metre aluminum builder’s ladder; this one just reaches the base of the fixed ladder from the bottom of the hauling way. “Popeye” continued to clear the area from the “Plank” to almost directly beneath the RSJ. Though the external temperature was around 16°C the significant updraught noticed on the 20th May still emerged from the north side of the rift; CC theorizes this volume of air cannot pass wholly through the small gap at -26.5m, where the stream sinks, but also issues through the gaps among the boulder fill. Of the thirty two kibbles raised ten were gravels mixed with lumps of the awful blue/grey clay and a reappearance of the horrific brown clay. Though CC recently extended the boulder heap retaining wall the void is swiftly filling, attention need turn to preparing alternate areas, whilst consideration of sensitive issues, not least a sensible, aesthetic height for the elongated boulder pile bordering the neighbours field, (obscured in part by bushes). Pessimistically the present capacity could be filled within the next thirty sessions. Generator shows half full. To the Roadside for very fine pints and some cracking music; concertina, fiddle and flute.
Hours 5 (2027), Southend (977), 32 Kibbles (3244), 0 Nets (653), Total 3897
24th May Lancaster Hole
Playing hooky!! Nicked a day it’s been a tough week, as per early start, aiming to sort the gear at dive base have a general tidy up and maybe a tad of caving. For a change no gear to carry just a couple of empty bags so quickly down to the sump, Vis looks ace today, pity no diving. Doesn’t take long to fettle the gear and pack a couple of bags, back out of the CT and coil ropes as I go. After last Sundays trip, (we had been taking about the Mancunian way) I was curious to do complete this trip, we have many times passed this area and I’ve never done the route so seems like a good opportunity. Across the high level traverse to Stop pot, a route I know reasonable well but I still manage a wrong turn. Locating the entrance to the Manc Way isn’t easy. Once on the route its easy enough to follow to old English chamber, from here Spangle Passage lead to Brown and Smelly chamber. Seems like a good place for a picnic and to consult the description. Shortly after leaving here a fixed iron ladder confirms my position, which I haven’t been 100% on more than once. From here its fairly straight forward to Battle of Britain and then to Broadway in county. Another picnic and decision time on the return route. I opt for the Trident series. A quick look at Spout Hall then its back to Battle of Britain. Following the CNCC description. A descent from the high to lower level series is relatively easy but make you think twice, solo trips are that little bit more exposed. From here Eureka junction then back to Stop pot. Returning along the high level transverse is relatively straight forward, this week staying high all the way. Pick the gear up at Fall pot and make my way to bridge hall. I’d planned on doing the graveyard and checking out Little lechuguilla, but phone battery is dead, (been reading the description a lot). I’ve no idea what time it is so decide to make my way straight out. Total time under ground 8Hrs
27th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB & PC
60% cloud cover: Cool: Light shower: Small stream: Visibility ≤20NmThe Plan: Dig: CC absent: TB digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Popeye continued clearing and preparing the area for the forthcoming installation of the staging; a normal, steady session producing four heavy nets and twenty eight kibbles; six of which were gravels. Generator shows quarter full. Whilst setting up the equipment the arse end of a hairy mammal scampered away from near the water tanks: of black/light brown fur and a big bushy tail; either a Pine marten, or perhaps a short Yeti: to the Roadside for pints.
