January to March
1st January Cullaun II
First trip of the year. Picked up the Hilux left at McDermott’s, had a few pints last night with LS and PMcG: extant restrictions require mandatory closing 20:00. Cloud 100%; Wind SW, F5/6: Showers: Visibility 5Nm: Ground awash: The Plan; continue search for Farr’s flash gun. MF provided an image taken near Pool Chamber; second location.
Small trickle in the entrance. At the cascades stream flowing onto the lower rib; the far side the cascade. A lot of mist; likely from the exterior air temp of 14˚C. Experienced difficultly reconciling imagery with reality; slowly moved downstream. Climbed a metre to a projecting limestone lump; standing on tip toe to peer onto a ledge. As the foot hold left the wall, landed upright in the stream, jolting ankle. Swiftly removed left sock, pulling over right sock; squeezing all back into right welly, before swelling erupted. Surfaced in heavy showers, worse part, the walk back to the motor.
3rd January CL016-020037, Souterrain, Leamaneh North Td.
Cloud 100%: Wind W, F4: Visibility 10Nm: Ground, limestone; dry: The Plan: meet the landowners. PMcG had arranged an introduction with his friends, the owners. Having previously spoken of the souterrain project. A cordial meeting; Bernie promptly inviting immediate examination of the sites: a pleasant, obliging couple.
Souterrain CL016-020037 is within Cashel, CL016-20026, Caherscreebeen on OS maps. Elevated, this cashel overlooks and possibly controlled use of the Ennis – Kilfenora road, and use of the north/south road at its adjacent junction, to Ballyvaghan on the north coast. The souterrain is in a deep hollow in the southwestern quadrant. Unprepared, the cursory look, illuminated by mobile phone, assessed it approximately three metres long, a metre high and maybe little over a metre wide. Corbelling, large lintels and what seems to be a sub-square hollow in the floor was noted: better illumination required. The cashel is in poor condition; centuries of grazing contribute to its present state. Originally maybe once six metres in height, the rampart is reduced to an anonymous rubble slope. Much of the rampart outer stonework is obscured by this tumble; some original sections survive, a fine section on the north side of the cashel. The original entrance located, as expected, facing east. The interior of the cashel is an uneven surface, several linear, north/south walls, sub divide the interior area. One surface feature may be a sub-square house.
Surveying this monument will present challenges, as will conveying the equipment.
9th January Considines (South End)
Cloud 100%: Wind NW, F4: Cold: Visibility <10Nm: Ground awash: medium stream: The Plan: sort water supply before tomorrow’s ginging session. Stole Pauline’s garden hose pipe to use in conjunction with the hose donated by PMcG: taken along just in case. Existing ½ inch pipe had become choked with fine particles of silt. Attempts to unblock, unsuccessful. The likely reason for accumulation, a control nozzle fitted to the discharge pipe outlet slowed the outfall, allowing precipitation of particles to take place. Removed knackered pipework. Removed reservoir, reinstated on compacted clay. Changed outlet to a quick release, standard hose connection. Ran new hose along ditch, through foliage, secured to branches, for support. As an afterthought, directed main flow to the washing cistern; believing future suspended debris can be captured with the silt off cleaning the kit. From the washing cistern ran a hose pipe to the main cistern, passing beneath the walkway pallets. Cleaned significant amount of accumulated silt from both cisterns. Flow to the main cistern is slow, but steady. Ideally, will replace extant ½ inch hose pipe with that of a larger diameter. Generator not run: no fuel on site.
Hours 3 (3086), Southend (2036) Kibbles 0 (6202), Nets 0 (923), Total lifts 7125
10th January Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 100%; base 500ft: Wind SW, F4, gusting 6: Visibility <3Nm: Ground awash: The Plan: Maintenance. CC descended to -24m to commence work, installing ginging to stabilize the loose fill exposed in “The Gap”. Meanwhile PC secured expanded mesh, donated by PMcG, along the length of an eight-foot scaffold plank; creating a slip free, barrow run. Installed same, and two shorter, forming a barrow run behind the winch shed. Began removing the briars from among the Blackthorn. PMcG appeared, helping clear the area, which is now ready for spoil deposition up to the path to the generator: a significant area. All cuttings left to compost beneath the forthcoming spoil. CC reported the lower area of “The Gap” has finally healed up. Overflow fitted to wash cistern, so the northern shaft much less wet. CC fuel. Generator ¾ full: no fuel on site.
