Fraggle Rock Resurgence

Alternate name :-

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Fraggle Rock, S10d

Glasha Beg

Lackglass

Clare

 

507196 x 699718

8 Metres

>130 Metres

 

Historical

The dig has been an ongoing project since October 2011; the following is an edited account of the principle events; greater detail of the problems overcome, observations made and day to day struggles are available via the log books.

 

The subtle water worn meander extending from the entrance was noted during Eastertide 1974, among several other sites of interest along the coast line between Poulsallach and Doolin during a walk by PC; seemingly too, during their annual visit, BO, (U.B.S.S.), also noted the site.


The members now settled in Doolin investigated the obvious dry valley ascending from an elevated storm beach for potential; the wider area searched and the site now known as Fraggle Rock was relocated. This was a protracted period when the sites of Poulnafearbui and “Radgers” were excavated with ML (L.A.D.S.).


Digging at Fraggle Rock commenced on 19th October 2011, as a solo undertaking clearing the entrance of the loose cobble fill. At the end of the month TB, (U.B.S.S.) was attending the annual S.U.I. conference in Co. Clare and was invited to offer a second opinion on its potential. Progress was sporadic until early January 2012. Together, CC and PC began digging through the increasingly compacted cobbles that filled the next four metres of entrance passage. Beyond them interesting stream laid alluvium stratigraphy became pronounced with alternate, almost confusing, layers of gravels and clays of differing viscosities with a rather surprizing number of regularly occurring glacial erratics of widely differing sizes; the largest so far easily equal to that of a football. Normal digging was accomplished using a small bull nosed shovel and a large plastic skid dragged to surface by old climbing rope supplied by the Estate of the very Late, Great, MB. Even with only two regular participants the face progressed swiftly; the result of several frenzied digging sessions per week. A method of dragging out the skids and returning them was developed  actuated by the hauler outside thereby relieving the digger of some of the hassle and effort of the tangle of rope in the working area. For quite some distance the deposits were of stream deposited clays and cobbles with an upper layer of compacted sand, from just beyond the first bend this upper layer of compacted sand stopped. Soon the sea began to inundate the length of the excavated passage, regularly causing devastation to deposits and burying seaweed and assorted dead sea creatures resulting with the usual rotting odour. Fortunately the decision, early on, to remove the entire cave deposit along the the passage proved a wise move subsequent inundations simply washed the face with some debris deposited along the passage. This method of working remained the norm; digging sessions often achieved three times a week, (Pat Cronin Irish Log Books).  A photographic record of various sections of the stratigraphy has been created.

 

By June 2012 the first double bends had become exposed necessitating a drastic re-think of the straight forward in/out hauling system. This obstacle to normal  extraction of the skids was quickly followed by yet another pair of bends, and within another six metres, a further  bend! By now the effort to drag the skids from the face back to where they could be hauled away had become almost Herculean. At this point other nearby digs were being considered. The adjacent Cave of the Lost Sole had been assessed and an approach had raised the idea of a railway for  extraction of the debris  along its almost straight passage to then tip over the cliff edge; this option became extensively discussed whilst sculling pints in the Roadside, Lisdoonvarna.

 
As the idea of a railway became more practicable, and appealing, it was then applied to the problems experienced in Fraggle. Could an  installation allow the normal team of two to remain operational in Fraggle? Work on the railway commenced; eight digging sessions were consumed with the installation of the track from what is known as the “Terminus”, running up a slight incline to level out at the next bend,  then as a long radius  sweeping around “Bison Boulder Bend”; ending at the inclined loading ramp in position at the face, an overall, initial, distance of some twelve metres.  This application improved productivity of the pair of diggers enormously.

 
The truck, or tram, is an articulated six wheeled vehicle, two fixed wheels on one axle, the other four set upon a bogey that accommodates the bends and inclines without derailment; capable of carrying enormous loads though designed for two twenty kilo skids.

