January to March
1st January Cave Walk at Craigieburn, Central South Island, N.Z.
Small limestone cave through trip at castle hill (or rock I can't remember) on Arther's pass in central south island NZ. a little bit P8 like about 500m long at a guess. High water level (told by other there in wet suits) and no torch so I'll have to revisit. Chain and via farata on the top end and walk in through the bottom. Been advised to do the trip up stream. This was a solo trip.
Mark Staples standing on the Via Farata at the upstream entrance
Looking out of the downstream entrance
View looking in from just inside the downstream entrance
1st January Brant’s Gill Head
After Yesterday’s progress I was keen to try and reduce the large boulder blocking my way. This proved resistant to the lump hammer, however I eventually managed to swivel it round and this allowed further progress to be made. Several large pieces removed from the dig site. One particularly awkward number giving up just as gas margins were met.
Had a few minutes contemplating how lucky I was to be there while enjoying my flask after the dive. Can’t think of a better way to start the new decade. As previously dived with 1x7L and 1x3L, 3L left full for next visit.
Dive Time 1 hour.
Looking out from the entrance at Brant's Gill Head
2nd January Brant’s Gill Head
Continuing work after yesterday’s dive. I managed to remove the remaining loose boulders from the dig site. However, a large one which I’ve been wrestling with, which is now easily movable, but I’m unable to get out of the hole.
I can however swivel it around to allow access to the “bedding” seen yesterday. This I now believe to be a large fallen block. I’d estimate in the 10’s of tons. No amount of hitting will affect this lump. I have posted myself into the gap about half a body length. There is absolutely no give, solid rock top and btm. Really had to work hard to get as far as I did. This will require looking at with other more extreme digging methods.
I’d say there’s still a possibility for a downward dig but in my opinion, this will require scaffolding, further back and probably a winch setting up. TBH this is beyond the scope of a solo dig. I haven’t completely written off but have removed all equipment from the sump and moved to cave entrance in expectation of picking up in next few days.
I will consult with JNC as to the possibility of reducing this boulder, maybe get another pair of eyes on it, but for now I’ve pulled back. Dive time 1:10Hr
2nd January Lancaster Hole
In anticipation of a push Sat, took two bags to dive base. This should make the logistics for Sat morning somewhat easier. As luck would have it another team was leaving BPF as I arrived and kindly offered me the use of their rope so that saved a bag.
Both bags down usual route and checked the comp of the trimix so I can preprogram the computers ready
2nd January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC & TB
Due to unforeseen circumstances associated with the Coastguard PC did not arrive at the dig site for duties. With TB dressed for digging and CC in his Sunday best for winching only (Unloading and barrowing is a shitty job) it was decided that all we could achieve was to fill all the empty kibbles in preparation for the next session. So a new record was achieved for the least number of lifts in a session! ONE kibble. And that was not emptied. To the roadside for a well undeserved pint.
Hours 2 (2438), Southend (1388), Kibbles 1 (4752), Nets 0 (816), Total 5568.
4th January Lancaster Hole, Main Drain Sump
We Lost Simon Halliday; devastated.
6th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC & TB
TB descended & drilled new hole for the Comms box, also extended the hosepipe.
CC changed the oil & filled the generator.
Then both carried on wall building, cleared out the washing drum and cleared misfired rocks from the field behind.
Also emptied the one kibble
Hours 6 (2444), Southend (1394), Kibbles 0 (4752), Nets 0 (816), Total 5568.
9th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Dark: Cold: Wind NE increasing, F 4: Ground sodden: Medium stream: Visibility ≥30Nm: Fuel PC The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. TB continued the 0.5m face northward reaching, this session, almost even with the narrows. Of the thirty lifts were one net, and twenty nine kibbles; eleven of assorted gravels and clays. Small boulders were tossed onto the pile behind the retaining wall, completed by CC on the 6th Jan: to the Roadside.
Hours 7 (2451), Southend (1401), Kibbles 29 (4781), Nets 1 (817), Total 5598.
11th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Dusk: Ground totally awash: Large stream: Wind WSW, F2: Visibility ≥25Nm: Still stunned, and incredulous loosing Simon to Lancaster; a fit, methodical, focused friend. The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Popeye continued the 0.5m face into the narrows, about 0.3m beyond the “first rib on the west wall, and to just level with the signalling box. The ladder to replace the two 2.3m extant ones is under construction; its installation will require the present floor level to remain undisturbed on which to place the aluminium ladder from which to secure the lower support stemples. The session produced thirty kibbles comprizing nineteen gravels and clays: to Kilshanny House for a very nice pint.
