January to March
1st January Souterrain CL001004; Teergonean
Cloud 75%: Wind WNW, F2: Rain Gauge 6mm: Visibility <20Nm. Ground wet: The Plan: continue develop souterrain construction theory. CL008-001004 is within a square enclosure; a cashel; SMR, CL008-001003, ITM 506840 x 698314. Its primary construction method seemingly obvious; a clint, or clints removed to create a trench among adjacent bedrock. Or, the builders utilized a natural wide gryke. Though unlikely, considering the souterrain passage width. Searched north and south to locate if such “workable” clints existed; found same along 016° /019° Magnetic bearing from the souterrain passage. Two narrow clints, extend seventy metres north and south of the enclosure. The western clint measured as 0.4m wide, the eastern 0.3m wide. The grykes between vary from 0.09m to 0.15m. Maximum gryke depth measured was 1.3m; this coincides with the present height of the souterrain passage; allowing for the rubble covering the floor; present height a metre, width 0.95m. Prior to removal, breaking the limestone away from its footing below, may have involved leverage, or potentially, firesetting.
A cubic metre of Limestone weighs close to two and a half metric tonnes. Removing a one metre length of either clint required handling between 0.35 or 0.45 of a tonne.
This not uncommon geological feature would be a determining factor choosing an enclosures final location. The preparation for a souterrain implies a deep concern for refuge and welfare of the settlements non-combatants when threatened by hostile action. Such fears would require this form of souterrain to be constructed in concert with the enclosure.
View north, narrow clints removed for souterain construction. Photo: Pat Cronin
Narrow clints in the wider landscape.
Photo: Pat Cronin
4th January (2020) Lost Simon Halliday
4th January St. Breckan’s Project F3a, F3b, Owentoberlea Sink.
MR & PC
Cloud 100%: Wind W, F6/8: Visibility <15Nm: Rain Gauge 11mm: Ground sodden. The Plan: Inspect the water levels. First, to the “Black Bridge”, (ITM 514409 x 698365), Lisdoonvarna. Flood level had fallen from an estimated three metres to a metre, perhaps a little less: difficult to assess from the parapet. To F3a, river level just below the summit of the overflow channel.
There was no sign of flow into the rift previously dug rift area. Among the corridor of forestry recent evidence of flood debris equaled the survey datum installed on a tree, adjacent the southern goal posts; flood depth estimated as 1.5 metres.
F3b taking a large stream. To Ballygastell Td, where flood water had gone. Crossed from GF land into field to the north; here a stream was flowing, percolating into an ill-defined sink, which extend over some eight metres. The central sink, (ITM516041 x 700058), in GF’s field has a well-defined channel some fifty metres in length, rounding down the average width to three metres and depth to two metres gives a conservative volume of three hundred cubic metres of soil/silt disappearing over the last forty odd years. During a previous visit with EM, he clearly described the channel being shallow enough to run across. This departure of soil likely contributing to the deposition in the F3a area some three kilometres downstream.
To Owentoberlea Sink where there was little evidence of surface flow, what flow was present seemed to dissipate within fifty metres downstream the bridge, (ITM 516137 x 700400). No evidence of sinking water disappearing into Owentoberlea Sink.
8th January St. Breckan’s Project
Cloud 80%: Wind SW, F5/6: Cold: Visibility >25Nm: Rain Gauge 7mm: Ground wet. The Plan: prospect the area ITM 515910 x 699450. This location is central between the N67 and the minor, local road, a kilometre to the south. The pastures are well grazed, and cherished. The recent 38mm rainfall has not appeared to have significantly impacted the normally dry water course beyond the sink at ITM516000 x 699745 or the one at ITM 515940 x 699715. Beyond these are intermittent springs, some of significance, others of lessor a discharge. Among the relatively flat landscape a shallow, almost vague, water course may be followed across fields of differing ownership. There appears to be a “thin” soil cover to the bedrock, increasing as the route is followed southward. Of interest, is the source of flood water coming from the east, adjacent the minor road; ITM 516000 x 698990.
Permission is granted to investigate a sink close to the N67, plan to commence soon after returning from Panamá; late February.
