Highlights of the Year
During this year we:
extended the main route by several feet-
back under an arched roof.
uncovered another passage to the left near
the dig face where the roof is going up again. The side passage is not
quite full to the roof.
found some 'black space' on the right hand
side of the cross-rift which we haven't pushed yet.
The Dig Log
Weekend 28th/29th January The water was at
'normal level' with only a foot of so of water in the extension passage.
Pumping took less than an hour. It was found that several tons of
infill had fallen out of the roof of the cross rift exposing the ceiling
and about 6 feet of passage to the right - not in the direction we want
to go but another 6 feet for the survey nevertheless. There was
evidence of recent flooding right up to the cave roof.
All of Saturday (which was bitterly cold with a biting wind) was spent
removing the infill from the collapse (not a new experience for the
team!) - 75 buckets in total. By dusk it was too cold to continue.
Most of Sunday was also spent removing the infill from the collapse but
in the late afternoon we did manage to add a couple of feet to the
system, digging under the arched roof we had spotted last July.
At floor level the infill is like shale sand and is only loosely packed
- the next weekend which has been provisionally set for 25th/26th
March promises to be very interesting.
The Dig Team: MCa (Sun only), KEd, BMa (Only for a couple
of hours each afternoon), MNo, GSm, JSm, ASt + Gary from SWCC (Sun only)
Saturday 25th March The water
slightly higher than
Pumping took nearly all day. When we got to the bottom of the
extension passage it was noted that more infill had fallen out of the
roof and had washed down to the dig face. Also by this time the
rain which had started when we started pumping had set in for the day
and was falling heavily. Water was pouring in from both the left
and right-hand sides of the cross rift. In fact the water on the
left was falling as a waterfall! At this stage we abandoned
operations for the day.
While we were waiting for the water to be pumped out we dug up in the aven on the left-hand side - following the roof and one wall. This
dig had been started several years ago.
It rained heavily overnight on the Saturday night.
We returned on Sunday knowing that there would be too much water in the
system to dig at the face, but we thought that we would be able to get
the sand from the dig in the aven out to surface, but the water was well
up the main railway track! So we packed up.
The Dig Team: KEd, BMa, GSm, JSm, ASt & CWe
Weekend 24th/25th June A very successful
weekend. After a dry week there was no significant water at the
dig face, so with no pumping required we were able to start digging
straight away. On Saturday we were able to remove the infill which
had fallen out of the cross rift and make a little forward progress
under the arched roof. We had to replace the drag tray which which
had lost all of its rigidity, but the replacement (an old washing up
bowl) completely disintegrated after only about 10 uses.
Nevertheless we did shift 140 buckets.
On Sunday we fabricated a new drag tray and in spite of having to
re-tyre two of the truck wheels we added another few feet to the system
and shifted another 110 buckets. In the afternoon we managed to
drop a boulder out of the roof which revealed some "black space", but
after much excitement we found after a few feet the infill was back up
to the roof.
The Dig Team: PAn (Sun only), MBo, MCa, KEd, BMa, MNo
(Sun only) DRo, GSm, JSm & ASt
Weekend 12/13th August We now have 150, 13"
x 30" sand bags - each one holds more than a bucket full. On
Saturday we filled 100 bags (approx. 120 buckets) and stacked them at
the bottom of the main railway track. With only 4 people we had to
initially stack the bags in the cross-rift and then move positions to
get them to the bottom of the entrance passage.
On Sunday we pulled 80 bags out to surface before the front wheels of
the main dig truck were worn so badly that they splayed out and came off
the railway track. We took both trucks back to the workshop and
swapped two wheels between the trucks. We were then able to drag
out the remaining 20 bags. After this we filled another 50 bags
and stacked them in the cross-rift.
Over the course of the weekend we added approx. 10 feet to the system.
Near the dig face we have lost the roof again, but we think that at the
dig face we may have got the roof back. Also on the left there may
be a side passage.
Keith in the cross rift stacked with sand bags.
This view is looking back towards the entrance.
Keith under the wedged boulder in the roof. This
view is looking back towards the entrance.
The Dig Team: JDu (Sat and Sun morning
only), KEd, CJe (Sun only), BMa and DRo
Weekend 30th September/1st October After a
very wet week we thought that digging would be impossible but when we looked
down the cave on the Saturday morning the water level was below the
cross-rift. Setting up and pumping took over 4 hours, but afterwards
we were able to dig for about 3 hours. While the water was being
pumped out Keith and Brendan removed some of the in-fill from the right-hand
side of the cross-rift. Ahead at the top of the passage we can see
some significant black space!
By the end of the day we had moved all of the newly filled bags and all of
those from the left-hand side of the cross-rift (left behind from our last visit)
to the bottom of the main railway track. Water running in was a
constant problem and all of the digging was done kneeing in water.
Back at the caving club it took well over half an hour and most of the
members of the dig team to remove Mr Smith Senior's wellies!
At the dig face nearly all of the in-fill from the 'lost' roof of the
passage had slumped in revealing back space in the ceiling. After some
digging we were able to climb up into this. The passage here is around
ten feet high. Ahead appears to be the continuation of the chocked
narrow rift, above is a 4 inch square hole in the roof which is another
inlet, but to the left is (as we suspected from last time) another
passage and the in-fill does not go quite up to roof level - more black
space! We can see about six feet along this passage before it appears
to turn right again. This is a very interesting area.
Saturday evening and night were moist to say the least so on Sunday
morning all we were able to do was to pull all of the bags out from the
bottom of the main railway track. Mr Smith Senior insisted that he
would have to work on the surface only as he didn't want to have the same
problem removing his wellies. After 15 minutes it started to rain
heavily so he spent the rest of the day in the library reading and drinking
tea. In the afternoon a couple of us went down to look at the water
level and it was back to the height that we had found it at the previous
morning. It seems that the water quickly drains to this level which is
very good news.
Before was can operate the dig again we will have to do much needed remedial
work on the dig truck and track as well as permanently fixing the dig hoses
and rewiring the pump cables.
The black space at roof level in the right-hand
side of the cross-rift
The Dig Team: MCa, KEd, BMa (Sat
only), DRo, GSm (Sat & first 15mins of Sun only), JSm & ASt
Sunday 15th October We had a look in the dig
and the water level was up to the timbers in the extension passage with
only about a foot of air space to duck through to get into the
cross-rift. The arch leading to the dig face was under water.
The water is not draining as quickly as we had hoped! Brendan and
Keith braved the water to investigate the cross-rift.
Present: KEd, BMa, DRo and CWe