Hours 7 (2458), Southend (1408), Kibbles 30 (4811), Nets 0 (817), Total 5628.
11th January Harelawhill Limestone Mines
Excellent walk in mine today in Scotland. Looks like limestone. In at 12noon and out by 1pm. Lots more to explore... me and Mika did the walking bits! Approx 1hr of mostly 30ft by 30ft passage on a bit of an angle through the limestone.
There's around four ways in. I went in one way and out another. The passages show signs that there might be some natural passages too. Phreatic tubes exist but I didn't go on my hands and knees which is probably for the next trip.
For History of the Harelawhill site see https://canmore.org.uk/site/67840/harelawhill
13th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Dusk: Storm Brendan present: Wind WSW, F8; gusting F10: Wind chill factor significant: Temperature ≈ 7°C. Cloud base ≈ 900ft: Brief, heavy rain showers: Visibility ≤10Nm: Ground waterlogged: Large stream: Conditions above and below, challenging: The Plan: Dig. TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. TB swiftly moved the 0.5m face toward the base of the ladder way, stopping just short of it to leave room on which to erect the aluminium ladder to assist removal of the two extant 2.3m ladders, and installation of their replacement, a 4.6m ladder. Popeye recommenced digging the south end; removal of spoil exposing the known undercut further, which descends at some 20° toward the east; further exposure suggests there may be a possible rift forming. The communications system proved itself during the session as, at times, wind noise produced levels equal to an express train, clearly audible -20m below. Thirty lifts were achieved; one net and twenty nine kibbles, of which twenty two were, assorted gravels and clays, two kibbles were of heavy blue clay. The enclosed gravel and clay deposition area is swiftly filling, encroachment onto the path to the dig, from the stile, needs avoiding as does creating an excessive slope up onto the increasing elevated spoil surface up which to run the barrow. PC will request permission from Jonathon to clear an area, ten x five metres, within the adjacent dense copse on the west of the boundary wall, (ground level presently, at least, one metre lower than the existing spoil dump), to extend the spoil area. Generator shows just below ½: fuel on site: To a windswept Roadside.
Hours 7 (2465), Southend (1415), Kibbles 30 (4840), Nets 1 (818), Total 5658.
16th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Dusk: Cold: Ground sodden: Large stream: Wind SSE, F 4 gusting 6: Cloud base 1200ft: Visibility ≥30Nm: The 4.6m fixed ladder is constructed and delivered to dig. The Plan: Clear debris from the “Cleft”. Just prior to deploying CC into the north shaft a small amount of soil debris fell off a face of the overburden surrounding the depression, cascading past the position where CC would have been suspended: clearing the “Cleft” is postponed until the “questionable” area is checked. Plans change, so an inspection was conducted, using a plumb line, of positioning the new ladder to accommodate the change in shape of the lower walls in the shaft. CC returned to surface, TB began to clear out the south rift sending up ten kibbles of awful clays, doing so floor debris fell away, allowing Popeye to see down between three and four metres, perhaps five. Generator just below 1/4 full: fuel on site: New ladder suspended in the roof of the weather canopy. The closing of the open northern rift at surface requires completion this spring.
Jonathon has granted PC permission to create spoil/moot wall in the adjacent western copse. The plan will be to clear foliage to within a metre of the northern boundary wall. Deposition will commence from the party wall separating the two areas; Jonathon’s land to the west, Considine’s to the east. Of import is that the Donkeys seek do shelter within the copse from inclement weather, so perhaps one way to consume some of the stone would be to build a small cabin for them?
Hours 7 (2472), Southend (1422), Kibbles 10 (4850), Nets 0 (818), Total 5668.
18th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC, TB and PC
18:00. Dusk: A fine stretch coming to the day: Temperature, -1°C: Almost no wind: Visibility infinite: Ground sodden: Medium stream: Cloudless firmament: The Plan: Dig TB digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. Popeye continued digging at the south end excavating beneath the undercut, from the eastern gap there now issues a welcome, warm draught. An improved view of the depth between the boulders allows a more accurate estimate of 2.5 metres; still a good depth. PC remained near the shaft collar as it was the warmest place around during operations. The demand for a program of maintenance increases regarding the preparation of the new clay/gravel spoil area, the new southern boulder pile area and installation of the replacement ladder, and its lower neighbour to name but three. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site. Another 127 kibbles will bring us to 5000, (190 tonnes); 180 nets will mean 1000, (68 tonnes). PC departs Spain Monday; Popeye departs UK Tuesday. The session produced two heavy nets and twenty three kibbles, of which nine were clays and gravels. To the Kilshanny House; on entering the Bar the team encountered funereal celebrations; thoughts turned to Simon’s family.
