April to June
2nd April Ballyelly Townland, North West Sliabh Eilbh
Sunny: Cloud dissipating: Wind NE, F5/6. Wind Chill: Ground drying: Visibility >20Nm. The Plan; check sites adjacent to souterrain CL004-016040 and inspect the depression. Parked at Poul an Phúca III, walked to the depression; area much drier. Sink 1 is small, a minor hollow is present. Sink 2 is larger, some two metres in diameter; appearing a soak away; no obvious opening. Sink 3 is of similar size and conditions to Sink 2. Sink 4 is the most interesting thus far; at the edge of the depression against the exposed surrounding limestone, here the area is silty, with a depth of 0.4m; very wet. Through the ancient surface drain gulley the previous estimated invert height, above the depression floor is incorrect; being closer to two metres; though four if measured from the invert of sink 2. The gulley drains north, discharging onto a broad area, sloping down to an elongated depression: in the distance a cave tree is visible among taller, healthy looking grass/reed growth at what appears the depressions lowest point. Before doing any more will obtain permission to poke about.
Walked two kilometres north to an area containing several archaeological sites; of which one particular sub-square ringfort may be of greater significance. This is one sector of the wider souterrain project area. Some of these sites may be contemporaneous with the souterrain; located one kilometre East-south-east. Such sites may help explain why the souterrain was constructed in its host ringfort location. Bumped into Christy O’Brien and Alan; searching for calving cattle. Alan expressed an interest in caving. Headed over to a pile of rocks, three hundred metres off the drovers track; found the remains of a Clochan, ITM 515422 x 705757, a form of religious habitation; no obvious features survive among the extensive pile of stones. Its original shape would be like a large, stone beehive. In this elevated position, (≈950ft), it would have been visible for miles, perhaps the whole point; establishment some form of spiritual authority elevated above the secular?
Cashel, CL004-016022, at first appears a modern farm enclosure, the south wall set with large thin boulders placed vertically. Deep joy: two parts of cashel wall survive. The west portion, some 1.2m wide, two metres high by some six metres long. At the south end of the eastern wall appears to be the cashels original entrance threshold. The north end of the eastern wall turns to the west here the internal corner is built as a very neat radius; this attractive, uniform shape is replicated externally. The interior floor of the cashel constitutes a broad flat surface, with no obvious features. This Cashel appears to have been an important settlement or place where a Noble’s authority was manifest. Extensive effort has repaired and raised its severely denuded walls, it is highly likely the stone was used to build the nearby, substantial boundary wall between the townlands of Ballyelly and Coolmeen. Headed for the Wedge Tomb, encountering an unregistered hut circle, three metres diameter, ITM 515322 x 705918; a hundred metres east of said wedge tomb. This is not the only unregistered site; there are many other shapeless piles of stone which need a far more practiced eye. Ancient field system walls crisscross the landscape.
3rd April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Mild: Sunny: Cloud 10%: Wind S, F2: Ground drying: Small stream: Visibility >25Nm. The Plan: replace the dodgy pallet. Arrived 10:00, with tubing, tools and tea. While CC stripped apart the safety surround of the shaft collar, PC stripped out a pallet to remove the dodgy one via the east side and install two more galvanized scaffold tubes as extra support to the new pallet. The confined area beneath the platform above the yawning maw was problematic removing the existing secured timber work, which was immensely heavy being soaking wet. After three tough hours the scaffolding was secured in place and a new heavy duty pallet in position. The previous two scaffold tubes were relocated in their final position and secured. Wrapping up PC suggested a solution to sort the issue of replacing the rotten lower shaft collar pallet, which fell apart during the initial process. The new structure will have greater support; so, much safer and stronger. Another session will complete this present task; possibly tomorrow night. The alteration to the present 5k travel restrictions changes the 12th April, to travel county wide. Generator ¾ full, but not run, oil check required.