Hours 7 (3093), Southend (2043) Kibbles 0 (6202), Nets 0 (923), Total lifts 7125
On arrival at -24m (the first time to the bottom in many months) the rebar pins fitted by PC to support the underside of the ginging were located. In order to create a safe base the infill to the rear of these pins had to be removed and it was to my surprise that at this point the "The Gap" closed down to around six inches. One foot below this "The Gap" closed completely! A suitable chock stone was found and fitted making the pins redundant. Selecting stone from a large pile sorted by PMcG the ginging was slowly fitted, the uppermost stone being level with the floor at the bottom of the fixed ladder. The very poor quality photos below show the site as a 'Before & After' view.
14th January Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 95%: Wind W, F2: Cold: Visibility <25Nm: Ground sodden: Small steam: The Plan: Dig. CC winching, PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Issue with signal box speaker, PMcG unable to receive down signal: resorted to vocal comms. With completion of the ginging of “The Gap”, the large heap of stone, collected for the purpose, was lifted to surface. Thirty kibbles were once again raised, including six of clays and gravels. PMcG experienced a cold, strong draught issuing from the northern shaft, this affect is considered to be the cold outside temperature falling down the shaft passing through the short connecting passage emerging into the south shaft at -22m. The east and west walls, adjacent “The Gap” are seen to continue vertically down, below floor level, the eastern wall appears to slowly slope outwards. There is the hint of a rift next to the wall of “Paul’s Pot”, perhaps, the area, against the east wall may develop into a rift? A tough, excellent session. Maintenance is needed to address weather canopy; maybe Monday? Barrow way good but needs minor improvement to plank support. Generator a little under ½ full: no fuel on site.
Hours 10 (3103), Southend (2053) Kibbles 30 (6232), Nets 0 (923), Total lifts 7155
17th January Considines (South End)
Cloud 95%, base 600ft: Wind WNW, F4: Cold: Visibility <25Nm: Ground sodden: Tiny stream: The Plan: maintenance. The weather canopy had suffered from Storms Arwen and Barra, torn laterally along the east side. Fitted timber to tripod, secured torn canopy to this with strips of batten. The west side also requires repair, as soon as possible. With the signal box on the surface CC checked the system, without finding any obvious fault. In in case the fault may be low battery capacity, carried both back to be charged. Oil checked in generator: No fuel on site. Field reservoir water level requires attention.
Hours 3 (3106), Southend (2056) Kibbles 0 (6232), Nets 0 (923), Total lifts 7155
21st January Considines (South End)
Cloud 100%: Wind NW, F2: Visibility 35Nm: Ground sodden: Tiny stream: The Plan: maintenance. An adapted visit. Ferried all the plastic paneling to repair the weather canopy to site, also returning the two charged, communications batteries: delayed, talking to Kathy Normoyle. Finally, met PMcG who had arrived earlier, cutting back the briars in readiness to repair the west side of the weather canopy. Also, rigging the shaft for SRT; watched the Fall and Rise of PMcG among the dark. During the trip PMcG took photos of numerous features; these to follow. Finish off his visit filling a kibble. Generator near full: PMcG fuel: no fuel on site. Plastic paneling offered up to the offending hole; the eight-foot lengths will be more than sufficient to enclose the gap.
Hours 3 (3109), Southend (2059) Kibbles 0 (6232), Nets 0 (923), Total lifts 7155
22nd January Souterrain CL004-016040; Caherbullog
Cloud 100%: Wind SSW, F2/3, cold: Sleet: Rain: Ground wet: Visibility 25Nm. Unsettled weather prompted parking at the northeast corner of the drover’s track, rather than at Faunarooska Cross. Walk in took half an hour. No nettles guarding the entrance. Exposed areas of the floor, quite dry. Erected walking Pole, (curtain rod), draped coat on it as a position locator; if ever required. Surfaced in response to a loud chorus of crows, found jacket torn apart, on floor. Set up laser level to project its vertical red line from where the upper area of corbelling supports the roof flagstone. Scrimping on weight of equipment, mistakenly thought a 100mm wooden wedge, pushed into a wall joint, would suffice: it didn’t. It does not project out far enough to allow the vertical line project parallel along the walls length; time lost, resolving, (phaffing), the issue. Visually, both walls appear similar. Examination shows corbelling, and construction different between each wall and also along their lengths. Stone dimensions differ significantly; there are also small areas of lesser stones, which appear used as make up among the more uniform stonework. The plastic triangle built and trialed to record height measurements of drystone jointing in the uneven wall surfaces, worked well. Realize need to draw a measure along its working, horizontal edge, thus removing the need to keep reaching for a tape measure; normally requiring a third hand. Exited to a heavy sleet shower; jacket in tatters; temperature bitter. Had decided to bring no tea: stupid mistake. Half hour back to the truck.