Hours 7 (2479), Southend (1429), Kibbles 23 (4873), Nets 2 (820), Total 5693.
20th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
TB & CC
Dry and Sunny!!!! A quick afternoon trip to carry out measurements for the new stemples which will support the re-positioned ladder below the staging at minus 14 metres. CC descended first to do the measuring and then managed to clear out a few stubborn rocks, which were jammed in the south rift. TB then began to lower the floor at the North end below the ladder, sorting out the rocks from the mud and gravel and sending ten kibbles of shite to surface. A quick pint in the roadside.
Hours 4 (2483), Southend (1433), Kibbles 10 (4883), Nets 0 (820), Total 5703.
Good draught from the East rift, lots of cobbles/boulders left stacked? below. Aluminium ladder now 2 feet lower & no longer at right angles to the main ladder, but well footed on a boulder slab.
Sad news, former Pegasus member Russell (Mr Pastry) Smith passed away quietly in his sleep today. RIP Russell.
22nd January Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante
PMC and PC
Located at 166m, atop a steep, conical hill it’s an imposing fortification; precisely what the builders wanted it to be. Local enquiries of Castle of Santa Barbara describe it as the largest medieval castle remaining intact in Europe, which eventually led the team to an anonymous steel door set in a rock face, located below a two kilometre long terrace of ten story buildings, adjacent the main coast road through the city of Alicante.
Seemingly, regularly developed and enlarged from the original 9th century Moorish fort, it was reportedly abandoned by the mid 19th century, though graffiti carved in the parade ground flagstones attest some form of military occupation in 1937, (Spanish Civil War 1936/1939).
Where the underground aspect enters this log is that behind the tatty steel door a recent stainless steel lined 250 metre tunnel leads arrow straight to the bottom of a 143m lift shaft. Arrival at the summit is precisely central within one of the medieval towers; quite the feat of engineering. All walls, fosses, defences and buildings contained within this complex are in a superb state of preservation. Well worth the visit.
25th January Museo de Agua
PMC and PC
This obscure, small museum allows access to three ancient underground cisterns that once stored, and supplied water to the settlement of Alicante. Carved from what appears to be a fine, granular light coloured limestone, (geologist required), they were dug downward, through a one metre opening, (well top), expanding, conically, in diameter to some seven metres at a final depth of about ten metres. Today these three surviving cisterns have been breached at their lowest levels to allow the public to walk from the museum through each to the largest cistern. This one was supplied with beautifully carved steps from a medieval doorway to the cisterns base. Within the middle cistern is an example of stone trough/gulley and stone capping covers. A very nice bit of ancient plumbing.
30th January Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Dusk: Cold: Ground sodden: Medium stream: Wind SW, F 4: Visibility ≥20Nm: Fuel CC. The Plan: Dig. CC digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Good to be back. Prior to the impending installation of the 4.6m ladder CC had prefabricated the three stemples; now on site. Tonight’s session removed the pile of boulders dug out by Popeye on the 20th January and also cleared the area directly beneath to accept the next 2.3m ladder, which will reach to floor. Digging out the floor, where the ladder will be secured, CC managed to glimpse both walls, each appear to be widening, very slightly. The session produced twenty lifts of which were four very heavy nets, two kibbles of gravels and clay, and fourteen of rock. The generator shows ¼ full: fuel on site. Platform surface has become treacherous: to a deserted Roadside, for a very nice pint.
Hours 5 (2488), Southend (1438), Kibbles 16 (4899), Nets 4 (824), Total 5723.
1st February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. St. Brigit’s Day: Dusk: Cold: Wind W, F2: Ground awash: Visibility ≤20Nm: Cloud base 1000ft: Large stream: The Plan: prepare for new 4.6m ladder. CC descended to the staging, at -14m, receiving Hilti drill, materials and other kit. Stowing much of said kit, CC continued to floor level, (-21m). PC followed; previous visit to the bottom being 14th Sept 2019: the shaft viewed from the staging is truly awe inspiring. Removal of the floor by over two metres, since Sept 19, has further exposed the south end’s sculpted development, beautiful radial water worn forms step back sequentially beneath each other toward the southeast forming a quarter of the shaft’s circumference between the Signal Box around to the tall, vertical opening of the south rift. The walls of this rift have become vertically parallel, and appear likely to continue beneath the present floor level. The small eastern crevice also appears to be developing beneath, toward the northeast. The floor area of the South End area has increased; estimated at 2m x 3m. When viewed from the staging the floor shape resembles that of a keyhole: photo desperately required. Back at the -14m staging PC drilled two 16mm holes for a new stemple secured directly above, and tight down against the staging timber floor to act as topmost, accessible fixing to secure the new ladder. With fascinating, at times unnatural contortions, CC, managed to balance atop the yet surviving, trusty, really, really wobbly, builder’s ladder, to remove two existing, unwilling 180mm ladder bolts, and replace the lowest stemple at -18.5m; ascending to -16m attempted removal of the middle stemple’s bolts, one successfully removed, the other remaining though likely as easy to withdraw. Owing to the potential risk of falling kit, each task was conducted in turn; no injuries incurred. The volume of remaining work required for the operative, exposed on the -14m staging is significant warranting installation of two anchors for said operative’s cowstail. It is a very small platform presently at seven metres up the shaft, originally designed to accommodate the essential offset of the vertical ladder and offer access to the northern shaft. It was never, ever considered a working platform: there is, in effect enough room for a pair of size 11’s. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site. To Kilshanny House for a well earned pint.
