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Mendip Digging News

  1. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon, Leonie Woodward, Toby Maddocks
    Hauling trip to clear the place of bags and rocks before Dr Nobel visits the end. All bags and rocks hauled and emptied to the top from staging area by Leonie and Mike with the rest of us below. Toby had a bit of a dig and filled 2 bags of spoil while James and Estelle hauled up most of the rocks from the lower shelf, then finished off hauling with Toby before hauling all those rocks as well up to Talus IV.
  2. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon, Rob Adams
    On arrival the gate had been removed and replaced by a wire mesh top padlocked in place. Assuming the CSCC have finally taken it away for repair! (or at least hope they have or someone has stolen the gate! :P) 3 of us arrived at the dig. James and Mike started hauling up to top staging area until Rob joined them to help while Estelle went digging. Dig had been washed out a bit making the top bit less of a poo mine, but that was soon restored as digging commenced! The right hand wall is pretty much all mud and rocks and this needs clearing back a bit - as this was done, it exposed a rock jutting out on the right with a nice flat top suitable for slicing off with a bit of Dr Nobel's which is making the way on too narrow to access currently. Possibly the left hand side could be reduced too but am wary that this is under where the water comes in and a rock did displace from above it while James was digging later, so it may be best left alone and concentrate on the more solid RH side. The floor has best part of a foot deep of proper 'slurry' which is going to be grim to dig out when we can access it, but the way on is looking promising and hoping that when we can access it better, there may be a lip or something we can knock off to help the slurry drain… the water dropping away noise is still very interesting and when you use a hammer in the area, it still echoes well. James went in after to dig, then Mike, then Rob while the rest of us moved around to move spoil up to staging area until we ran out of oxygen in there.
    Next session requires a haul and empty of all the bags and then realistically we need to plan to reduce the wall/boulder. More could be dug out, but no real progress forward while the wall/boulder is there.
  3. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon

    Took in the new rope for top drag tray from Tim Large along with cleaned up maillon. Collected the wire as we went and arrived at the dig. Very little in the way of fumes and the Dr Nobel's had been very successful in reducing the right hand wall and the slab in front. Took photos before we started and then Mike went in for a dig as he’d not seen the place for a while. He removed quite a few large rocks before digging out a couple of bags of rubble and mud, then came out so Estelle went in briefly and pulled a boulder out of the way on, but it was too heavy to lift up to the shelf whilst she was nursing a sore back, so James went in and we also put a rope around it and managed to get it up to the shelf where the water comes in. With that out of the way, James had a dig at the end and a look at the way on. All looking very promising with a 2ft wide passage about 9” high in the bottom, but we need to make the access to it larger. After James had absorbed most of the puddle into his kit, Estelle went in and had a dig and filled some more bags up. The water is better channelled now so not much building up, but loads of mud remains needing clearing out. Had a look at below and took a couple more photos. The way on looks promising and the floor doesn't seem to be overly solid, neither does the roof – is mostly pendants that could be broken off, so need to clear where the drop is and then have a go at what is below. The air had got pretty thick by the end of digging today and there was virtually no water flowing at all into the dig. 
  4. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon

    There had been a report of some collapsing/moving rocks around the scaffolded area in the entrance by Bar Steward Passage, so a quick trip to evaluate this and report back to BEC and CSCC. There had been quite a few squally showers during the day, but at the point where we went down it was dry and clear skies, although showers forecast! We got to the scaffold and took a look and Estelle took some photos. There has been quite a bit of scouring of the mud around the rocks by the scaffold and some have definitely gone down Bar Stewards, not sure if it is blocked, but it doesn't look overly inspiring and it always was an ‘unstable boulder choke’ and suspect this will end up being lost over time. We gardened a couple and wedged them behind the scaffold, but more may move if we continue to get the heavy rains like we've been having. Just as we were leaving, it clearly had started raining hard on the surface as a flood pulse came down to meet us. We sat it out at the side of the passage keeping ourselves dry until it receded a bit. Surfaced to clear skies again! Have sent the images to Trevor Hughes as he probably knows the cave the best and also advised CSCC and BEC membership of the movements. 
  5. Stu Lindsay, Estelle Sandford

