30th December 2017

With Jake, Jonathon, Nick, Tav and Brockers, who had collected a new digger for the team, Mike Willett.

Mike, as guest of honour for this session, was given the dubious pleasure of digging; I was in the drippiest place again but, to be honest, it wasn’t so drippy today. Jonathon was on the slippery slope once again, with Tav on top. Brockers and Nick were sharing the haul and shuttle, leaving Jake on the surface to haul-out and empty bags and wall-building, should the opportunity arise.

At the dig, a large puddle of water had formed, fed by the seepage of water from the sediment noticed last session. Initial attempts to get rid of the water failed so, Mike concentrated the digging effort to clearing-out a small alcove on the north-side, where a narrow space could be seen, the immediate potential here appears to be limited. As ever, it wasn’t too long before the team had sourced some bailing kit and we were able to drain the puddle sufficiently to enable digging to resume following the main lead. Sixty or so bags filled, some forward progress achieved, was a good enough effort for the session and we were ready for the pub. Each of the team left the cave with a substantial coating of sediment adhering to oversuits.

The last session of 2017.

28th December 2017

With Jonathon, Nick, Jake and, eventually Brockers, who turned-up later.

A morning start, as we were all off work during the winter festivities. Plenty of ice and some snow on the hill, so Jake met us at the farm, not good weather for motorcycles.

Jake digging, I was clearing the bags and stones in, probably, the drippiest part of the cave, Jonathan on the slope. Nick, after replacing the skip on the haul and shuttle, was on the top of the slope.

Initially, the bags were stacked on top of the slope until Brockers turned-up, the spoil was then transferred to the bottom of the entrance rift. Each bag when filled, soon turned into slop, it was not going to be fun extricating the sediment from the bags after they had been compressed. Fifty bags (5 packs) filled, it was time to go and clear-out the spoil. Jake, however, remained for a while to mix some cement with sediment and fill an annoying hole that impedes the skip. Hopefully, the stabilised sediment will have hardened sufficiently by Saturday.

In the meantime, the entrance was cleared, the bags were emptied, everyone out, the cave secured, it was time to go. Another squalid session over, good progress being made.

23rd December 2017

With Jonathon, Nick, Jake and Brockers.

Nick digging, always good for him to be kept busy and out of mischief, Jake, after replacing the defunct skip, cleared the filled bags and stones away from the digger. It was my turn on the slippery slope, hauling the skip, then man-handling the bags and rocks up to Jon, at the top of the slope. Brockers, all by himself, on the haul and shuttle and stacking the spoil in the entrance, with no-one to talk to, the voices in his head kept him company.

About fifty bags were filled with sediment, most of it slop, these were going to be a ‘joy’ to empty, some more rocks were also added to the spoil stack. We decided then, it was time to go and clear-out the entrance. After being stacked and compressed the bags were, indeed, not easy to empty, but there was plenty of banter to keep us entertained as the task was completed. Also, gave the lock a bit of a clean and sprayed with WD40, before locking the cave and walking down the hillside to the farm. The field was left with red-brown streaks after rolling in the wet grass to remove the excess mud from oversuits. We changed and headed up to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn for our usual de-briefing. It was good to see Alex there too.

21st December 2017

With Jake, Brockers, Nick, Tav, Jonathon and Mike.

After a ‘shopping’ trip last weekend, Brockers didn’t miss out on his turn up front and was ably assisted by Nick, Jake on the slope and I was at the top. Tav, on haul and shuttle, occasionally assisted by Mike, Jonathon was on the surface, also assisted by Mike, who was on a dual role this evening.

As expected, it was rather squalid at the dig and the bags, when filled, felt quite liquid, they were going to be a ‘joy’ to empty. It must be said, the bags when empty are almost as weighty as they are when filled. I cleared a few bags of slump material from the top of the slope to add to the bag count. Although some rocks were cleared out, as many, if not more were left in the alcove at the top of the slope.

We returned to the surface, to find it had been raining, and helped to empty the last few bags. The count, 43 bags and, possibly, a dozen loads of rocks, there is a discrepancy here due to a malfunction of the tally system.