 
Further considerations were that ocean inundations had to be accepted as a matter of seasonal fact so longevity of the tram track, and hopefully, minimum provision of maintenance and repair; all aspects were carefully thought through; the entire system had to survive debris blown in particularly during winter storms. A suspended skeletal framing was proposed as presenting less of a surface impact area for wave action. This design was chosen and has proved more than satisfactory time and time again, the original installation remaining extant, surviving the terrific storms of 2013, 2014 and 2015, remaining intact without any need of repair. On many occasions debris has been strewn along the passage without interfering with the passage of the tram, which was used to remove said debris in an efficient manner.

 

August 2013. The thought of  sea damage was ever constant so it came as a shock to find a section of passage eleven metres long blown out by a huge stream from within following two days of sustained rainfall. The debris, strewn along the length of the cave took many sessions to remove; undaunted the dig continued. Some eight metres beyond this point, known as "Boars Head", the junction of "Jim's" Passage" was encountered. So recorded as JW was invited to pursue the open crawl as his first ever section of virgin cave passage. At this point the passage diverged, The "Loading Bay", a stream entered from the left though the main passage continues right. Thinking it had found a bypass to the choked main route the team pursued the stream; at first through a low section, the "Burrow", then for seventeen metres to "Anvil Chamber". Here is where three passages  diverge, "3T's", "Too Tight Tube", the choked continuation of another though smaller route, and the, once, very low, and much choked main route, "The Bedding".


To enter the bedding the entire passage from the "Loading Bay" to "Anvil Chamber" was also cleared dropping the entire floor length by some eighteen inches. The bedding was then followed digging through the normally encountered assorted debris, clays, gravels and erratics. A unpleasant surprize was the regular occurrence of large elongated slabs of fallen pieces of ledge. The average being four foot long, six inches thick and eighteen inches wide. The largest encountered was the "Coffin Lid" weighing in at 900 kilograms this was strapped up and winched out using a Lidl nine euro Turfor. Beyond "Coffin Corner" the passage became much wider; here the decision to backpack the spoil led to a very swift advance to the point where several awkward squeezes meandered around an obstacle at the "Freezer" leading to an open crawl pushed by JW for a further sixteen metres to where some clearing is required to progress further. Sustained rainfall in the Autumn of 2015 meant the volume of water in  the  confined area of the "Freezer" prohibited the use of the battery drill; the size of the stream remaining very high for weeks on end, so the decision to focus upon "Jim's Passage" was made. Digging in "JP" was  commenced 4th January 2016; progress produced 149 skids by the 21st January; quite a superb effort.  24th January, work continues.
 

BO

CC

BEC

JW

L.A.D.S.

MB

ML

PC

SO'C

U.B.S.S

Brian Otway

Cheg Chester

Bristol Exploration Club

Jim Warney

Let's 'Ave a Drink Speleo's

Martin Bishop

Mark Lumley

Pat Cronin

Sean O'Connor

University of Bristol Speleological Society

Survey
Description

This obscure ancient resurgence is situated in the terraced cliff a little south of Lackglass Cave. It is formed on a horizontal joint in the bedding where an unknown amount of movement has occurred, and slickensides are frequently visible in the fill and beddings. Deposits encountered during digging contain frequent igneous and metamorphic pebbles and cobbles, almost certainly derived from glacial deposits from Connemara, suggesting that the cave developed prior to the Munsterian Ice Age, circa 130,000BP - 300,000BP; a rather unique circumstance in the Burren, given virtually all caves are considered to have formed since the last, Midlandian, glacial period c10,000 years ago.