Hours 5 (2493), Southend (1443), Kibbles 0 (4899), Nets 0 (824), Total 5723.
Lost Willie “Chicken” Scales, the owner of Coolagh River cave main entrance.
3rd February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
13:00. Cloud 80%: Wind W, F4 gusting F6: Cold: Hail showers: Ground sodden: Large stream: Visibility >30Nm: The Plan: secure the ladder. A discussion was conducted prior to starting; so each part of the complex process was fully understood by both. There followed a series of tasks whereby CC, below, released and separated both existing ladders by performing great feats of acrobatics. Communications were acceptable; each request verbally repeated to avoid mistakes. A 2.3m ladder weighs about 20Kgs, when released each were winched to surface. The 4.6m, (40Kgs), was lifted from the bottom of the shaft carefully into its final position projecting above the -14m staging stemple for marking its fixing holes; then raised further for drilling of the two 10mm holes; not an east task, then lowered again for its final securing with 180mm bolts, through the ladder frame and through the steel stemple. After a very productive three hours the ladder was finally secured; the fixing of the middle and lower stemples will be much easier now the precision manoeuvring is completed. No Roadside, Crikey!
Hours 6 (2499), Southend (1449), Kibbles 0 (4899), Nets 0 (824), Total 5723.
6th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Dusk: Cold: Storm Kera approaches: Wind E/SE, F2 gusting F4: Cloud 100%: Visibility >25Nm: Ground sodden: Medium stream: The Plan: Continue ladder installation. CC below PC up top. Following deployment of tools, materials and equipment, and ultimately CC, into the depths meant PC could only watch and cheer from on high as CC conducted his performance in the much acclaimed “Monty Chester’s Flying Sircuss”. The simple task of “only fitting a few bolts” actually required much balancing, and obscene contortions to successfully drill and install said fixings to ensure the ladder was correctly vertical. Secured top and bottom, the middle stemple was then removed for drilling back at CC’s workshop to accept the new location of the ladder now some 150mm further eastward. CC noted the warm draught, whilst outside the wind chill approached -100°C! Depth from shaft collar to average floor level is -20.6m. This is about +1.4m above the level of the “Pinch” in the northern shaft, and +5.4m above the pint where the stream is seen to disappear toward the south end. The lifeline needs washing. Generator shows ¼ full: no fuel on site.
Hours 5 (2504), Southend (1454), Kibbles 0 (4899), Nets 0 (824), Total 5723.
8th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
11:00. Storm Ciara imminent: Wind S, F4, gusting 6; increasing: Cloud base ≤1000ft: Showers: Visibility <5Nm: Ground sodden: Medium stream: Fuel PC. Torrential rain predicted for tonight with 120km winds: The Plan: change visit to the afternoon, avoiding the worst of Storm Ciara to complete ladder installation. CC below PC up top. CC to -20m, receiving tools and materials lowered from surface; ascending then to -16m to finish fixing the ladder’s central stemple. Though awkward, multiple holes were drilled, bolts inserted and secured; task complete. Prior to the next plan survey of the shaft, at -20m, a datum was established at floor level to mark the centre line of the hauling way. From this datum changes of shaft size, shape and inclination as it deepens may be accurately recorded. Significant rainfall is promised from 14:00 over the next twenty four hours, so the signal box was raised to -10m to avoid water damage from potential flooding, as occurred end of August 2019. Prior to surfacing CC decided to descend the northern shaft to assess the amount of spoil remaining in the “Cleft”, between the two shafts, down to the “Pinch” at -22m. looking through the “Cleft” a depth of 0.5m is estimated below the floor of the southern shaft to where the “Cleft” heals up, become the squeeze, The “Pinch”. Generator ¾ full: no fuel on site. To the Roadside for a very fine pint of Gold
Hours 4 (2508), Southend (1458), Kibbles 0 (4899), Nets 0 (824), Total 5723.