It was quiet in the Hunter’s…until we arrived.

16th December 2017

With Jake, Nick and Tav.

It was Brockers turn to dig but, he had gone to Bristol, we suspect Christmas shopping to purchase some squealish delights! This left us in a bit of a quandary, without our lead in Another Emotional Journey, what were our options?

When it was suggested, it was a fine morning, we were only a small team, it will be squalid underground, and, we had said, why don’t we sort-out the spoil heap wall? There wasn’t too much resistance, so that’s what we did.

I had to venture underground to look at a [potentially] loose slab of rock. At the top of the slope there had been a slump of sediment – about a wheelbarrow full. Another Emotional Journey was, indeed, wet, a puddle of water on the floor was drained away before the slab of rock was tapped and poked, it seems okay to me, the crack appears to be a bedding joint and was always there, no requirement for immediate action.

Back at the entrance, I called to Nick and we removed the dozen or so loads of rock from the bottom of the entrance. I was asked to go and get a mattock and spade from the top of the pot to aid the surface works.

On the surface, wall building was being carried-out in earnest with two sections receiving some attention. The largest section is to be terraced due to the height required, the second section increases space by encroaching into the bramble patch. The slumped spoil was levelled-off, and the walls built consolidated. Eventually we ran out off suitable rocks for building and decided to go to the pub. I’m sure more rock will become available soon.

14th December 2017

With Brockers, Jonathon, Tav and Duncan.

Jonathon at the forefront, assisted by Brockers, it was Duncan’s turn on the slippery slope, with Tav on top of the slope, I was ‘Billy No-mates’, on the haul and shuttle.

The drip was strong tonight, each loaded skip arriving on a little bow-wave, attempts to drain the puddles proved futile. The bags of sloppy sediment were stacked in the entrance, this compresses them, it doesn’t improve the task of emptying the bags later. The rocks were stashed to one-side.

Time passes quickly on an evening and soon, we were moving back to clear the entrance of bags. Brockers had, rather cunningly it was suggested, swapped places with Jonathon. This resulted in Brockers getting the easier option of loading the skips to the surface, while Jon got the privilege of emptying the bags he had previously filled.

The final count for the evening, 36 bags to the surface and emptied, the rocks were left underground for another session.

9th December 2017

With Jonathon, Brockers, Nick, and Jake.

At Another Emotional Journey, I took up position in the primary dig, Jonathon assisting and paying some attention to the secondary dig site, Brockers on the slippery slope once more, Nick at the top of the slope and [unofficial] tertiary digger, Jake on the haul and shuttle, spoil was stacked in the entrance.

Initially, I concentrated on removing the spoil from higher-up in the fissure, there has been some undermining and stuff is beginning to fall onto anyone digging below. While I was loosening the spoil, Jonathon was clearing sediment from the potential lead over the top of the fissure. The idea was to keep Nick busy, it didn’t quite work, Nick spent his spare moments clearing the passage along Merlin’s back to rock.

Working along the fissure, I exposed a small hole that appears to continue, there is a draught of air, possible circulation. In the fissure, is a degraded calcite vein, this also, seems to have some tiny gaps beyond. Looking up to the top of the c.3m high fissure, there is the underside of a false floor containing some shattered stalactites within calcite flowstone. Just as I had cleared away the last of the loose material and we were preparing to head-off to clear the entrance, I asked Jonathon to pass the hammer and chisel, I had noticed a fracture in the left-hand rock wall. A couple of blows and some leverage with a bar, the fractured rock gave way, resulting in a pile of rock and sediment on the floor. More interestingly, the fractured rock seemed to have formed a corner, and now it had been removed, there appears to be a widening of the fissure, negating the requirement for IRS, for the time being, there is plenty of scope for further progress, and potentially in a north to north-east direction.

The pile of debris was left, to be cleared out mid-week and we set-off to clear the entrance. Today’s count, 59 bags and a few loads of stones. There remains a pile of rocks at the bottom of the entrance, the priority was to get the bags emptied. It had been another satisfying session.

7th December 2017

With Brockers, Jonathon, Tav, Nick, Duncan and Mike.