St. Breckan’s Project, dry water courses 8th January 2023
10th January Panamá Project 2023
Stuart (Mac( McManus), James Cobbett, Dig Hastilow, Roger Day
Flight changed by KLM. Now leaving a day earlier than planned. Departed Doolin 10th Jan, 12:30, to Galway, to Dublin, to Schiphol, to Tocumen, Panamá City. Arrived 11th January, ≈16:30. Picked up by Seamus O'Cobbett, delivered straight into JC’s Explorers Bar; deep joy!
Among the minor sites and areas visited, delighted to find three modest sized caves on the shores of Lago Bayano. One whose walls are festooned with formations and bunches of Helictites.
19th February St. Breckan’s Project; F3a
Cloud 100%, base 350ft: Wind W, F4/5: Visibility <500m: Rain Gauge 4mm: Ground wet. The Plan: check status of dug rift. River level beneath bridge 0.5m. Evidence of flow in every sink. The piled boulders from the previous session, now delay lower flow rates, allowing an increased flow into the two sinks against the exposed bedding. Two other sinks have opened upstream and above normal stream level, in the grassy river bank. Each penetrating almost a metre into the bank horizontally. Water clarity, like Gin. The rift previously dug at has taken flow, likewise sink F3b: the errant fencepost now stuck in its opening.
8th February Red Rake Mine, Calver Sough
Lee Hollis; Andy Walchester; Sam Garrad
Taking the opportunity to meet up with Lee who was back in the UK for a few weeks, myself and Andy met Lee in the Derwent Arms Calver to plan our assault on Red Rake Mine, a recent discovery that I had ‘discovered’ on a trip with another Derbyshire club. The plan required (much to my disapproval) that we have several pints first to ensure we could locate the entrance. Having met at 1pm we left the pub at 3 for the short distance up the road in Lees hire car a Fiat 500 which was little snug with 3 cavers plus kit. Once kitted up we headed into the valley and then spend the next 30 mins trying to find said mine. Eventually after a few false starts the entrance was located and to my surprise was nowhere near where I remembered it was in my imagination.
The adit entrance is in excellent condition unlike some parts of the mine where it doesn’t probably pay you to look too closely at the roof and some of the very large boulders/deads . After about 100m or so of walking there is a short crawl through a dug out section that gets you into the main adit. You progress along this coming to a short climb and then descend to clamber down a short drop made easier with the opportunity to use a stemple which is very solid – maybe something put in by previous explorers.
At this point there are two ways on down a short pitch or straight ahead. I continued straight ahead on my own whilst the others waited for confirmation on the way on. The passage is very large and I climbed up and down a number of steep, loose slopes until I reached a pitch that was rigged. I did not descend and elected to return to the others having probably traversed a couple hundred of meters in a very large rift probably 80ft high or so in place with obvious signs of the old man in the void above.
When I got back, I remembered that the short 15ft pitch was the way on so proceeded to descend using the fixed rope of questionable vintage and a ladder with 3 ‘working’ rungs one of which snapped when I placed my foot on it. The way at the bottom was a mined tunnel passing a short slope where there was an interesting use of deads propping up the roof and a short crawl to the ‘ lake’ a flooded adit with a boat in situ to enable the crossing. At this point myself and Andy elected to cross the body of water as Andy’s current weight issues would certainly test the structural integrity of the inner tube professing to be a boat. The crossing is about 30/40m and the passage continues passing a couple of ropes hanging from the roof neither of which were ascended on this occasion. By now it was definitely beer o clock so we made a steady exit and retired to the pub which I might add is a fantastic and welcoming venue. Several bottles of wine and beers later we exited into the car park where Andy’s brilliant camper van awaited us and promptly fell into a drunken stupor.
A brilliant trip and one which I vowed to return with an elite team from Pegasus – unfortunately I could only get Malc Scoth, Geordie Dave and Andy W to make the trip which forms my next entry into the logs for 1st April.
Was this taken before or after the trip?
Are the deads in compression?
Lee Hollis & Andy Walchester in the entrance adit
People ask "is using ladder safer than S.R.T?"