 

A sculpted meandering streamway some 1.2 metres high and 1 metre wide passes several minor wet weather inlets that drain from the northwest, after some sixty metres a passage enters from the left carrying what appears to be the main stream. To the right the main passage continues as a wriggle over ancient stream deposits for eight metres to where the way on becomes choked: digging has commenced here the 4th January 2016. Back at the junction, to the left, a lowering ceiling creates a crawl, (The Burrow), for seventeen metres into Anvil Chamber. From here three passages diverge. The obvious bedding, to the right, carrying the stream, continues for over forty metres to the present working face, (25th December 2015), this route is regularly obstructed by very large limestone blocks, (>800 kilo’s), and accumulated stream debris. The elevated stream level following the excessive rainfall of late 2015 has temporarily inhibited the use of battery drills and progress. Straight ahead from Anvil Chamber a small passage can be followed for three metres before it becomes completely choked with what appears to be sea cobbles, immediately left 3T’s passage is a tight wriggle for sixteen metres to small pile of cobbles; a continuation is visible. The entire cave has been filled with alternate compacted stream and sea debris.  The cave is subject to regular total inundation by the sea evidenced by the remains of shell fish and sea weed in its distant reaches. The once lost stream that issued through the minor fissures in the bedding now regularly resurges from the entrance.  Following heavy rain a large cascade tumbles over the cliff into the Ocean.

 

NB: It is inadvisable to enter Fraggle Rock during rough sea conditions as waves often break across the wide terrace five metres above the average tide height. On the 3rd August 2015 Cheg and Pat entered the cave after monitoring the rough sea conditions for some ten minutes. They managed to exit against an inundation and only avoided a dip in the sea by shear good fortune, (Cronin personal log 2015).

Statistics

Visits to Fraggle Rock Dig. ( Two members have attended at least 95% of these trips ).

 

2011 = 8,    2012 = 60,    2013 = 83,    2014 = 71,    2015 = 75.    Making a total of 297 trips.

 

It is a 19.5 Kilometres round trip from home to the parking area and back via the Roadside Tavern.

297 x 19.5 Kilometres means 5,791 kilometres driven.

 

There is a height difference between the parking area and the dig of 60 metres.

297 x 60  means 17820 metres of height gain and the same for height loss.

 

It is 1.4 Kilometres walk per session between the parking area and the dig and back.

297 x 1.4k means 415 kilometres walked.

 

A minimum of 7000 skids have so far been removed at a conservative average of 20 kilo each.

7000 x 20 = 140000 kilos or 140 tonnes.
 

Walking/Hauling distance outside on the bench = 40 metres walked per two skids.

7000 divided by 2 = 3500 x 40 = 140000 Metres  = 140 kilometres walked.

 

Beer drunk after digging sessions @ 2 pints per person per session.

297 x 2 means 594 pints @ 3.8 Euro per pint is a total of 2,257 Euro pissed against the wall.

Epitaph

In response to regular poor weather conditions, breaching of the elevated limestone bench by waves and penetration of said waves to far beyond the terminus of the railway, coupled with increasing logistical issues endured by the regular team of two bringing spoil to surface, (c100 metres), it was decided to cease Fraggle Rock as the principle dig.


One factor in this decision was the advances at Pegasus Pot and Considine’s Cave, in the townland of Poulnagun. Such speed of progress at both these sites reminded the Team what may be achieved with limited manpower and applied ingenuity. Once the decision was taken it was further agreed, on conservation and aesthetic issues, to dismantle and remove the entire infrastructure of railway, hauling systems, weirs, dam, sand bags and ancillary equipment, rather than leave it to decay in situ; everything in fact constructed to facilitate spoil removal.


Therefore as of the 9th August 2017 this gargantuan task was completed, conducted almost single-handedly by Pegasus associate Tony Boycott, ({TB},see logs). Far from being an abandoned site it continues, in effect, to dig itself as repeated rainstorms swell the mighty Fraggle stream, which dissolves the extant clay and cobble matrix leaving an array of various sized scattered cobbles. Periodic inspections will review ongoing erosion.


Future cave prospectors may choose to keep this site in mind as a place to visit.


NB. Upon inspecting the timber work, that once formed the railway, none was found to have suffered any decay from its five year exposure to the effects of being in a suspended position above the passage floor, in an environment of elevated moisture levels, and exposed to regular submersions of sea water.

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