    Holes already drilled from Wednesday’s trip, so just laying the bang, wire and setting off tonight. Estelle went to the end and prepared it and tamped it well with the copious amounts of clay/mud we have! Large amount of water flowing again at the end. Stu didn’t come all the way down to the bottom, just passed stuff up and down. Estelle reeled the wire out and it was taken all the way out to past Klingons and then set off, made a dull thud, so hopefully done the trick. Will need to allow time for fumes to clear before checking results. 
  6. Estelle Sandford, Rob Adams, Duncan Butler, Stu Lindsay
    trip to haul and empty all bags in the system before banging the dig and putting the cave out of action for a couple of weeks of bad air. 12 bags moved from dig staging area to main staging area while Estelle drilled 3 holes in the rocks, 1 horizontal through the slab and 2 into the right hand boulder. There was a lot of water flowing into the dig today and the water pocket on the way up was also full. The water sounds really impressive dropping away with that sort of flow (there had been lots of flood alerts locally and lots of rain). Once holes drilled and Duncan and Rob had looked at the end, we moved up to main haul, swapped the skip for Stu's new one and Duncan hauled while Stu on corner and me at the bottom with Rob helping at bottom to start, then  slowly dying of alcohol poisoning while emptying bags! All bags removed to top - some 40-50 at a rough guess. Left the handful of rocks behind. Bang planned for Saturday. Also need to take a new hauling rope in for topside as we brought the old one out to measure and throw away as is knackered and also to release the crab and maillon off it. Tim has some old MCR rope he will hopefully sort for us ready for next time we go down.
  7. Estelle Sandford, James Begley
    Estelle dug for 2.5hrs and filled 12 bags while James assisted in moving them up passage as his neck was too sore to get in the squalid little hole and dig! There was a little puddling when arriving at the dig but no water flowing despite lots of rain and flood warnings in local areas and the puddle was soon washed over the top of the boulder making the usual impressive waterfall noise as it flushed away. Digging initially in diarrhoea consistency for the first bag and then the usual sandy/silty/staled in stuff interchanged with diarrhoea when the water started flowing. Removed a couple of small boulders and also managed to dig a small hole in front of the big slab blocking the way on to make it drain lower down as reduced the depth of the dig by about 6” or so below the lip of the boulder now. Realistically there is a boulder on the right that needs reducing – would be easy to cap or P&F that as accessible, but the big slab is probably easier to look at Dr Nobel’s to reduce down to accessibility of it so may as well put holes in the other too. It would be possible to dig out more mud on another digging session before dealing with the boulders, but it is uncomfortable digging. The air got bad middle of digging, but then the water started flowing like a tap left slightly on and the air suddenly cleared before gradually getting worse again as the session went on, but it wasn’t that bad at the end – have definitely had a lot worse! Can only assume there is something somewhere sort of syphoning and opening and closing an airway, which might account for while the little hole part way up towards staging area sometimes has water in and sometimes doesn’t. There was water in at the end, didn’t notice at the beginning.
    Next session requires large hauling session as all staging areas full of bags and rock.
  8. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Rob Adams
    James and Estelle arrived and dig and Estelle started digging. James moved some of the bags left over from last week up the passage a bit until Rob arrived. The dig wasn’t as pooled as last week at the start of it so maybe the mud has some drainage. Estelle threw some stones down the gap that can be seen and they rattle. Carried on pulling apart the left hand wall and making it larger, there was a boulder in the floor on the right that seems pretty solid. After about 6-8 bags and some largish rocks, the dig is quite a bit more open and making the puddled water flow down it sounds really interesting and it appears that there is a slab in the way and it opens up a bit. Above also has some potential, but not sure as can’t see clearly. Rob and James moved all the bags up to the staging area and then Rob came down and had a look and dug a couple of bags of spoil out. Air remained moderately ok.
  9. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon, Rob Adams, Henry Dawson, Nick Gymer
    Estelle arrived at the dig to find about 18" of water in the bottom. Sion had dug below the lip of the flow last week and it had pooled. Rest of the team started work hauling out leftover bags from last week while Estelle created some more. First the lip was broken off a bit to lower the water levels a bit and then continued to make the dig space larger around the hole where the water disappears making quite an interesting dropping noise and it sounds quite echoey. At the end of Estelle's session digging you could see stal in the roofspace above where the water is going and also a wall going forwards with a mud slope you can't reach the end of. Mike went in next and then Henry, both continuing the enlargement and a total of about 20 bags were removed from the dig but still can't quite get in far enough to see the way on yet... By the end of digging the air was really bad at the dig site. About a dozen bags at the bottom to bring up now, but rest of the haul route is clear. Ongoing digging is still mud, stal and rocks and not overly difficult.

