October to December
2nd October Lisnanroum; unregistered enclosure & Souterrains
Dr. Michelle Comber, Dr. Noel McCarthy and PC
PC arranged a field meet with ex-college tutors, inviting their interpretations of the site, of its many anonymous features. Consideration of these observations...
1) Location of the remaining lengths of thicker perimeter walls.
2) Location of souterrain, (CL009-022007), as a part mural feature in the party wall.
3) Orientation and design of the souterrain chamber and passages.
4) Apparent, greater, number of possible house/s and possible farm stock features.
5) Discovery, (2nd Oct 2019), of the main gate into the southern enclosure, (facing south).
…. indicates the southern enclosure is the earlier settlement of the two. Investigation of the ground surface beyond the present elongated collapse of souterrain, (CL009-022007), suggests its passage may have extended further; presently this potential area is obscured by briars, the dense interior of this patch need be accessed to ascertain any entrance, or features within. When scrutinized by Comber and McCarthy the raised mound (located in the northern enclosure), containing souterrain, CL009-022006, their impression is the souterrain has utilized an existing burial mound. Among Dr. Comber’s research into sub-square ringforts, and the results following her excavation of a similar ringfort two kilometres north, suggests they may have been, or became official centres for tribal facilities, services or “tax” collecting; a place where a representative received a subjects tribute required of the local Chieftain.
4th October Lisnanroum; unregistered enclosure & souterrains
Storm Lorenzo abating. The Plan: to review the areas visited on 2nd October with Comber and McCarthy. Failed in the attempt to push back the briars; having earlier discovering the suppliers had no slash hooks in stock. A few minutes with one would make short work of the broad, dense briars. On the other side of this patch appear the rectangular foundations of a house, (Comber 2nd Oct); the passage of souterrain, (CL009-022007), appears heading toward its northern end. Several other flagstones were noticed among the briars a little further on from those recorded; that the southern enclosure is the earlier of the two begins to make sense when the souterrain and its passage design are scrutinized. If the souterrain did indeed originate from the area adjacent the house, to run beneath this briar area to the chamber, the initial entrance passage dimensions would have been built with a reduced cross section in order to impede hostile pursuers, contributing to the elusion of fleeing non-combatants. As rain increased fled to the Roadside, and a very nice Birthday pint.
5th October Lisnanroum; unregistered enclosure & souterrains
Overcast: Humid: Thick mist: Lessening rain. Set about clearing the foliage obscuring the original ringfort entrance; exposed the feature for photography. Moved north and probed around the edge of the briars obscuring the potential entrance area to souterrain, CL009-022007. Lifted the thin layer of surface moss covering two parallel flagstones, these are in line with the approaching souterrain passage; slid machete blade vertically between joints, no gap beneath, felt only compacted fill: potential of an open passage beneath now much reduced. Need to investigate the adjacent bush to see if an entrance feature is present. Crossed into the northern enclosure, trimmed the briars obscuring the southern end of the collapse of souterrain, CL009-022006. This exposed a continuation of the unroofed passage, roof lintels absent; these walls too are built of large blocks of limestone similar to those exposed in the adjacent breach. The northern most opening too was trimmed of hazel and briar, exposing the very end of the passage; this section of passage too is built of large limestone blocks, at the end the passage the terminal radius has been formed of these blocks.
The ground level immediately surrounding this mound is lower than that closer to the perimeter walls. It has the appearance of being quarried; the relative difference, the “step height”, between these two levels has a similar height as the blocks of limestone used to construct the mound feature. The interpretations proffered on the 2nd Oct by Comber and McCarthy that the mound, originally a burial barrow, had its passage utilized by the later inhabitants of the ringfort gains validity when the construction of the walls are studied. The uniform size of stonework employed is of an entirely different scale than normal stonework associated with souterrains visited so far. Souterrains at Caherbullog, (CL004-016040), and Rine, (Cl002-068002), are both adjacent exposed areas of limestone, (whence their one – two tonnes lintels came), yet their walls are built without blocks approaching the dimensions of those used here, CL009-022006. Comber and McCarthy’s interpretation that it is a utilized burial mound, based on its context, location and erection being almost entirely above ground level, does explain much of this feature.
6th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Clearing from overcast: Visibility <20Nm: Showers: Light Breeze: Ground waterlogged: Large stream: PC delayed by Medivac: Minor evidence present from Storm Lorenzo: The Plan: Dig. CC Digging, PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Though a late start the steady pace raised twenty lifts of which five were very heavy nets, the largest ≈150kgs, and fifteen kibbles, four of clays and gravels. A week today the Pegasus Reunion, Nottingham. Generator ¼ full: battery to be retrieved for charging Monday: somewhat weary, headed for the Kilshanny House and very nice pints.
Hours 5 (2269), Southend (1219), Kibbles 15 (4135), Nets 5 (764), Total 4899.
6th October Nenthead ( Middlecleugh - Baron's Sump - Smallcleugh )
S Halliday, A Walchester, N Bartlett, D Gough, D McDonough, (Craven), Leif Andrews (White Rose)
After our previous trip to the mines (13/7) and communication with Leif, we had the opportunity for a guided tour through some of the lesser known regions of this immensely complex system. SH having been at the CRO training day missed the Saturday but arrived late at the Digs (Haggs Bank) to an excellent meal provided courtesy of Mrs W.
We weren’t meeting till 10Am the following morning so a lazy start and the obligatory bacon butties whilst we waited for LA. Half a gallon of tea and we made our way to the mines. Nick, who held the key for Middlecleugh, hadn’t arrived so as we started to get ready LA inquired as to how we felt about tighter passages. Now a lesser man would have taken the piss but I resisted the urge and we all agreed that wasn’t an issue. However just then Nick arrived and some of the Pegasus contingent breathed a sigh of relief.
The Walk to middlecleugh takes us through the mines and past a couple of abandoned powder houses.
Renovated Powder House Nent Valley
Powder House in need of renovation
After a pleasant wander and chat we soon enough reached a gated entrance. We entered Middlecleugh, an arched level and Die Straight, built as a ventilation level for other areas of the mine, you get a feeling for how driven these men must have been, After approx a mile? We stopped for a regroup and a brief natter, if you get low you still just about see daylight!!!
We Donned SRT Kit for the first of several pitches and dropped Frog (Longcleugh) Shaft. Care is required half way down negotiating a steep loose bank just above a sump. I’m getting the hang of the terminology here, A sump in a mine is a change in level, much to my disappointment, expecting to find some gin clear water!!! However about a 20m drop would certainly spoil your day so with care we passed and very soon encountered the next short pitch.
I think we were beginning to appreciate we’d hit lucky with Leif’s kind offer of a guided tour, There’s no way we’d have found half of what we were seeing on our own. He next took us through an area known as the high and Low Flats, here we dropped a further short pitch, See video of AW delicately sliding out of an ore shoot!!
We left the bags and with the words “I don’t think you’ll thank me for this” we set of down what could accurately be described as a shit hole. However, reaching the far end it’s well worth the effort as we came out at Barron’s sump. This huge shaft was never actually used in the mines, an enormous effort that never paid off.
Ceily Sudell negotiating the extremely tight route to Baron's Sump via Carr's Cross Vein back in the early 90's
Photo Dave Gough
Baron's Engine Chamber. Photo Nigel Burns 1990's
Looking down the flooded Baron's Sump from the engine chamber. Photo Nigel Burns 1990's
Looking down Baron's sump with an interesting recess, worth a look? Photo Nigel Burns 1990's
Back through the aforementioned Shit we next made our way down Atkinson’s rise. This interesting shaft has only recently been bolted and we were very lucky to be taken this route. You can see from the picture, one side is a climbing shaft and Dave Gough is descending the ore shoot side.
Dave Gough descending Atkinson's Rise
Atkinsons Rise in the early 1990's
From here we could again visit Barron’s sump but lower down, really giving an appreciation of the size of this thing, at this point about 4-5m above the water.
We next headed for the LongCleugh Vein and had a good poke around here. Next down Pickerings rise to drop into the back of Smallcleugh. Here the incline unusually runs uphill so we followed a distinctly uphill gradient to stop at Cowshill Crossvein Stope. Next we followed the Middlecleugh second sun vein to Mitchel’s flat.
We had a brief stop at gypsum corner, after being given the choices between a bit crawly but a lot safer, we made our way through Hetherington's crosscut. This drops us back to the Smallcleugh Horse Level and we made our way out.
A fairly miserable afternoon outside but at least it's still daylight. A fantastic trip round some little visited areas of the mine, we really hit lucky with a guided tour, thanks are due.
Total time underground around 5.5hrs
(Photos not credited by members of the team)
Out via Smallcleugh to be greeted by typical Nenthead weather
7th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Cloud cover 90%: Visibility ≤20Nm: Shower: Cool side of mild: Wind SW F2 gusting 4: Ground soaking: Large stream: The Plan: Dig. CC below PC up top. CC continued to level the floor at -18.7m; about a cubic metre of debris remains. Perhaps two further sessions will remove it completely. The southwest rift and the southern end of the shaft appear to be morphing together; the intended plan survey of the shaft at -18m may help illustrate this. First kibble arrived at surface at 18:10; the slightly earlier start achieving twenty five lifts, of which eight were very heavy nets averaging, conservatively 110kgs a piece, among the seventeen kibbles three were gravels and two of dry soil cleared from within the southwest rift. Total estimated spoil dug lifted and transported is 1.5 metric tonnes. Many of the large boulders were lifted up onto the retaining walls; smaller rocks were packed behind these to stabilize the new level of wall. The underground speaker and its line were removed for maintenance: generator topped up showing, after the session just over ½ full; no fuel on site: the system battery indicates 11vdc: the Receiver wheels need lubricating: shaft collar area needs cleaning: platform surface needs cleaning: the receiver operating ropes need minor adjustment: the 6mm rope to close the lower lid requires replacement and rerouting: the western spoil area increases in height, thought need be applied to expanding the area across to the stile: a fine session; to the Roadside for a very nice pint of Gold and talk of the Pegasus Reunion, 12th October.
Hours 5 (2274), Southend (1224), Kibbles 17 (4152), Nets 8 (772), Total 4924.
12th October Pegasus Reunion and AGM: The Plough, Radford, Nottingham
A host of members, past and present in attendance
A superb venue; the Landlady ably accommodated the thirsty; the drink excellent, the company a delight, the multiple projects discussed at length enthralling.
13th October Lancaster Hole
As is often the case with my solo trips an early start saw me getting ready in the dark at BPF. Aim today was to drop a cylinder of 32% Nitrox into the stash and check all OK after the flooding of last week.
At Lancaster for 7:00 and lowered the bag down the pitch, only to realise Id left my stop in the van!! Jogged back to retrieve and soon sliding down the pitch. Got a new MDE harness last week and liking the bum strap. Give a little more support when free hanging.
On the last trip, 21/09, DM had been last up the pitch and a bit of miscommunication meant the rope had been left hanging. I tidied the rigging and dropped down the CT, interestingly the rope was hung up at the lower deviation, this gives an indication of the minimum level of flooding, at least 15m above normal stream levels!!