Hours 6 (2729), Southend (1679), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
4th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
18:00. Cloud 100%: Cool: Wind N, F2: Visibility <20Nm. Ground drying. The Plan: complete the lower shaft collar assembly. Visited CC earlier on, picked up 2 x heavy 4x2 timbers to support the edges of the shaft collar pallet; carried same, harness, tools and other pallets to dig. Installed the new supports across the shaft to secure collar pallet to; followed by finally securing in place a heavy duty pallet that forms the crawl way to the fixed ladder. Installed support rails, and guides which carry the lower, sliding shaft safety cover: (800mm x 1200mm plastic pallet). Inspecting the platform pallet adjacent the shaft, decided to replace it; as it takes the weight of the barrow when receiving spoil from winching. Outstanding; the open side beneath the platform, thorough which this work was carried out requires closing off, securing/safeguarding from dogs and the curious. Generator ¾ full, not run: no fuel on site.
Hours 4 (2733), Southend (1683), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
View northwest of north shaft with scaffold grill cover; left are two scaffold poles to improve support to the replacement pallet. The area exposed is the normal access route to the fixed ladder
View northwest of replacement red pallet secured in position; directly above the south shaft, (-23m)
7th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 90%: Wind NW, F2/3: Visibility >25Nm: Ground drying: Small stream. The Plan: continue maintenance. Replaced the pallet on which the barrow is loaded; installing two separate supports to facilitate ease of its/any future replacement. Reassembled the shaft collar structure; reducing risk of debris falling down the shaft when loading the barrow. Refitted the pallet on the east side, closing off the crawl way. Refitted the draw rope that opens the lower shaft cover both lines secured to the plastic pallet. Generator not run: no spare fuel on site. National travel restrictions ease the 12th April; travel allowed within the County.
Outstanding tasks, at the very least:
Fit final pallet to platform area
Close off open area beneath platform
Cut out the new lower shaft collar opening
Close off west side of platform at the shaft edge
Re-route underground lighting cable through to the winch house
Clean kibble hook and lubricate
Test comm’s and signal systems
Re-route power cable from generator
Check generator oil
Re-roof generator shed
Descend fixed ladder and check its fixings are secure
Clean all fallen debris from shaft ledges, pipework and the “Plank”
Check fixed lifeline
Install “flyline” to facilitate return of lifeline to the shaft base
Survey -22.5m level in shaft
Install “pallet wall” as rain protection for winch house from southwest weather
Re-cover the tripod with new weather cover
Hours 5 (2738), Southend (1688), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
9th April North West Sliabh Eilbh
Cloud 60%: Wind N, F3/4: Visibility >35Nm: Ground drying: The Plan: explore sinks MQ42 and MQ43. Parked at Faunarooska Cross; fifteen minutes to walk in. Started at MQ43; once again no suitable belays, used a 0.5m long nail bar pushed into soft bog. The pot is -3m; a water worn rift swiftly narrows, becoming blocked with fallen fragments of water worn limestone and lumps of bog. Recovered kit; moved twenty metres north to MQ42. Firmer ground here for the nail bar. This hole is -3m, at its base the circular pot was uninspiring; pulling aside a moss curtain, exposed a 0.5m wide, two metre long rift heading south. Of all the sinks so far this one is wide enough to dig with relative ease.
View north of MQ43 depression. Its size, shape and camouflage is the norm for the terrain; the entrance is in front of the rucksack.
View of MQ 43 entrance; almost all entrances are obscured by reed growth and are a potential threat to both man and beast
10th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Chill: Cloud 20%: Wind N, F2: Visibility >35Nm: Ground drying: Small stream: The Plan: maintenance. Installed a temporary pallet, (ideally needs a heavier duty), adjacent the shaft, closed off the opening beneath this area of the platform; also closed off the gap on the west side of the lower shaft collar. Re-routed the power cable from the generator to the winch; now run at high level. Re-threaded the underground lighting cable between the shaft and the winch house; a metre of length is spare. Checked and topped up the generator oil. Cleaned accumulated silt from the large water cistern; refitted cover.