24th January Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 100%: Wind SW, F2: Visibility 15Nm: Ground sodden: Tiny stream: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. Initially encountered issues where hauling and travel lines twisted, approaching -6m: sorted. PMcG excavated the area of the outside wall of “Paul’s Pot”, following it around to the East Wall of the shaft. Of the two, the east wall not only appears to continue vertically into the spoil, but slopes outward toward the east; seemingly toward “The Crevice”, located within “Paul’s Pot”. Removed spoil consists of washed cobbles and boulders, among washed gravels; with little or no clay or silt present. Contrasting with the South Rift where the dense clay fill has often been of a dry consistency. The clean washed appearance of this spoil and proximity of “The Crevice”, suggests this may be the primary route of the ebb and flow of recent inundations which flooded the main shaft to -12m. Potentially this area may continue as a shaft below the level of “The Crevice, (-26m): survey required to precisely plot. Though a slow start, the session produced thirty kibbles and one net. Issues concerning the barrow way behind the winch shed: weather canopy needs completing: Winch drive belts need checking: Generator a little over ½ full: no fuel on site. Begun depositing boulders adjacent the path to the stile, these will also cover the dead pallets. Field reservoir needs attention.
Hours 10 (3119), Southend (2069) Kibbles 30 (6262), Nets 1 (924), Total lifts 7186
29th January Souterrain CL016-020025; Leamaneah North Td
Cloud 80%: Wind NW, F4: Cold: Visibility 10Nm: Ground damp. The Plan: walk the site. Called into Tom and Bernie, owners, en-route to the Cashel. Sections of the uphill slope from the road, appears to have had limestone bedrock quarried for building material. Leamaneah Castle, (15th to 17th C.), being the most obvious need, as its curtain wall, outer defensive and substantial field walls. Cashel, (CL016-020026), (entrance, ITM 523251 x 693819) (4th to 12th C) and the fortified Castle, (CL016-032003), (ITM 523467 x 063608), (15th to 17th C); built close to the junction, appear so constructed as to impose its status and exercise control of those using the junction of the East – West route between the ecclesiastical and secular centres of Ennis, Kilinaboy and Kilfenora, and the north route, passing the high status Cashel of Caherconnell, to Ballyvaghan. Cashel (CL016-020026), is ruinous, its interior surface uneven; particular its perimeter; it too seems robbed for valuable building stone. Rough and uneven, the interior can be surveyed by plane table. Recorded souterrain CL016-020037, (ITM 0523227 x 0693811). Worked the area north, through ancient field walls to the all but indistinct sub-square Cashel CL016-020036, and souterrain CL016-020025, (ITM 0523183 x 0693969). Some three metres in length, only four or five lintels remain, it is possible it extends westwards beneath the ground cover. Width 1.2m, height 1m; its walls are of drystone construction, no bedrock visible. Constructed/aligned almost E/W, unlike neighbour, CL016-020037, which is constructed/aligned almost North. The souterrains and cashels monument numbers are not consecutively grouped together, as normally experienced. Need exercise caution when researching adjacent sites.
Cashel CL016-020026, contains souterrain CL016-020037 (ITM 0523227 x 0693811).
Cashel CL016-020036, contains souterrain CL016-020025 (ITM 0523183 x 0693969)
Both souterrain sites are one hundred and sixty metres apart; NNW – SSE, of each other.
Court Tomb, (CL016-020029), (ITM 523316 x 693904), is one hundred, twenty metres northeast of the Cashel. Its accepted age of construction suggesting a farming present since 4500BCE.