20th February Cullaun II
Cloud 100%, base 600ft: Wind SW, F4/5: Visibility 2Nm: Rain Gauge 3mm: Ground wet. The Plan: loosen the limbs. Steady trip to Pool Chamber, back via the high level streamway.
3rd March Water tracing Project.
Following two unsuccessful requests for fluorescein, from the surplus held by "scientists" in the Burren, ordered some; promised to arrive Monday 6th March.
3rd March Considine’s (South End)
11:30. Cloud 90%: Wind NE, F3: Visibility forever: Rain Gauge 0mm: Ground wet: Small stream. The Plan: repair generator. Nice to see the place after the absence. Stripped part of the air filter to replace perished fuel pipe; noted by CC during a recent visit. Ran and tested winch, grand; ready for the work in “Paul’s Pot”: one last throw at the dig, before closure??
Hours 2 (3375), Southend (2323), Kibbles 0 (6754), Nets 0 (929), Total lifts 7691
4th March Cullaun II
Julia Thonig & PC
Cloud 100%: Wind NE, F2/3: Visibility 20Nm: Ground wet; Rain gauge 0mm. The Plan: accommodate visitor from the Swabian Alps. Contacted by JT via Pegasus website details, whilst in Panamá. Picked up JT from the hostel; unsure of abilities, caution chose Cullaun II. Vastly underestimated JT’s skill set and abilities, quite a fine caver, with a pleasant disposition; accomplished and fit. Offered JT choices; followed the stream to Pool Chamber, back via the upper streamway. Recent signs of many persons passing this unpopular route. Really nice trip.
10th March Pollbinn - Poulnagollum
Cloud 70%: Wind SW, F3/4: Visibility 20Nm: Snow: Carnane gauge 0mm, under snow plug.
The plan: itching for exercise. Road up Sliabh Eilbhe challenging. Enroute to Pollbinn noted clear areas around caves found previously in the forestry. Upper Poulnagollum pitch rigged with ladder. Abseiled Pollbinn, into a good sized stream; cascade impressive. Slippery under foot approaching the ladder. John Casey advised route to Fanore impassable.
18th March Souterrain CL004-093002, Ballyryan
Cloud 10%: Wind NW, F6: Visibility 30Nm: Ground damp: Rain Gauge 7mm. The Plan: revisit this site, further to the report filed by Mary Tunney, in the national archaeological database,.
“Within the N interior of a cashel (CL004-093001-). A souterrain with a rubble filled entrance opening at SSE leading to a NNW-SSE passage (L 2m; Wth 1.1-1.2m at SSE; H 1m) which narrows (Wth 0.9m) towards a chamber and is roofed with three lintels. The irregular-shaped and poorly constructed chamber (L 1.6m WSW-ENE; Wth 1.4-2m; H 1m) is wider towards the top where it is roofed with six lintels, some of which have differing orientations. A continuation of the chamber to the ENE has been blocked by a boulder which has collapsed from the roof. The floor of the chamber is filled with stone, especially in the SW. Outside the entrance there is a circular hollow (L 1m; Wth 1m; D c. 0.4m). Remains of a possible house (CL004-093003-) lie in the S quadrant of the cashel. A cashel and hut site (CL004-092---- and CL004-092002-) are located c. 98m to the W”.
Compiled by: Mary Tunney and Lynda McCormack. Date of upload: 13 June 2022.
Previous visited with Nigel Burns, (23rd December 2019). Cut a way through the blackthorn briar and hazel thicket, managing to find, what appeared to be a filled souterrain entrance. Further to enquiries landowner/s were, at that time unknown. En-route, today, encountered Peter Gardiner, owner; given permission to wander. In the Tunney report there is no update of the ITM, so must assume either that given is correct, or no GPSR was present at that time. Within the ringfort, blackthorn, briar and hazel growth remain intertwined; after an hour attempting relocate the site, returned to the area of the route previously cut. The metre wide gap has regrown, vigorously, obstructing access. Delighted with the permission to roam this vast area, which extends to Oughtdarra, to James Callinan’s and Noel Thynne’s land, to name but two. Explaining the souterrain study, PG, was unaware of the souterrain, promised him a report of the site. With foliage at a minimum will start cutting a route tomorrow.