Hours 5 (2032), Southend (982), 28 Kibbles (3272), 4 Nets (657), Total 3929
30th May Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB & PC
Heavy showers, easing later: Visibility ≤ 2Nm: Small stream: The Plan: dig. CC absent: TB digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. TB sent up kibbles filled at the last session during which he began to excavate a trench east/west across the shaft, almost in line with the RSJ above. The inward slope of the southern end has crept back out again. The floor area directly beneath the east rift, which faced out some five metres above, appears less compacted; holes between the boulders seem larger. To the sound of Popeye’s merry whistling and the crashing echoes of the sledgehammer hauling proceeded uninterrupted. Of the thirty seven lifts, thirty four were kibbles, (four gravels) and three heavy nets. At end of play the generator was ¼ full, now ¾ with the addition of five litres. To the Roadside for fine music and tasty pints
Hours 5 (2037), Southend (987), 34 Kibbles (3306), 3 Nets (660), Total 3966
1st June Souterrain, CL004-062002 & Ringfort/Cashel CL004-062000
TB & PC
Increasing overcast: Possible rain: Visibility decreasing: Humid: The plan: attempt to record the obscured perimeter of the ringfort/cashel. Previously measurements and bearings were taken around the rampart by forcing a route through the undergrowth. When drawn it made little sense; the data producing an unrealistic image. With no access to commercial GPSR systems, the decision was made to thrash about the undergrowth as close to the centre line of the ruined rampart as could be identified among the extensive tumble using a hand held GPSR to mark off the positions; allowing the GPS to stabilize before recording the reading. As this method was to be conducted in difficult conditions, TB kindly responded to act as recorder for the data related from the thicket.
With the plots set out on graph paper to an appropriate scale, (1:200); concentric circles were drawn reconciling as many of the plots as was practicable, which turned out to be quite a high number. As expected a small number of plots from the more awful areas of thicket did not fit with the majority; clearly visible as anomalies. Drawing the survey it appears that the experiment was of reasonably successful; not only does the diameter average twenty nine metres, (original estimate twenty seven), but what did emerge from the page is the likely location of the original entrance into the Ringfort/Cashel. To the Roadside for a Black and Gold, decided to drink beer rather than dig tonight; gasp.
2nd June Cullaun II
TB & PC
Overcast: Wind F6 gusting 8: As one of his many projects TB wanted to locate the stainless steel studs fitted by a UBSS member during the 1950s as an experiment to measure limestone erosion/dissolution in the streamway. The area was recently cleared of coniferous forest; the landscape now appears devastated, until the next planting grows. However, here is a great opportunity to locate unrecorded sites.
In Cullaun II the studs on the run off slope, below the cascades, were quickly relocated however heavy rain last night produced high water conditions obscuring stream channel invert; feeling for the submerged studs was unsuccessful; need look in low water flow. The next part of TB’s project was to locate similar studs installed in upper Cullaun I, this area too appears next in line for clearance. As rain arrived, ran to the Roadside for pints.
3rd June Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB & PC
Midges: Rain showers: Midges: Small stream: Midges: Visibility ≤15Nm: Midges. The Plan: Dig and avoid midges. TB digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing; and eaten by Midges. CC arrived a little later to conduct Laurence Hurt on an inspection visit. Plenty of evidence of a flood after the night of rain, 1st June, (≈2.5 inches), the area very clean, a lot of finer gravels washed down among the boulders. Popeye reduced the floor level from pretty much beneath the R.S.J to the south end leaving the north end elevated off which PC can reach and install the proposed staging. Of the thirty four lifts, nine were very heavy nets and twenty five kibbles, of which six were coarse gravels. The final low section of the northern wall has been filled; the boulder pile ridge line now extends from behind the winch shed into the end of the hedge row. Popeye departs Wednesday. To the Roadside, met Michael Considine his first words, how deep are you yet? The bar had Gardai sat there enjoying the music waiting for Trump; 2000 deployed for his visit!