Hours 2 (2740), Southend (1690), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
11th April Souterrain CL004 062002
Ruth Hollingsworth, Katie Theasby, Ritchie Jones, PC
Cool: Cloud 60%: Wind NW, F2: Ground drying. Waiting for the others to arrive at Oughtdarra church, PC was approached by John Morgan; Farmer, who, recognizing the Hilux, is aware of the digging at Considines. Twenty enjoyable minutes chatting about the world beneath the earth and local archaeology. During which he enquired if PC was out looking for caves “up above”, indicating the vast lower limestone terrace, just east of Noel Thynnes land. Answered, no, not today, but would love too; go ahead was the reply. When the others arrived, clarified with JM a route to his land; asking if OK to wander today looking at archaeology; again, no problem: a really nice bloke.
RH and KT are reading archaeology at Galway Uni; the same previously undertaken by RJ and PC. The Plan: introduce them to archaeology in the Oughtdarra and Ballynahown townlands. Enclosures, Cashels, Souterrains: a great selection. The Covid restrictions have severely curtailed their involvement with tutors, so such an outing gave them some level of introduction to field work, preparing them for their forthcoming field survey project. Witnessed the spectacle of some thirty odd feral goats effortlessly scaling the near vertical upper terrace cliff face. Four hours of sun, fun and laughter: Primroses, Orchids and many other blooms delighted the eye, a cracking trip.
13th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 30%: Wind N, F2: Visibility >35Nm: Ground drying: Small trickle: The Plan: maintenance. PC descended, cleaning fallen debris after installation of the scaffold grill. Applied the hose to expose the fill in the lower part of the gap between the north and south shafts; managing to wash away most of the loose items. Ascending, all stemple securing’s were checked; staging at -14m and “The Plank were washed clean of its mud coating and loose debris. Gazing out into the shaft noticed a pink cylinder resting on the RSJ; it is a container for washing powder in which interesting items are placed exposed during operations. This was left at -23m; the RSJ is at -12m; water has filled the shaft to at least this level to set this item at its present elevation. The signal box had previously been raised to -3m to avoid such an inundation: continued ascent. Lower shaft collar cut open. Weather cover replaced on the generator shed and weather cover fixed to the open side of winch shed. Telecommunication system checked; hauling signal system requires checking. Generator ¾ full: no spare fuel on site. Almost, almost, ready to start digging.
Hours 4 (2744), Southend (1694), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
15th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 60%: Wind W, F2: Visibility <25Nm: Ground Drying: Stream a bare trickle. The Plan: maintenance. Managed to cover one half of the head-frame; the remainder likely completed tomorrow, as the weather will deteriorate into showers over the weekend. The black plastic replacement is not as heavy duty as expected; time will tell of its strength. Generator not run: ¾ full: no fuel on site.
Hours 4 (2748), Southend (1698), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
16th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 80%: Wind SE, F3/4: Cool: Visibility <20Nm: Ground drying: Stream barely a trickle. The Plan: maintenance. Western side of the weather canopy was finished; task completed. CC prepared a route through the undergrowth behind the winch shed to the new spoil area. Generator topped up with fuel: no spare on site. Outstanding task, prior to winching is test the winch clutch under load. Need to clean and return hook.
Hours 4 (2748), Southend (1698), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
The Considine's dig site sporting it's new weather canopy.
Black Plastic Matters.
22nd April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 50%: Wind SE, F4: Visibility <25Nm: Ground drying: Stream a trickle. The Plan: maintenance. Secured the lifting hook to the hauling line with a steel, oval, screwgate karabiner; tested the winch under load to check its recent servicing. Dismantled and reassembled the winch counter balance, to allow the wheel barrow to access the spoil area behind the winch shed. Trimmed Blackthorn along passageway to improving access and avoid injury. Telephone and signaling systems operational; some minor tasks remain outstanding but do not impact on digging. Generator full: no spare fuel on site.