Anyone want a few rocks, plenty more where they came from!
10th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Third day of Storm Ciara: Wind W, F8 gusting 10: Rain: Hail: Ground awash: Severe local flooding: Three inches of rain recorded between midnight Saturday 8th and 08:00am Sunday: Fuel CC. The Plan: Dig: CC digging; PC winching, unloading and barrowing. At the end of the previous session, (8th Feb), CC positioned several “tell-tales” at various heights around the shaft as indicators of potential flooding. This was to test the suspicion water found within the signal box, 31st August 2019, was due to the shaft flooding on the 30th August 2019 following four inches of rain. At the time this idea seemed a little off the wall. On the 8th Feb 2020, as a precaution, the signal box was raised from -19m to -10m. Arriving at the shaft floor CC found all “telltales” on the floor, among the kibbles; one kibble actually stuck/jammed in the south rift some two metres off the floor. Work began. Communications were poor; noise from the 120/130km/hr gale was constant, and deafening; clearly audible at -20m. Peaks of the gale occurring at 19:07, 19:45 and 20:05; this increased the bouncing of the entire platform. Of the twenty lifts two were very heavy nets, of the kibbles six were gravels and clay the remainder rocks. The area through the “Cleft” into the north shaft is all but cleared of debris through to the top of the “Pinch”; it will be interesting to see how this “healing” up of the “Cleft” in the north side, at this depth, is represented in the south end, in the area below the proposed ladder route. Departing for the bar PC’s boot disappeared through a pallet; item needs replacement. Generator ½ full: fuel on site.
Hours 5 (2513), Southend (1463), Kibbles 18 (4917), Nets 2 (826), Total 5743.
13th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Daylight: Storm Dennis approaching: Cold: Wind SW/W, F2: Ground water logged: Medium stream: Cloud base 2000ft: Visibility >25Nm: The Plan; Dig. CC digging PC winching, unloading and barrowing. Operating in the “Kill Zone” in the base of the hauling way, CC removed the remaining debris from the “Cleft”, exposing where east and west walls finally join to continue down as a narrow joint. This level was cleared to the south to accommodate installation of the next 2.3m ladder, which will mean fixed ladder to a depth of ≈ -21m. Of the twenty kibbles raised nine were clays and gravels. Generator just below ½ full: fuel on site. PC obtained 2 x pallets as replacements, more required.
To the Roadside for Golden pints
Hours 5 (2518), Southend (1468), Kibbles 20 (4937), Nets 0 (826), Total 5763.
15th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
14:00. Storm Dennis: Cold: Wind SW, F8 gusting 10: Ground awash: Large stream: Visibility <20Nm: Cloud cover 70%. Localized flooded: Tonight’s session was cancelled owing to increasing storm force winds and predicted rainfall. Noted within the storm pattern, a two hour break was estimated to pass between 14:00 and 16:00. Rather than loose an entire session the plan changed to replacing the broken pallet above the 26m shaft during the lull. At 14:00 the wind had not dropped, so rolling the shiny new pallet across the open field became challenging; the wind fell away at 14:25, just as the pallet was eased into place. Removal of the pallet allowed further assessment of covering the entire northern shaft opening; an important political - legal factor; the dig site regularly surrounded by inquisitive cattle. Previous rain events, one of 4 inches, (Aug 19), and the most recent 3 inches on the 9th/10th Feb, flooded the base of the shaft to a depth of, at least 2m. Neither inundation lasted long, both freely draining away without leaving any silt residue. The rainfall of the previous twelve hours had been slow and steady; no sudden downpour, so it may be that the Coolagh River system doesn’t back up flooding Considine’s as previously surmized. Perhaps the simple answer is that it’s the present, restricted drainage though the shaft’s fill of clays and gravels that slows any flood pulse. Other minor maintenance tasks were conducted; debris blocking the piped stream was cleared; to finish the session the area behind the winch was assessed for spoil deposition; it is a large area of reasonable accessibility. To the Roadside for some chilled pints.
Hours 2 (2520), Southend (1470), Kibbles 0 (4937), Nets 0 (826), Total 5763.
