Team – Chris, Jim T, Luke, Joe, Jon

We all met in Foolow and Luke had set up a ‘back of a white van’ transaction with Joe from Trogg Shop to get us all kitted out in new oversuits. These had been given the thumbs up for comfort and durability by Luke and Jim last week.

With a stronger team this week, minus Rob E, trying to right last week’s destruction of the dig face and scaffolding was the plan, with the boulder from the roof being the priority. Jim, Joe and Jon seemed to take an age to get ready, so Luke and I head off to the dig with capping gear in hand.

At the dig face not much more had run in from above the rock in the roof and with the area now larger Luke followed along the crawl. With the rest of the team joining, tidying commenced removing small rocks and mud with much more ease that the previous week. With Luke shifting stuff from the floor my attention turned to the dig face as I wanted to give my new mini mattock a try out. Digging to the left of what Rob pointed out as a wall was slowly revealing this to be a large rock which meant digging to the right was also required to remove it. Whilst digging on the right and with the top of the bedding plane now gone the small black space beyond was very alluring. I decided to ignore Robs advice and keep to the right the digging was easier too with not as much mud and more rock.

After pulling more and more rock the larger ones started to reveal what looked like solid roof (similar to the shell bed) or a very large boulder. Underneath this the black space started to get larger too. Luke suggested changing the order of the team and I suggested Jon came to the front for a look at the developments. Taking his time and gas bagging with Jim I continued to remove rocks and could now see a large void beyond which looked like a rift with a solid wall in front. My continuous cometary about the developing situation about A large void with space to stand up seemed to be falling on deaf ears and I shouted to Jon to hurry up as someone smaller may be able to squeeze through.

Jon was excited to see what was in front and was only stopped by an awkward angular rock that seemed to be keyed in with a rock on the other side of the squeeze. We shouted back to see if anyone had a phone to film the proceedings, but they were all back at the cars. With some hammering he managed to take enough off to squeeze through. He reported back of a large rift with a way on in the floor. There was no way I could get through the squeeze, so we worked for about 10 mins to remove the angular rock to allow the whole team to get through.

One by one the whole team got into the rift some 4/5m high, at its widest 1.5m and around 7m long. This was a much more social space and more importantly dry. Our attentions quickly turned to a large flake of rock that was blocking what was obviously the way on. Jon shone his light down to what was a clean washed floor about 3m below, a steady draft could be felt coming up through the rock. This must have been the draft felt coming through the bedding plane. With a bit of poking and prodding the large flake of rock approx. 1m2 and about 400mm thick was moving, this was sitting on another smaller boulder below. We had the capping gear and decided this would be the best approach.

Looking back at where we had dug through, what I originally thought was a roof/large boulder turned out to be half a dozen large slabs of rock that had fallen out of the 5m high rift. Maybe all of us on the same side of the dig wasn’t the best idea so Joe went back through to the other side. This worked well as Jim passed buckets through as we started to removed rocks around the large slab.

After about 25 minutes of capping and removing rocks, Jon tried to squeeze through to the floor below but halfway down had a change of heart as he noticed that the boulder under the flake had a void underneath and should it move, the whole lot would come crashing down and seal his fate. We spent another 20 mins capping the flake and made the squeeze 50% bigger. Luke was then coaxed into having a go at getting through. We slowly saw him inching through the gap an eventually his feet reached the floor which he described as loose.

The whole area below was clean washed and part way down the gap through the flake of rock the bedding plane could be seen. This must have been where all the water was going. Jon decided to have a climb up into the roof of the rift but there was nothing of interest.

Luke managed to move forward about a body length into what was describe as a narrowing rift, at the end of the rift there was another hole in the floor with space below, but he couldn’t turn round to get a look headfirst into it. He came back out and Jon went in for a look he was of the same opinion and the hole in the floor was the way on. The squeeze was too tight for me to get through, but this could be easily made bigger with more capping. This was going to have to happen to make the space below workable so would wait to have a look.  

The session was now much longer than we had originally anticipated, and everyone was keen to get to the pub for well earned refreshments and snacks. Whilst waiting for Jon to come back through the squeeze Luke and I heard some rocks falling behind and encouraged Jon to hurry up, I think they might have been from Jon’s earlier climb up, but we weren’t hanging around to find out.

The whole team effort was fantastic and the find is evidence that teamwork pays off. Let’s return next week with boosted enthusiasm and hopefully find out more about where all the water from the waterfall has been going.

Unfortunately, we had no camera with us this week so keep your eyes peeled for next weeks report with added photos.

Post caving beers in the mechanics

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