31st January Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 100%: Wind NW F4: Visibility 10Nm: Ground sodden: Tiny stream: The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PMcG cleared the floor from the base of “The Gap”, along the east and west walls to -25.5m. Doing so has exposed the return of “The Gap”, widening gradually after briefly healing up: presently 0.225m wide at -25.5m. The undercutting of the eastern wall has assumed the vertical; close to “The Crevice”. A survey would precisely plot the East wall’s proximity to “The Crevice”. With the area levelled to bedrock, viewed by digger and surface, there is the faint hint of the outline of a sub-circular pothole. The steady work produced thirty-five kibbles, of which nine were a matrix of wet gravels, containing a minor amount of silt/clay. Of the seven sessions this month, four were maintenance, three digging. Barrow planking found to be stable; reducing effort expended when barrowing spoil. Generator ¼ full: no fuel on site. Digging light needs replacing, doing so will allow its lowering to three metres above the shaft bottom (-22.5). A cracking session.
Hours 9 (3128), Southend (2078) Kibbles 35 (6297), Nets 0 (924), Total lifts 7221
4th February Considines (South End)
Cloud 90%: Wind NW, F5/6: Dam cold: Visibility 20Nm: Ground awash: Medium stream: The Plan: maintenance. PC changed the shaft bottom light for a cluster of three halogen lights; positioning the lamp fitting three metres above the shaft floor. Securing a length of dive line to the light, to locate it away from the travel line ; illumination is excellent. Alas, one bulb failed, requiring replacement. Drilled and inserted five 12mm rebar steps, down the face of “The Gap”, at ten-inch centers. The lowest step some 50mm off the floor at -25m. Set up the laser level, to install a stainless steel screw, (datum), at -25m, located in the west wall, at the south end of “The Gulley”. The narrowest part of “The Gulley” is 0.4m. Drained the small pool, creating a gutter to the north. The wall which surrounds “Paul’s Pot” is now a minimum of 1.5m above present floor level. Washed mud and debris from the walls, to enhance photography. Previously noted by PMcG, the east wall, between “The Gap” and the outer wall of “Paul’s Pot”, gently sloped under to the east; now resuming the vertical: estimated distance from the east wall to the “The Crevice”, about two metres. The large, rectangular boulder, which has followed the dig downwards, these many months, was secured with a double loop of dive line and raised from -25m to -22.5m. Intending to use it as a threshold, securing the topmost stone of the ginging in place; located at the bottom of the second section of fixed ladder. As the boulder reached -24m the winch stopped from excessive weight; the remaining distance was gingerly negotiated by the senior winchman. Maneuvering the lump through “The Gap” was cautiously conducted, unfortunately mostly from beneath it. Returned the short, timber ladder to surface, creating more room. Generator ¼ full: no fuel on site. CC unavailable Monday: could, perhaps, conduct surveying into the north shaft?
Hours 5 (3133), Southend (2083) Kibbles 0 (6292), Nets 0 (924), Total lifts 7221
5th February County Pot to Lancaster Hole
Paul McWhinney (craven), Simon Parker (craven), Aaron Smith (Pegasus and Craven), Paul Richards (Pegasus), Larry Blanchard (Peak), Aaron Wigley (Peak), Jack Butt (guest)
We met at 915am at Inglesport Cafe and 1005am at Bull Pot Farm. The plan was to pre-rig Lancaster Hole before we entered County Pot but just before we set off on the walk 2 craven cavers appeared in a van and offered to rig Lancaster for us. So, off across the fell to County Pot we went. We started the entrance series with a second team (5 mainly Bradford cavers) who had mingled in with us but let us overtake them after the first pitch. The water level seemed slightly higher than average in Showerbath Passage to me. At Poetic Justice we used a mixture of technical skills to overcome it. After a nice wander down to Eurika Junction via ..... we had a five minute rest. Then off to Stop Pot, again noted that the water levels were higher than average. At the top of Stop Pot a little food and water was taken on board and then we continued through all the huge chambers onto The Minorettes. Photos and video clips were taken before we headed off to Stake Pot and the Painters Palette. We stopped to look at the big , superb formations. Beyond Stake Pot we soon arrived at the crawl and scramble down into Fall Pot. Paul M, Simon P and LB went ahead to look at Slug World and make an early start out of the 110ft Lancaster Hole entrance pitch while all others descended Fall Pot into the Main Drain passage below. 100m in both directions was all we managed, or thought sensible, as the water level was waist high. Oh what joy..... all the Main Drain group was now wet and cold. Off as quick as our feet could carry us and we were back up to the upper series via the fixed hand line and our own additional rope. We saw a YSS team or Bradford team descending Cow Pot and then got ourselves to the bottom of Lancaster entrance pitch. PW, SP and LB already out followed by AW, AS (who waited half way for JB), then JB and PR. This was JB's (20 year old outdoor activities student) first proper caving trip and first SRT trip. All safely out into the cold wind and rain after a 6 hour trip. Only issue was the rope. A Smith decided that the other group (probably YSS seen hanging around near the entrance series of Lancaster Hole) may need to use our rope to exit? This meant that a craven team would need to retrieve the rope the following day. (This worked OK as a plan to do this was hatched). A super day underground and a stormy, wet day above ground.
