April to June
3rd April Scailp na Struthar
CC, PMcG, PC
13:30. Cloud 100%: Wind SSW, F 4/6: Visibility 25Nm: Rain gauge 0mm: Ground damp: The Plan: assess reopening the dig commenced by PC in the 1980s, abandoned the 2000s. The dig is at the northern end of the rift, which contains S4, at the southern end. This dig received intermittent attention prior to permanent settlement in Doolin. After several attempts at points various in the floor of this large, choked surface rift, a shaft, some three metres deep, was gradually excavated between large boulders and the solid eastern wall. At an estimated depth of around four metres, below the surface of the site, the upper edge of a bedding seemed apparent; silt was present.
One arrival, after a brief delay, PC relocated the shaft; the original lump of tree trunk, used as the lid, likely taken for firewood. A careful arrangement of boulders had been constructed to cover the ≈0.6m x 04m hole. Below, in the bottom of the open shaft, was evidence of debris. Down a hole, in the north part of the floor, depth continues. PMcG descended the shaft, handing up manageable rocks. A previous constraint, eventually causing abandonment, being as PC could not reach high enough to place rocks on the surface. The shaft is surrounded by three very large boulders and associated debris; not all compacted as one would like. The place requires braces to maintain the boulders in situ, prior to further excavation. Three short, stout, sections of driftwood were collected and placed over the expose entrance, then covered with rocks. Walking back to the motors, at Poulsallagh, Considine’s was discussed at length; PMcG suggesting another deployment of the camara to see around the corner, before committing to remove the awkward lump of wall, in “Paul’s Pot”; planned for Easter Monday, next, 13:00.
Paul Mcgrath checking the dig for size.
Photo: Cheg Chester
April 4th Britannia Creek Caves, Victoria, Australia
Calm day in the high country without any rain for a while so stream was low and calm.
Cave main entrance is just off the road about 150m down from the car park. You can either walk down road or scramble round the stream. Down the stream you can see and hear many places that drops into the cave.
The cave is a bolder cave back filled with sediment so it's not as disorientating as some other boulder caves like Laberatouche cave.
The way in is a walk down a small slope and then quickly into a crawl the rest of the way. Just over an hour is enough to explore most of the cave that's not belly crawling through long shoots that probably don't lead on. Most of the passageways all loop back on and into themselves having at least 3 other ways in and out of fox hole on the surface. Total size is covering about 50m long in the surface.
Next trip back there will require gold pans. This is in the Victorian high country gold rush area and with there being sections in the steam full of fools gold and spar deposits it could be interesting to see what's there in the silt.
10th April Considine’s (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 75%: Wind SW, F3/4: Visibility 20Nm: Ground saturated: Rain Gauge 17mm: Medium stream: The Plan: attempt video the tight area leading to a rift, to assess future of dig. CC in support, PMcG and PC to “Paul’s Pot”. The small rift, at right angles to the rift/gap beyond “Paul’s Pot” was noted as having small sized debris and silt deposit. Scrutiny of this area decided it as having little potential. Examined the lower west passage at -28m, at its end a bucket was removed, washed in from adjacent “shelf”. Closer scrutiny reviewed options of a way on at -29m, in the base of the narrow rift. To enable digging in its confined base, a significant section of solid rock needs removal. Took the decision to close the site. Prior to removal of the digs infrastructure, CC suggested offer an “open day” to those interested in viewing the dig.
Hours 5 (3380), Southend (2328), Kibbles 0 (6754), Nets 0 (929), Total lifts 7691
Four sites should be revisited, as digging at Considine’s is now concluded. The site adjacent Halliday’s Hole, Pluais Gabhar, Scailp na Struthar and Poulacapple Pot.
17th April MQ05
ITM 514527 x 705067
13:00. Cloud 100%, descending: Wind E, F4: Cool: Visibility 35 - 10Nm; Ground wet: Rain Gauge 0mm: The Plan: assess site potential. Previously visited 6th January 2021, during which a column of vapour was witnessed arising from the depression; photographed by CC. MQ05 is some fifty metres WSW of Halliday’s Hole. Met CC at Faunarooska Cross. Left the Drover’s Road at the cattle crush, headed, obliquely, ENE, onto the ridge at 260m. En-route, another dig came to mind, without a GPSR at that time, tried memorize the location; viewing the area, it needs a wander to find it. Deployed a ladder as CC cut away some branches; the hole will need the fencing extended from existing. A lot of old roots and branches were cut away in the rift; down to -4m. This cleared area allowed a better view. Little has changed. The shaft/rift is solid, except for the narrow end; north and south. Each end has a clay/silt fill with fibrous vegetation roots systems. Began to clear the original bedding opening, west side; managed lower the clay floor by some 0.3m. Exposing a “too tight” vertical joint heading away east-ish, which takes water. Wondering how to deal with an overhanging lump of clay, (50kgs), it fell out; problem solved. The unstable fill, at either end of the rift and the obvious presence of streams at each end, will cause issues flowing over the hastily stacked clay spoil: minor amount of shoring required. At the same level of the west bedding is an undercut, a possible continuation to the south end. A spade pressed into the bedding reaches almost its length; 0.6m; pressed into the floor the depth of clay is around 0.4m. Previous thoughts of lowering the floor rather than attempt mine along the narrow rift, may just work. Names suggested, prior to translating into Irish, Rainbow, Spectrum, Spectral. Four local caves, Pollapooka I, II, III and Poul an Siog allude to Fairy Folk. Hours 4 (4).