19th March Souterrain CL004-093002, Ballyryan
Cloud 100%: Wind ESE, F3/4: Visibility 10Nm: Ground wet: Rain Gauge 3mm. Steady rainfall. The Plan: start cutting a route into the foliage. 09:30. Parked, again, at the area at Poulsallagh. Took route most east to the third ridge, on which the Ringfort is constructed. Trimmed the initial area from the denuded rampart to the garth, to facilitate access for PG to visit site. Began to cut the route previously cleared with Nigel; surprized at the density of the regrowth. Rain continued, after two hours, soaked. Have managed to get to within a metre, or so of the boulders, believed to indicate the blocked souterrain entrance. No clearance of the foliage from the interior of the ringfort is evident. Two questions: did MT use the route cut December 2019, though the report was uploaded June 2022? Or, did they access the souterrain from outside the ringfort approaching it from the North? Will check next visit. Attempting contact MT to clarify her route to the souterrain.
20th March St. Breckan’s Project F3a & F3b
Cloud 100%; base 600ft: Wind SSW, F ¾: Visibility <10Nm: Ground sodden: Rain gauge 26mm: Raining. The Plan: assess F3a after 26m of rain. Water level was at 1.85m beneath the bridge. Significant volume flowing into the overflow channel; the in situ profile survey datum under 20mm of water. Fine opportunity to observe the flow at this volume/level. Significant number of eddies along the river bank, before and after the solitary tree/shrub growing in the centre of the channel. F3b taking a lot of the river; no eddies evident above the main sink area.
23rd March St. Breckan’s Project
Cloud 100%, base 400ft: Heavy rain: Visibility 2Nm: Rain gauge 12mm; (164mm this month): Ground awash. The Plan: observe site connected with the project. Found water on the road, adjacent the GAA pitch, the pitch flooded to the goal area. The forestry submerged. Large river flowing from Killeany Rising, the track on the west of the fields flooded to 0.6m. At Owentoberlea the bridge arch was submerged. Fitzgerald’s field flooded to where all the sinks were submerged. The conduit passing beneath the N67 road, almost filled to its flat roof, barely airspace; maybe a 1/2 “? At the large sink further south, some evidence of water sinking among the large river flow, the lessened volume passing through the wall, heading west, to turn sharp south. Some water sinking at this sink. The rest dissipating across the field. Heading south noted several risings, water issuing with differing degrees of force.
24th March Elton Mini Reunion
Nigel Burns, Pete Forster, David Gough, Alan Steele & Cheg Chester
A North Staffs Mining Group and Pegasus Caving Club joint meet.
This mini reunion was held in the holiday cottage at Homestead Farm Elton, the home of Alan and Jean Carson, owners of the land that hosts three out of four of the open shafts giving access to the Cowclose Mine complex with upwards of 17,000feet of open passage.
The main reason for the get together was to discuss the initial exploration of Cowclose Mine for a future article to be published on the Pegasus website with regards to these extensive workings. Much information was passed on with a large selection of photographs, surveys and notes also covering other mine sites in the Elton and Winster area; many thanks to Alan for this material.
Later that day NB & CC walked north from Stevens Shaft following the route of Cowclose Sough to the supposed tail in Dudwood Brook. The site of the shaft shown on the 25inch OS at NGR SK 2236-6113 has been completely levelled but a filled shaft fitted with a ‘Clwyd Lid’ was recorded at NGR SK 2234-61321.
David Gough, Nigel Burns, Pete Forster & Alan Steele. Photo: Cheg Chester
Nigel Burns at the 'Clwyd Lid' covered shaft. Photo: Cheg Chester
25th March Elton, Derbyshire
NB & CC
Spent the morning comparing some of the old photographs given by Alan Steele with the present day condition of these sites 50 years on. The afternoon was spent at Paul Thompson’s house in Winster scanning photographs and negatives which also cover the Elton Area; some good stuff recorded; many thanks to Paul.