17th February Considine's Cave (South End)
CC and PC
16:30. Dam cold: Wind W/NW, F2 gusting 4: Cloud 70%: Visibility >30Nm: Hail and Rain showers: Ground sodden: Medium stream: The Plan: produce a survey of the shaft’s dimensions at -20.5m, and install the next fixed ladder. PC arrived early to record the shaft, abseiling in rather than climbing without a lifeline. At -20.5m the almost levelled floor allowed for a swift survey, constructed using a cross laser level and fixed tape from which offset horizontal measurements were taken. The total, horizontal length from the entrance of the south rift to the north shaft, measured through the impassable “Cleft” is 8m metres; 5.3m of which constitutes the south end: 1.2m is the length of the “Cleft”. The shape appears significantly changed from the survey at -18m. CC arrived just as PC surfaced, CC swiftly descended to begin fitting the next 2.3m ladder; this now reaches the present floor level. Outstanding is the prefabrication and fitting of the ladder stemple and final bolting together to secure it to the wall and the ladder above. Generator almost ¼ full: fuel on site. To the Roadside; this weather is when the toasty fire is sorely missed.
Hours 5 (2525), Southend (1475), Kibbles 0 (4937), Nets 0 (826), Total 5763.
20th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00. Cold: Wind NE, F4 gusting 6: Visibility <20Nm: Rain showers: Ground sodden: Large stream: The Plan; Maintenance. PC descended to drill 2 x 16mm holes for the stemple an awkward task as the “Cleft” is 475mm wide, the drill and bit 500m long. Even using the laser level there was much phaffing about levelling both the holes, then trying to operate the drill at arms length behind the ladder. CC investigated the communications and signalling system; recent exchanges being unintelligible. While PC is away in Panamá CC will inspect the comm’s system. Generator almost ¾ full: no fuel on site: to the Roadside.
Hours 3 (2528), Southend (1478), Kibbles 0 (4937), Nets 0 (826), Total 5763.
24th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
Cold: Wind westerly, F2 gusting 4, pulling in Polar air: Cloud 60%, decreasing: Ground wetter than a Haddock’s bathing costume: Very large stream: Rain and sleet showers: The Plan; complete ladder installation. This straightforward task was hampered by PC who had misunderstood the precise location of the next stemple; (second rung up). Located in the narrow approach to the “Cleft”, meant though PC checked the gap, as recorded by CC, the same width was also at the fourth rung up, which PC mistakenly took as the correct position, and so drilled the 2 x 16mm holes. CC descended, discovered the error and accommodated this location. This involved an awful lot of buggering about involving hassle with drilling the holes in the ladder etc. To finish up, the comm’s were checked and found to contain water, again, even though suspended after the previous session three metres above the floor; the box was removed for refurbishment. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site. To the Roadside where Billy announced his surprize departure; by reason other than his own.
Hours 4 (2532), Southend (1482), Kibbles 0 (4937), Nets 0 (826), Total 5763.
27th February Alan Bruce Harrison (Big Al) Dies.
27th February Considine’s Cave (South End)
CC and PC
18:00: Very cold: Wind N/NW, F2: Ground Awash: Visibility >35Nm: Cloud 20%: Large stream: The Plan: Dig. CC digging, PC winching, unloading and barrowing. The first digging session since the 13th February; hooray! Despite no electrical communications all went well; digging within the “Kill Zone”, CC removed the high section in the central part of the floor working from north to south. Average depth ≈ -21m. Of the twenty lifts, two were very heavy nets; one a single boulder: the kibbles of equal measure, rocks and assorted gravels. The gravels were deposited along the western party wall bordering JN’s land to create, in part, a mote wall to contain the Donkeys. Generator shows ½ full: no fuel on site. Tonight’s session somewhat muted following notification of the loss, at midday today, of “Big Al”, a good friend and really nice bloke: to the Roadside, where else?
Hours 5 (2537), Southend (1487), Kibbles 18 (4955), Nets 2 (828), Total 5783.
4th March Stone features surrounding Glacial erratic, Ballyryan
As the sun unexpectedly appeared, headed out to this site visited some six years ago with Tony Boycott during PC’s archaeological course at NUI Galway; then TB found the site while PC was assessing an adjacent enclosure, CL004-047---, ITM509219 x 703001. The brief inspection of the stone arrangements, at that time, suggested a possible burial place; ITM509235 x 702965.
A large glacial erratic has three stone features around it. The possible burial area is the linear stone feature on 080°, extending eastward for some three metres, and a single large stone wide. Closer assessment suggests it may be linked to the adjacent enclosure forty metres to the northwest. A small two metre enclosure, facing southwest may once have held lambs, or goat kids; this prospect relates to the nearby enclosure as its wall thickness is only of one stone. The Burren has many of such enclosures, called Moher’s, some remain in use. On the Aran Islands there are few gates, the norm to access fields is to remove a specific part of the wall, (one stone thick), and replace, a swift process.