15th May Halliday’s Hole – Pluais Gabhar - Poulfantaiseach (MF05)
CC, PMcG, PC
14:00. Cloud 90%: Wind NW, F3/4: Visibility <25Nm: Ground wet: Rain gauge 1mm: Stream tiny: The Plan: conduct water trace between Halliday’s Hole and Pluais Gabhar. Using a medium supplied by CC, introduced it into Halliday’s; water flow disappointing. CC and PMcG descended to monitor the similarly small flow at Pluais Gabhar. Meanwhile PC descended Poulfantaiseach to drill the 16mm holes for the forthcoming shoring stemple supports. Unfortunately, around 100kgs of humus and clay from the south end had slumped into the bottom of the rift; much being the previous, hastily packed spoil: now obscuring features previously exposed. Working in the confined area the clay etc. floor soon turned to welly deep porridge. Managed to drill all four holes. Vertical timbers need be a minimum of two metres long, allowing for them to, if necessary, be driven downward. A wide surface area, to the east appears to conduct a lot of water into this hole, in addition to that entering the northern end. Returned to Pluais Gabhar, where the trace was negative; further attempts will be made. The stream sinking in Halliday’s is strong believed to be the same flowing through Pluais Gabhar. The question; is this stream the same as that in Poulballyelly? If so there’s no point in digging this cracking site. ( 4 x 50mm scaffold tubes at 29, 28, 24 and 21 inches long.)
28th May Poulfantaiseach - Poulballyelly
LS, PMcG, PC
13:00. Cloud 5%: Wind NE, F2/3: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: Rain gauge 0mm: The Plan, install two shoring stemples. Managed to cock up one length of galvanized scaffold tube, but fitted the other. Closer inspection of the south end proposes inserting, temporary supports, horizontally from what is the middle stemple into the dodgy peat/clay/porridge, to see what, exactly is at the lowest part of this south end; where the bedding was previously probed and found to extend over 0.6m.
Reviewed fencing the area, estimate some twelve posts and wire required. Explained area and cave locations to LS. To Poulballyelly to see where its stream enters, estimated as fifty metres from the entrance: potentially fed from Halliday’s and maybe Pluais Gabhar. Another sink needing tracing is the stream passing the Bog Hole. Cautiously descending the near vertical Poulballyelly entrance slope, it collapsed; a large flag the culprit, some half way down. Spent an hour clear the pile of debris, with some success; though part of the upper mid entrance area is unstable. This instability appears to be from the large boulders cast into the entrance rift. However, the pitch is almost open; perhaps one more session required. The present state of the remaining pile is suspect and may continue to collapse into the lower pitch area.
5th June Poulfantaiseach
18:00. Cloud 30%: Wind NE, F4: Visibility 30Nm: Ground dry: Rain gauge 0mm: 22°C. The Plan, install second shoring stemple. En-route chance meet with Michael Queally; explained the dig and its believed importance. Told work away, again. Following this delightful meet, continued with the brief visit. Tried out fence posts as vertical shoring, held in place by the horizontal stemples; seem to be the answer. At least until able to clear the base of the rift to assess the gap beneath the wall; wriggly tin should prevent the wetter porridge squeezing through the gaps. Intend to install a fence to protect cattle. Into the Irish Arms for a pint.
10th June Poulfantaiseach – Coolagh River Cave
19:40. Cloud 100%: Wind E, F3: Visibility 20Nm: Rain Gauge 4mm: Ground dry. The Plan: convey fence posts to dig. The fractured nature of trips will exist until the end of the six week contract. PMcG had previously purchased and delivered posts and electric fence brackets to PC’s place. Loaded same; reached the dig as heavy drizzle swept in from the east. Abandoned plan as drizzle continued. Took the route home passing Polldonough South. Noted the field with the all “weather entrance”, smoothed off and several dry stone walls removed. Stopped and spoke with the owner. Explained the benefits of inserting a tube to maintain cave access, top recurring subsidence and injury to cattle, requested permission to do so; told bring it along and I’ll clear the entrance out and install it. The previously scrounged length of one metre diameter black plastic tube is around three metres in length. So, set on the limestone below it should protrude above soil level by maybe half a metre. This was received with the comment; “No problem I’ll fence around that”. Need organize a trailer, asap. Serendipity!