Water levels on the high side but perfectly safe I arrived at dive base to find it underwater. Quick look at the sump, foreboding I think is the word, never a really friendly sump; had a definite ominous feel about it today. All gear ok. Checked the pressures on all cylinders and retrieved one of the yellow 300’s, although still with 250Bar in, it’s the only cylinder left with air, I shall get a nitrox fill this week then all cylinders are 32%, with the exception of the trimix and the 75%. Note to any prospective divers if it happens that anyone, Prob AW, is diving here this MUST NOT leave the sump pool. This gas is unsafe below 10m.
An uneventful exit to meet another party about to descend on my exit. They were heading for Pool sink!!! After a week of heavy rain and more forecast, FFS, no wonder the CRO get called out!!
I dropped the bag at the gate and went for a look at the resurgence at Leck Beck Head. We had been discussing it at yesterdays AGM so was on my mind. The main resurgence was extremely peat stained, and didn’t look at all inviting.
A brief look into the Main Rising but much too wet to make any progress in dry gear
I had a brief look at the west flood resurgence, sorry didn’t take a snap so a few from dryer days.
This is the scaffolded dig site, Today completely full of water.
Photo: John N Cordingley
That’s looking back out, you can see the dive line on the left.
Photo: John N Cordingley
And finally that is looking back up the slot which is encountered as the dive starts. Photo: John N Cordingley
I include these because this is the area where the Lancaster project is heading. That slot is a likely way out? Depending on how things progress, unfortunately its quite restrictive you can only get through with 3L tanks and well-placed lead, No chance of getting an RB through that. But may prove useful for digging operations should we end up in this locality. To date only JNC has managed to pass the slot and little forward progress has been achieved but with our success in the main drain, interest in these sites is again being raised.
Total Trip time, 3.5hrs
16th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
10:00. Showers: Clearing overcast: Ground sodden: 6.5 inches of rain since 9th Oct: Visibility ≤20Nm. The Plan: Maintenance and Dig. The change of session time is, in part, to accommodate maneuvering the barrow to and among the far spoil area. The planned time for further sessions, until spring, is 13:00 Mondays and Saturdays; Thursday remains 18:00 so any interested parties may take part after work. The refurbished microphone system was re-installed; the generator oil topped up; the wheels on the receiver lubricated. CC below PC up top. The comms were found to work with superb clarity. Late in starting, twenty lifts were achieved, of these five were very heavy nets; of the fifteen kibbles four were gravels. “Popeye” arrives shortly so will clear the remaining pile and accomplish leveling the floor at -18.7m; next will be a plan of the shaft survey at -18m. The ridge-line of the boulder pile was extended, and increased in height toward the eastern end; the retaining wall will soon need its height increased as the boulders are deposited on the path side of the pile; a height presently averaging 1.3m. The huge boulders lifted were deposited toward the stile. The platform surface has algae growth turning the surface into a skating rink, perhaps apply some Jeyes fluid? Fifty six lifts to 5000. Changing in the sun observed a beautifully coloured fox walk across the field: To the Roadside for an excellent pint; supping away, Oisín called if we wanted a soup and sandwich. While scoffing the meal a loud voice from the other end of the bar enquired, where’s my soups? Exchange of looks; the staff swiftly retreated into the kitchen collapsing in hysterics. Meanwhile the taste of the gifted soup and sandwiches improved with each mouthful. Generator ½ full; no fuel on site.
Hours 6 (2280), Southend (1230), Kibbles 15 (4167), Nets 5 (7777), Total 4944.
17th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
Popeye returns: Overcast, clearing: Heavy showers: Ground totally sodden: Large stream: Visibility ≤20Nm: Cold side of cool: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. The effect of a third person was immediate, with one below, one on the winch and another barrowing meant a significant increase in productivity manifest as a load lifted and disposed of between every three to four minutes. Resulting with thirty one lifted this session, of these three were nets, four kibbles of gravels and twenty four of rock. Out beneath a clear starlit sky; to the Roadside for pints. Surveying and maintenance 09:30 Saturday morning: generator showing ≈¼ full; no fuel on site.
Hours 7 (2287), Southend (1237), Kibbles 26(4195), Nets 3 (780), Total 4975.
17th October Malham Cove Rising
S Halliday, J Cordingley, D Smith
First dive of the new season.
We meet in the village as usual, packed JNC’s motor and set off for the cove. Forgotten about the carry, I still can’t seem to get my kit into one bag. How JNC manages I don’t know.
I’m planning on a longish dive so I’ve a 12L and an Al 80. We get the gear to the cove, and John does some gardening whilst Duncan and I return to the motor for our second load.
JNC enters first, he’s off up Don’s way. I follow a few minutes later with an empty reel and make my way to the bypass dig. After the summers flooding I’m expecting to have to dig here but pass without any issues. Carry on upstream as far as Asterix passage and have a bit of a dig. It’s an awkward bit of passage but manage to move enough rock to be able to get a bar under the big boulder blocking the way. The vis soon goes so I go upstream to the end of the old Tele cable and wind in until the reel is full.
Simon Halliday exiting Malham Flood Rising
Photo: John N Cordingley
Returning to Asterisk I have another go at the boulder and try and force a way over the top but it’s not happening with big tanks on, TBH I doubt Id get through with 7’s. Again, the vis soon deteriorates so whilst waiting for it to clear I go for a bit of a poke about just upstream.
Tying in with my search reel I find a bit of easier going and following for a few meters I come across a silt bank with what appears to be an opening at the top. A brief dig and the vis again goes to rat shit. I wind in my reel, would be a lot easier with a thicker line, and mark the position with a distinctive arrow ascribed on a handy rock. I again return to have another goes at Asterisk but the vis is completely gone, probably been stirred up by my rooting around at the silt bank.
Picking up the full reel I start making my way out. I went for a brief look up Gallivan’s mystical passage, had a bit of a dig but didn’t really make any progress. On the way out I decided to have a crack at the link to the main rising. I’ve never been through here and it’s snug. I try reversing in and after a few attempts and a bit of digging I manage to make a little progress. I slowly make backward progress and eventually manage to get through the tighter bit. Easier going but still backwards I carry on until I can eventually turn. Here a jump line has been laid around a particularly awkward boulder, I follow the line for a few meters to see daylight and surface at the main rising.
JNC is getting changed, DS already set off on his dive, I shout across and then return the way I came to retrieve the reel. With JNC’s words of departure, careful with that line its 40 years old, ringing in my ears. TBH its just a single tube and you’d have to try really hard to get in a muddle. Easy enough back through to the flood rising, pick up the reel and exit.
Total dive time 2.5hrs
19th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
09:00. 60% cloud: Sunny spells: Cool: Large stream: Ground totally waterlogged: Visibility ≥30Nm. TB Fuel: PC Fuel: The Plan: maintenance and surveying. PC arrived early to begin the survey of the shaft, establishing the drawing at -18.1m below the platform; the hauling center-line too was established for survey accuracy. Based on the hauling center-line the laser was aligned along the rift development, (018° magnetic); measurements were then taken east and west at intervals along this line. Meanwhile CC attended to tidying and raising the boulder pile and its perimeter wall, while “Popeye” serviced the slippery platform surface and feeding CC with materials to stabilize the wall construction. PC emerged and set about trimming the foliage adjacent the stile, as TB and CC continued with the perimeter wall and platform cleaning. The perimeter wall is now 1.5 metres high along the path, as it turns into the gravel area it is presently 0.7m high, this will increase. The cleared foliage modestly extends the available area for depositing clay and gravel, which will cover the previously piped stream from the stile to the shaft area. Generator topped with five litres: TB’s Fuel on site: Comms battery returned for charging: Microphone left on second scaffold below staging. To the Roadside for lunchtime pints.
Hours 9 (2296), Southend (1246), Kibbles 26(4195), Nets 3 (780), Total 4975.
20th October Shuttleworth Pot
S Halliday, B Wright (CDG & BPC,) Kerry & James (Wealden Cave and Mine Society)
After yesterday’s antics at Capenwray and then the eve’s Service demo I wanted to take advantage of being in the area. Knowing Ben was planning on doing Shuttleworth Pot, a cave I’ve never been in, rather than another drop into Lancaster, I opted for a walk over to Leck Beck head again, trying to add to my understanding of the area.
After much study of survey’s etc, it is a pretty safe bet that the Lancaster water is entering the LBH phreas somewhere downstream of Witches Cave. Shuttleworth Pot being the upstream continuation. A dry way into a cave previously only accessible for divers.
© Image reproduced with kind permission of the C.N.C.C.
In all likelihood the Lancaster water is coming in somewhere to the north of the west flood rising seen on the above survey.
Meeting at the shop at the bottom of Leck fell, chucked the gear into Ben’s van and we drove up to the parking area on Leck Fell. Probably not a lot in it from a walking point of view but definately flatter starting here so might as well make it easy. Its Ben’s trip and I quite enjoy letting someone else do all to work. Ben starts to rig the impressive entrance dig. Its only short and a ladder doesn’t really necessitate a rope but your then straight onto the next pitch so easy enough to rig form the surface.
A short crawly bit bring you to divers pitch. Its extremely broken, in fact Jason found this form the btm up, and several rebelays before we drop onto a loose slope. Leaving SRT kit, and using the insitu hand line it is a short drop to the House of the Rising Sump. Here both the upstream and down stream sumps are seen. Not looking particularly inviting today.
Returning to the base of the pitch, then climbing slightly to a short dry crawl. This then bring you to the Painter’s Alley. Very well set up to protect the pretties, there’s a plethora of straws and probably more helictites than I’ve ever seen in one place. It’s a relatively short walk to the end of the cave, turning for the return Ben points out My Newt passage. I drop down the awkward little tube to a small chamber, and see the newt’s skeleton, hence the name. A bit like hard work getting out but well worth the trouble of a look.
Ben, sets of out, followed by Kerry and James. I volunteer for the de-rig, and we’re soon out. Bit of a walk back to the van but at least its fine. Total time underground 2.5hrs
21st October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
09:30: Cloudless: Sunny: Cold: Ground Sodden: Large stream: Visibility ≈forever: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: TB Digging: PC unloading and barrowing. TB began to excavate the area just in front of the fixed ladder, directly below the hauling way, following the plan to create a pit at the base of the shaft wherein a plummeting load would land, the theory being any or most resultant shrapnel would be confined to the pit; whilst the digger waits in the south rift. During surveying, (19th Oct), the exposed development clearly follows a calcite joint/fault along 018° - 198° magnetic. The formation of this area, at -18.7m, also illustrates the upper southwest development, formed adjacent and west of the “Guillotine”, has now become sou-sou-westerly. The lower area of the south end appears to be developing an undercut toward the SE, suggested by the southeast wall appearing to turn beneath itself; a clear view of this is presently obscured by the floor fill; the west wall of the rift continues down, vertically. The western wall adjacent the fixed ladder has swept outward significantly reducing the overall width, however this is beginning to return to the vertical. This development could affect the next ladder installation should it continue, either another staging will be needed or perhaps just an offset of the ladder; as previously fitted around -8m. Of the twenty five lifts four were nets and twenty one were kibbles, of which four were clays and gravels. The 5000th load was lifted this session. A conservative estimate of 30kgs/lift equals a minimum weight of 150 tonnes dug and lifted. To the Roadside for Blacks and Gold’s: Generator ½ full: fuel on site. The intermittent vibration from the winch has been traced to one of the drive belts CC to order replacement: Next session Thursday 18:30.