Duncan at the end of Another Emotional Journey, digging in the sloppy, sticky bit; I was clearing the bags and continuing the assault on the slab of rock, it did succumb; Jonathon was, once again on the slippery slope; Mike at the top of the slope and, I assume, Brockers and Nick sharing the haul and shuttle; leaving Tav, alone, on the surface.

After rain, it was wet and rather squalid in places.

Twenty-nine bags and sixteen skip-loads of rock were shifted out to surface, forty-five loads in total, to keep Tav busy and warm.

2nd December 2017

With Jake, Jonathon and Brockers.

A smaller team today, after some discussion and shifting about; Jake digging, I was assisting, Brockers was on the slippery slope and Jonathon at the top of the slope where the bags and rock were stashed.

Initially, Jake dug in the alcove, leading north, where the sediment was drier. The work continued until a rather large boulder (?) was exposed, far too big to move, impeding any further progress in this location, at least for the present. So, attention turned to continue working along the fissure, some fractured rock was removed, then bags of claggy sediment and gravel. The sticky mud makes movement somewhat laborious. Meanwhile, I set about battering a large boulder with a lump-hammer. The boulder is in the way of another potential dig, that could lead over the top of the fissure and false calcite floor. The boulder is starting to succumb, but requires some more attention.

Eventually, the available stacking space was filled, we moved back to clear the bags out of the cave. 45 bags and a couple of stones were hauled out of the cave, the rocks were left at the top of the slope until the next session. Still, a good effort with a small team.

30th November 2017

With Jake, Tav, Brockers, Jonathon and Mike.

Jake had opted for surface duties this evening; Brockers doing the haul and shuttle; Jonathon on top of the slope; I was on the slippery slope that leads to Another Emotional Journey, where, Tav was digging with Mike assisting.

The IRS had the desired effect, the fissure is now wider and, initially, there was some rock debris to shift, some sediment had also been loosened. The drier, cooler weather recently has resulted in a reduction of the drips, it’s remains a little squalid in places, but there wasn’t a constant drip, drip down the back of the neck.

At the end of another productive session, 38 loads were hauled out to the surface, 21 bags and 17 skip-loads of rock, including Nicks pit-prop, it was a bit on the fousty side.

28th November 2017

With Roz.

Some more induced rapid speleogenesis. 4no. holes, left-hand side of the fissure, to make it wider and easier to work. It’s still wet and rather claggy, difficult to get boots free from the mud after drilling holes. Still, all good, there should be some rock to shift next digging session.

25th November 2017

With Jake, Jonathon, Tav, Brockers and Nick.

Brockers, sporting a pair of dapper orange dungarees, in a ‘Southern Comfort’ style, was on surface duties; Jonathon on the haul and shuttle; I was on top of the slope. Jake was on the slippery slope leading to Another Emotional Journey, where Nick, assisted by Tav, was digging.

Bags and rocks were coming through at a steady rate when, there came a lull in proceedings as Nick moved a large slab of rock that became wedged tight in the fissure, effectively preventing any more forward progress. Then followed the sound of the rock being battered with the sledge hammer, the rock finally succumbed, and was moved to one-side with some difficulty, and there it remains. Bags and rocks started to be moved-out again. The dig face has become a little squalid, Nick started to show signs of despondency, this is not permitted and Tav told him to get on with digging.

At the end of the session, 80 loads shifted out to the surface, 64 bags and 16 skip-loads of rock.

Above image is ‘rock of the day’, it has some interesting striations, presumably these were formed during sediment transport in a high energy environment.

23rd November 2017

With Jake, Jonathon, Nick, Brockers, Duncan and Mike.

First task was to check the results of the IRS and to retrieve the wire, it could do with a little TLC. The bulge has been removed, and some large flakes of rock taken-off either side of the fissure, making it wider. Satisfied, I went back to join Duncan on the haul and shuttle, I did the hauling, no knee-pads. After the digging stint on the weekend, Jonathon was on the surface. Brockers forged ahead on the digging front, Nick and Mike assisting, Jake was on top of the slope.