Hours 4 (2752), Southend (1602), Kibbles 0 (5331), Nets 0 (869), Total lifts 6201
24th April Lough Awaddy
NG & PC
Cloud 10%: Wind E, F2: Ground drying: Visibility ≈25Km. The Plan: investigate the lough. Lough Awaddy is located five hundred metres SSE of Lough Aughrim, among a vast karst landscape. PC believes this area has similar, significant aquifers to what he discovered west of Gort in the 1980s. Further to an aerial image taken during a fly over, piloted by Dig Hastilow in 2002, Lough Aughrim was dived by PC in December 2003. The vertical walled, oval shaft was dived to -13m, during winter water levels. The base of the large pot exhibits an almost level silt floor; the sediment more than leg length deep. Its uniformity suggests a constant upwelling of flow. Wider scrutiny found several sites, in the area; Lough Awaddy was the next of this project. The almost featureless landscape caused issues identifying the site. Crystal clear water showed a depth of the northern pot to be perhaps ten metres; viewed from an adjacent limestone bench. Forty metres to the south the main pot is estimated at twenty five metres diameter from the aerial image. A weighted plumb line was repeatedly deployed unsuccessfully from a position behind a reed bank. Estimated depth for part of the pot is similar the adjacent site of perhaps six to ten metres. The plan is to conduct a dive to ascertain its shape and depth. Theory; prior to glacial advance, such vertical pots may have linked an upper system to the present inaccessible aquifer. A worthwhile project to explore the nature of any and all submerged pots in the area: a cracking day in excellent company.
Lough Awaddy; one of at least two vertical developments into an aquifer.
View north showing surface hydrology.
26th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, CM & PC
Almost cloudless: Wind NE, F1: Visibility <25Nm: Ground drying. The Plan: DIG. The availability of CM allowed the first actual excavating session since the 23rd January. CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing: CM digging. Arrived 09:30 to get the dig ready. CC and CM arrived 10:15. Set up a 2:1 hauling, to start removing the pile of boulders left since KLD’s shift; the first lift caused concern. Clunks and knocks were emitted from the winch assembly. From the noise assumed the boulder to be very big; this was not in fact the case. Disassembled the 2:1, reverting to single hauling; noises lessened, but remained to a degree. Believe the issue to be the dry, stiff rope. Using the 2:1 noted only 100mm was left, available to hold, once the rope was around the capstan; need replace this rope. With the boulder pile left in situ, CM dug the south end, noting the subtle continued widening of the west wall. At surface, spoil was deposited in the original western area, however PC’s upper body strength had deteriorated since the regular digging, that, or the residual affect of the Covid-19 jab yesterday pm. As weariness increased, spoil was placed in the new area behind the winch shed. Of the twenty six lifts, twenty five were very full kibbles, and one net. Generator all but full: five litres of spare fuel on site. Delighted to be actually digging again. Noted error in running totals: corrected same.
Hours 6 (2765), Southend (1715), Kibbles 25 (5356), Nets 1 (870), Total lifts 6227
29th April Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG & PC
14:00. Cloud 50%: Wind NE, F2/3: Visibility >35Nm: Ground drying: Tiny trickle of a stream: The Plan: Digging, introduce PMcG to safe digging operations and procedures.
CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing: PMcG digging. PC arrived 13:00 to install the remaining scaffold clips, securing the outstanding east side poles; there remains a small area which will need a further scaffold pole purchase: scaffold clips will soon arrive from the UK. 14:00 CC and PMcG arrived. The fitting of a longer hauling rope for 2:1 lifts was deferred. Following an introduction to operational procedures PMcG descended, swiftly familiarized himself with the dig and safe hauling practices. The session produced a very satisfying twenty five kibbles. Generator ¾ full: five litres on site. Total number of lifts corrected, to date. CC absent in the UK for the next while. Potentially digging Thursday.