Hours 7 (2303), Southend (1253), Kibbles 21(4216), Nets 4 (784), Total 5000.
24th October Cullaun II
Tony Seddon, CC and PC
13:00. Cloud 40%: Cool: Earlier rain showers: High stream: For three days TS had been climbing avens above sumps I and II. PC had offered to carry out his dive kit; agreeing 14:00 at the pitch. Accompanied by CC, (carrying in tea), met TS above the pitch with kit already packed; took an hour to reach surface. En-route to the Roadside for a swift one before the digging session PC contrived to drive into a ditch. Sought assistance from Padraig Considine just as his Father Michael arrived, headed back to incident. Only managed to drag the Hilux a further four metres along the metre deep ditch; MC departed to pick up Mary, returning after 20 minutes with one of his tractors. Meanwhile TB arrived with shovels to replace the elderly affair scrounged by CC from a local. After much digging prepared a route; further attempt dragged the Hilux past the exit, shortening the tow MC successful dragged out the Hilux along with half the vegetation in the area: swiftly to the Roadside for a refreshing pint: left cash behind bar to supply MC with pints. Deployed the kit bought from TS, the AV oversuit an excellent fit, no need to cut any length off the legs, (a nice change), the MTDE Interval undersuit performed superbly well; though thoroughly soaked remained toasty throughout the trip, the Fenix head torch (HM65R), performed really well; delighted with purchases.
Calculated floor area that requires removal in the South End at minus 18.1 metres is 7.47 square metres
Strange really; This was after the caving but before the pub
Michael Considine, who is incidentally the landowner of Considine's dig about to try and pull off the front of Pat Cronin's Toyota with his tractor. Tony Boycott at left
24th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Bright: Cloud 15%: Chill: Temperature slowly falling: Ground very wet: Medium stream: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Though weary from their earlier efforts a steady pace brought twenty five loads to surface, comprising three nets and twenty two kibbles of which five were gravels. Popeye noted a decent draught issuing from holes in the boulder floor. The area below the ladder leading into the “Cleft” has been dropped, at its deepest, by 0.7m. To clear the contents of the “Cleft” requires a digger either side, one suspended on a line in the north shaft pushing the fill in the “Cleft” back into the south end. Generator shows a little below ½ full. Issues with a recently reconditioned Hilti battery were traced to a wonky charger; Nice Nick Geh will investigate and attempt repair. Walked back to the truck beneath a starlit sky: back into the Roadside for more drink. PC supplying 2 x 12s via TB, via Tony Seddon, (Starless River), attending the SUICRO conference in Leitrim, for delivery to Simon Halliday
Hours 7 (2310), Southend (1260), Kibbles 22 (4238), Nets 3 (787), Total 5025.
26th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Cold: Chill N/NE wind: 60% cloud cover: Ground wet: Medium stream: Visibility ≥30Nm. The Plan: Dig. Prior to starting the loose sides and wandering rungs of the increasing elderly aluminium ladder were secured, this was then lowered to facilitate diggers reaching the floor below the suspended fixed ladder; now approaching two metres above the floor. CC below: PC up top: CC carried on lowering the area beneath the ladder begun by Popeye in preparation of clearing debris from the “Cleft”. Popeye absent, carousing no doubt at the annual S.U.I.C.R.O event where the U.B.S.S new Irish cave guide book is being launched, “The Caves of Mid-West Ireland” as part of his clubs centenary celebrations. Several areas of wall around the shaft perimeter had thoroughly dried from the strong draught issuing from numerous gaps among the floor; meanwhile the northern shaft issued a howling gale. At the start of the session the depth was measured at -19.3m. CC continued down below the ladder to almost -20m, this pit will allow the higher level of “Cleft” debris to be dragged down slope directly into waiting kibbles beneath. This session produced twenty lifts, which included one net and nineteen kibbles of which eight were gravels and clays; Shitus Shitus Maximus made a brief reappearance. Generator shows almost ¾ full: no fuel on site. To a packed Roadside its Halloween weekend.
Hours 5 (2315), Southend (1265), Kibbles 19 (4257), Nets 1 (788), Total 5045.
26th October Cambrian Slate Mine, Glyn Ceriog
S Halliday, B Wright (CDG & BPC), D McDonough, (CPC)
Bit of an impromptu trip. Appalling weather for last couple of days meant the dales completely closed out so Ben suggested a dive here. Neither DM or SH having dived this site previously we treated as a bit of a reccy, BW wanted to attempt to lay line and close a loop he had previously noted.
The weather didn’t disappoint and after picking up DM we traveled to Wales in continuous torrential rain. Making good time we actually had time for a swift brew on route before making our way to the site. Thank f..k for sat nav. A convoluted route through the village got us to the right location(ish) we’d just stopped to try and workout exactly where we should be meeting when Ben appeared so we could follow him a few hundred yards to the parking spot.
The weather didn’t help, I suspect a constantly muddy spot, luckily, we’d brought wellies, we parked and took the first run of kit to the mine. A slippery walk requires care to the head of the old entrance, where we rigged a 65m rope to assist with the last bit. Care required on the decent to the mine itself but all in all maybe a 15min walk. Returning to the Van we changed into drysuits and with the rest of the kit returned to dive base. BW explained the rough line situation as we kitted up.
SH descended first with DM closely behind. Following an extremely well preserved stone staircase we reached the first of many line junctions. The use of personnel markers a must. Continuing the descent until SH and DM parted company at the next junction. I followed a quite steep incline up to surface in what I presume is part of the dry trip? Red arrows painted on some of the walls. Descending once again I met DM about to end his dive, he is on OC, I continued on the lower level at around 28m depth. Following the main line past 3 junctions I then made a right turn again passing several junctions. The line situation becoming a bit confusing I decided to turn my dive and retraced my path to the original line. At this point I came across BW’s new line, him having closed the loop. Deco beginning to accumulate and on nearly an hour I made a steady accent. Hanging at 5m to burn off a few mins penalty. DM already having dekitted and set off for the van, I was quickly followed out of the water by BW. We both removed kit and took the first load to the van. Meeting DM just as we reached daylight. All gear quickly stowed and changed back into dry(ish) gear we returned for the rope and last few bits.
Cracking site, pretty reasonable vis even after the weather we’ve had. Water levels higher than normal. About 1-1 1/2m up according to BW and it felt as if the stream we crossed part way into the mine had more water in on exit. So although not an active system as such it does react to prevailing weather. Def a great all-weather training site.
27th October Sub Square Ringforts, Souterrain CL008-013004
Cathal Mullane, Pat Cronin
NE breeze: Cold: 20% cloud: Bright: Ground wet: The Plan: deploy CM’s drone over an area containing the outline of three sub-square ringforts. This location is in the field, on the north side of the bóithrín from the main road to Fraggle Rock. A chance remark by Michelle Comber at Lisnanroum, (2nd Oct 19), drew the observation that PC knew of a group of three such features. Sub square ringforts are believed not as numerous as, yet contemporaneous with, the more common form of circular ringfort settlement. CM deployed the drone with the flight plan from fort 1 to two then fort three. As this task was swiftly conducted the team took the opportunity to visit the field enclosing Souterrain CL008-013004, some four hundred metres to the north. This field is enclosed by a significant wall within which are recorded one ringfort, (CL008 013006), a children’s burial ground, (CL008-013005), and a souterrain, (CL008-013004). The area recorded as a burial ground closely resembles a ringfort. This interpretation is based on its circular appearance and approximate 20m diameter and the presence of a collapsed souterrain over fifteen metres in length. Adjacent the eastern limit of the collapsed souterrain are two short linear features, erect flagstones set into grykes forming a passage some 0.6m wide, just south of this feature a much larger, erected flagstone completes the group. The field surface comprises exposed limestone pavement among areas of grass; horses graze here. The likely hood of this being a burial ground is considered remote. It is considered an unregistered ringfort. CM again deployed his drone, (made by DGI), over the field from outside the high wall. However the noise of a tractor and the presence of the two horses meant caution was exercised so a high altitude image survey was conducted, rather than spook Farmer or Horses. The site is intriguing, will approach farmer for permission.
28th October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
09:30. Cold: Breeze NE: Bright: High cloud: Ground wet: Visibility ≥30Nm: Small stream: Funereal duties hampered NG’s attendance. The Plan: Dig. CC below: PC above. CC excavated debris from within the “Cleft” removing it to level with the floor of the pit, directly below the ladder at ≈ -20m; CC has created steps to ascend from the pit, (-20m), to the old floor level of -18.7m. The floor at the South End was also lowered by around 0.4m. The necessary cautious pace did produce twenty kibbles of which twelve were gravels, clays and some dreaded Shitus Shitus Maximus. Prior to installation the next fixed ladder may require an offset owing to encroachment of the west wall. Generator shows ½ full: no fuel on site. No Roadside, as real life commitments required attention.
Hours 5 (2320), Southend (1270), Kibbles 20 (4277), Nets 0 (788), Total 5065.
29th October Malham Cove Rising
S Halliday, J Cordingley, D Smith & K Gannon, Surface support
A beautiful day in Malham this morning, conditions looked favorable and with an upcoming trip to France I wanted to get a few things tidied up here.
Diving on a pair of well filled 12’s, thanks Kev, meant the carry wasn’t going to be easy so taking a lesson from Pozo I took a sack truck which made transporting the kit loads easier, especially as we have some scaffold to take up. JNC ready first and he set’s off to Don’s way with a bag of tools, there’s a boulder up there that needs taking apart so he takes a big hammer and a bit of scaffold with him.
I follow with an empty reel and a bunch of scaff clips. Depositing the clips at the start of the bypass dig. I swiftly make my way to Asterix passage. Entering and lying still for a few mins but can’t hear anything so carry on. Tying into the main line I have a bit of a look at the possible lead I saw last dive. Not sure if I imagined it or not but could have sworn I saw a light just before the vis went, JNC?. In next to no vis I reel in and return to the main line. A job for the future.
Continuing up the main line to 575m this is my previous limit and from this point the cave degenerates somewhat. The line ascends through some suspect boulders and care is required. At the restriction one tank requires a little encouragement to allow passage but I manage on my second attempt. I’m now in Moon chamber, there’s only 3 other people ever been this far and I’m beginning to see why. The next section, JNC describes as the most challenging bit, and if he says so its likely to be snug. The floor steps up and you enter a low 9/10” bedding, very silty so the visibility is quickly reduced, however moving into the slight flow means there should be clearer water ahead. It takes perhaps 5/10min to pass this 6m section and I can turn in the 605m chamber. Another low bedding, but this time on rock so considerably easier and I reach the scaffolded section. This has been sealed off, JNC has pushed to a definitive end and it’s now deemed unsafe. The purpose of my visit is to retrieve the netting from here.