Hours 5(2042), Southend (992), 25 Kibbles (3331), 9 Nets (669), Total 4000 (south end alone)
5th June CL004-062002 Ringfort, (Cashel), Oughtdarra
RD and PC
Bright spells: Cool NW wind: The plan: to take photographs of the Cashel to illustrate the dense foliage obscuring the site. Began walk at Poulsallagh showing RD a Bronze Age cooking place, (Fulacht Fia), and an adjacent burial cist, also very likely of Bronze Age, (2200-500 BCE). Made a route up on to the next limestone terrace and turned east. Ascended several other minor terraces to where a large ravine slowed progress, turned south to a point of crossing it. Just beyond ascent of a thirty metre cliff required negotiating a narrow track. At the top continued on passing out the promontory fort, possible Iron Age, (500BCE-500CE); stopped and brewed up. Further on encountered the pastoral area where CC and PC previously recorded seven dig sites; from the top of the adjacent terrace a possible eighth may exist. Arrived at the Ringfort, (Cashel), in good sunshine; PC took photos of the entrance and a section of rampart wall while RD took photos of everything, particularly the foliage. Quote from RD, This is a fantastic area it full of flowers, plants and all sorts of other shit. The superb meandering walk to was repeated on the return; a cracking day. To the Roadside for serious re-hydration
6th June CL004-016040 Souterrain
RD and PC
70% cloud cover: Wind NW cool: Threat of showers: The plan; to commence surveying the souterrain noted as open on the 18th May 2018. Drove up past Caherbullog farm and parked where the track turns sharp west, (elevation 920ft). Loading the kit and walked northeast about a mile to the Ringfort, (Cashel). This site is situated among an extensive ancient field system covering tens of acres. Located on the eastern, lee, slope of the mountain the valley falls away gently to the south. Found a sheltered spot near the cashel and brewed up, whilst taking in the view. Began survey; of particular significance is the height of the main passage. Set up a base line from the small garth entrance to midway, (5m), at the subtle, (28°), bend to terminate beneath the large open collapse among what appears a house. Max dimensions of the main passage are two metres high by two wide; very large by Burren standards; many are often one metre high by one wide. Some interior features suggest its construction as originally defensive, though the interior dimensions are open to discussion, further work required. Thanks to Roger for the many photographs taken both above and below ground; as a reward went to the Roadside.
7th June Considine’s Cave (South End)
RD, CC and PC
Bright: Light breeze: Mild: Small stream: The plan: begin installation of the staging platform. RD to the bottom of the shaft; PC lowered the tools etc. Using a laser level established precise positioning for the holes. Completed the two east wall holes using the 24v Bosch drill; on using the Hilti the deteriorating health of its 36v battery finally failed; bugger. CC arrived, so decided to have RD clear all the waiting kibbles filled by Popeye. CC winching PC unloading and barrowing, RD digging. Of the ten lifts there was one net and nine kibbles of boulders. The depth from the RSJ to the floor beneath it is just over three metres. The aluminium builder’s ladder now barely reaches the bottom of the fixed ladder. The floor areas of the shaft are therefore estimated as approaching seventeen metres at the far south end and sixteen metres in the area below the fixed ladder. Need replace the Hilti battery; RD took lots of photos; these will add to the photo album being prepared for the landowner: to the Roadside for a cracking pint.
Hours 6 (2048), Southend (998), Kibbles 9 (3340), Nets 1 (670), Total 4010
8th June Pegasus Dive Meet at Capernwray
S Halliday, A Walchester, S Garland
Not really a caving meet, but after interest from a few members at the Cowclose wkend, we had decided a club diving day was in order.
Unfortunately Al Steans was struck down by an aggressive Leylandi, and Malc S had family commitments so our team was reduced to 3.
Meeting at the services before bending a couple of rules to get Sam in we duly arrived at Capernwray and after a quick brew and a look at the dive site we were ready to dive.
After the worlds shortest dive course, Al had previously been in the pool with Sam, we kitted up and we were all set for his first ever dive. AW diving a fetching retro number from the 70’s and SG using a combination of AW’s wetsuit (It must have shrunk), SH’s BCD possibly also a tad small, and Issy’s Regs, of we went.
In the water and SG doing remarkable well we had a couple of minor issues but considering the training involved, do you know the sign for OK and breath out on the way up we were doing OK. After a change of mask things got a lot easier and SG now clearing as well!!
We had a swim past the 2 and 6m platforms with a brief pause to check SG could remember the OK sign. Quick look at Shergar before Gas forced us to return after a total dive of nearly 25mins.
We needed a couple of fills, so a bite and a brew whilst the bottles get topped off and we can dive again.