After recent rain, the drips are bigger and there are more of them, the spoil is becoming even claggier. The large rocks took their toll on the skip and, towards the end of the session, it died. Jake replaced it and took pleasure in the ease of movement a new skip affords.

A total of 58 loads were hauled out to the surface, 33 bags and 25 skip-loads of rock (although the rock-net was employed for a couple of rocks). A fine evening session.

21st November 2017


It was, a bit of a struggle this evening with the kit in the wet, mucky conditions. This was not helped by all the loose crap at the top of the slope and, down it too, probably the result of some pointless digging activity last weekend. At Another Emotional Journey, it was claggy and took some doing to place the kit out of the drips there.

Two holes drilled into the bulge of rock, to ease the passage of the skip and two holes, either side of the fissure to widen it making digging a bit more comfortable. It was a slow trip out with the kit and wire, but all sounded well at the end of it.

All that’s left to do now is to clean all the kit!

18th November 2017

With Jake, Jonathon, Nick, Tav, Brockers and Matt.

Jon’s turn to dig, Tav was to clear-away, but quickly completed the survey too, Brockers was on the slippery slope, with Nick on top of the slope, Matt and Jake sharing the haul and shuttle. My turn up-top, on the surface.

Initially it was quiet, so Jake returned to the surface to do walling. I, too, was adding to the wall. After a while, Matt called-out to say there was a backlog of bags, Jake returned underground. Then followed about 40 loads, one after the other, the backlog was transferred from below ground to above it. After that the bags kept coming at a steady rate, this meant there was not enough time to empty many of the bags. The haul rope, by now, was impregnated with mud and was wet making it difficult to grip. Eventually, thins settled down a little and Jake returned to the surface to help empty the bags, some of the bags were reluctant to disgorge their contents, the sediment is now, claggy.

Nick moved back to help Matt on the haul and shuttle, this resulted in another quick-fire session of hauling. In total, 83 loads out to surface, 78 bags and 5 loads of rock. It was pub-time!

Got down to the farm and was changed, when I realised that I had left my caving helmet up at Hallowe’en Rift, so I trudged back up the hill to fetch it. My, once waterproof, shoes have holes in them.

16th November 2017

With Jake, Tav, Nick, Jonathon, Duncan and Mike. Our ‘sympathies’ are with poor, delicate Brockers who was tucked-up in bed with ‘man-flu’.

Me digging, Jon loading the spoil into the skip behind me, Duncan’s turn on the slippery slope, hauling the skip, transferring it to Tav, on top of the slope. Nick was doing the haul and shuttle, with Jake on the surface. Mike, who was a little behind time, joined us a bit later and, I assume, helped-out on the surface or on the haul/shuttle.

Digging, usual thing, loosen sediment with a mattock, fill a bag, pass-back to Jon, repeat. Working along a fissure/rift, where c.3m ahead there appears to be a wall and a possible left-turn (north), but can’t be certain until we get there. Happily digging away, a hole appeared in the floor, open space, a draught. Jon had a look, Tav came to have a look, interesting. Unfortunately, we had re-connected to a dig at the bottom of the ‘lower’ series that contains Nick’s pit prop, another leg to the ’round trip’. This outcome was not unexpected. That said, the dig was never finished and, the fissure/rift still need to be followed. As ever, there is plenty of stuff to keep us occupied for a long time yet!

On the surface, the team were obviously in a rush to get to the pub and had left, I locked up and followed. I didn’t give a it thought until later, how many skip-loads were brought out to the surface?

Jake later confirmed the skip count, 30 bags and 6 loads of rock.

11th November 2017

With Jake, Jonathon, Brockers and Tav.

More heavy rain, another section of spoil-heap wall has collapsed. We’ll have a wall-sorting session when it dries-up a bit.

In the cave, there are plenty of drips forming several puddles, at least the passage of skips will be well lubricated.

Jake started on Another Emotional Journey, loosening the spoil with a mattock, then shovelling it into bags. I was on the slippery slope, hauling the filled bags and occasional rock from Jake, up to Jon, on top of the slippery slope. Brockers was hauling and shuttling the spoil to Tav, on the surface.