Hours 7 (2772), Southend (1722), Kibbles 25 (5381), Nets 0 (870), Total lifts 6252
1st May MQ45, Sliabh Eilbh
ITM 514379 x 704899
Cloud 50%: Wind WSW, F2: Visibility >30Nm: Ground drying. Parked at Faunarooska cross; twenty minutes walk in, with pack. The Plan: explore MQ45. MQ45 is one of many unrecorded sinks discovered Dec 2020 – Jan 2021 by PC; MQ45 is one of four near the southern limit of the line of sinks. A similar formation of sinks was discovered along the western flank of Knockaunsmountain in the early/mid 1980s in association with Mark Lumley, Steve Milner and Mike McDonald. A GPSR was used to relocate the site among the featureless landscape and adjacent similar sinks. MQ45 is situated within an oval depression, measuring fifteen metres long, east –west and ten metres wide; some two metres below moorland level. Three collapses have formed; the eastern, at two metres deep, is choked with fallen peat overburden. The western, also two metres deep is also choked with humic debris. The central, open pot was laddered. Except for the entrance of Halliday’s Hole, at almost five metres wide, this is the largest shaft size of those so far descended along this sinuous line of sinks; the entrance rift a metre wide. This pot is also choked with humic debris; westward a vertical squeeze enters another section of rift, (beneath the western collapse). Here a small, clean section of floor is exposed; shards of thin stone, (shale?), are scattered in the bedding: here, no stream evidence is obvious passing the tumbled, intact lumps of peat. It may be this bedding indicates a shale, or chert bed, it’s difficult to determine. The presence of such a formation may explain why many of the sinks descended only reach a depth of around three metres, and no more. Depth of this bedding within MQ45 is -4m; the rift is five metres in length. This trip completes investigation of this group of four sinks; MQ42 to MQ45. Prior to checking the original established ITM, a GPSR was left to stabilize whilst the trip took place; accuracy improved from an initial error of 14m to a final error of just 3m, over thirty minutes.
5th May S4
PC & PMcG
Cloud 60%: Wind NE, F4: Visibility <25Nm: Ground drying. The Plan; review the coastal dig S4. Nice walk in blustery conditions; scrutinized the site with the view that previous was really only visiting, so time, and equipment constrained. Really fancy opening it, but will need to protect the excavation from ingress to the sea and storm tossed debris.
6th May Considine’s Cave, (South End)
PC & PMcG
Cloud 10%: Wind NW, F3: Visibility <30Nm: Ground drying: Very small stream. The Plan: Dig. PMcG digging: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. A minor delay meant digging was underway by 11:00. PMcG continued to excavate around the eastern wall, almost up to the projecting limestone rib; though not actually entering the potential Danger Zone. Of the twenty kibbles raised, six were of gravels and clays, the remainder boulders. The gravels were deposited in the spoil area behind the winch shed, the boulders cast upon the eastern end of the boulder pile; there is room enough for a good many more loads. The generator is ½ full: spare fuel on site. PMcG is a swift learner. KLD is presently occupied assisting with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout; will return as soon as practicable.
Hours 5 (2777), Southend (1727), Kibbles 20 (5401), Nets 0 (870), Total lifts 6272
7th May Gratton Dale Mines
CC & NB
An initial walk to look for mine workings in Gratton Dale along with Pete Forster, was made on the 5th May. Today a more thorough investigation was made with the second visit centered around the site of the old waterworks pump house. An obvious large opening high on the dale side behind the pump house (SK 2085.6074), was first looked at, a short cutting leads to a large entrance with several low workings leading off, a worked mineral vein can be seen at the entrance, ( see photos 1 & 2). Above this entrance on the valley top, near the wall, a possibly diggable collapse was seen (SK 2087.6074, see photo 3).
Looking over the wall towards Oddo Farm can be seen the spoil heaps of workings of Cowlica Rake and associated mines ( see photo 4). On descending the valley side another small opening was found (SK 2086.6074, photo 5), this is situated almost directly above the first site. Continuing to the valley floor we walked down the dale to an opening noticed earlier in the woodland (SK 2086.6087), this appears to be a collapse into a level, the original entrance can still be seen below ( see photos 6 & 7). As with the other sites a return visit is necessary to explore them properly.
