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Digging Summer 2011

An email was sent recently via our website from the Bradford Pothole Club. They had intended to do Langstroth Pot from Hole In The Floor entrance on 25th August but a recent surface collapse had caused the trip to be abandoned. They feared the bedding crawl was in imminent danger of collapse.


Steve and I visited on Bank Holiday Monday. After an interesting diversion in the head high bracken we eventually arrived at the shakehole to find a crater had appeared in the bottom. The dead tree in the bottom usually rested on the boulder floor but now the gap was over a metre.  There was evidence of a recent heavy flood and all the material had collapsed into two rifts below. Scarborough Caving Club dug these rifts unsuccessfully in 1995. 


Underground the climb down from the entrance lid was ok, but the rift to the left of the start of the bedding crawl was now filled up with all the collapse debris. Steve, in jumper and walking trousers, heroically went along the bedding crawl to the manhole, the vertical squeeze down, poking at all the debris in the rift at the left of the bedding to test its soundness. I followed some way behind cringing at Steve’s fearlessness. Steve said everything seemed secure.


When we originally cleared out the bedding plane, all the deads were put into the rift held back by thick wooden planks. This shoring seems to have held back the entire collapse slump from the surface and the bedding was free of rubble. At the bottom of the entrance climb was a layer of mud and boulders. The mud has now been washed away by the floods leaving the embedded boulders loose. Some of these must have rolled into the start of the bedding. Yet they were neatly stacked up suggesting that another caving party had cleared them up.

I don’t think any more action is required at present. But we will keep an eye on things over the next few months.


At Dig R1 not much work has been done due to the holidays. We welcome back Ian into the fray after his knee operation. Chris and John are very close to a sand filled void, (3rd Sept), and the cold draught is still there. However they feel that if things don’t open up soon, we may have to move onto pastures new.

Steve has started the survey. He’s hoping to get back down the cave in the autumn to get more data to complete it. The present dig was thought to be heading to the back of the sump but Steve’s survey shows the two passages running parallel about 5 metres apart.


The rib of rock down the entrance, mentioned in the last Newsletter, was removed in one piece. John gave it a kick and it fit perfectly into the top of the pitch to the right of the entrance.  This blockage now stops any person falling straight down a 7-metre pitch after sliding down from the entrance. Unfortunately Smithy was a bit over indulgent with the chemicals and the rift wall got cracked. This wall holds up some big henrys in the roof, so it’s best to tiptoe round there now.

Also done was the line above the first pitch that aids getting off the ladder. This took three attempts. It was best for me to get my substantial backside wedged in the inlet, with the stream running down the nick of my arse and out of the top of my wellies, to get enough room to move the drill and bit around the top of the pitch. The first time the hammer action stopped on the drill. The second time I forgot my helmet. Third time lucky and stream much lower so no unpleasant sluicing effects!


In August John went to find Spanish Glory in Matienzo with Harry Long and Johnny Southworth. Chris and I went for a poke around, but were unable to leave the cars for an hour due to a very heavy downpour. Eventually we got out and started to have a poke about in a dry streambed. All of a sudden there was a roaring sound like a steam train, (for those of you old enough to remember them). This got louder and louder and when all the local sheep ran up the sides of the valley, we thought it was time to move. A flood pulse came down the dry streambed, a 6-inch high torrent of mucky brown water, engulfing everything in its path.


It was probably the rain on this day or the following Wednesday, that did the damage to the Hole In The Floor shakehole. The following Wednesday was the CRO / UWFRA rescue in Lower Long Churn in appalling conditions. (See the UWFRA website for a photo of the how bad it was).



Arriving on the tops there were a lot of water about and two large streams sinking in usually dry streambeds. We have done some poking about here after receiving permission from the farmer to dig (and bang).

A fortnight later Chris was on call, so John and I went digging. It turned out to be a thoroughly miserable day. John had returned from Spain having found no new cave and in the process knackered his shoulder. He was delayed that morning by heavy traffic and also forgot his mobile. I had done my neck in which had required three visits to the Osteopath’s at £46 a go, and also forgot my sunscreen and mossie spray.

We decided to leave our caving gear, and just put wellies on with our normal jeans and t-shirts. Needless to say we got wet, muddy, sun burnt and attacked by clouds of midges and horse flies. I also fell in a stream.


Whilst trying to rescue my soggy clothes at the car, John set off to the pub first to get the beer in. To cap it all John was nursing two pints of shandy and two packets of crisps at The White Lion at Cray whilst I turned up at the Old Hall at Threshfield wondering where the bloody hell he’d got to!


He still laughs at me about falling in the stream. The Swine!


On 10th September Chris, John and I went to have a dig in an old abandoned stream sink where water can be heard roaring away some distance below. We’ve tentatively named it Cross Sink as it is formed on a crossjoint.


Whilst going up the fell to the dig we came across a sheep hung up when one of its horns caught in a low tree branch. The sheep was in some distress and once freed had trouble standing.

However we managed to get it on its feet, and though still very shaky it started feeding, always a good sign. Chris called this lucky sheep Baaabara.

On the way back Baaabara was laid back down again which caused us some concern. So we went to tell the farmer, who went up to give her an injection of some sort. Hope the little woolly thing is ok?

(So we’re meant to be big hard cavers)?

Trip Date: 11th September 2011
Added: 11th October 2011
Reviewer: Phil Ryder
Score:
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