Removing from the line I begin my retreat. Significantly harder in now zero vis and carrying the netting. Takes maybe 30mins to pass the restrictions and I can eventually post myself out of moon chamber and back into Aire River Passage.
Not disappointed to be out of there and wondering who is ever likely to revisit anyway, Begin the swim back down stream in now much reduced visibility and carrying the netting and a scrap scaffold pole. Reeling in another full reel of wire, I have to leave the scaffold for another day. Return to surface somewhat chilly after a 2hr dive.
30th October Cullaun I
TB and PC
17:00. Cold: Showers: Wind easterly: The Plan: to cave, and assist TB to locate stream erosion indicators. In the 1960s U.B.S.S members installed stainless steel studs in several caves, (Cullaun II); information as to their precise location is scarce, Charlie Self had conducted a survey of these studs sometime around 2003? Laddered the pot: just upstream from the entrance found a stud in situ within an eroded scallop; noticed another stud nearby, lying on its side also in a uniformly worn circular scallop some twenty five mm deep and some forty five mm diameter; no obvious indications this scallop is its original insertion site. Some five metres upstream is a small dam, continued along the narrowing and lowering stream passage through a duck to where, adjacent a small entrance, climbed up into a superbly decorated passage which meanders back and forth above the lower streamway; worth a photographic trip . Eventually, after passing several too tight surface openings reached a point where surface debris choked the narrow way on; possible to dig it out but not inclined to do so. Returned some twenty metres or so to a small skylight, managed to climb out. PC had the romantic idea to surface and walk back to the trucks through the forest, heading west. However, once away from any of the openings the forest became very dense, low branches intertwined just above the ground surface making progress difficult. Tried at two places to make a way west but decided otherwise; the walking conditions are soft to bottomless, any walking involves sinking up to the knees, or in TB’s case ankles. Checked several openings to return via the cave, all too small, or no goes; couldn’t find the small one exited. Options reducing, knowing the cave trended, generally, north-south checked several exposed, potential openings to ascertain jointing direction and headed away south-ish. After only ten minutes of thrashing through foliage encountered an open area, a further five minutes of struggle found the mote wall of the adjacent field where forest clearance had taken place, from here the bright lights of downtown Lisdoonvarna beckoned; into an almost empty Roadside for a very nice pint.
31st October Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Mild: Rain: Wind SW, F2: Ground sodden: Small stream: Visibility deteriorating. The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Popeye levelled the floor surface northward from the 0.45mm deep hollow previously excavated at the south end, almost clearing up to the edge of the pit dug by CC; a minor amount remains. Thirty lifts achieved; one net and twenty nine kibbles of which fourteen were clays and gravels. Generator shows ½ full; no fuel on site. Rope which operates the lower lid requires replacement; washing tub needs cleaning out. Storage cistern and collecting tank need fettling. All headed to the Roadside, PC diverted en-route to callout at Kinvarra.
Hours 7 (2327), Southend (1277), Kibbles 29 (4306), Nets 1 (789), Total 5095.
2nd November Brants Gill Head
An incredibly important resurgence, this cave is the rising for a huge amount of water sinking on Fountains Fell and Penygent. A huge amount of potential but not going to give up its secrets easily.
First looked at by myself in the 90’s but has been attacked by assorted individuals since the 70’s and so far has repelled all who came. During the 70’s BPC were very active here, a lot of blasting was tried but all to no avail.
I’ve been toying with the idea of having a crack at re-opening the dig here for a while and with not a lot else to do today decided to go for a quick look. Armed with a 3 and a 7L, I set off in my usual early fashion, I’d looked at the webcam prior to setting out and didn’t hold out a lot of hope but I needed to visit the BPC hut to pick up the 12’s kindly sent over by Pat, and to drop off a bit of kit for Ben left with me in error last week.
Didn’t look promising on the drive through the dales, several large flooded sections on the road but I’m up now so…. Quick stop at the dump, and I’m parked in Horton for about 6. Gear already packed but without any real hope of a dive I only take the light bag. Up Sell Gill lane and through the first gate by the barn, as recommended by JNC. Been a number of years since I’ve been up here so just bumbling along really, round the head of the valley and drop down the left hand bank of the Gill.
It’s immediately obvious that a dive is not happening, I decide to have a quick investigation of the site. The normally static right hand sump is resurging but water levels are low enough to allow access in, relatively, dry grots. I manage to locate the old dive line, an old SRT rope. This I assume will lead to the dig site. Vis I estimate at around 500mm so no real point in trying to get in and with France next week and only having my Otter suit with me I’m also conscious that to rip a suit in the crawl this morning could well cause me issues next week. (My neoprene suit is in for repair).
Two photographs of the normally static sump showing the old guide line. Not very inviting!
I stash 4 blocks of lead for future use and return to the van after taking a little vid of the resurgence. Beginning to get light and I spot another gate on the opposite side of the field and this turns out to be an easier walk. Back in Horton just before 7. Total time around 1 hr.
2nd November Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Cool: Low cloud: Wind NW F2 gusting 4: Ground sodden: Large stream: Visibility <5Nm: CC Fuel: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Popeye removed the remaining debris baulk adjacent the hauling way pit, then returned to the south end to continue sinking that area a further 0.4m before progressing north once more. One net and thirty four kibbles were brought to surface of which nine were clays and gravels. The platform surface is returning to that of an ice rink. Generator shows ¼ full: fuel on site. To the Kilshanny House for the finest Guinness in the world!
Hours 7 (2334), Southend (1284), Kibbles 34 (4340), Nets 1 (790), Total 5130.
4th November Considine’s Cave (South End)
Cold: Wind N, F2: Cloud base 1200ft: Ground sodden: Large stream: Visibility ≥35Nm; The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Work continued in the south end lowering the area; the south end wall is beginning to undercut but as to how far remains obscured at present. Thirty loads were raised of which two were nets and twenty-eight were kibbles, of which eleven were gravels and clays. The next ladder requires building. Depth of hauling way pit -19.9m, depth to bottom of fixed ladder -18m; sections of ladder are 2.3m in length. Generator shows ¾ full: to the Roadside.
Hours 7 (2341), Southend (1291), Kibbles 28 (4368), Nets 2 (792), Total 5160.
7th November Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Cold: Wind N, F2. Large stream: Ground sodden: Visibility 25Nm: The Plan: Dig. CC digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. PC arrived early to check generator; oil required and restrung the operating lines to the receiver: the Blue Finch reappeared. CC focused on removing the fill from the southwest rift. This produced twenty five kibbles twelve of rock, the remainder being a sticky soil, which held on fiercely to the barrow when attempting deposit into the hollow area adjacent the piped stream route. To an empty Roadside.
Hours 5 (2346), Southend (1296), Kibbles 25 (4393), Nets 0 (792), Total 5185.
10th - 14th November Lot Diving 2019. Midi-Pyrénées region of Southern France.
Pegasus CC Et Al.
Fontain Del Truffe and Combe Negre
Source de Landenouse.
Source du Marchepied
Oeil de la Doue
See the full report Click Here
14th November Creevykeel Court Tomb, Cliffony, Sligo
Brief visit enroute from Donegal to home, reacquainting self with this excavated and well conserved site; an early form of burial in cells constructed within a long form of barrow.
15th November We lost Mick Cast
Extract from the eulogy by his Son Graham.
To his mother he was “Michael”, to most people he was “Mike” and to me he was simply “Dad”. A better Dad I could not have wished for. He was loving, kind, intelligent, and generous. He had a good blend of personability and experience that made him a great man to spend time with whether this be over a pint at his favourite pub of 47 years the Woodlark or over a phone call, I was always pleased to speak with him.
He had a confidence about him that brought with it a stabilising influence. I don’t think I ever saw him panic. His presence brought reassurance and comfort. A problem shared with him was most definitely halved, and more often than not solved, I think I will miss this the most.
He was an engineer, a practical man. He had worked his entire career for John Player and Son’s, all the way from apprentice through to Primary manager at the Horizon factory. He applied himself well and engineering turned out to be a natural talent, his drive and aptitude for his work made him successful. He was well thought of at work by his colleagues and I know he identified more with the shop floor staff then he did with the board room. He had a common touch with people and was able to communicate with and bring out the best out of those around him which is a rare and valuable skill.
His story can almost be categorised into two distinct parts. The first being his younger days when he his adventurous nature played a role in shaping him. An early start in the boys brigade organisation and a stay at the outward bound centre in Eskdale gave him a taste for further adventurous pursuits. He progressed through a variety of activities, he cycled, climbed, caved and dived.
His Mum and Dad promised him a racing bicycle if he came top of his class at school. He applied himself and the new bike was his. He immersed himself in maps and route planning and accomplished some remarkable milestones for a young lad, these included cycling 226 miles from Arnold to Llangollen and back in a day, this was long before the days of GPS navigation and mobile phone support should things go wrong. To do this showed a mix of confidence and ability which he would carry with him throughout his life.
He joined Pegasus caving club based in the Peak District. He spent many a fun weekend with his mates exploring the local caves and ones further afield, it also gave him the perfect opportunity to party out of sight of his Mother, being brought up Methodist meant the weekends away offered an opportunity to let off some steam. In typical Mike fashion, partying with his pals was also something that he gave 100% to and in the Pegasus club he found good friends, kindred spirits and a few hangovers to boot.
He was a member of two Pegasus expeditions in 1964 and 1967 to what at the time was the deepest cave in the world, the Gouffre Berger in the Vercors Massif region of France. This was the caving equivalent of climbing Everest. The expedition was no small task and with the equipment available to them at the time a trip down the Berger was a fortnights logistical and physical underground challenge. This was a remarkable achievement with international recognition but one he typically downplayed.
After caving he focused more on scuba diving.
With his good friend Brian Pike, they built a kit form inflatable motor boat. The boat was built over a winter period in our garage at Lambley. The boat took shape over successive weekends. Good company, shared food and drink were at the heart of the boat build.
When the boat was finished there was only one choice of venue for the christening ceremony. The boat was disassembled and taken down to the upstairs band room of the Woodlark where it was reassembled, inflated and christened “The Handsome Transom”.
The boat was used to great success and I recall many a fantastic holiday down on the Devon coast where he would dive with his friends and share evenings together on the campsite, fun times.
16th November Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Dark: Cold: Wind NE, F2: Ground wet: Small stream: Visibility ≥35Nm. The Plan: Dig. CC digging, PC winching unloading and barrowing. CC continued to lower the floor area, partly clearing the southern end to expose the suspected undercut which appears to extend from the eastern wall of the southwest rift to beneath the south end wall. This undercut is some 0.3m deep; the adjacent area suggesting it may possibly become deeper. The pace was steady, each lift from bottom to spoil dump and returned to shaft bottom took an average of five minutes. Winching is virtually continuous throughout a session; two minutes to the surface, best part of two minutes to empty barrow the rest consisting of running back and forth and sending down the kibble. Of the twenty lifts two were very heavy nets; seven kibbles were rock the remainder compacted soil from the southwest rift, and dreadful clays. Generator shows just below ½ full; no fuel on site. Generator requires oil. The closing rope on the lower shaft collar needs replacement. One of the drive belts on the winch is due for replacement. The static lifeline adjacent the fixed ladder is to be removed to avoid obstructing climbers. To a busy Kilshanny House
Hours 5 (2351), Southend (1301), Kibbles 20 (4411), Nets 2 (794), Total 5205.