11th June Coolagh River Cave
14:30. Cloud 100%, base 800ft: Wind SE, F2: Visibility 25Nm: Ground damp: Rain gauge 0mm. The Plan: deliver the one metre diameter plastic tube. Picked up a trailer from Mattie Shannon. Returned to home, struggled with the large lump across the yard and onto the trailer. Issues negotiating the Doolin Folkfest traffic. The narrow lane adjacent the field also presented issues. Managed to position trailer parallel to the gate, released pipe and pushed it off the trailer. Surprized at the speed it attained hurtling down the seemingly gentle slope. Pushed it the remaining fifty metres to the entrance. Rang the landowner to report delivery and that PC can be available to assist Friday evening or next Saturday. Stopped in the Irish Arms for a pint; returned trailer.
15th June Pouldubh
Victoria, Reade, Sara, PC
Cloud 100%: Wind ESE, F4: Visibility 20Nm: Ground damp: Small stream: Rain Gauge 4mm. The Plan: accompany students caving; 2 x female, 1 x male. To satisfy curiosity of three non-cavers; took them to Pouldubh. Leading from the rear, had each lead the group. At the waterfall, happy with their demeanour, directed they climb up into the passage leading to Pouldubh middle entrance. All chuffed at the experience. Horse flies a real pest.
Heading back to their accommodation, burned to know of progress with the pipe at B9a. So, detoured past Polldonough South, (B9), field, delighted to see PV had installed the pipe directly onto the limestone. When complete its top edge will be a little above the finished field surface. PV said he will install a fence to complete the task. A nice example of what can be done to maintain access and reduce the inconvenience of subsidence. This will be a topic of conversation for some time.
Coolagh entrance B9a before pipe. Photo: Pat Cronin
Coolagh entrance B9a pipe installed. Photo: Pat Cronin
17th June Poulfantaiseach
14:30. Cloud 99%, base ≈1200ft: Wind SE, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: Rain gauge 0mm. The Plan: deliver more fence posts. Dark skies noted to the southeast of Lisdoonvarna. Encountered deluge at Faunarooska Cross; time lapse between lightning and thunder nine – fourteen seconds; storm passing out over the bay: SE to NW. Rain eased, in brightening sky headed along Drover’s road; soaked opening the second gate. Stopped at the ruined cabin; placing fences post over the wall, lightning struck up slope, four hundred metres east; simultaneous clap of thunder; rattled the tailgate. Further, sustained, heavy shower; swiftly finished task, ready for tomorrow, to sherpa up to the dig. Found 12mm in gauge over the last 90 minutes. Lot of surface water on the roads. No water at F3a.
18th June Poulfantaiseach
14:00. Cloud 90%: Wind SE, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: Rain gauge 19mm. The Plan: convey posts to dig. Threatening weather front. The larger diameter and smaller posts swiftly carried up to the dig. An existing, buried post resurrected from the undergrowth. Made an assessment of the number of missing/rotted posts along the line of the electric fence. PMcG to pick up more fence posts; barb wire may be available from a pal of PC. PC has staples, and the electric fence insulators bought by PMcG. Returned to truck before impending downpour; watched the torrent from the liquid comfort of the Irish Arms.
13th to 16th June Elton, Derbyshire.
NB, DG & CC
Visit to Elton and the surrounding area to compile information for the forthcoming article on 'Mine Working Within The Parish of Elton Derbyshire' and obtain photographs to supplement the exploration reports featured in the 'North Staffs Mining Club' page on the website. Mining sites visited were Back Lane Shaft Cowclose Mine, Lickpenny 2 Mine, Westhills Portaway Mine, Fishers Portaway Mine and Coast Rake Mine. Several other sites associated with photos in The North Staffs Mining Club gallery were identified. On the 17th a descent of Raithe Shaft ( Elton Shaft ) was arranged, see the following log.
17th June Raithe Mine, Elton Shaft and coffin levels.
On Saturday 17th June 2023 a Pegasus team of Cheg, Sam Garrad, Andrew Walchester and Aaron Smith Nigel Burns (Plus Cheg's family and 2 North Staffs Mine exploration team, Alan Steele and Pete Forster) assembled around a Severn Trent water manhole cover sandwiched between a farmers yard and a primary school playground. The mine is in the centre of Elton village referred to in the Pegasus logs as Elton Shaft. Reworked in the 1920s as Raithe Mine but also known as The deep sough forefield shaft.
Aaron landed in Elton at 09:45am ready for our 10am start. Sam G and Andy W arrived, snapping at my heels, at 11:05am. Cheg was ready with a brew and off he took me (Aaron) and his granddaughter to the manhole cover and a wander across 2 fields to a second shaft called Stevens Shaft. (This can be seen from the passages below but has been covered and not descended for a number of years and is likely to be loose and dangerous over the first 20 or 30ft). We spent the next hour or so looking at older surveys and sketches of the mine system (with Staffs lads too) while Sam and Andy were getting sorted.