Aaron Smith in The Minorettes, Ease Gill upper series.
Photo: Simon Parker
The pretty bit at the far end of Slug World, Lancaster Hole.
Photo: Paul McWhinney
Larry Blanchard at Bobs Boss, Ease Gill upper series.
Photo: Simon Parker
Aaron Wigley, Jack Butt, Simon Parker and Paul McWhinney in Ease Gill upper series. Photo: Aaron Smith
11th February E3 – E2 – Pollbinn – New Hole
PMcG & PC
Cloud 100%: Wind WNW, F4: Ground wet. The Plan: accurately establish the location of E2 and northern limit of Poulnagollum. Delighted PMcG called; announcing available to play this afternoon. Explained plan; inviting him join the trip. Some time back Michael Fitz’, owner of Caherbullog souterrain, announced a cave entrance on his land. Have since wondered if E2 could be the one, and the same? Parked at Poulnagollum, took the Drover’s Road, passing out Caherbullog farm. Examined the large, unrecorded sink, adjacent Poulnagollum, found its potential openings choked. Followed the road; located E3; continued, located E2; some distance north from its published ITM; delighted to establish this northern limit of the Poulnagollum system. Disappointed to note domestic refuse in the E3 depression. The cave entrance reported by MF, is somewhere northeast of E2; cracking to be sure of a potential new site. Next task, relocate Pollbinn; long since visited. Modern forestry helped obscure the memory. Quickly found Pollbinn, barely thirty metres within the forestry margin, surrounded by a drystone wall. Further on, thrilled to encounter a good size, unrecorded stream sink. Plenty of evidence indicates it takes a lot more water than the present stream. Pulling aside lumps of humus, enabled a vertical view of two metres to a gently sloping bedding, seemingly a half a metre high and maybe a metre wide; all beautifully sculpted and thoroughly washed clean. Its approach is a nice illustration how a stream leaves the shale upland, meanders across karst, finally locating an opening: the area an absolute delight. Will return with the team and kit: beware the lively fencing.
14th February Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 80%: Wind WNW, F4/5: Cold: Visibility 35Nm: Ground sodden: Small stream. The Plan: Dig. PMcG focused on the area in front of “The Gap”, aiming to create a working face of a metre depth to progress the dig southward. Around -24.5m, the eastern wall resumes undercutting eastward, toward the area of “The Crevice”; located within “Paul’s Pot”. Thirty kibbles were produced; ten of a gravel/cobble matrix; the remainder boulders. To facilitate digging this area in front “The Gap”, intend to install a belay to redirect the Travel line into this area, reducing the need to drag kibbles up onto the surface of “The Gulley” at -25m, to reach the hauling line. At end of session, floor level of the northern half of the main shaft was lowered to ≈ -25.5m: only 7.5m to equal the depth of Poulelva. Generator ¾ full: Fuel PMcG: no fuel on site.