Pretty much the same setup as previous dive, we had a lot less messing about so a lot less time pressures, A nice little dive with a swim round the plateau we racked up just shy of 40min before getting out.
Pretty shit weather didn’t help but all in all a great day. SG had a couple of cracking dives and a great intro. Hope we’ve tempted him into doing some proper training.
Information on the Capernwray Diving Centre available here. https://www.dive-site.co.uk/
Photos: Andrew Walchester
June 8th 2019 Rimington Mines
Barry and Ceily Sudell, Nigel Burns
Rimington Mines are situated in Lancashire at NGR. SD 815448. Also known as Skeleron Mines, they were worked for Lead, Silver and Barytes with a history going back to the 16th. Century.
We decided to have a look at the site as it is quite close to Ceily's home near Barley, and the NMRS 1968 Memoirs mentioned some interesting features. A public Footpath runs past the site and overlooks the main workings in Ings Beck valley and leads to the Northernmost part of the workings where a well preserved Cog and Rung gin circle can be seen, an interesting looking filled shaft (Whalley Shaft), was passed on the way. To the East from here a large overgrown open work was also investigated.
A line of shaft hollows and a run-in level follows the vein down the hillside to the valley floor where various features can be made out including a large run-in level, a reservoir, numerous tips and the engine house with foundations for a steam engine.
The site as a whole is a Scheduled Monument, apart from mining remains it has important medieval features. No underground access was found but even on a rainy day was well worth the visit. Barry and myself returned on Sunday to try to locate a shaft at Ox Close, to the East of the main sett, nothing seems to remain at this site but we did speak to the farmer/landowner who informed us that the site had been reworked for Barytes and had been surveyed by a mineral company as late as 1998.
8th June Considine’s Cave (South End)
Bright: Warm: Light breeze: Visibility≤ 30Nm: Small stream. The Plan: Continue with installing the staging. Used a spare rope to lower the tools, materials and drill; installed another as a static lifeline on the fixed ladder for use with a Petzl A.S.A.P, (self lifeliner for either direction). Finished drilling the 4 x 16mm holes, and temporarily installed both scaffold stemples; each end has a gap of 45mm between it and the wall for the washer, nut and ability to hold the screw thread for tightening the assembly into its final position. With both stemples in position, parallel at 360mm centres, the provision for heavy angle iron of 760mm length was established; this will receive the timber floor. Maximum width to the outside of the angle iron position is 390mm. This width will allow the staging to extend into the area to almost beneath the fixed ladder. The screw ends for securing the stemples need be 150mm in length. When viewed the staging is off centre, closer to the east wall; the precise position is marked with scratches and insulating tape. Generator shows almost ½ full: measured depth at shaft collar, -15.6m; requires double checking.
Hours 2 (2050), Southend (1000), Kibbles 0 (3340), Nets 0 (670), Total 4010
9th June Hardrawkin Pot
S Halliday, A Walchester, S Garrad
After yesterdays dive meet and the previous days persistent rain we were casting around for a suitable quick trip and Hardrawkin seemed to fit the bill.
We’d aimed for an early start but SH a bit lax in the catering department meant we weren’t off quite as quick as hoped. Driving up to the Hill Inn and water levels didn’t seem too bad. Actually early enough to get parked, we got changed and managed to find the Pot without issue. SH having forgotten his stop had to borrow one from SG.
SH entered the cave with the tackle and made his way to the pitch, rigged without issue but thinking it looked a touch wet, thought i'd better wait for rest of the team before descending.
Anrew Walchester climbing out of the entrance to Hardrawkin Pot
Simon Halliday coming up an extremely wet first pitch
Andrew Walchester on his way out, looking up stream
SH dropped about half way and the water barrelling down the pitch made communication next to impossible so a change over and quickly reclimbed to check on the team plan. SG and AW deciding it looked a bit damp, SH already being soaked then dropped the pitch to have a quick look around. The next pitch follows pretty quickly so without the tackle bag not possible to carry on.