Now, at around 11:20am, we were ready to set up an 'A' frame, tripod, system with a scaffold pole as back up, and descended the Elton Shaft, 288ft into this Derbyshire lead mine. First, before Aaron could abseil he accidentally launched his tackle bag (with phone, water and snacks) down into the abyss.
A steady decent, Aaron, then Sam then Andy took place to a shelf and main continuation of the mine 233ft from the surface. Then main exploration and photo activities then took place. The 500m coffin level to the Winze (a very draughty traverse over another coffin level below) and we arrived at the Stevens Shaft soaring over 200ft above. Here were two other coffin levels (one turning over 120 degrees back to a connection to Cow Close Mine). Sam rigged a new length of rope over the top of the winze traverse which was safe enough for now but may need another, more solid, anchor in the near future.
Plenty of photos taken here and flowstone on the left wall. We had been between 2 and 3 hours underground at this point and so after refreshments we returned back down our coffin level to the entrance shaft.
The 500m coffin level is very impressive but a bit of a squeeze for Andy and Sam in places. I was really impressed with the coffin level and it was just about the right length. (Nobody wants to be in a tight spot for too long!).
A smooth exit up the 233ft shaft was next, Aaron then Andy then Sam. Sam says it took me 22mins, him 25min and Andy 28min. This is very impressive when we have a combined age of nearly 170years... (I would have been disappointed if we had taken longer).
Back on the surface Cheg greeted me with a cool glass of real ale 🍺 and plenty of sunshine. Then Andy had a beer too, and Sam soon after! (GREAT! ... cheers Mr Chester 👍)
A successful adventure, lots of photos and lots of caving/Mine exploration fun.
Sam and Aaron rigging the shaft. Note 'Butty Bags' Aaron's yellow, Sams White?
Photo: Cheg Chester
Aaron looking down the continuation of the shaft for his bag 55 feet below. Photo: Sam Garrad
The coffin level that links Raithe Shaft to Stevens Shaft
Photo: Andy Walchester
Aaron descending the continuation of the shaft to recover his bag and phone. Photo: Andy Walchester
Sam emerges to a well earned and needed pint
Photo: Andy Walchester
21st June Quarry, (CL010-213---) – Tempall Cronan, (CL010-021002)
NG & PC
17:30. Cloud 40%: Wind S, F2: Visibility 30Nm: Ground karst: Rain gauge 2mm. The Plan: NG to show worked limestone grave slabs. Straight to the site, as working at the NUIG archaeological summer school at Caherconnell. During a chat, NG described several 2m x 1m x 0.15/0.2m grave slabs. With regard to the souterrain study, asked NG show the site. A group of these slabs are in the area of the road junction at ITM 528877 x 699193. The visit was conducted solely to the west of the road junction. But several are on land to the east, belonging to a different owner. The glass smooth karst surface meant no dressing of the grave slab surface was necessary, prior to inscribing the deceased details. The smooth, level, extensive karst surface does suggest it was formed at a depth, remote from surface turbulence. The slabs are beautifully worked, one, (O’Brien), having a date 1835; identified by NG, after clever photographic and light manipulation. An adjacent area shows the working of a 0.15m thick bed with the expected, resultant course detritus. The dressed slabs are of fine quality. The area, the slabs removal and the dressing to a professional finish satisfies several questions surrounding the finding and production of lintels which formed a souterrains roof. Plan return and study the workings further. Taken on a wander to the site of Tempall Cronan and adjacent St. Cronan’s grave, and shrine. A well visited, venerated place. Well-kept and maintained: previously visited in company with the Dark Shamrock Team in the early 90s. The Romanesque, northern doorway is, perhaps, of the 12th century; this stone construction likely replaced an earlier timber church. Today’s form is suggested as altered during the medieval period? (1100AD – 1600AD). The two, triangular graves quite the rare construct.
29th June Poulfantaiseach
19:00. Cloud 100%, base 1200ft: Wind S, F4: Visibility 10Nm: Ground wet: Rain gauge 14mm. The Plan: convey fence posts to the dig. Lowering sky. Caught by the threatening heavy shower, passing Pluais Gabhar; no shelter; soaked in seconds. Attempted shelter from the deluge, none available. Continued ascent. Installed posts around the dig; encountering an ancient fence among the undergrowth. Installed large post on the first electric fence line, two others required, likewise attend to the opening in the bushes of Halliday's Hole, which opens directly onto the pot entrance, likely two posts and a horizontal piece of timber? Need wire to complete fence around the dig. To the Irish Arms for a pint; sat steaming in the warm.