  10. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Rob Adams, Mike Moxon, Sion Way

    Hauling and digging session. James went in first and dug for about 40mins while the rest of us relocated bags from the lower end to staging area. Then Sion dug for the rest of the session while the rest of us hauled and dumped spoil out to the old dig. Air remained not too bad for whole session, still going down nicely and fairly easy digging. 
  11. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon, Rob Adams
    James and Mike cleared last week’s hauled bags to the old dig – dumping bags complete as most were like concrete – while Estelle and Rob headed down to dig. Estelle did a stint of digging followed by Rob while Mike and James hauled up then to staging area. Digging fairly easy in mud and broken up stal and small rocks and the trickle of water is barely flowing this week, but interestingly the hole further up that was dry when it was flowing well at the bottom 2 weeks back, is full of water again! Almost down to level where the water goes off by end of session, should have near enough cleared that area to give us an idea what is going on next time. Still about ½ dozen bags at the bottom to come up but could do with a larger team next time to haul as well as dig. By the end of 1.5hrs, the air was getting quite thick although there did seem to be a slight inwards draught, but think it’s either full of co2 already or not enough to sustain workers for too long!
  12. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon, Leonie Woodward
    Estelle and James at bottom, Leonie on corner and Mike hauling. Some monster rocks and bags removed from storage area up to Talus IV and rocks put in wall. Bags still need moving and dumping. There was a few Denning  specials in amongst that lot… Now ready to start digging again. Need to take some bags down as all those hauled up will be dumped into spoil heap.
  13. Estelle Sandford, Mike Moxon
    Also joined by Richard Carey, Andrea Russe, Jude Vanderplank and 2 others from WCC who came with us to Talus then went on a tourist trip to St Alactites. Mike and Estelle looked at the dig and Mike had a little dig, still has a trickle of water flowing which disappears back under itself in the floor. Lots of mud to clear and need to clear open and expose the whole area. Firstly though a team is required to clear the left over rocks and spoil bags we staged back in the spring before apathy and bad air set in…
  14. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Stu Gardiner, Mark Denning, Mike Moxon, Claire Brimson and David McCausland (Lincoln) (ULSA)
    Rains a couple of nights back had clearly washed the cave out well as the dead bird and it’s bad smell had gone from the entrance. Mike, Lincoln and Claire went for a bit of a tourist trip up to the end where the bones are. We headed down and rigged Pewter Pot and found that the water levels across the ‘sump’ were considerably higher, probably a good 18” on last week. We all got quite wet making our way across and started digging the draughting hole to the right just after the sump. Lots of fairly large boulders were removed, being mindful of a ‘hanging death’ above us. The draught wasn’t as apparent as last week and the water level in the bottom is clearly influenced by the water levels in the sump, but this appears to be flowing into it and the water remained clear, despite the sump being extremely murky. We dug a fair bit out and it looks worth having a go at further, probably with plug and feathers to reduce the boulders down to a sensible size around the entrance of it as there are two massive ones making digging difficult. We left it rigged with the intention of coming back next week, whether it be a digging trip or a removing digging detritus from the cave trip if the water levels continue to rise.
  15. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Stu Gardiner
    Tangent was due to come down as well, but he forgot his caving kit, having realised he left it over at Home Close last weekend! (great excuse if ever there was one!) He did pick up the ladders and rope from the Belfry though for us. He had thought it might be possible the water levels could have dropped in the sump in Brown Ale Boulevard, so hence had suggested the trip. The rest of us headed down into the cool (albeit very smelly entrance with a dead bird just inside rotting away…) and made our way to the top of Pewter Pot. The rope was way too short to double line but ok as long as someone was happy to freeclimb. We all headed down without lining and took a look. The whole cave seemed to be quite drippy and not as dry as thought it would be and the sump wasn’t particularly low, pretty much normal. Despite the drought recently, the ground water levels don’t seem to be too bad… As James had not been beyond the pool before, we crossed it and headed up Brown Ale Boulevard to the end looking for any possible places we could dig. On our way back, about 10ft up from the sump on the left, by the wall and some cracked mud floor, there is a small draughting hole where we can see water flowing and also it looks like it might duck under the wall if the rocks and mud were removed. The mud floors are only where the water sumps right up, so not that needed for protection and there is plenty of digging tools in there. We then headed out and met Tangent in the pub to show him photos and discuss the potential dig site. Agreed to head back there next week to take a proper look and take hammer and some slings too.
  16. Stu Gardiner & Estelle Sandford.