A sporting prussik back up, having to lean out of the water a couple of time to get a bit of relief. There’s a reason why they rig this pitch with deviations as shown in the video.
SH derigged whilst SG and AW bagged the rope. AW insisting he will carry the bag. SH made his way out. By the time we’d got back to the Van a pretty cold SH was ready for a warm.
After looking at the rigging guide/sump index defiantly worth a return. Maybe even a dive sometime?
Photos & Video: Sam Garrad.
10th June Lancaster Hole
After recent wet weather and the subsequent loss of diving conditions, seemed a good idea to nip down and check cylinder pressures and check out the gear stash.
Arriving at BPF 18:30 and taking the opportunity to take some more lead down to the stash, quickly down to dive base. Vis looking appalling, about 500mm, there’s not going to be any diving in here for several weeks, if it ever stops raining.
Looking at the foam on the walls, it was pretty obvious that the sump pool has been full to the roof and I’d estimate approx. 5m on normal levels at bottom of the Crap Trap.
Gear stash has defiantly been under water, but all seems OK. I removed all gear to dive base, and checked cylinder pressures:
75% O2 210
32% O2 240
21% O2 250
40/21 215 using as diluent. started project with 280.
Just goes to show how efficient the CCR is.
I took the decision to move the gear to the higher-level stash. Repacking the gear, bar lead, and moving to the bottom of the crap trap. I climb the pitch with 2 gear tubes and fasten the 4 cylinders to the SRT rope.
Climb felt hard, been a long weekend and TBH been tired at work so not really a surprise. However soon enough at the top of the pitch. Glad of the traverse line I move both tubes to the bolts and clip on.
As I start to haul 4 7 litre cylinders up the pitch I’m wondering if it was a good idea. I’ve rigged the pro traction so using body weight as a counter balance I slowly bring them up the pitch.
Physics says doing this in a oner is easier but that doesn’t make me feel any better whilst trying to balance 4 cylinders on my foot at the top of a very slippery pitch. However, with everything clipped in I manage to get everything safely stowed.
Climbing back out of CT I decide to derig the pitch, can’t see there being anything much diving wise going on in the near future.
Steady out and back at BPF for 9.
Trip time 2.5hrs.
13th June Considine’s Cave (South End)
Overcast: Cool NW breeze: Small stream: The Plan; re locate rebar steps from ladder to Plank. Lowered drill and tools using a spare rope; descent swift achieved by using the self lifelining system previously installed. Though awkward drilled 14mm holes directly in line with the fixed ladder to the level of the Plank, which will be the level of the staging between pitches. Utilizing rebar steps between ladder end and staging means their removal provides easy access into the northern half of the rift through the narrow section. Filled the eleven kibbles, stacking them in the hauling way; the area worked being the cleft, now over three metres below the R.S.J. Popeye is accurate describing the infinite gaps among the boulder floor. Moving boulders the next bedding joint was observed, stepping back a brief distance under the west wall. Generator is 1/3rd full. Earlier in the day obtained the names of council engineers who may be able to assist with large diameter plastic pipe. Talking nicely to a council employee was introduced to one of said surveyors; after mixed, confused emotions flitted across the nice mans face he took PC’s number intending to speak to another on our behalf, it was a positive encounter. Also obtained a pile of bolts and other ironmongery from Noel the Pole, these bolts are widely used throughout the dig infrastructure; ordered 20 foot of rebar to build the next fixed ladder, delivery due next week.
Hours 2 (2052), Southend (1002), Kibbles 0 (3340), Nets 0 (670), Total 4010
15th June Hardrawkin Pot Revisited
After the previous weeks brief visit, it had been playing on my mind about the missing deviation, and worrying that SG might never get to see the bottom of this wet hole I thought Id do the valiant thing and nip down and take a bit of vid.
After a week of pretty wet weather I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but levels were about the same as at our previous visit.
