An unexpected development!

With Jonathon, Duncan, Tav, Brockers and
Alex.

The first task of the day was to set-up a
drag tray to make the digging in the low bedding a bit easier. That done, I
went into the bedding and filled the skip, Jon then hauled the full skip back
to the rift chamber and bagged the contents, the bags then sent on their way to
be stashed in the entrance. The spoil mostly comprised variable sized lumps and
slabs of degraded and fractured calcite flowstone, occasionally some finer
sediment. Progress along the low bedding was quite rapid and it wasn’t too long
before I was able to gain access to the roomier chamber on the south-side
(wrong direction). A quick scan of the chamber, some gardening to make it more
comfortable, then, at the base of a marl-filled fissure a small gap was
noticed, beyond which a mud-covered floor could be seen. “There has been an
unexpected development” I called back to Jon, who followed me through into the
chamber, later Duncan joined us. I pulled some rocks from the small gap and
soon it was just big enough to wriggle through on my back kicking finer
sediment ahead of me. I was gobsmacked by what I saw, a roomy chamber with some
very fine formations, at the end, an opening to a continuation, the air was
cool. Jon and Duncan followed me through, it was decided that we should get the
others and Duncan went back to get them. While we were waiting the access-point
was enlarged.

The team was soon assembled in the chamber,
there was excitement, Jon led on through the window into the space beyond,
taking care to avoid a rather fine, but vulnerable, stalactite. I followed Jon
and was surprised to see him standing-up, “got a ladder” he said. He was
standing on the edge of a rift c.15-20m deep. Everyone came through and it was
an exhilarating experience after all these years. Tav tentatively descended the
slope with Alex but they decided a handline was required and came back-up,
Brockers went back to the sit-up chamber to get a rope. Meanwhile, I partly
descended to the slope and dug my way into an annex chamber, a continuation of
the main rift. I returned to find the handline was in place and climbed down to
a jammed rock part way down the rift, from the boulder a clear drop to the
floor below. It was decided that we should return with bolts and ladders so
that a safe descent to the bottom could be made. A traverse across the rift and
scan with a torch revealed what looks to be a continuation, but that will be confirmed
later in the week. We exited the cave to clear the bags from the entrance,
perhaps for the last time.

After the survey had been carried-out a
couple of weeks ago, Tav had mentioned that we really needed to go north or go
down – well the cave has done both of those. Just goes to show persistence pays
off.