    A quick trip down through SBP to check the level of Lake Chamber, they were 'normal' with just about enough airspace to swim through into LCE.

    Back up through the Rat Run into Mud Ball to look at Project Pebble. Many of the tools had become encrusted with calcite but are more than usable, the end of the dig was inspected with no recent signs of water and still a gentle outwards draft from the mud bank at the very end.

    The floor is either a boulder or calcite so we ideally need to widen the walls to allow easier access to dig the mud out from the end.

    Some old digging items were bought out from Pebble and also from the dig below Cerberus Hall.

    Total time: 2 hours.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
  17. to fill some of the gaps in the log..

    Wed 9th Jan - Mark, Mike, Tom Smith, Richard Savill & Sarah Rowlands hauled all the bags from previous weeks up to Talus & filled another 10 which are still waiting to go. There is enough space to stick your head down the end & see a small tube going off to the left which still needs quite a lot of mud clearing out of it
    13th Feb Mike & Mark dug in the White Pit mud mine 
  18. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon
    Estelle filled the remaining bags in the dig – hole in floor had been slightly blocked and it was pretty wet down there until hole unblocked. Only about 10 bags spare as rest full. Air not overly special but choice of way on really, either dig out the floor or carry on to left. Floor still needs loads digging out whichever is chosen. Moved onto hauling up bags to Talus until we were too worn out as really need a bigger team of people at the moment – many of the bags are too heavy and there is still a lot of rock to come up.
  19. Mark Denning went down at 4:30 with generator and drill to deal with the large boulders at the bottom and break them up to manageable chunks with chisel. Stu Gardiner went down and assisted him and they started digging out the bottom. Estelle Sandford & James Begley arrived at 7pm and Mike Moxon at 7:30 just as Mark left. Stu continued digging in little air for a while. Rest of us moved the rocks and bags up to staging area then Stu ran out of air at bottom, so came and assisted moving the rocks up and making a few of them a bit more manageable. Ready for a haul to start next session.
  20. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mike Moxon, Sarah Rowlands, Richard Savill
    Hauled all rock and bags from staging area to Talus IV and emptied them into old dig. Found that re-using the skip and emptying them at top rather than in dump spot is easier! Left the bags across the walled area to see if they might dry a little before next week… Sarah and Mike had a bit of a dig but with the large boulder Mark had pulled out of the floor last week right in the way and too big to move, it was very awkward digging. This needs to be dealt with before proper digging can resume…
  21. Estelle Sandford, Mark Denning, Mike Moxon
    Estelle digging first and then Mike followed by Mark. No shortage of easy digging mud, some stal and sandy stuff with the occasional rock. All bags filled up again ready for hauling next time and all are in the upper staging area, so only one haul length to Talus for next week! Mark at the end of digging pulled the really big boulder in the floor out and can see no trace of where the water may have gone in the floor. All traces of water currently dried up and nothing flowing. Does seem to be some slight circulation of air coming down from the ‘mini’ avens above where the water was coming in.
  22. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mark Denning, Mike Moxon, Leonie Woodward
    Around 30 bags plus rocks were manhandled from the dig store area in two stages to Talus IV and emptied. Dig air seems good and the water has dried up to a very small pool after a dry period. Ready for digging tomorrow night now.