Quickly down to the first pitch, I rigged as previously but only descending a few meters before attempting to pendulum across to an obvious flake. Got it after a couple of attempts and put a sling on, not a fantastic anchor but worse that’ll happen if it comes of is a wetting so not overly bothered. Dropped a little further before I spotted another likely spot so place a second deviation, this one slightly better.
It was then a comparatively dry hang to the base of the pitch, a couple of short climbs quickly followed before the next pitch, a fine well watered shaft, but the bolted Y hang this time keeping me out of most of the water.
A brief duck under the water fall to look at the sump and take a little vid before a pretty uneventful exit.
Before setting off down here I would have sworn Id bottomed this previously but I have absolutely no memory of the sump pool?? How the mind plays tricks.
Time underground 1 1/2 Hrs
16th June Kingsdale Master Cave
S Halliday & I Halliday
Issy has been wanting to have an intro to SRT for a while. With the weather not really playing from a diving point of view, even Capers is shit vis. Thought we’d have a quick trip down the master cave so Issy could have a bit of a play on the rope.
To the head of the pitch, SH rigged with a loop and protraction, just in case and IH descended into KMC. We then went for a quick stomp up the stream passage to master junction.
Briefly had a look at the CRO traverse before returning to the pitch and SH climbed and assisted IH up. She then descended a couple of times just for a bit of practice.
Back through the roof tunnel to emerge into rain, will it ever stop!!!
17th June Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Bright: 40% cloud cover: Light breeze: Small stream: The Plan: begin installing the staging framework. From measurements taken by PC CC prefabricated the framework comprizing two scaffold poles and two pieces of angle iron, between which pieces of timber flooring will next be inserted and secured, creating a secure platform at the junction of access to the northern rift and the next pitch of fixed ladder, presently under construction. The scaffold poles are secured to the rift wall using 4 x 150mm x 16mm galvanized steel bolts projecting from the ends of the scaffold poles into 4 x 16mm holes, drilled to a depth of 65mm to compensate for the angle of the rift wall. On completion the inner scaffold pole of the stage platform was found to be precisely beneath the centre line of a descending individual on the existing fixed ladder. Outstanding are the pieces of flooring timber to be cut and fitted, and installation of the replacement “Plank”, to access the northern shaft. PC ascended while CC took photos: the eleven previously filled kibbles were raised. To the Roadside where a female wearing a very low cut red dress clearly reminded rain conscious cavers there are alternative, well developed fronts other than those associated with approaching weather systems.
Hours 4 (2056), Southend (1006), Kibbles 11 (3351), Nets 0 (670), Total 4021
The framework for the platform situated 14.6 metres from the surface
19th June Pouldubh
Elora Kuhn, Hannah Dunaway, Nikki Wilcox
19:00. Heavy showers: Wind SW F4: Darkening overcast: Following an enquiry about caving, PC obliged and picked up the women from the Hydro Hotel, Lisdoonvarna; parking as heavy showers approached. The normal pleasant walk through the lichen hung forest. In Pouldubh through the middle entrance: stream level low. A delightful trip unfolded with PC at the back encouraging them to take turns leading the way, to offer each the best possible sensation of caving; this being their first ever caving trip. Observing the many superb cave features the rambling explanations were listened to with polite interest. By 21:00 had descended the climb and gone down the main drain a short distance. Decided to turn the trip here suspecting a similar amount of questions on the way out; during this section of the trip several Bullion Stones were found as was a very nice piece of fossilized tree, (250mm long x 90mm wide x 15mm thick). More questions and explanations were exchanged until emerging from the South entrance into a hail of midges energizing the group to swiftly head for the truck; took the coast road to Lisdoonvarna. Have never experienced such enquiring new cavers: to the Roadside for pints and fun: they want to go again.