5th March Conor’s Dig
With Cheg in the UK, and Tony Boycott arriving in a week or so; took advantage of the reasonable weather. Thought of a site dug with Conor McGrath some ten years ago; not so much thinking to create another Fraggle Rock, but to establish its location among the scheme of things along the coastline; recorded at ITM506560 x 698659.
From the parking area at the end of the road opposite McDermott’s in Roadford, cross the stile and head toward the sea. On the right of the lower area of field, set in the boundary hedge is a Court Tomb, (CL008-002001); circa 4000/3500 BCE. At this point cross over to, and through the left hand wall. Keep this wall on the right, follow until it ends, after some two hundred metres; from here maintain the wall alignment and descend the broken limestone shoreline, after a further sixty metres there is a lower, less broken limestone terrace, the site is here. Previously a passage was open for some twenty metres emitting a draught; hence Conor McGrath’s interest. Today the entrance is partly choked with large boulders; smaller debris lay beyond this.
6th March Lisnanroum area
NG & PC
A pleasant cold day, en-route to surveying the northern “souterrain” encountered NG at the parking place. Abandoned the project to guide NG to the potential “Holy Well” noted the 26th December 2019, when walking north toward the souterrain, CL009-021014, located on Luke Davoren’s land. After some twenty minutes located the spring; likely the reason for establishing the adjacent cabin; in this landscape water sources are scarce.
7th March Social gathering at The Miners Standard, Winster
Andy Walchester, Malc Scothon, Kelvin Eady, Sam Garrad, Dave Gough, Nigel Burns, Paul Thompson & Cheg Chester.
Having booked a cottage at Elton for a weeks holiday with Aileen it seemed like a good opportunity to meet up with a few members, new and old; although most off us are old, some more than others. There was a possibility that Lee Hollis would be there but due to the Corona Virus situation he cancelled his visit. His comment was he had no intention of spending two weeks locked up in some remote army barracks. During the week, Kelvin had collected the four diving bottles from Kev Gannon at Whalley in Lancashire which Pat Cronin had made available for use by members of The Club. These are now back in Nottingham with Andy. Paul handed over a container of surveys given to the club by Jennny Dakin after finding them in her garage. How this metal container came into the possession of Bob Dakin we shall never know but beautifully sign-written along it’s length are ‘Kimberley Mineral Estates 1860’. It contained previously (as far as we know) the unpublished survey by Bob Dakin of the Pegasus Bridge extension to the Gouffre Berger which was discovered in 1964. There is also a French Berger survey where Bob has superimposed the Pegasus Bridge extension onto it. These will be added to the website in the near future.
A period of nearly four hours was spent in discussion about such subjects as future trips, Greasy Trev, Digging at Carsington, The Website, Cowclose Mine survey, Simon’s Dive, Caving in Ireland and many tales of the Pegasus Past. In all a very enjoyable Saturday Afternoon. Photos: Sam Garrad.
9th March Dudwood, Lane Elton
Aileen & Cheg Chester
In the early 60’s a group of Pegasus members rented from Stanton Estates, a cottage on Dudwood Lane, Elton, now part of the Limestone Way. The cost of rent was one pound (£1) per week shared between around ten people. Even so, cavers being what they are, collecting that money was no easy job back then; money was tight like the members. Whilst walking past this now much renovated cottage I encountered the owner doing a bit of gardening and inquired if he would be interested in a photo taken in 1963/4 when it was used by the Club. He said he knew about the cavers and had learnt a lot from what he dug up in the garden where we used to bury our rubbish, like dozens of army mess tins. They were so cheap that Melvin used to bring a new set every time rather than wash them up. See below for before and after photos, the current owner having taken over forty years of renovation. There is a tale where the bolt from the outside shit-house door possibly saved Melvin Batchfords life, but that will have to wait for another time.
Winter 1963/4 with Barbara Wright in the doorway
Photo: Terry Wright
March 2020. The current owner having lived there for over 40 years. Photo: Cheg Chester
Taken inside the cottage on Dudwood Lane after a long session in The Druids Inn at Birchover
Jon Fisk, ?, ?, ?, ?, Alan Harrison, Mick Cast, ? Photo: Melvin Batchford
9th March Panamá 2020
Roger Day, James Cobbett, Dig Hastilow & Pat Cronin
See expedition report for details of the Cueva Porton dive and the discovery of Cueva Porton’s sink Cueva Lenin.