Photo 1. Looking North out of the Entrance across the dale
Photo 2. Working leading off either side of the central mineral vein
Photo 3. The collapse, top of the valley near the wall, looking North
Photo 4. Looking South above the working with Oddo Farm in the distance and the spoil heaps of Cowlica Rake
Photo 5. The small level directly above the Main Entrance
Photo 6. The collapsed entrance with possible access above
Photo 7. Access to working beyond the collapsed lower level entrance
10th May Poulnagollum
Cloud 100%: Wind NW, F4: Showers: Visibility <20Nm: Ground damp: The Plan: visit Branch Passage cascade. Resurgence stream noted as quite high at the bridge. En-route, several surface streams noted as having a good flow. Upper Poulnagollum cascade clearly audible when half way across the field. Rigged a fifteen metre rope off two tapes; abseiled in. Found a tree had fallen into the main pot, beneath the cascade. Water clarity, crystal; Gunman’s stream had enough flow to produce two cascades into the main streamway. Evidence of very recent higher flow averaged six to eight inches above extant stream. Other tree branches encountered along the stream way. Approaching the first cascade, main stream depth averaged ankle deep, in cobble free sections. Minor inlets produced decent showers. At main junction installed a tell-tale within the sandbank; scampered off upstream toward Branch passage cascade. Along the crawling section found stream flow quite high; returned to Tell-Tale after twenty minute absence noting main stream level had increased 27mm. Decided to exit; saw no obvious increase from the inlets. The first cascade showed a significant increase; beyond, the previous ankle deep stream appeared unchanged. Surfaced to a heavy shower; used self lifeliner to ascend climb. No obvious stream level increase at the bridge. The field in which Poul Eilbh is located appears for sale; For Sale sign, with arrow pointing in its direction, is erected at the field gate.
14th May Considine’s Cave, (South End)
PMcG & PC
10:00. Cloud 100%, base 1200ft: Showers: Wind SW, F2: Visibility<3Nm: Ground damp: Tiny stream. Enroute PC liberated a heavy pallet. The Plan: Dig. PMcG digging/photos: PC winching, unloading and barrowing. PMcG took photos, before wresting two boulders from the floor; inadvertently creating a 0.6m high face. Taking the initiative, PMcG dug out the spoil northward, finding this horizontal digging method simpler and easier. The bothersome gap between the two projecting ribs is all but centre of the hauling way; the extant, almost parallel gap may continue downward, but remains to be seen. Presently, two steps, in the shaft floor ascend from the South End to the “Ribs”. This spoil needs complete removal to see if the gap between the “Ribs” continues. In line with the centre of the hauling way, if the present gap width continues, there should be no hauling issues. If however the gap does narrow, or heal up, then CC’s suggestion to deviate the hauling rope whilst in motion will require design, installation and implementation. Of the twenty kibbles raised one was of small stones sorted specifically to surface the new barrow way behind the winch shed: eight kibbles were clays and stones, the others of boulders. Winch working well since CC serviced the motor. Generator ½ full: spare fuel on site.
Hours 5 (2782), Southend (1732), Kibbles 20 (5421), Nets 0 (870), Total lifts 6292
21st May Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud base 2000ft: Wind N, F3: Visibility <20Nm: Showers: Ground soft: Small stream. The Plan: Dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PMcG dug from the east wall around to the southern rift, lowering the floor by about a foot, (0.3m). Using the “cheating sticks”, the fill in the south rift was removed to within a foot of the shaft floor. The base of the hole, excavated adjacent the southeast rift is estimated to be around -24m; if accurate, this depth is approaching only two metres above the bottom of the North End shaft. The session resulted with a delightful thirty kibbles lifted of clays, cobbles and boulders. Finishing off the session PC topped up the generator, immediately noticing a lack of petrol odour from said fluid. Some two litres were poured into the tank containing some two litres. At home PC found it was not all petrol, but mostly water. Prior to the planned maintenance session, Monday 09:30, PC will drain the generator tank and replenish. Said fluid was bought at Aran View Station; visited to remonstrate with the staff, without success. PMcG related the place has a reputation for dodgy fuel.