Hours 9 (3142), Southend (2092) Kibbles 30 (6322), Nets 0 (924), Total lifts 7251
21st February Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 100%, base 600ft: Wind W, F2: Visibility 2Nm: Ground sodden: Large stream. The Plan: Dig. PMcG resumed digging the area in front of “The Gap”, but not along “The Gulley, southwards. Previous wet gravels and cobbles continued being removed until around -26m, where an increased percentage of clays and silts turned the mass glutinous. PMcG gradually exposed curious features; the previously imagined shape, suggesting a shaft, or pot appears to have been accurate. The east wall at around -26.5m appears to be cutting sharply underneath, toward “The Crevice”. The west wall seems to be continuing vertically downwards, at the same time developing a radius which flows around to “The Gap”. The initial lift was a one hundred and twenty kilo boulder; hauled using a 2:1 system. Reinstalled the 1:1 system, raising thirty kibbles, consisting of gravels and cobbles. Many thoughts arose, concerning the practicalities of hauling from this new pot, as did issues digging the south rift area. The depth today is estimated as about -26.5m; close to the maximum depth in the North End shaft, and close to the depth of “Paul’s Pot”. Generator almost ¾ full: Fuel CC and PC: one can fuel on site. Further digging this area requires thought, installing a belay to secure the Travel line, to aid the digger. Rough sketch drawn.
Hours 9 (3151), Southend (2101) Kibbles 30 (6352), Nets 1 (925), Total lifts 7282
25th February Considines (South End)
Cloud 100%: Wind W, F2: Visibility 20Nm: Ground sodden: medium stream. The Plan: Survey/Maintenance. CC support, PC below. Established a plumb-line down “Paul’s Pot” off the -22.5m datum, a stainless-steel screw; in situ. The floor of the squeeze, through to the cavity beyond, was measured at -26m, 1.9m in length, along a bearing of 111˚Mg; reciprocal recorded as, 291˚Mg. The line of “The Crevice” was sighted along, as best as practicable; with a bearing of 021˚Mg. “The Crevice” was examined; providing a clearer idea of its form and nature. “The Crevice” has formed in conjunction with “Paul’s Pot”. This minor, localized widening is on the thin vertical joint, coming from the North End shaft. “The Crevice” tapers in width, over its 500mm length, from 40mm to 100mm. A small stream, estimated similar in flow to that sinking in the North End was clearly heard chuckling away. Below “The Crevice” its east and west walls are seen to widen, seemingly quite quickly; silt covered cobbles slope gently down to the north. PMcG previously noted the fill is loose in this cavity, just beyond the squeeze from “Paul’s Pot”; but can wait. Observations of the east wall, in the present dig location, strongly suggests this will continue to undercut and meet up with the development below “The Crevice”.
From the -24m datum, adjacent “The Gap”, the floor of the present dig site in the South End, was established at -26.2m; 0.2m deeper than “The Crevice” in “Paul’s Pot”. A Chert bed has occurred at -25.4m; also visible in “Paul’s Pot”. The thin vertical joint, developing off the dig area along a south-easterly direction, is widening as it deepens and heads toward “The Crevice”. “The Gap” continues its path down, at an average of 0.2m wide; a further step installed today. The rebar steps now constitute a climb of almost four metres. Below the Chert bed the outer wall of “Paul’s Pot” slopes toward the east, following, perhaps helping form the undercutting. Two 16mm holes were drilled to create a belay for the travel line. This slightly offset, from the near vertical route, will mean the digger does not having to climb up, out of this sump, onto “The Gulley” at -25m, to connect a kibble onto the hauling line. The bolt is greased, easy to secure and loosen, therefore easy to relocate.
The dry areas of wall is obvious; dry enough to strike matches upon. Strongly suggesting a decent air flow, appearing to originate from the area of “Paul’s Pot”. Photographs taken, but too late, much mist present. The 'main’s' digging light was lowered and re-positioned; the faulty bulb replaced. Data of “Paul’s Pot” survey is available for inclusion in the next survey. Relative depths; “Paul’s Pot 26m: South End 25.1m: Shaft beneath “The Gap” 26.2m. Generator a little under ¾ full: Fuel on site.
NB: Suggested the present dig be sunk to -28m; potentially allowing the Team to establish a connection to the area below “The Crevice”. With the smaller floor area depth will be swiftly achieved.