Seventy-four loads were hauled out to the surface, 65 filled bags and 9 skip-loads of rock. Some of the bags were not so easy to empty, now that the sediment has become claggy. Still, another good session and still plenty more to come.

9th November 2017

Another fine team assembled on a Thursday evening. With Jake, Jonathon, Nick, Tav, Brockers, Duncan and Mike.

The initial plan was to clear-out the bags and rocks left underground last Saturday, and to start sorting the slumped wall, but there was collusion.

Jake started on the re-construction works, I headed-off underground, to clear the spoil left on top of the slope, and to look at a ‘bulge’ of rock that could be removed. Brockers and Nick followed me below, to do the haul and shuttling, the rest of the team were clearing the entrance and sorting the bags, or so it was assumed.

I heard whispering, “…entrance is nearly cleared…they don’t need any more people on the surface…you go up and dig, Nick”. So, Nick and Brockers came-up to dig.

At the end of the session, upon exiting the cave, there was a surprise on the surface, the bags weren’t emptied. Jonathon had been abandoned, left to haul 120 loads up to the surface alone, 105 bags and 15 skip-loads of rock – a stoic effort. Then, a melee, as the bags were duly emptied and counted, ready for the weekend. Much banter ensued.

4th November 2017

With Jonathon, Nick and Jake.

Unfortunately, after some heavy rain through the night and early morning, a section of the spoil heap wall has slumped down. This was thought likely to have been caused by the burial of two old skips, possibly filling with water. Anyway, it will be sorted when it has dried out a bit.

Underground, Jonathon forged ahead to take on the digging duties, hot on his heels was Nick, to offer some assistance, Jake took up position at the top of the slope, I was on haul and shuttle, the spoil stacked in the entrance for removal another day.

So much for a “quieter” digging session expanding into Another Emotional Journey, I was in non-stop action, haul, shuttle, stack, haul, shuttle, stack… The result of the mornings effort, 60-70 skip loads stashed in the entrance and another 20 or so still on top of the slope. There must be plenty of space in the dig now.

The refreshments at the Hunter’s, were particularly enjoyable today.

2nd November 2017

A strong team assembled this evening with Jake, Brockers, Nick, Tav, Jonathon, Duncan, and a guest digger, Mike Moxon.

As one journey ends, then, ‘Another Emotional Journey’ begins.

I went straight to the end to check the effects of the IRS, all good, so headed back-out to the surface. Tav did the rock clearing and digging, assisted by Mike and Jonathon; Nick was at the top of the slope on spoil distribution; Duncan at Stal Bend, hauling, Brockers shuttling the spoil to the entrance. I had joined Jake on the surface and hauled-out the loaded skips, while Jake took care of materials dispersal. The steady flow of bags and rocks meant that there wasn’t much time for wall building, a job, much better carried-out in the daylight anyway.

A total of 67 loads came-up to the surface, 39 bags and 28 loads of rock. A good evening’s work.

31st October 2017

With Roz.

Into Hallowe’en Rift on Hallowe’en to apply the induced rapid speleogenesis. 8no. holes, in two groups of 4no., to enlarge the transition zone from Merlin’s to the dig site and to ease the passage of spoil from one to the other. There should be rock to remove on the next digging session.

28th October 2017

With Tav, Brockers and Jonathon.

My turn to dig, Tav clearing away, Jon on top of the slope, Brockers doing the haul and shuttle, bags and rock were stashed in the entrance.

Eventually, Tav sorted the dragline on the skip to make spoil removal from the dig-face easier. Digging was a bit slow to start, space was limited and just a bit awkward, as the space increased, excavation improved, and the little spade came into use. The saw was located and Tav shortened the handle on the mattock, this action made it easier to use. How able to sit-up in the dig and get to work properly with the spade, unfortunately, time had passed quickly, and the session was drawn to its conclusion.

Brockers and Jon had, earlier, moved back to clear the spoil from the entrance out to the surface, 34no. bags and 1no. rock. There were another 8no. filled bags left on the top of the slope.

I have arranged a return on Tuesday for more induced rapid speleogenesis, to make some more space and aid forward progress.