Hours 6 (2788), Southend (1738), Kibbles 30 (5451), Nets 0 (870), Total lifts 6322
24th May Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 70%: Wind NW, F3: Visibility 30<Nm: Ground wet: Small stream. The Plan: Survey and maintenance. With two planned to survey the issue of the lifeline arose again; rather the inability to get the line down to the next man waiting to ascend. PC secured a 13mm polypropylene line, (courtesy PMcG), adjacent the top of the fixed ladder. At the bottom this line was tensioned, by hand, and secured to a piece of rebar inserted into the drilled 14mm hole, adjacent the south rift. The process; the first man to surface clips the krab around this line, down which it slides, returning to the bottom, well away from the ladder, staging, cables and hoses. PMcG and PC began to survey; the uneven floor meant this planning was best made at -21.5m. A laser level was sited in the south rift to assist centering lateral measurements. A plumb bob from the surface centered the hauling way. The tape measure was secured into each narrow end of the north and south rifts. With the excellent help of PMcG recording the survey was swiftly concluded. Whilst PC then phaffed about, PMcG was itching to wrest rocks from the south rift, exposing gaps and an elongated cavity, some metre in depth. Meanwhile, upstairs, CC had investigated an intermittent vibration from the winch. Then cutting a hole in the pallet through which to easier deploy the lifeline, had laid boulders along the dry stone spoil retaining wall, (to increase its containment capacity), and trimmed the large shrub obstructing the east end of the boulder pile. PMcG topped up the generator with fuel: a cracking session.
Hours 6 (2796), Southend (1746), Kibbles 30 (5481), Nets 0 (870), Total lifts 6352
These plans compare the shape of the shaft at regular depths. Surveys have been taken at -18.5m, -20.sni and -21.5m. The image above displays the change in shape and how me south shaft is presently not connected to the northern shaft.
The dashed outline of -21.5 level shows how the shaft continues to increase in size and alter shape toward the south end. The developing southeast rift, though narrow at present has an estimated depth of a further four metres. This places its invert just below that of the stream in the lowest part of the northern shaft. © P.C.N.
27th May Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 100%, base 600ft: Rain: Visibility <4Nm: Ground wet: Small stream: The Plan: dig. CC winching: PMcG digging: PC unloading and barrowing. PMcG continued to dig around the south end, toward the “Ribs”; lowering the uneven floor to an average of twenty three metres, deepest measured at 23.9m. A steady pace raised thirty kibbles containing grim clays and boulders; PMcG manages to load the kibbles with many of the big rocks encountered, even so, five very large boulders await removal, requiring the net and 2:1, will do this next session. Need to install hangers for the mechanism to facilitate the vertical hauling process deviating around the “Ribs”. Increasing depth will mean positioning the bolts will become more difficult. The small horizontal passage, beneath “The Pinch” in the North End, may very likely appear in the South Shaft as the floor is removed at the base of the fixed ladder. From it may be expected some southward development. There is the potential to utilize the area between the “Ribs” and the fixed ladder as a hopper, reducing the need for boulder spoil to be brought to surface. The spot depth of 24m is some 2.5m above where the stream disappears in the North End; these measurements suggest an estimated volume of nine cubic metres to clear the shaft to -26.5, being some eighteen tonnes.
That the South Shaft continues to increase in diameter with depth, the South Rift is a constant feature, the Southeast Rift is formed at 90° to the fault and the approaching reappearance of the stream from the North Shaft are all encouraging: a cracking session. Generator ½ full: no spare fuel on site.
Hours 7 (2803), Southend (1753), Kibbles 30 (5511), Nets 0 (870), Total lifts 6382
31st May Considine’s Cave, (South End
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 90%, Wind SW, F4, gusting 5: Visibility <25Nm: Ground wet: Small stream: The Plan: lift assembled large boulders. PC arrived early to set the 2:1 hauling. The existing rope is short for the 2:1; therefore a seventy metre rope was substituted. CC winching: PMcG digging. To raise a net with the 2:1 took four minutes; during this PMcG continued to fill any available kibble. Planned as a short session, two nets of multiple boulders were raised along with eight nets containing one boulder; at an average off seventy kilograms each, these barely manageable boulders could only be placed along the edge of the path to the stile. The entire shaft floor is now workable; when the gravel layer is cleared large gaps are visible through the loosely compacted boulders. The 2:1 system was stowed and the fifty metre hauling line reinstated. Comms and signal cables need rerouting to avoid future entanglement with each other. The lightweight pallet, fitted temporarily, needs replacing with one on site. Generator ¼ full: no spare fuel on site. A maintenance session is planned for Thursday, 09:30. Believe JW and “Sparky” enroute from Thailand.