22nd June Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Overcast: Mild: Small stream: Good visibility: The Plan: continue installing the staging. PC descended and set in place the next 2.3 metre long, (10 inch centred rungs), ladder assembled the previous Thursday evening. CC had suggested a safety hand bracket to facilitate mounting and dismounting the ladder from the staging. When the ladder was rested up against the stage the idea occurred that rather than secure a safety hand hold bracket to the wall, actually extend the ladder position vertically above the staging to a height of perhaps three rungs, (0.9m), so both hands could be used; this height would also act as a safety barrier between both fixed ladders yet leaving enough room around each side of the protruding ladder. If this plan is pursued it also means that the lower stemple support can also be installed at this time. As the floor is excavated the three metre builder ladder can be secured to the fixed ladder and lowered as required. From the staging, looking south, it was noticed how much the NW wall section has swept in between the stage and the floor level some 0.150m over a vertical distance of some 1.5m; the southern wall has decided to return to the vertical. The other wall areas each appear to continue on down vertically. The shaft appears to be assuming a “squarer” form; another plan need be drawn of this area, being some two metres below the previous planned level. The narrow cleft between the north and south shafts reduces and continues on down at a width of around five inches, (0.125m); the north face of the fill in this cleft has been ginged by CC as he dug down past it, this entire fill will be easily removed removing potential missiles falling upon those below. The hauling line centre was noted as being 1.5m, from the front edge of the staging. Generator shows ¼ full. Studying the floor, shape and walls of the shaft they offer the impression of continuing on down for quite some distance. To the Roadside
Hours 2(2058), Southend (1008), Kibbles 0 (3351), Nets 0 (670), Total 4021
24th June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC and PC
Cloud cover 40%: Bright: Visibility ≥35Nm: No wind: Midges: Small stream: Fuel CC & PC. The Plan: continue installing the staging. Laden with drills, and other kit both descended and began securing the fixed ladder and fitting timber floor sections of the staging platform. The stemple to secure the lower end of the ladder was positioned and its two 16mm holes drilled. A scaffold pole of 900mm is required to make the stemple. The ladder was finally installed so that it extends above the staging platform some 0.9m (3 feet) creating an excellent safety barrier, this height will also allow a climber to ascend almost level with the staging before stepping on to it. For the moment the aluminium ladder should be used. The replacement “Plank” was fitted onto the support bracket in the northern shaft requiring securing. CC had previously filled most of the kibbles, these were lifted to complete the session among a hail of midges; of the ten six were a mixture of mud and gravel. Future deployment of a digger on a lifeline said line will pass over the top rung of this new ladder, and will rub over the rough rebar rung, so an upper “Rung” with a smooth rotating cover will be set on the topmost part of this ladder, the descending climber will need ensure the line follows this route. The generator is ½ full; to the Roadside for pints.
Hours 4(2062), Southend (1012), Kibbles, 10 (3361) Nets, 0 (670) Total 4031
25th June The Gloucester Tree, Western Australia
The Gloucester Tree is a giant karri tree in the Gloucester National Park of Western Australia. At 58 metres in height, it is the world's second tallest fire-lookout tree. You climb it on 153 bits of steel bar hammered into the tree in a spiral to reach a steel and aluminium cabin and visitors gallery at the top.
According to wikipedia: Only 20 percent of visitors climb to the top of the tree; most make it only part of the way before turning back. Well done Mark, were you pissed?
27th June Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Hot ≥27°C: 10% cloud cover: Very small stream: Visibility ≥30Nm. The Plan: offer up and mark the stemple for final drilling, and dig. CC below: PC up top. CC marked off the holes to drill the stemple for securing to the fixed ladder. Digging began; of the twenty five lifts five were nets, the twenty kibbles included seven of assorted shite, all removed from the area approaching the fixed ladder position from below the R.S.J. The last hollow among the bushes on the north field wall is almost full. Generator still shows ½ full. Among the last kibbles CC discovered unusual features on three water worn boulders, all brought to surface; curious petrified “worm like” features are exposed, raised above the limestone rock surface; PC believes them Crinoids: where’s Nigel or Popeye when you need them? One taken home by CC to photograph, (see below) the other two will later be recovered. The staging is all but complete; minor tasks remain. Earlier in the day unexpectedly met the owners daughter, Niamh, offer her a visit; JN too was offered a look see and is likely to accept: to a busy Roadside.