Hours 4 (3155), Southend (2105) Kibbles 0 (6352), Nets 0 (925), Total lifts 7282
Looking down into the present dig at -26.2m, attempting to show the size and shape. Photo: Pat Cronin
28th February Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, MR, PC
Cloud 95%, clearing: Wind WNW, F4: Visibility 20Nm: Ground sodden: Small stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: MR and PMcG Digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PMcG continued lowering the floor of the area in front “The Gap”. The sloping wall, which divides this area of the main shaft from “Paul’s Pot”, has gradually become the floor, as it passes beneath the eastern wall. The undercutting eastern wall is gradually becoming the roof to this passage. Is this local development an effect of the adjacent chert bed occurrence? Deployed a tape measure from the working platform; floor surface measured at -26.55m, (87ft). Viewed northeasterly, a distance of one metre is visible, horizontally, between roof and natural deposits. This section feels like it will soon meet with the stream heard last session. This area of development will present challenges for hauling. If, the expected, adjacent rift is capable of being dug. Requiring the hauling system to be offset; similar to that used to dig out “Paul’s Pot”. Thirty kibbles were raised and one net. Generator ½ full: fuel on site. Drip noted, from the generator fuel tap. Maintenance tasks arising.
Hours 12 (3167), Southend (2117) Kibbles 30 (6382), Nets 1 (926), Total lifts 7313
4th March Considines (South End)
Cloud 10%: Wind, NW F2: Visibility >30Nm: Ground sodden: Small stream. The Plan: maintenance. A short session, to resolve petrol leak on generator. Found a small fracture of the stiff pvc hose leaving the tank tap; trimmed ½ inch of tube, connected same.
Reflected on recent developments. Seen down through “The Crevice”, are cobbles; none of whom could have passed through “The Crevice”, being an average of 50mm wide. The bedrock scoop, exposed last session, sweeps toward the north-east, somewhat similar to the form the North End took prior to becoming the short passage, which finished at the 100mm wide, parallel rift. The cobbles could not have passed through “The Crevice, nor travelled from the North End. So, there is sufficient space for these cobbles to have been transported horizontally toward “The Crevice”; (potentially the after or cumulative effects of Glacial action?). The space between the floor at -26.5m and the forming roof, is somewhat bigger than the North End. Optimistically, will find a continuing, vertical rift of diggable proportions, a little offset from the main shaft. If this area closes down there is still the area in front the South Rift.
Hours 2 (3169), Southend (2119) Kibbles 0 (6382), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7313
19th March Sliabh Eilbh Project
CC, PMcG & PC
13:00. First trip after recovering from the Covid. Cloud 20%: Wind SE, F6, gusting F8: Visibility >30Nm: Ground damp. The Plan, push the hole found the 11th February. (Allocated Name, "Pipework Pot"). PMcG made the short, vertical clamber into the low bedding. This is some ten metres in total length, with little prospects of going further. Adjacent, this hole a water conduit, cut naturally beneath the overburden, accesses exposed limestone beneath trees and their root systems. Digging is possible. Exiting the hole, CC called, directing the team to view another hole. (Allocated Name, "Tombstone Pot"). All but obscured among the pine needle floor surface; a 0.6m diameter hole was descended three metres to a rift, from its northeast end another, partially choked rift reaches -4m. After a minor amount of digging, a view of an undercutting bed offers a reward, if a few more hours of digging are pursued. Exiting this site, CC directed the team to another hole, initially seeming of lesser potential. This entrance, similar to the previous cave, is also set among the pine needle surface. (Allocated Name, "Castaway Pot"). The top of this almost three metre pot, undercuts part of the surface, humic cover. Pulling this aside allowed room for PMcG to descend; having been offered the privilege as first to enter an unexplored cave. Glimpses through an adjacent, narrow gryke, suggested an attainable depth of at least four to five metres. At the end of the short entrance section, PMcG entered a three-metre diameter chamber, with a narrow rift heading off; an hour was spent removing the loose fill from the base of the rift to access beyond. Return trip planned: delighted.
Stream channel to Pipework Pot.
Photo: Cheg Chester
Pat shouting encouragement to Paul in Pipework Pot.
Photo: Cheg Chester
Entrance to Tombstone Pot. Photo: Cheg Chester
Paul exiting Castaway Pot.
Photo: Cheg Chester
Paul and Pat after digging in Castaway Pot.
Photo: Cheg Chester
21st March Considines (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 90%: Wind SE, F4: Visibility >30Nm: Ground drying: Small stream: The Plan: Dig. Disaster; the winch would not run; the motor suffering from a bust capacitor. Meanwhile PMcG descended and filled the remaining kibbles. There are twelve awaiting lifting. A little miffed at not being able to dig this last fortnight; bugger. Generator ¾ full: no fuel on site. Hope to obtain unit and fit, prior to next Monday’s session.