Hours 6 (2809), Southend (1759), Kibbles 0 (5511), Nets 10 (880), Total lifts 6392
3rd June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 50% Wind SW, F2: Visibility <30Nm: Ground drying: Small stream: The Plan: photography/dig. CC below PC up top. CC descended to take photographs recording the emerging, developing features I.E. southeast rift and the ribs. A minor collapse of the floor up against the western wall of the shaft, adjacent the south rift opening, occurred since the previous session. Like the cavity exposed below the south rift, the visible depth of this collapse is also about one metre, possibly two. Difficult to assess, a bedding joint in the west wall appears to step back perhaps six inches, (0.15m). To make use of a man below ten kibbles were sent to surface, several remain against the far south end. Filled generator to 5/8ths: fuel CC. Signal box brought to surface for service and repositioning away from the suspended light, to avoid cable and line entanglements.
Hours 5 (2814), Southend (1764), Kibbles 10 (5521), Nets 0 (880), Total lifts 6402
View looking north where the cleft between the north and south shafts heal up.
The 'Ribs', where the east and west wall cause the hauling way to narrow
7th June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
CC, PMcG, PC
Cloud 90%: Wind SE, F2: Visibility >30Nm: Midges: Ground drying: Small stream. The Plan: Dig. PMcG digging: CC winching: PC unloading and barrowing. PMcG continued to level off the floor at ≈23m, clearing up to “The Ribs”; producing thirty well filled kibbles. The floor appears to be assuming a looser compaction; a minor subsidence occurred adjacent the east “Rib”. The recent collapse up against the west wall, exposing an undercut, seems to be mirrored on the east wall. Shaft floor level is now about one metre below that of the ladder way. Boulder spoil deposited along side the northern boundary wall; will require retaining wall. Need to drill new 14mm hole to secure signal box, as is now two metres above shaft floor. Also install fixings for the potential deviation needed for Hauling, should the present gap between “The Ribs” close up. Generator ½ full: no fuel on site.
Hours 6 (2820), Southend (1770), Kibbles 30 (5551), Nets 0 (880), Total lifts 6432
10th June Considine’s Cave, (South End)
Cloud 100%, base 700ft: Wind SW, F2, increasing: Visibility >30Nm: Midges: Ground drying: Small stream. The Plan: maintenance. PC descended to drill holes to allow relocating the signal box at a lower level. Also installed two ringbolts, at -20m, opposite each other in the East and West walls; suspended from each will be the deviation system. Installation now avoids difficulties as the shaft depth increases. Relocated the travel line which allows the lifeline to be sent easily back to the base of the shaft. The depth of the undercut below the West wall varies from 0.5m near the southern rift, to 0.3m, as the wall morphs into the western “Rib”. Photos required. Washed out the gap for a better view; unlike the “undercuts” encountered in the northern shaft this does not appear to be in a hurry to return outward again; adjacent the south rift its depth is almost two metres. Adjacent the southeast rift a minor collapse exposes a small projection, this lump forms part of the southeast rift wall; visible depth, two metres. The southeast rift wall was also washed obtaining a better view; depth estimated as three metres, though closer to four. PC believes as the ladder way spoil is removed it will expose the original stream route from the northern shaft; its junction with the southern shaft may be an addition issue for the hauling of kibbles. Up top, CC was plagued by midges, attempting build a new section of boulder spoil retaining wall. PMcG’s systematic digging has lowered the leveled shaft floor almost a metre below the adjacent floor of the ladder way: one small step for PMcG, a big one for PC. JW donated a new wheel barrow; the previous one’s trough worn out having only carried a little over three hundred tonnes. PMcG donated an elderly heavy duty extension lead; tested fine so, with a length of 30 odd metres it will provide lighting to at the very least -30m. Generator not run: no fuel on site. Depth South End, -23.5m.
Hours 4(2824), Southend (1774), Kibbles 0 (5551), Nets 0 (880), Total lifts 6432
Lets hope the new barrow doesn't have to carry another three hundred tons before the shaft is emptied!
Awaiting your next log please. "Remember, if it's not written down it never happened"