    (had been trip not logged a couple of weeks back by Mike and Mark which filled all the bags)
  23. Estelle Sandford, Mark Denning, Stu Gardiner, Mike Moxon, James Begley, Henry Dawson, John Bennetts, Rob Adams and Milky Mat
    Estelle, Mike, Mark and Stu started off on the big bag and rock haul and were soon joined by James and we made a good start before Henry turned up with John, Rob and Mat so we spread out and managed to have both hauling ropes going so as to get the rocks and bags from bottom and shelf to the staging area. Once the bottom was cleared, Estelle went into dig and started filling more bags. Running water had died to a very small trickle, but floor drains fine from puddle still down into the crack. Easy digging in loads of mud/rock/staled in floor. Henry took a quick look at the dig, before he and the other 3 left us to go and do a tourist trip into Prophecy and St Alactites. Mike took over from Estelle digging and then Stu went to have a dig and the air died fairly quickly into his dig. The upper part of the cave is now cleared of bags and rock with about 7 or 8 bags at the bottom and a few rocks, plus 3 big rocks that need breaking up at some point. Looks like we're back to once a week digging or start looking at getting the fan in place to aid the air problems. We also cleared all the detritus from the cave that we've randomly left and all the dead bags of bags by the entrance - 3 bin bags, 2 bags of bags and 2 tackle sacks worth!
  24. Estelle, Mark Denning, James Begley, Mike Moxon
    Borrowed the boulder net from Caine Hill and Mike went into dig initially while Mark, Estelle and James hauled boulders and bags up from shelf and space just above the dig to the stacking space at the top. Mark took over digging and the rest of us carried on moving spoil up, then Estelle had a dig, then James before the air died again. :-(
    The dig has gone around to the left and there is a rift like crack in the floor with the nearer side to out being stalled rock/mud again and the far side being solid rock. All the water is going down here now and flowing away well as Mark managed to block up the other way on. Mike had dug into the upstream end as well on the right, which is about body length and body sized and there is water worn rock. This is probably worth investigating as well as the downstream route. As you look at the dig, the left hand wall is all rock and boulders with the usual stal cementing, but everything is getting really mucky down to quite a flow of stream so it’s a bit like poo mining! Plenty of rock/spoil to remove for a few sessions yet and the upper level is now rammed with bags and rocks awaiting a big haul session to Talus.
  25. Estelle Sandford, James Begley, Mark Denning

    With the snow in the White Pit depression and freezing temperatures, Mike had abandoned us for Grebe and Stu had played the 'work' card, this left the three of us to head into White Pit. All bags in staging area were moved to Talus and emptied and then the bags from the bottom moved up to staging area while Estelle started digging. A lot of progress had been made on the last two (currently unlogged!) trips and coming from the right hand wall is a constant trickle of water which heads off to the left just out of sight. The water in the equation has turned digging to a poo mining and we're digging with a bag stuffed in the hole where the water goes to try and stop spoil heading down there until we can see where it goes. Left and right hand walls attacked to try and widen the dig so we can get around the corner and see what's going on and following on from Estelle, James and Mark also had a good go at removing boulders and more mud and about a 20 odd bags now need hauling and emptying, plus be useful to have a boulder net to remove the rocks from the lower shelf and bottom of dig and a larger team next week! Air remained good throughout, so hopefully the having found water has turned this problem around!