18th November Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
09:30. Cold: Wind ENE, F2: Ground wet: Small stream: Visibility ≥35Nm: The Plan: Maintenance. PC replaced, and re-routed, the rope operating the lower shaft cover in association with another pulley; operating effort is significantly reduced, also recovered the static lifeline and topped up the oil in the generator. Meanwhile CC replaced one of the drive belts; during which numerous other adjustments were also required. CC recommended PC descend and inspect; progress is excellent. The depth of the undercut of the south end is as CC estimated, some 0.3m. However applying the hose it’s jet was directed down the easterly slope, below the south end, this washed away some mud and clay allowing a clear view of some three metres in length and some two metres in depth.
A gap of around 0.2m is visible between the roof of the undercut and the boulder slope the depth of the undercut; the fill does not appear compacted. The eastern wall of the southwest rift is gradually morphing with the south end wall; this too is forming a radius in the shaft, similar to its opposite number formed in the west wall. The south, east and west walls of the shaft continue to gradually widen; the north wall is creeping into the shaft. The next plan survey in the shaft at -20m will be informative.
Supping in the Roadside with Peter, (the owner), a couple became engaged in the conversation. He related that a hole appeared on the family farm in Roscommon. Several of his family descended and saw passages lead away, but did not enter; the entire site was back filled. No idea of depth or distant. It is however located two field, about four hundred metres from the Shannon; there’s an awful lot of limestone in Roscommon.
Hours 5 (2356), Southend (1306), Kibbles 0 (4411), Nets 0 (794), Total 5205.
21st November Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Cold: Dark: Rain passing: Wind E, F2 gusting 4: Ground sodden: Large stream: Visibility ≤20Nm. Fuel PC: The Plan: Dig. CC below PC up top. Normal service resumed as CC continued reducing the central area, which consists of rock, mud and assorted forms of clay. Generator shows ¼ full; fuel on site. Of the twenty lifts were one heavy net and nineteen kibbles, of these five were rock the remainder Shitus Shitus. Once Popeye returns the lifeline could do with washing. A weight or spring is needed for the winch peddle return. The next ladder needs building; once installed this one means that fixed ladders will reach to -20 metres, with a staging at -14 metres, offering access via “The Plank” through the “Cleft” to the northern rift/shaft. To a deserted Roadside.
Hours 5 (2361), Southend (1311), Kibbles 19 (4430), Nets 1 (795), Total 5225.
22nd November Brants Gill Head
SH & DM
Following on from my previous visit, 2/11, and the expected rain meaning diving in Lancaster is out I took the chance of a dive and a bit of support and decided on another look at Brants Gill Head. Sneaking an early dart, and DM meeting at my house, we’re in Horton by a little after 2. It’s an easy carry with two men and only using 3 Litre tanks.
We arrive at the impressive entrance and SH starts to sort the kit whilst DM takes a bag to the sump pool a short distance into the cave. Water levels are about 1m lower than on my previous visit, vis doesn’t look great, but this is Yorkshire after all.
Soon ready and steady decent to -6m in murky vis. Not at all as I remember it, I hit straight onto the scaffolded dig. It’s difficult to tell but as far as I can ascertain there’s no evidence of anyone digging here in recent years and definitely evidence of collapse. I enter the small scaffolded hole and am able to turn and have a bit of a root about. It appears that previous efforts have been concentrated straight down but to my mind and in this limited vis this doesn’t seem the obvious way forward.
About 10/15min of digging tidies a small area on the true right of the scaffold and I have gained a little room. I start to root around the boulders a little lower and with a bit of effort get one of the larger ones to move. I estimate this at around 50/70kg. I can just about lift it underwater. I manage to get this out of my hole and into the space previously created. Only on 3’s so hitting margins and conscious that a problem on little tanks can be a big issue, I stick to protocol and surface after a total dive of 30mins.
Great little dive that really sparked my interest. A return is planned. Many thanks to DM for help with the carry.
23rd November Lancaster Hole
Had originally hoped to dive today but the inclement weather put pay to that. Having to meet JM at Ingleton seemed as good a reason as any to get a bit of work done on the project.
I had already had a 300bar cylinder of nitrox mixed, so took the opportunity to get another cylinder swap done.
Meeting another team at BPF they were planning on the through trip so wanted to use my rope. No bother that meant one of their team can carry the cylinder over to Lancaster. SH rigged and left the others to sort themselves out as I quickly made my way to dive base. Checking all pressures, I selected the cylinder with the lowest, 200 Bar, leaving the full 300 in its place.
Out of CT and derig. Having wanted to check out the magic roundabout route for a while thought I’d go and suss out this seldom visited section of the cave. Locating the window into Arson shaft, I found it already rigged as expected. This is a very impressive large shaft, a 24m climb brings you to a further window into an adjacent pot. Not the easiest maneuver, similar to slit pot in Simpson’s but going up.
Two further pitches of 5 & 13m bring you to the Old Kent Road. This is a well decorated crawl traverse, with an abundance of straws. Having forgotten to bring the route description I stick to the main route, A junction brings you to a slightly snugger section which in turn leads to a further pitch, third aven. Crawling and a bit of a handlined decent brings you to the impressive Aquarius Pot. I hadn’t brought a rope so this is as far I could go today. Glad of the rope I retrace my steps, making my way to Stake Pot then across the high level stuff to the climb in Fall Pot. Picked up the cylinder at the top of the CT and arrive back at the btm of Lancaster just as another team had finished descending. Climbed out to meet a further team on the surface, quick natter with Rich Hudson before the trudge back to BPF.
Sorry no pics I left the GoPro in the van.
Total time underground 4hrs.
25th November Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
09:30. Cloud base ≤300ft: Mild: Showers: Visibility 0.5Nm: Medium stream: Ground sodden: The Plan: Dig. CC digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. CC continued to lower the -19.9m floor of the hauling way level south, up to the “Rib” of rock that protrudes from the west wall; though encroaching into the rift the “Rib” appears to have resumed a vertical plane. There remains a step up, a face, of some 0.6m between the hauling way floor and the upper southern end; from this higher floor a deposit of mud and cobbles extend from the “Rib” into the south rift. Shortly after starting, Peter Curtin, (owner of the Roadside), arrived to see what the Team “gets up to”; he cexpressed his surprize at the neatness of the spoil areas, and extent of the engineering. Twenty five lifts were achieved; three heavy nets, ten kibbles of rock and twelve of assorted cloying muds and clays; the clays etc. an absolute sod to remove from the barrow. To the Roadside for very welcome pints.
Hours 6 (2372), Southend (1322), Kibbles 22 (4468), Nets 3 (798), Total 5266.
Peter Curtin, the landlord of the Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna on a tour of inspection at the dig. He has stated that when we break through into the "Master Cave" He will be supplying as much beer as we can drink.
28th November Considine’s Cave (South End)
18:00. Dark: Cold: Wind E; F2: Cloud 80%: Medium stream: Ground soaked: The Plan: Dig. CC digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. The next section of fixed ladder, built by PC is on site ready for installation. CC commenced digging intending to remove the deposit left up against the west wall, between the southern rift and the “Rib”, level with the present, uneven floor. From this floor level there remains a step down of 0.6m into the hauling way “pit”, (sump). As the session progressed PC had difficulty keeping up with the frenzied rate of digging below which produced, within the first hour, fourteen kibbles; swiftly followed by another sixteen; superb! Of the thirty finally raised twelve were rock the others large pieces of gravel within a mud matrix; this form of spoil requires much effort to successfully empty the barrow. The plan for Saturday is to prepare the “pit” area to accommodate the next section of fixed ladder. Generator shows ¼ full; no fuel on site. To a desolate Roadside for an excellent pint; where Peter’s plan to reduce of the bar’s carbon footprint means no more toasty open fires; bugger.
Hours 5 (2377), Southend (1327), Kibbles 30 (4498), Nets 0 (798), Total 5296.
30th November Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00: Dark: Cold: Cloud 80%: Wind NW, F4: Visibility ≤20Nm: CC Fuel: Ground very wet: The Plan: Dig. CC swiftly descended and began extending the “Pit” for installation of the next section of fixed ladder; excavating the face southward until level with the “Rib” to create sufficient room in which to work: hauling began at 18:05. The session produced twenty five lifts of which were three very heavy nets and twenty two kibbles six of which were rock, the rest being clays, muddy gravels and dreaded Shitus Shitus. Fairly shagged out the Team made for the Kilshanny House and some very nice pints
NB. Writing up his log the author became puzzled believing the 5000th kibble imminent; checking the excel table realized the confusion; mistaking kibble 4498 for 4998. Checked the 2019 excel file to date, comparing log entries against excel input, errors of input found in several places: a slip of the keyboard, or more likely concentration?
Hours 5 (2382), Southend (1332), Kibbles 22 (4529), Nets 3 (807), Total 5336.
1st December Souterrain CL004-093002
13:30. Fabulous day: Bright: Chill: Wind NE, F2: Cloud 0%: Visibility, infinite. The plan: revisit Ringfort/Cashel, (CL004-093001), in Ballyryan, at ITM 509191 x 701795, (recorded on national database), to locate its souterrain; previously sought 10th August 2012. As many cattle with young present parked adjacent Poulsallagh Bay; headed eastward, navigating north of the widespread herd. Two areas of thicket impede this route; these may be passed following narrow cattle pathways through, and beneath the 2.5 metre high foliage. Viewed from the west the obscure outline of the Ringfort is situated on top a small vertical cliff some 6 – 8 metres above the western valley floor, which is filled by dense hazel and blackthorn. A gentle gradient of about 10 - 15° extends, and descends northward, also foliated. To the south a more rugged uneven surface with extensive areas of foliage descends 300 metres to the main road, (R477). The eastern area beyond the Ringfort was not visited. Very little, if any of the rampart is clearly visible; a small section of dry stone wall appears modern; suspect not original. Found a route through the thicket into the Ringfort; foliage inexorably occupying its interior. The route used is maintained by thin cattle seeking the sheltered superior grazing. The national ITM reference was followed across the interior to within five metres of the recorded entrance location, deep within a dense area of foliage. Curiously, from the suspected entrance position a taller shrub has spread a darker green canopy; something to aim at. An almost 360° panoramic view is available from this site; a raised, rib, of ground 100 metres west partly obscures the closer coastline, though views may be obtained toward the Islands, to the north and south also views of the sequence of the cliffs and terraces of Oughtdarra climbing up Knockaunsmountain. The outline of the associated enclosure is wholly obscured. Intend to return with loppers and cut a way through to the entrance location; optimistically the established foliage may have offered protection to the souterrain entrance from erosion by grazing cattle as has happened elsewhere. Minor issue when confronting Mother and calf beneath the thicket; Martha and the Vandella’s “Nowhere to run” came to mind backing along the narrow path.