26th October 2017

With Brockers, Tav, Duncan and Jake.

There was rock debris. Brockers upfront, digging; I was clearing away; Duncan was at the top of the slope, after he had been on a brief tour around this part of the cave. Tav was doing the haul and shuttle, Jake was carrying-out surface duties. Along the approach passage a few puddles were beginning to form, at least the skip would slide easier.

When the clearing had been done, entry into the open-space was possible. There’s a fissure, c.3 to 4m length trending c.NE, approximately 0.5m high x 0.3m width, it has a silt floor and there is a cool air movement. The up-shot is, as ever, more digging is required, this might, open-up other leads on the north-side.

A total of 33 loads were hauled up to the surface, an almost equal split between rocks and bags.

24th October 2017

With Roz and Hazel.

Almost a family outing. At the dig, 6no. holes, c.300mm x 12mm, in the floor, to break-up slabs of dolomitic conglomerate (with calcite flowstone cap) to aid forward progress into open-space beyond. Roz and Hazel had a bit of a tour around before returning to offer some assistance. All set-up, retired to a safe distance, the evening’s task was drawn to a satisfactory conclusion. There will be rocks and debris to shift next session, probably on Thursday evening. Left the cave.

21st October 2017

With Matt, Nick, Tav, Jake and Brockers.

Matt, Nick and Tav set about clearing the bags and rocks stacked in the entrance. Jake went ahead to start digging, Paul went to the top of the slope to load the skip with the bags and rocks left there on Thursday evening, I was hauling the skip down and shuttling the spoil back to the entrance, ready to be hauled to surface.

Thursday’s spoil cleared we moved-up to clear today’s spoil. Progress was slower today the way forward being obstructed by some rather large slabs of rock and calcite. Although loose, these slabs were determined not to succumb to Jakes attentions utilising a variety of bars, hammering and chiselling. These slabs will require the use of some induced rapid speleo-genesis on Tuesday evening. It was just very frustrating the way ahead looks so enticing.

Ninety loads out to the surface, plus one large rock that Nick had managed to prise out from somewhere, ‘idle hands make mischief’ is probably an apt saying in this instance.

19th October 2017

With Jonathon, Jake, Nick and Brockers.

Nick digging, Jake clearing, Brockers on top of the slope and Jonathon was on the haul, shuttle and stack. I was in Tuck Shop, capping rocks and bagging-up the gravel and finer sediments. Two digging, it was busy again.

Above me, I could hear Nick rattling slabs, Jake swinging the sledge, then, ‘oohs and aahs’, Jake reported back, “it looks good”. Unfortunately, time passed all too quickly and soon the session was over. Tuck shop was now looking much tidier, so I packed away the capping kit and climbed-up to see what Nick had uncovered. There was a gaping hole, albeit just too narrow to pass…back in the day…into open-space, it looks easily body-sized, but can’t quite see all of it. The way ahead, does indeed, look good.

The digging on Saturday should reveal more delights, but there are a lot of bags and rocks to shift as well!

14th October 2017

With Tav, Jake, Nick, Jonathon and Brockers.

Jonathon digging, assisted by Nick, Tav went into the ‘Lower’ Series to dig through the connection from that side, Jake was at the top of the slope, sending down loaded skips to me, on the haul and shuttle. Brockers was on the surface in charge of spoil dispersal.

Someone had said “that the digging might be a bit slower today”, with three digging, how wrong that statement was. The loaded skips kept coming as fast as they could be shifted. Towards the end of the session, Tav had dug through the connection and this allowed a shift in position to clear the backlog. Jake and Nick took over the haul and shuttle, I went up to the surface to help-out Brockers. Today’s count: 66 bags and 17 loads of rock, 83 skip-loads in total. Brockers had even managed to get some wall building done, good effort. Another fine session and thirsty work, ready for the pub.

12th October 2017

With Jake, Nick, Brockers, Jonathon and Tav.

Brockers at the forefront doing the excavation, Nick clearing away the filled bags and shifting the rocks from Tuck Shop, Tav on the slope unloading the skip and transferring the load to Jake on the haul. Jake was later joined by Jonathon, who was running late, on the shuttle, I was on the surface.

