January to March
1st January Slieve Elva Mountain
First trip of the year: Cloud 75%: Wind NW, F2: Cold: Visibility >35Nm: Ground sodden. The Plan: Reconcile actual location of Faunarooska to MQ6. Suspecting difficult walking conditions, took no rucksack, just the staff, (curtain pole). Began walk from the first gate on the green road. Ground conditions awful; slow progress across knee deep heather and bog. Encountered many small depressions filled with limestone boulders; continued to the shale boundary. Identified Faunarooska by a bit of caver’s rope attached to the barb wire closing the fence near its entrance. Worked north encountering lots of minor boggy depressions along the shale – limestone boundary; some three hundred metres north located another hole, (MQ7). The opening is some two metres deep with the sound of a small stream; little rain recently. This site requires a rope to accurately check its true potential: creeping toward the tantalizing opening, across the soft floored surface, the heart raced a little when a foot disappeared through the grass onto nothing solid below. Reed stems are surprizingly strong; retrieved foot: cautiously retreated. Much of this area, beyond an electric fence line is un-grazed. This means the heather, grasses and sphagnum moss have become a rich, regular, knee deep pile carpet. Pressed on and located MQ6, some hundred metres further on. Returned to MQ7, orientated self and headed downhill, to check a small hazel filled depression; no opening but could repay digging. Another depression was found further west, all aligned on a bearing of 080° / 260° magnetic, over a distance of perhaps, three hundred metres. Found yet another depression some two hundred metres west-ish of Faunarooska; fifteen metres diameter and seven metres deep: possible opening in the base of its east side: will return with GPSR to record these sites and Pollballiny. On the way in could not locate Hawthorn Swallet, perhaps filled in?
3rd January Slieve Elva Mountain
14:00. Cloud 5%: Wind N, F2: Temp -1°C: Ground frozen: The plan: accurately GPS sinks feeding Faunarooska, to confirm recently recorded sites as being “unconnected”.
Used the Garmin Oregon 300, calibrated it and took a reading of the first stile along the green road to check accuracy against the digital imagery of Archaeology.ie; established as reading two metres less eastward. Headed back to Faunarooska, GPS’d the entrance then worked north; during the process discovered another possible hole, found and accurately recorded MQ7, previously, without a GPS, (2nd Jan), needed to guesstimate its position; human error was eight metres east and five metres north. Returned to the Hilux by way of Poulballyelly; recording a different position some seven metres further east and three metres south, placing it correctly in the narrow, dry gully and not on the adjacent ridge. Took the coast road to avoid ice issues up the mountain road from Kilmoon; big mistake. Sheltered sections of the road, particularly between the coast and Ballynalacken castle were a death trap; stopped bus at Ballynalacken to warn of road conditions. Stopped, and asked to recover a bent car from a ditch and convey the four passengers to Lisdoonvarna; each miffed when informed the only seats available in this Covid climate was the tailgate.
4th January One year since we lost Simon Halliday
Today a memorial walk was completed on one of his favourite runs around Pendle Hill, finishing wilh a celebratory bottle of beer on the fell. Given Covid and local restrictions, the team was small consisting of Paula and Adam Milligan, Mick Lee and Ceily Sudell.
8th January Ballyhagline, Doolin
After departing the Rescue Station scampered along the coast to check the status of the survey baseline installed by PC some years ago, from which to establish the positions of any Mesolithic finds. Surprized at the extent of storm damage; ten metres of the foreshore is swept clean along to the River Aille, which still flows through the huge storm debris ridge. It is possible to walk from the car park to the river on solid rock. Much of the limestone terrace close to the shore is broken apart and appears to have contributed to the huge amount of storm debris mounted up against the sand dunes, running parallel to the ocean. The only survey disc found was an intermediate datum, secured to the large rectangular, ten tonne limestone boulder, near the base of the ten metre sand dunes. The base line appears decimated. Some seventy metres east of the huge boulder is a small exposure of clay; this clay deposit is what the Mesolithic remains were found within. Michael Lynch informed of this new clay exposure.
9th January Souterrain CL004-016040
13:00. Bitterly cold: Wind SW, F4: Visibility >30Nm: Ground thawing. The Plan: establish depth of ground above the souterrain roof lintels to complete the profile - section survey. Significant areas remain frozen in the lee of Sliabh Eilbh. Excruciating wind chill encouraged speed of project. Replicated the souterrain passage route over the surface using fifty metre tape measure and compass; the single change in direction of the passage from 155° to 183°; indicated with a peg. The surface profile and underground survey based from the datum in the garth entrance. Erected the new toy; a Leica L2P5G laser level, securing the receiver to the survey staff. With this new equipment the ground profile was delightfully swift and accurate; very welcome in such desperate conditions. The breach or collapsed area of the souterrain is clearly surrounded by a feature, which abuts the Cashel rampart wall. It is likely to be a hut dwelling, however only excavation will answer the jumble of stones. It does appear possible that the souterrain passage once extended northward, beneath this walled feature, below and beyond the perimeter wall.
10th January Halliday's Hole, MQ4
CC and PC
Cloud base 200m: Visibility 300m: Wind SW, F3: Light showers: The plan: push MQ4. Laden with Hilti drill, ladder and a pile of kit the team walked in from Faunarooska Cross. While PC laddered, and descended the five/six metre pot to prepare the offending boulder, CC assembled his equipment. After the application of Dr. Chester’s, Wonder Boulder Eraser, entry was gained into the visible, confined area. Immediately beyond a sharp right hand bend turns south, through a gap of 250mm. Some three metres on, a nicely sculpted chamber is entered, with a bright Iron stained flowstone deposit; Nice. Four metres diameter – perhaps five high, its broken roof appears to be, oh so close to the surface. Another rift heads north for about three metres to a 1.5m step, beyond the rift tapers, horizontally to nothing over five - six metres; the stream sinks on, or about the short step. Surveying will allow closer examination of the potential to dig the point where stream sinks.
Simon was lost to Lancaster Hole a year ago; PC respectfully names this modest find as Halliday’s Hole.
Halliday’s Hole is not the cave from whence the sustained column of condensation was seen erupting, this site is located to the southwest. Digging WILL commence shortly.
This space is awaiting your next Log. Remember! "If it's not written down it never happened"