1st December Nenthead, High-Level Traverse
S Halliday, Leif Andrews, Chris Elliot
We’d met Leif on a previous visit to the mines and following conversations in which he’d mentioned the High-Level Traverse, we had made arrangements for a second trip. Described as remote and arduous, I was expecting a tough trip but when we met at the Assay house and both Leif and Chris started getting wetsuits out, I began to realise I might be in for a wetting. I’m sure I told you, might be better if we don’t discuss quite how wet, you get the picture of how the conversation went. But on this bright cold morning, -4 deg, we set off up the hill with these two complaining about feeling hot and me wondering what I’ve let myself in for.
A couple of parties have set off in front of us, but Leif is confident that they won’t be going where we are. We entering the horse level of Smallcleugh mine. Easy going to Hetherington’s crosscut, this involves a little crawling but generally pretty easy terrain, here we come across an interesting box.
An early portable toilet. In remarkable good condition
From here we drop into the Middlecleugh second sun vein. Again nothing to strenuous but we are covering some distance in the relatively easy passage until we get to Bogg shaft. Here the water was brought into the mine to power the generators and we now right under the fell below the high level dams. A climb up at this point takes us into an interesting area of workings, unfortunately much ravaged by the rock bashing brigade. I hadn’t realised how prevalent this is and there is significant evidence of their activities.
After climbing Bogg shaft we make our way down through Middlecleugh North vein Flats and into Caplecleugh Lower levels. Now it starts to get wet, around waist deep and there’s a lot of wading to do. Obviously slow progress a little but without anyone freezing we reach Archers Rise and climb into the High-level stuff. A bit of unfortunate timing and SH gets an eyeful half way up so with some difficulty I manage to replace the rope protectors with my eyes shut . Stopping for a bit of lunch and a brew, at least Id remembered a flask, we are maybe half way about 3hrs into the trip. Nothing to drastic yet, I’m lulled into the sense that maybe I don’t need a wetsuit. These are miners after all, us cave boys are made of tougher stuff.
We continue through the high level series in chest deep water toward north vein pitch. A brief look at a shaft in one of the side passages but nothing to rig off, we have a scout around for a suitable rail or some such but to no avail, so this is going to have to wait for another day. We arrive at the broken pitch which drops us back into the north vein flats, Leif and I have taken our SRT kit off so Chris is first down the pitch while Leif and I rekit and follow soon after. An extremely unstable part of the mine, Chris is descending the final portion when a lump of displaced rock only just misses him, he gets a glancing blow and there’s no harm done but it’s a wake up call. Leif is halfway down so with him safely out of the way SH follows and another small fall occurs. SH is last down and with a glance toward the dubiously stacked deads, I’m extremely careful as I pass this decidingly dodgy section. which we follow in significant water maybe chest deep in places until we reach the drop into the lower level stuff. Dropping the bags we go for a bit of an explore in some seldom visited areas and Leif points out some interesting artefacts.
A well-preserved example of some explosive
For more information about this brand of explosive see the article
A candle and almost complete clay pipe
A look at the bottom of the suspected shaft, maybe we should have dropped something down when we were at the higher level but too late to worry about that now.
Now we drop into the lower level, and I see why these two are wearing wetsuits. Its getting toward neck deep, It could be worse but not somewhere to hang about so I just keep moving 20/30mins and we are at double rise. A relieve to get out of the water, it’s a long climb up an assortment of calcited ladders and back into Smallclough. Now it’s a straight dash to get out, it dark on the surface and very cold, I’m starting to feel the cold so it’s a quick change in -4deg temps.
Not mis-sold, this is defiantly a committing trip, an accident in the backend of here would be a serious situation, probable not suitable for a novice and was defiantly a good move to limit numbers. Another great day at Nenthead.
Total time underground 6hrs
2nd December Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
09:30. Frost: Cold: Cloud 70%: Visibility 20Nm: Ground wet: Small stream. The Plan: Dig. Prior to commencing time was spent examining options of installing the next ladder section. The encroaching rib of rock from the west wall requires the ladder be moved east by some 6 inches, (150mm). The plan is to replace the two fixed ladders from the staging at -14m to -18m with a single ladder; this will remove the need to re-drill the middle stemple, which would require being suspended in a harness; accuracy of the bolt hole positions would suffer. Hauling began at 10:00; the pace again of one lift processed every five minutes. CC excavated a trench from the “pit” along the east wall to the south end to expose the “undercut” a little further. Of the twenty lifts three were very heavy nets, the seventeen kibbles comprized seven rock, the rest muddy gravels. Generator almost ½ full: no fuel on site. Linkage between winch pedal and actuating lever needs minor adjustment. Alas, Coast Guard duties meant no Roadside.
Hours 5 (2387), Southend (1337), Kibbles 20 (4549), Nets 0 (807), Total 5356.
7th December Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Dark: Storm Atiyah approaches: Mild: Incessant rain; heavy showers: Wind W, increasing, F7 gusting 9: Ground awash: Large stream: The Plan; Dig. CC digging, PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Previous rain had produced a significant flow down the south end wall, among other sources. CC was incredibly lucky as a steady flow of water landed on the housing of the main light above the digging area producing a shower of water drenching all parts below, this kept CC’s new oversuit nice and clean. As the session progressed the normal low rumble from the plumbing became a crescendo as the now regular heavy rain pulses swept eastward. 19:28 the wind began gusting force nine causing the winch canopy to consider flight training. Far below CC, aware of the increase in noise and cascading water continued to fill kibbles as water filled his wellies. Of the twenty lifts eight were muddy gravels, the rest were of nice clean washed rock. No issues tonight when emptying the barrow, it just poured out; rocks were thrown into the cavity adjacent the small tree, nearest the winch shed; this cavity is now filled so the ridgeline is the next area of deposition. The slack in the winch operating pedal linkage was shortened with fence wire; to be monitored, though worked well tonight, no sound of the winch “winding itself up” when started underload. Generator almost ¼ full: no fuel on site. To a quiet Kilshanny House; Popeye returns soon, as does Jim Warny.
Hours 5 (2392), Southend (1342), Kibbles 20 (4569), Nets 0 (807), Total 5376.
7th December Cowclose Mine
S Halliday, A Walchester, N Barnett, D Gough, Sam Garrad & S Grimewald
Christmas Shopping: M Scothon & R Hall
After previous works to stabilise and cap the shaft at Cowclose mine we had arranged to meet and try and begin the survey. Meeting MS at Moor Lane to get the rope and surveys, Malc unfortunately was unable to assist due to having to attend a WI coffee morning.
SH made his way to the shaft top before remembering we now needed a key to lift the lid. A return to the van and a quick root produced a trowel and a shovel so armed returning to the lid and was able to lift. It was immediately obvious that we need to sort something for this lid. Last man down needing to close above him, easy enough, but if he or a particularly rowdy sheep dropped it down here someone is going to get a very nasty headache.
SH descended and rigged the shaft using the 60m rope as on our previous visit. However, this was done from the tripod and the loss of length from the knots meant that we are now several meters short of the base of the shaft!! Needing the exercise anyway, SH climbed out and returned to the van to get another length just as the rest of the team were about ready to leave. This time quickly down and putting a separate rope on the final Y hang to reach the bottom. It took a short while for the full team to assemble so we had a bit of re-familiarisation whilst waiting. Once all team members were down the decision was taken to split into two teams. AW, SG and DG went upstream to begin surveying whilst SH and NB were to go for an explore downstream into the rest of the mine.
Downstream from Founder Shaft the water immediately enters from the right, following the easy passage this soon lowers to a wet crawl but only for a couple of meters. Continuing low passage means progressing predominantly on hand and knees until a boulder is reached across the passage. This appears easily passable in the water but opting for the dryer option SH followed by NB went to the right through a slightly awkward section between said boulder and the wall. The passage continues low until reaching a somewhat dubious stemple holding up some deads. NB took a photo so the coroner would know what it looked like before squashing him and then both passed making sure we didn’t disturb anything. From the opposite side this looks a lot more stable but probably still treat with care.
Also, in this area we came across another leaning boulder this time held back by an old wooden post we christened “The Stemple of Doom”.
The Stemple of Doom
There now follows two coffin levels, interestingly driven in opposite directions, before the passage opens into a significantly larger area, which we took to be a washing/processing area, a large “wash tub” has been constructed and significant work done to alter/control the water flow in this area. Without the survey and not really knowing where we were we opted to follow the water, so continuing down we explored a considerable distance before coming across a section of mud with what we’re pretty sure were cat prints? No sign of said cat, and I guess no way of knowing the age of the prints.
It was in this same general area we came across this:
which we take to correspond with the original survey work. There is a considerable number of stations marked throughout the workings. ( P.F. = Pete Forster, D.H. = Derek Heald, who were responsible for producing the original survey by North Staffs Mining Group. Cheg )
We continued our downward progress until reaching a kind of two-level area, the water has been kept low, below the workings but with several holes in the floor its obvious of the path. Following the higher of the two levels until we reached a calcited slope, both SH and NB descended but we agreed that to continue further requires wetsuits in a low almost flat-out crawl. Retracing our steps both were surprised to see our land marks on the return journey to the “Wash-tub” without getting lost. This is quite a complex area and we only looked at a small portion of it.
Nathan Bartlett inspecting a shovel head we noted and used as a distinctive marker
With enough time before meeting the survey team we had a look upstream from the wash-tub area and after several twists and turns came across another shaft. It is possible to see daylight up here and we estimated at a similar depth to founder shaft, approx. 60/70m. An assortment of mainly farm based detritus littering the floor, notably a concrete sleeper but both SH and NB feel this is further than the hillock shaft (Correct name "Boundary Shaft") we believe to have had the sleeper dropped. Is this a different one?
Continuing our exploration we were able to find one or two recognisable landmarks and thus make a round trip back to the wash-tub. Quickly back to Founder shaft where we met the survey team returning down from there endeavours.
After a quick bite we set off on the climb out SH first, to meet MS and RH on the surface. SH returned to van to put on dry gear before returning to shaft to assist/shout insults as the rest of the team made their steady way up.
Dave Gough exiting Founder shaft after a long climb
One of the local ninja’s put in an appearance to scare the team. (you don’t want to see what happened next)
MS and RH both needed to return to their respective slippers, so the hard core retired to the Standard for a couple of pints and a meal before calling it a day.
Sort lid: This must be a priority someone will end up getting hurt if we fail to make this safe.
P Hangers?: It is SH’s opinion that if much work is to be carried out at this fascinating site, then the shaft warrant’s P hangers. We already have some holes in place, it wouldn’t take much to open these up on a subsequent trip and resin bond some stainless hangers in place. A further rebelay lower down would probably speed up the climb out if several people on site at same time?
Carry on with the survey: AW seems to have his head round the system and as such should be given the new title of Path Finder General and get a large badge to show how important he is.
Possibly drop a glow stick, down one or a couple of the shafts in the area to establish exactly which shaft we were at. This would also act as a datum for future survey work.