Hours 3 (3172), Southend (2122) Kibbles 0 (6382), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7313
23rd March Souterrain CL004-057004, Oughtdarra.
PC & NG
Cloud 30%: Wind SE, F4: Visibility 30Nm: Ground drying, no rain these last seven days.
The Plan: guide NG to the Holy Well within the ecclesiastical settlement of Oughtdarra.
Records taken from the national database digital map, suggested a location at variance with that recorded in the 2014 database; today ITM 510240 x 701754. Previously recorded as, ITM 510267 x 701804 in 2014. This puts the Holy Well some sixty metres SSE from the 2014 location. This ITM gives a location tucked into the corner of the burial area. A feature that could possibly be mistaken as a small enclosed densely foliated ritual site. However, after NG cleared some briars, the feature remains unclear. Were a Holy Well here, within the graveyard enclosure, it would not have experienced the early 20th century land clearance obvious in the surrounding area. While NG worked, PC compared the 2014 souterrain map reference, (ITM 510221 x 701724), with the 2022 ITM, which is now ITM 510225 x 701744. The modern reference places it adjacent the substantial garden wall that encloses much of the ecclesiastical site. This feels wrong; it is more likely the souterrain was a natural cave utilized for the purposes of refuge, or storage, by clerics and hiding church valuables. Left site for Doolin Cave café, enjoyed Tea and Medals, curtesy of NG.
27th March Considines (South End)
Cloudless: Wind SE, F2/3: Visibility <20Nm: Ground drying: Tiny stream: The Plan: maintenance. Replacement capacitor sent by JW was fitted: but issues remained, pointing to capacitor, still. En-route to his place, to pick up another, CC realized this motor, from an industrial sewing machine, had an interior switching system, that disconnected the capacitor once the motor started; believing this the principal issue, the motor was stripped out of the winch and carried back to the workshop. Little chance of digging tomorrow.
Hours 7 (3179), Southend (2129) Kibbles 0 (6382), Nets 0 (926), Total lifts 7313
28th March Castaway Pot, Sliabh Eilbh Project
Cloudless: Wind SW, F2: Visibility <10Nm, haze: Ground drying: No rain these twelve days. The Plan: Dig the choked crawl. Parked adjacent the track to Pollbinn. Took along two rakes, used same to reach in, and drag out the loose shale fragments and clays from the crawl. Removing the loose debris, exposed gaps in the floor, which suggests the crawl is a partially filled rift passage. After an hour, and almost tonne of debris, a pit was created from the base of which horizontal progress was made. PMcG managed to push four metres beyond the squeeze into a wider bit. Here the joint turned a right angle, and after a metre or so split again, ahead it narrows, to the left it continues in much the same form. Depth some six metres, length about ten metres; give or take. Exiting to a glorious warm early evening, thoughts turned to drink. Meandering back PMcG drew attention to a very recent collapse. Though noted previously, forgotten, in pursuit of Pipework Pot. This site will also feed into Upper Poulnagollum; worth digging for the hell of it. To the Irish Arms, for pints; encountered “Billy”, long chat to catch up on the last which: cracking day. Survey to follow.
31st March Castaway Pot, Pipework Pot, Tombstone Pot, Sliabh Eilbh Project
Cloud <5%: Wind E, F4/5: Cold: Visibility, forever: Ground damp: The Plan: Establish positions of entrances. Parked at Poulnagollum. Found gap in wall off the track. Stepped over to check the area, a little way beyond where Cheg had previously searched. Planning, work north, back toward the new sites. Close to the track found a large, intermittent sink, sink 1. A little further on, found another, a collapse, sink 2; two metres deep: eminently diggable. Suspected establishing GPSR fixes on the new entrances problematic; beneath the forest canopy and so close to the eastern slope of the mountain. So, triangulated the entrances back to Pipework pot and a handy tree, both in sight of Pollbinn. Not quite as straightforward as hoped, working among the trees and potential pitfalls. Also recorded the Pollbinn collapse; need double check, with second GPSR. Pollbinn entrance shaft was accurately assessed as where to fix the survey from to fix to the Upper Poulnagollum survey. Finished the afternoon plotting the numbers, which do not quite add up, there are discrepancies; need repeat process, ideally with an extra pair of hands to achieve a decent level of accuracy.
Sink 1. Photo: Pat Cronin
Sink 2. Photo: Pat Cronin