Hours 5 (2067), Southend (1017), Kibbles 20 (3381), Nets 5 (675), Total 4056
29th June Jewel Cave, Western Australia
MS & a multitude of Bruce,s & Sheila,s
Jewel cave was the last in a series of caves found in the Deepdene and Hamlin bay area of south west, Western Australia. Discovered in the mid 60's the main body of the cave, a chamber 30m floor to ceiling, was found after taking a twisting 12m abseil down a slew shaft originally formed by a tap root from the giant gum trees on the surface. Some of the tap roots are present today and look like liquorice in the following picture.
The tour takes you straight into the main chamber from an entrance blown open to the surface for easy access to the paying customers. The main chamber is rather extensive displaying walls of flow stone, large stalactites, stalagmites and easy missed Australia’s longest (known or documented) straw hanging 5.2 meters from the roof which is still active. The tour then drops into the depths to where the coral looking calcite is found and also in the 60's was water logged. However the cave is completely dry now after draining over a 20 year period. After asking about further exploration or a master sump, it turns out it's a granite bed below and the main bed of the water table. No further exploration has been taken and the reasons are still a mystery. I must add I find it extremely frustrating that caves here are closely guarded secrets and explorations seems extremely hard to come by, without cave guide books or many groups still adventuring or sharing finds. I would suspect the area to have a great many systems similar to the Castleton area. However the 5 main caves are all show caves, you can only pay to walk down the concrete paths. (Giants Cave, Lake Cave, Bribe Cave, Mammoths Cave and Calgardup Cave all within 20km ish on the "250 tourist drive" road).
From the once flooded floor the 1-2m of the base is now visible with the original water mark well defined. The now absent water also left behind some marvelous straw features where calcite has formed on the ends making them now like pendulum shapes visible in the following photo.
It's also at this level the bones of a "Tasmanian tiger" was found, thought to have fallen down the slew hole a great many years before when Tasmania was contacted to the greater landmass of Australia. The tour concludes with a wander round the depths witnessing the formations all around and with a few ducks (blackened by the unfortunate few who didn't realise soon enough, ha!). It concludes in "Camel Chamber" where the fancy formations are found on the straws, a camel shape on the ground, and in the roof a fairy called “Tinkerbell” and "The Dancing Lady’s", however I didn't think to take photos at the time. The tour then ends with a narrow set of stairs back to the upper main chamber made all the more difficult by the high levels of carbon dioxide in the cave. All in all a short but sweet trip that wouldn't look out of place in Majorca, but possibly a much more extensive cave given the proper permission to explore.
29th June Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Midges: 60% cloud cover: Midges: Heavy showers: Midges: Small stream: Midges: Vis ≈20Nm. Midges: Midges: Midges: The Plan: secure ladder and dig. CC below: PC up top, among Midges. As work commenced a Biblical shower arrived; Noah waved as he drifted past. The lower stemple was installed and the first ladder on the second pitch secured to with 10mm bolts. After which digging began. From the outset the rope increasingly slipped on the capstan; brief investigation suggested the smooth surface of the drum may be the issue; however the loud, unsettling creaking suggests a damp rope. Either way each haul required three turns on the drum, (not a good idea), the noise lifting the heavy nets demanding a fourth be applied. CC suggests turn the rope around to deploy the as yet unused length in the base of the rope container, prior to its ultimate removal for washing. Of the sixteen lifts, four were very heavy nets; of the twelve kibbles four were of crap, and gravels. Minor issue arose with signal and voice comm.; maintenance was last conducted 5th May, before that 25th March; suggest 1st July, to include rope exchange, tidy place, check generator and complete staging. To the Roadside
Hours 5 (2072), Southend (1022), Kibbles 12 (3393), Nets 4 (679), Total 4072