Total time underground about 5hrs
7th December Cowclose Survey Trip
Survey Team A Wartchester; D Gough S Garrad
Support S Hallijournee N Bathart
The exposed site of Cowclose Founder Shaft on a bitterly cold day
The survey team gathered at the bottom of the 60m shaft and Andy then proceeded to get his tackle in order. Once he and Dave had thoroughly fiddled with it we were set to commence operations. The first measurements were of the shaft base and passages leading off . The conditions are somewhat muddy which made using the very small oil pastel crayon we had brought to mark the survey stations interesting, particularly when I broke said crayon and then dropped it on several occasions in the mud and various puddles. Fortunately, the earlier Pegasus exploration survey stations will still visible on the walls and we used these where possible- more often than not our survey station pretty much matched these but on occasion we were able to have longer runs due to modern technology. Progress was fairly pedestrian as we got to grips with both the Disto and the software we were linking to via blue tooth but we steadily got quicker as we progressed and got into a rhythm. Three on the team is a good number as Dave used the Disto to measure the length and I marked/found the survey station. Andy would then input into the software . Measurements taken were length, angle and measurements up down left and right at each survey station. We completed 20 stations before it was time to turn around at the agreed allotted time just when we were just beginning to enjoy ourselves . The return along the passage was uneventful and we arrived at the shaft at 3pm – Simon and Nathan were there already and we sent them up the shaft first as they would be faster than Andy and also none of us wanted to wait on the surface which was rather chilly. The shaft has a lot of mud on its walls and it is quite disconcerting when large chunks fall down and hit you but this will no doubt lessen as more trips are made particularly by our less agile/graceful members. Once we were all up Andy did some wizardry ponkary with the data and generated a line and 3D model of the mine passage which considering this was our first attempt it amazingly (relatively) matched that of the original survey. A great trip.
14th December Boreham Cave
Simon Halliday, Jason Mallinson & Rob Middleton
Today I ticked off one from the bucket list. I can’t remember when I first heard of Boreham, few in the caving community haven’t. Strictly controlled access to this site means a very select few get a chance to visit about 3 times a year.
Meeting on a cold wet morning in Littondale, its only a short walk to the cave so carrying a pair of 7’s to the entrance with RM we notice that this normally static sump its actually making water, an indication of how much water has come down in last couple of weeks. Returning to the van I get kitted in a wetsuit, IN DECEMBER, Its f..cking freezing, however JM reckons we’ll be fine so I listen to the voice of experience.
I’m ready first so I get to enter in front. This sump is filled from percolation water so I’m expecting some decent vis. It’s a short carry from the gated entrance and as the roof lowers I kit up and enter the canal section of S1. In the unusually high water conditions the line actually starts in the sump and it takes a few moments to locate it.
S1 is an easy 41m swim in gin clear vis. Surfacing I remove my fins but otherwise stay fully kitted. It’s about a 5min crawl to the start of S2. This starts quite low, known as the slot, but its not that bad and after a brief wiggle Im through and then follows 70m of easy passage. Here the line enters an impossibly tight rift but an ascent and a easy sideways manoeuvre get you pass this to start S3. Only 15m and again reach airspace, again removing fins but it’s only a few meters to enter S4, this is down an unstable bit of slope and a little thoughtful another short one and Im into S5. S5 is slightly longer, 94m, and a decent of a loose pot part way through requires some care. Toward the end of this section the water makes a noticeable change, where the active system enters. The line is buried and takes a few minutes to sort and rebelay.
Original plan had been for JM and RM to head downstream at this point but conditions are not up to that so we all exit the water at this point. It’s a bit of a climb from here and some care is required. At the top of the climb a stunning calcite slope on the right is the way to the china shop. JM warns us to use the hand line at the top of the climb, which turn out to be good advice. A near vertical climb with a well-placed hand line and the aforementioned traverse lead to the start of the pretties. Removing my helmet so as to avoid hitting any of the plethora of straws is a slow and delicate crawl to what must be one of the greatest sights in the UK.
It’s probably the last time I’ll be here so I take a few minutes before back tracking. RM is first to descend and that traverse line earns its money when a slight slip would really have ruined his day.
Going for an explore upstream it’s a mixture of crawling and a few canally sections. The high water means we need to exercise a little caution, and as the air space decreases we make the prudent decision to call it and turn. Back down to meet JM we re kit and begin the trip out. In now much reduced visibility we make our way to the start of S1 where JM wants a brief side trip to do a little photography.
Again rekit and out into a raging blizzard, back to the van to realise I cant find my key. Luckily RM spots it before I have to break a window, and we’re done.
Total time underground 5hrs
20th December Lancaster Hole
S Halliday & D McDonough
Mad Fri, Loft Wizard Xmas Bash.
Stuck with a choice between going out on the lash and making a knob out of myself, (something I admit to doing in the dim and distant past) and progressing the Lancaster project a bit. It’s a no brainer really, why wouldn’t you want to lug a 15L cylinder down Lancaster hole?
DM kindly agreed to help with the carry and it being Xmas and all we decided to make a trip out of it. A brief stop at Ingleton to fill a couple of cylinders in preparation for a forthcoming trip and we’re at BPF changed and ready to go by 10. Weather actually quite pleasant, the expected rain as yet not arrived we have an easy walk over to the pot. DM fancies rigging so we drop the cylinder down the pitch and DM starts the rig.
We are both soon down and start the steady trip to dive base. All too aware that I’ve a lump of weight on my back I take it very easy to the CT. SH rigs and descends with the cylinder, DM following. The main drain it a little high but nothing to concern ourselves about so we make our way to dive base and deposit said cylinder at the stash.
Now we can go for a play, SH leading the way we start with a climb up Wilf Taylors and through double decker pot, continuing to the Bull Pot of the Witches sump. Retracing our steps, we then head to waterfall passage, there a fair amount of water about but up for an adventure we drop in and set off downstream. It requires care at the cascades:
A couple of times, SH leaves his bag to check its safe but eventually we make it to the pitch. It’s a bit wet, in fact it’s very wet. I rig a rope and swing out but with this much spray it’s very hard to be sure if the pitch is passable or the rope is long enough so we take the sensible option and run away.
Climbing the cascades again requires care but nothing to scary and we climb back upstream until it is possible to climb out up a knotted rope. SH climbs first but it doesn’t look very inviting so we again descend and continue upstream a short distance further. Here it is possible to climb out and enter Montague West passage a quick look about reveals a hole which may very well be the other end of the rope climb? We follow back uphill until we can eventually get out at the small ladder. (it takes SH a couple of tries to find the way on, but we get it in the end) and we exit into Montague Chamber.
2 minutes later and we’re back at the bag we had left at fall pot. A quick bite as we remove SRT kit and re pack into two bags. We then set off on the high-level traverse. One or two false starts but nothing to get in a sweat over we keep moving till the minarets are reached where we again stop for a bite to eat.
A spot that never ceases to amaze, we have a few minutes before carrying on to reach Stop Pot. I’d thought on here and brought the route description for the dry escape route, somewhere I really should know but I’ve never been this way, its fairly straight forward, dropping you directly into wretched rabbit passage which we climb to surface. It’s a bit miserable outside as we make our way back across the fell to retrieve our rope from Lancaster. By a stroke of luck another team are on the way out as we get there and there’s no need to derig, bonus. Back at the van on the stroke of 4.
Total time underground about 6hrs.
21st December Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00; Dark: Mild turning cold: Wind E, F 2: Fog: Visibility ten metres: Medium stream: CC Fuel: The Plan Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Arrived early to deliver some bottles of wine to Jonathon and Kathy and thank them for their kindness - tolerance. Delighted to be digging again; the Dreaded Lurgi having taking its toll on both PC, TB too, also recovering from a protracted illness, worked the southern area removing the remaining face left by CC; the floor now all but levelled off at -19.9m. Thoughts turned to PC building the 4.6m ladder intended to replace the existing two secured from/below the -14m staging, and installation of the next 2.3m section which will pretty much reach the present floor level. The session was tough on the invalids, though thirty one lifts were raised; one net and thirty kibbles, seven of which were course gravels, the remainder rocks, which were thrown onto the boulder pile recently flattened/gardened by CC during a visit to check the status of the site following a severe storm. The generator is around ½ full; no fuel on site: to the Kilshanny House.
Hours 7 (2399), Southend (1349), Kibbles 30 (4599), Nets 1 (808), Total 5407.
23rd December Souterrain CL004-093002
NB and PC
13:30: Wind S, F2: Cold: Light showers: Visibility ≤20Nm. The Plan: access potential souterrain entrance within Cashel CL004-093001; Ballyryan: ITM 509191 x 701795. Uneventful, cattle free walk to the site; set about cutting a route through dense briar and hazel undergrowth through to the obvious “dark green” shrub. Enroute passed a low profile group of boulders: reached the shrub which grows from the stonework of the Ringfort perimeter; the surrounding clear area beneath the shrub absent of clues indicative of an entrance. Returned to the group of boulders; closer inspection suggests this is the most likely spot for the recorded souterrain entrance. NB took many photographs.
23rd December Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB, NB and PC
18:00. Dark: Cold: Wind S, F2: Visibility ≥20Nm: Medium stream: Ground sodden: Fuel TB? The Plan; Dig. NB delighted at progress since his last visit, 20th November 2017. NB and TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. The session focused on finishing levelling off the floor. The deposit in the south rift left in situ. Of the forty lifts two were very heavy nets; the thirty eight kibbles comprized fourteen course gravels and twenty four of boulders. Total weight a minimum of 1.5 tonnes: to the Roadside for pints.
Hours 10 (2409), Southend (1359), Kibbles 38 (4637), Nets 2 (810), Total 5447.
23rd December Gavel Pot
The sump at the bottom of Gavel has for a long time intrigued me. Having never visited this pot I thought a familiarisation trip before any possible dive a good idea.
Leck fell is a bleak place in December. But pre-dawn and blowing a hooli it’s not the most inspiring of starts but it’ll be warmer underground. Steeling myself to the elements I quickly change and set off in search of the cave.
I find it remarkably easily, it’s a massive shake hole and the expected blundering about in the dark is avoided. I’ve checked the route description, but the first pitch takes a little pondering before I realise how it’s supposed to be rigged. A Y hang under a roof to a deviation on the opposite side of the shaft from a spike. The next pitch is pretty straight forward and drops you into an impressive dig, well-built deads line the shaft which is climbed to a short crawl.
The cave soon meets the stream and there’s pretties aplenty.
Continuing in the water a low stooping section brings you to a canyon, just before a dry oxbow leads to Glasfud’s Chamber an extremely well decorated section of cave.
There’s quite a lot of water today and I’m not entirely sure of the route so following the water I come to a small climb. It’s sketchy at best and I’m not keen, prob in lower water wouldn’t be an issue but today and aware that I’m soloing I leave the big bag and back off to look for alternatives, there’s another route round to the left which is considerably easier and actually once seen it’s possible to climb back over the top and retrieve the bag.
The 3rd pitch follows very quickly, and I’m surprised to find rigged, bonus, so removing that rope from the bag I continue down the cave. It’s extremely well rigged, and TBH in high water it would be a bit of a job to get to the re-belays without knowing where they are, a massive help and saves a good dosing. (see vid)
The 4th pitch is again rigged, with a further rope going up and a traverse? I descend to the sump pool, there’s a bit of a reach to a long deviation but the rope has been tied in so makes life easy. What a place, quite ominous with the waterfall landing almost straight into it. There’s very little else here so it’s a quick turn round and begin the climb out.
