With Alex. Plan was to continue with the enlargement process. When I got to the end of Toil and Trouble I found a scene of devastation and so set about moving the debris wherever I could to enable progress. Alex hauled several skiploads back to Witches Cauldron. Eventually managed to get a better look at the ‘open’ space in the rift to the left and after removing a few cobbles and boulders decided this wasn’t the way on. Then decided the way on is to pursue the draught coming from the space seen to the right and beyond the fallen slab of rock. I scratched away at the sediment around the slab, which is about 750mm long, 400mm wide and upto 200mm thick, tabular in shape, got a bar under it and wiggled it. Using a combination of bars and various cobbles managed, after some considerable effort, to shift the slab into a suitable position where I was able to squeeze by it into the space beyond. It wasn’t huge, more ‘caverns measureless to mice’ but there are some small pleasant formations – mostly straws, curtains and flowstone – and it still appears to go on ahead, although the air space is again restricted. The draught is still very strong and seems to emanate from passage that looks about 2 metres wide and air space upto 0.15 metres. There is some gardening work to be done that will allow better access and further assessment of what lies ahead, it still looks so good. Last job of the 3 hour session was to return to the squeeze to continue the enlargement process, this done we retreated to the surface, soaking wet, plastered in mud, very cold but very, very satisfied. And we just about made the Hunter’s. Happy days indeed!
Looking back through my old logbooks I found the entry for 19/12/1991 when on a solo trip I first started to dig from the entrance:
“a bit of scratching about and I managed to get to a small aven with a squeeze, a large rock was causing the constriction so I spent some time removing it, after that spoil removal was a lot easier. Spoil consists mainly of dry, sandy mud although there are a few rocks in it. Managed in all about 5 or 6 feet…”
In the evening returned to the Hunter’s to attend the Digger’s Award – too packed and a pretty dull affair, so spent most of the night in the bar talking to more interesting folk.