After about a week encountered the serious manifestation of Covid-19; Panamá closed down; staying at James place repeated flight cancellations and lack of information promulgated by KLM did not help. Much phaffing about whilst fortunately staying in James place, Panamá City. DH managed to get a flight some three days before RD and PC got out on the last diplomatic flight from Tucumen Airport; a Dutch Embassy chartered flight. The airport then officially closed until further notice.
14th March Carsington Great Cavern & Carsington Pasture Cave
Sam Garrad (Surface duties), Andy Walchester, Malc Scothon, Stephen Beardsley, Nathan Bartlett & Kelvin Eady
With the exception of Nathan, who walked up to the pasture from Brassington, we parked-up at Harborough Rocks pull-in. Sam decided to do some panel adjustments to his rear bumper while he was finding the right spot to park. We changed and took the pasture track to Carsington Great Cavern.
A longer scaffold bar was used this time that would suitably bridge the lid entrance shaft. Using an electron ladder, Malc descended first and retrieved the drag tray stored at the base of the 7 metre shaft. The intention was to have it transferred to the digging area below the choke, together with several bags for storing the silt, creating a tiered terracing on the slope leading down the route of the dig. We Knew the water levels would still be too high in the dig, so it was just a Recce , tidy-up and retrieval of the rope and hangers previously left from the initial visit, back in January, for cleaning. This was in Preparation for the late spring / early summer push.
Malc continued down the slope and short drop to the head of the main pitch, waiting for the others. Nathan, Andy and kelvin followed in that order. Nathan and Andy continued down the pitch and Kelvin returned to the surface. Kelvin was keen to try out his SRT gear but obviously not to push it, after having a kidney transplant under 10 months ago!
Left to Right- Kelvin, Steve, Malc, Sam and Dog & Andy
Once Andy and Nathan had descended the 20m pitch and were in a safe place, Malc sent the drag tray down in what was intended to be a controlled descent by rope. Only to find what was thought to be one length of rope attached to the tray, there were two with no link. Gravity took over and the drag tray reached the bottom of the pitch in record time that would put a bobsleigh to shame. Fortunately, Andy and Nathan were at a safe distance to watch the performance. Andy and Nathan transferred the drag tray to the dig and generally explored the area including checking the water level below the choke.
Malc exited with unwanted materials to avoid clutter in the Cavern. In addition, there was work to do in the Pasture Cave. Steve, Kelvin and Malc descended the Pasture Cave. Steve, was to checkout Flasid and reduce the length of the conveyor belt which would open-up the floor area for further digging both in depth and forward to the entrance chamber. While Malc and Kelvin would install a scaffold pole to further stabilise the top of the climbing frame, leading down into Yorick Chamber.
Steve took one look at the conditions he would have to work in and made the decision to return in early summer. Kelvin and Malc managed to fit the pole despite the build-up of mud and water. After 40 minutes we retreated to the surface, expecting to see Andy and Nathan waiting for us, but no sign.
Malc Scothon exiting Carsington Great Cavern with Kelvin Eady at rear
Kelvin and Malc practising the alternative greeting technique, using the government Corona virus advice.
Kelvin Eady having just tested out the new kidney with a bit of SRT
Sam and his dog had been waiting patiently, despite the chill. After a further 45 minutes, Andy and Nathan reached the surface, only to be told by Andy that the delay was caused by his foot loop snapping twice!
Because Nathan had never visited the Pasture Cave he went down to explore and take photos of Yorick. Malc and Steve waited at the surface whilst the rest returned to the cars. Nathan surfaced after 15 minutes and was impressed with both sites, seeing plenty of potential. Like the rest of us, he was keen to return early summer.
Finished at 3:30pm
With the exception of Nathan, who had a prior appointment, we all vacated to the Hollybush pub in the Via Gellia.
17th March Considine’s Cave (South End)
Can't Organise Visits Involving Digging
Due to the current situation with Corona Virus the main digging team has decided to adopt the governments recommendation for social distancing. Therefore Pat Cronin is somewhere in the Panamanian Jungle, Tony Boycott is in Bristol, UK and Cheg Chester is in County Clare, Ireland.
Visited the dig site today and checked the integrity of the perimeter again donkey intrusion as the weather as been atrocious and the beasts tend to take refuge in the blackthorn thickets surrounding the dig. I am sure they would love to take up permanent residence under the winch hut but not sure the platform (Pallets) would support their weight or a dead one would fit in a kibble! Started the generator and ran the winch for a few minutes, all OK. With the aid of a pack-frame carried the large heavy twelve volt battery that runs the comms back for a charge. The state of the ground across the field that gives access to the dig is the wettest I have ever seen but a glance down the shaft showed no flooding.
24th March The Funeral of Alan Bruce Harrison (Big Al)