26th March Elton, Derbyshire
NB & CC
In a bitterly cold wind we tried unsuccessfully to determine the site of a shaft shown on one of Pauls photos which appears to have the copse at Leadmines Farm in the background. After trying to line up the image with the surrounding countryside for over an hour we finally gave it up as a bad job. Checked out the shaft situated in the copse besides Leadmines Farm and then spent the rest of the afternoon recording the shafts and features in filelds to the west of Lickpenny Lane. Finished off with a couple of pints in the Miners Standard Winster where we met up with Paul.
The mystery shaft, early 1960's.
Photo: Paul Thompson collection
Paul Thomson descending the mystery shaft.
Photo: Paul Thompson collection
27th March Pluais Gabhar, (Goat Hole)
15:00. Cloud 90%. Wind SE, F3/4: Visibility >30Nm: Ground wet: rain gauge 0mm: Rain. The Plan; to record artefact found during initial visit. Parked at Faunarooska Cross; walked in: 30mins. Cattle presented a minor issue; circumnavigated the herd to avoid upsetting parents. Leaf-less foliage allowed photography. Took photos of pear shaped depression and entrance. Removed the protective flagstone, placed to protect the stone axe. Set up ranging rods, marked in 0.1 metre segments; assessed feasibility of surveying the location; difficult. Ideally requires a recorder whilst measurements called out, and installation of a datum. So, future researchers know where to work from. Surveying, will be problematic; help required.
It appears the stone axe was purposely placed in this location; not arriving by soil migration, descending between boulders stacked above and around the cavity. The area is now known to flood, water flow from the mountainside above, backs up and swirls around the cavity; perhaps this explains the slightly “raised” area the axe rests now upon. Backing up of flood water is from the partially choked stream passage; “Boycott’s Bedding”. If indeed a votive offering, placed by those using either of the coastal Mesolithic, encampments, directly below this site, it may have been in appreciation of this available, relatively rare, accessible, freshwater source within this depression. However, adjacent the coastal encampments is a small freshwater spring; today not always above present sea level. At the time of these encampments the sea margin was some eight hundred metres distant from todays.
Dependent upon rainfall, the Caher River, is only some fifteen hundred metres north-east; this river can sink quite a distance upstream, disappearing from the lower reaches. This compares with the distance and altitude of Pluais Gabhar; being two and a half kilometres south-east and 265m higher. Chert artefacts were found at the encampments; chert beds are exposed on the mountainside; normal nomadic scouring of the mountainsides would discover such resources.
Observations show some amount of water flow is always present flowing in Pluais Gabhar. Suggesting little has changed to the shape, and depth of the depression, or the entrance, since the Ice Age. Now suggested as terminating some 14000 years ago: the southern Mesolithic encampment at Fanore dated a thousand years older than the northern, around (6/7000BCE).
The Axe sits upon a very slightly raised area, on a slight, even slope of course silt/granular sedimentary material; sloping toward the open rift which accesses the streamway, some two metres below. The axe is aligned along magnetic bearing 302°. The True bearing of the depression toward Halliday’s Hole is 175°.
Potential water sources upon the mountainside, today, are obscured by heather and other forms of dense ground cover. The largest noted in this area is Halliday’s Hole. But, it is likely this depression is a relatively recent occurrence. The only other water sources may have been the stream which surfaces for a short distance to then sink at the Holy Well; some five hundred metres to the east-north-east.
Evidence of recent rainfall was noted adjacent the entrance, two once, small muddy areas are now clean washed. Took photos of the rift and along it to the stream, showing pooled water in in the entrance rift. Satisfied with just photos for the moment. Walked back in heavy showers.
Stone axe; ranging rod in 0.1 metre sections
Photo: Pat Cronin
View north of stone axe on shelf
Photo: Pat Cronin
28th March Animal Flower Cave, Barbados
James Cobbett & Celia Purkiss
A tourist cave on the north coast of Barbados. Down eighteen steps to a sea cave, maybe ten feet above current sea-level, pounded out by the waves in re-cemented coral fragments, some millennia back, when Barbados was lower in the sea than now. Total length maybe one hundred feet, time circa 30 minutes.
Saludos - James
Animal Flower Cave looking out to sea. Photo: James Cobbett