I decide to have a look up while I’m here, It’s an airy traverse quite exposed. It goes round a corner into quite a small opening, a little grotty but worth the look. It goes to a dig and a bolted climb but not very inspiring.
It’s a tough climb but taking my time I’m out and de-rigged by 11.
Total time underground 3.5hrs
24th December Gavel Pot (Again)
Cos I’m a knob I left my GoPro at btm of the 3rd pitch. Got up early and went to retrieve. Went old school and did it on a rack this morning. Forgotten how much they make you think at the change overs, but they are an ace decent, that’s Gobby’s fault for taking one to Cowclose. No looking fo the hangers this morn and the big pitch already rigged, Only stopped for one quick pic:
Just coming light as I got out. Underground 1.5hrs
24th December Cullaun I
TB, NB and PC
Wind NE, F2: Bright: Cold: The Plan; to assist Popeye with his project; investigation of erosion studs installed in the 1950/60s, intended to record limestone erosion in several cave streamways. The first dam in the upstream streamway was partly filled with debris NB and PC dug this out and cleared the 2 inch pipe through the dam; meanwhile TB moved upstream checking other associated factors. Stream flow was high, the result of last night having made about ¾ inch of rain. TB pleased with today’s progress; outstanding tasks include locating remaining stud positions. Enroute to the Roadside stopped at Michael Considine’s home with bottles of drink for Padraig and himself.
25th December Cullaun II
CC, TB, NB and PC
Cold: 0°C: Wind NE, F2: Pockets of low cloud: Ground sodden: Following a change of plans PC rang around the Team who swiftly assembled in the parking area. The Plan: TB and CC to take photos of the erosion measuring studs while NB and PC took the high route to Pool Chamber; meet up there to press on to the pitch. High water flow saw the cascades an impressive sight. Along the streamway, below Pool Chamber, the high flow produced impressive waterfalls; the noise a delightful crescendo. Uneventful exit into a chill breeze: an excellent trip in good company.
Merry Xmas from Cheg Chester, Tony Boycott, Nigel Burns & Pat Cronin
26th December Souterrain CL009-021014
Cold: Light showers: Wind S. F2: Ground sodden. The Plan: to show NB the Lisnanroum souterrain and enclosure project and search for a souterrain NNE of Lisnanroum. Winter has reduced ground cover to a bare minimum, the result, many lump and bumps more visible than ever; and just as ever anonymous. The “burial mound” stands out very clear as does what appears to be the outline of a house in the original enclosure; a further survey visit is needed sometime January to take advantage of such clarity. The original gate area is much more visible owing to the foliage having died back. Photographs taken, the Team began to head to the location of the next souterrain. The route was through dense hazel, briar and blackthorn, all of which concealed treacherous, deep grykes, which regularly took their toll on the Team. A kilometre of hell later the souterrain was located within a denuded Cashel. It is a substantial construction in the form of an “L”, though it may be larger in extent. Many more photos taken by NB; enroute to find shelter for a brew up encountered Luke Davoren who took the Team to a curious enclosure recently exposed during hazel clearance. During enquiries discovered that the souterrain visited is on Davoren land; when requested PC received permission to work away on the site or any other on their land. Exchanged farewells; headed back for tonight’s session.
26th December Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB, NB and PC
Mild: Foggy; cloud base 120m: Showers: Ground waterlogged: Large stream: The Plan; clear out the south rift. NB and TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. The awful deposit was reduced in the rift to just below existing floor level; there remains some deposit in the far end that needs removing. Depth measured from shaft collar at -20m. The session produced forty lifts of which two were nets, of the thirty eight kibbles twenty were of assorted clays and silts. Generator ¼ full: fuel on site. The retaining wall requires its top course to stabilize it, (at some 6 foot high), on the junction of the path and the west spoil dump: through rain and fog to the Roadside.
Hours 10 (2419), Southend (1369), Kibbles 38 (4675), Nets 2 (812), Total 5487.
28th December Black Head
NB and PC
11:50. Cold side of Mild: Wind SE, F6 gusting 8: Visibility ≤25Nm: The Plan; to walk to the summit cairn, (314m); wherein, incidentally, lay some of the remains of the very Late Martin Bishop. Wind force increased with elevation; prospecting for cave became moot, as remaining upright was the main preoccupation; a superb walk in rough conditions. Found a well preserved Goat Kid creel; mostly denuded, this one being almost complete offers a superb example of its simple shape and construction; nice.
28th December Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB, NB, PC
17:50. Dark: Mild: Cloud: Wind E, F6. Ground sodden: Medium stream: Visibility ≤25Nm. Fuel PC. The Plan: lower the floor by 0.5m; starting the south end. CC winching: NB and TB digging: PC unloading and barrowing. The session’s steady progress further exposed the developing undercut around the south/southeast wall, along with the ability to see down over two metres between the east wall and boulders; delighting the Team. The session produced forty lifts consisting four nets and thirty six kibbles, of which sixteen were gravels and clays. The gravel pile needs attention, and thought, as how best to stack further spoil therein. The boulder pile begins to encroach into the prepared western extension; care stacking boulders adjacent the field wall is required to avoid any embarrassing collapse. Generator ½ full: fuel on site. Wash tub needs cleaning out. Surfaces have become lethal, all need cleaning. Hose needs lengthening. Winch belt may need minor adjustment. Generator oil needs changing. Section of boulder retaining wall needs topping off. Replacement ladder needs building. NB departs tomorrow: to the Kilshanny for pints.
Hours 10 (2429), Southend (1379), Kibbles 36 (4711), Nets 4 (816), Total 5527.
28th December Lancaster Hole
S Halliday, D McDonough CPC, A Purcell BPC/CDG, J Carter CDG & C Armstrong RR/CDG
More a social trip today than anything else but took the opportunity to show a few fellow CDG members the dive base and take the final 15L cylinder down. DM tagging along cos he was free (we’d pretty much done the identical trip a few days previously but neither AP or CA had been in the high-level stuff and were wanting a look see.
Without incident we descended to dive base and stashed the 15. Quick look at the sump, dark and foreboding but the water running in did look like it was starting to clear.
We climbed Wilf Taylors Passage to double decker, CA managed to lose a welly on the final part of DD pot so SH retrieved and the party continued to the upstream sump pool for Bull Pot of the Witches. We then went straight into Montague West and worked our way along to the ladder where AP kept us amused by slithering out and face planting in CA’s crotch.
AP collapsing out of Montague into the crotch of CA
A bit of a bite to eat at Fall Pot then we started to make our way across the high-level passages. AP coughing a little from a chest infection was having a bit of a hard time and we were moving quite slow. This situation didn’t improve as we got further into the trip and by the time we eventually made Wretched Rabbit, AP was really struggling.
Great teamwork and we all excited after a 9hr trip!! SH set off at a pace, dumped a bag at the farm then went to Lancaster and did the derig whilst DM guided the rest of the team back to BPF.
A long day but all out in one piece and the final 15L safely stashed. Ready for the next push, let’s hope this dry weather continues. Total time underground 9hrs.
30th December Malham Cove Rising
SH & JNC
Last Malham dive this decade!!
Just the two of us today. JNC diving first to consolidate previous work and SH to have a look at Don’s way. This difficult passage is the only way to the new stuff beyond Broadsword Chamber, there’s only two people ever been up there and today I’m having a look.
Ive been keen to get a look at the new extensions and seeing as this is the only way through its time for a look see. JNC has given me a pretty detailed description so I’m well prepared but its not without a little trepidation I’m sitting at the Cove waiting for JNC to exit.
JNC exits the water after a 90min dive, A brief natter, no point in rushing it’ll give the passage time to clear. He has managed to dislodge a problem boulder perched above Abscission way so there’s likely to be some poor vis.
I enter at Flood Rising as normal and swim directly to the 160m junction. Now into new territory for me. A right turn and 10m further on there’s a second junction, this time left. The line is well marked (with the line markers SH made toward the end of last season). Its critical to keep your body position correct here relative to the line. Its low going, after a few meters the next obstacle is a gravely elbow. Pretty much an interference fit it takes a little thrutching to get through and then the passage eases a little. JNC has placed a white disc here to warn of the obstacle on the return but travelling this way it signifies a reprieve.
Relatively easy going now to 210m where a large boulder forces the line to the left, followed almost immediately by another, this section used to be particularly nasty requiring the diver to remove a tank but after significant work that is no longer necessary. Care is required not to rotate the slab as you pass (would make a return problematic) but TBH it’s easier than expected. Again the going eases to 290m where the next junction is found, careful here (Velcro passage is particularly nasty) so straight on to the 312m markers. This marks the turn point for todays dive, I have a brief look at the coming passage before picking up a piece of redundant Scaff and beginning the journey back.
JNC’s line laying makes the return simple enough, the elbow at the start of this section again slowing me but with a little determination I’m through. Its not often you think that Malham passages are big but re-entering the flood passages it feels that way. At the junction to main rising I check gas reserves and with plenty decide to exit this way, reasoning that the more often this is used the easier it’ll become. I really enjoy this bit of passage, it’s small and I manage to roll off a tank valve but simple enough to swap regs and sort this out. Into the main resurgence and out to daylight.
What a cracking dive, 1Hr
Simon Halliday exiting from Malham Cove Main Rising
Photo: John N Cordingley
30th December Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Dark: Wind E, F5/6: Visibility ≈35Nm: Cloud base ≈2000ft: Ground sodden: Medium stream: Last digging session of the year. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: TB digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PC arrived early to clear the duck boards of a build up of clay and lay pieces of carpet on the muddy sections of the barrow way reducing migration of silts onto the platform area. Popeye continued to advance the 0.5m face northward toward the narrows producing thirty kibbles, of which fourteen were gravels and clays; also confirming the visible depth of 2.5m down between the wall and the boulders: generator fuel on site. To a very quiet Roadside for a very nice pint.
Hours 7 (2436), Southend (1386), Kibbles 40 (4751), Nets 0 (816), Total 5567.
31st December Brants Gill Head
Following on from my previous visit, 22/11, recent dry(ish) weather means there’s a chance of a look at the dig site in BGH. Aim today to continue to clear the dig site and access the potential for further progress.
Diving a 7 & 3L tank, I only used the 7 and have left the 3 full for a future dive. Stashed high on the true left of the cave. Some progress made, removed a significant amount of spoil and one very large lump out of the dig site. A second even larger slab is now moving but will need a look at with a persuader if I’m to get out or move far enough for further progress. A return with a lump hammer and chisel is planned to try and reduce this piece into a slightly more manageable size.
Dive time 1hr.
31st December Poulnagollum
Last trip of the year: Cloud base 800/1000ft: Wind E, F2: Visibility ≥20Nm: Medium flow conditions. Laddered the entrance pitch and scampered off down the streamway to main junction, then up to Branch Passage cascade. Even though main stream flow was low before the first waterfall it and Branch Passage cascade were in a state of high flow.
Rainfall for the Doolin area as measured by myself for the year 2019 = 121.85 inches or 309.45cm.