The loaded skips were coming to the surface, at a rate, almost one-a-minute, it was warm and sweaty work, thankfully not plagued by midges. There wasn’t time to add to the wall, but the store of rock now starting to accumulate, means there is a good supply for when the opportunity arises. 71 loads to the surface, 39 bags and 31 loads of rock, I was relieved when it was over, by now, I was thirsty and the back was, just beginning to twinge.

10th October 2017


Down to Tuck Shop to break-up some of the boulders there, using a combination of capping and tapping [with the sledge hammer]. One drill-bit succumbed to the task and was discarded. Created a decent pile of rock to be removed sometime. There are still plenty of rocks awaiting size reduction, that’s a job for another day. Exited the cave.

7th October 2017

With Jake, Jonathon, Nick, Brockers and ‘Duncy Sumpy’ Price.

While Jake, Nick and Duncy set about clearing Thursday’s backlog of bags and rock from the entrance, Jonathon, Brockers and me headed-off to the dig.

I was digging, somehow drawn to making the connection, something that was inevitable anyway, Jonathon was clearing away from behind me, and in between times, set-about breaking the rocks left in Tuck Shop with the sledge. Brockers was at the top of the slope hauling the loaded skip and transferring the load to Duncy, who had, by now, positioned himself on the haul, while Nick did the shuttle, Jake remained on the surface, plagued by midges.

At the dig-face, it wasn’t long before the ice-axe was retrieved from the ‘Lower’ Series, the passage beyond clearly visible. By the end of the session, I could get my feet and legs through the connection, turned around, my head and shoulders in, but the chest would not fit through – curse my old, inflexible body – back in the day, when setting-out on this long emotional journey… On one attempt to push through, I had to call for Jonathon’s assistance to give me a pull so that I could extract myself from the squeeze. Had to face it, the connection needs enlargement, so gave it up for another day.

Jonathon was clearly, ‘digger of the day’ for his effort in clearing a large part of the rocks left in Tuck Shop.

Over 140 skip-loads had been hauled out to the surface, including about 50 loads from Thursday. A sterling effort by Jake. Refreshments beckoned, we made our way down the hill to the farm, and from there, to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.

5th October 2017

With Jake, Jonathon and Nick.

Jake was digging, I was behind, clearing the bag and rock to Jonathon, on the slope, also managed to clear a few loads of rock from the Tuck Shop. Nick was on the haul and shuttle, stacking the spoil at the bottom of the entrance.

Digging, comprises a mixture of fine sandy silt, rocks and lumps of detached calcite flowstone, some of these quite large. Jake pulled-out one slab, to reveal open space beyond, interestingly, to the north/northeast, about 3m, in all. The end of an ice-axe, that had been placed in the furthest reaches, at the end of the ‘Lower’ Series, could be seen clearly, the connection is not too far away. There are gaps all over the place, hours of digging fun for the future. A good session.

The walk down to the farm was illuminated by a fantastic big, bright harvest Moon.

30th September 2017

With Nick, Jake, Matt and Jonathon.

Nick and Jake went along to the dig, reeling in the wire as they went, I climbed down the pot, along Toil and Trouble, left-side of T Junction to carry-out another voice test. Not only did we achieve a positive voice connection but, a visual one too, I could see Nick’s light and then a gloved hand.

A successful test done, I returned to help Matt on the haul and shuttle, Jonathon was on the surface, hauling-out and adding to the wall and spoil heap. A constant flow of rocks and bags kept us busy. 30 skip-loads of rock and 59 bags were hauled up the surface.

Towards the end of the session, a call came back from the dig, it was looking interesting, intrigued, I couldn’t resist going up to have a look.

To the left of the connection, there was open space behind a jumble of rocks and slabs of flowstone. Although Nick and I tried to move a large slab to get a better look, time was moving on, we decided to leave it to the next session, some more digging is required. The loose sediment was tidied up and the last couple of bags and a few rocks were dragged-out to the surface.

Satisfied with the mornings progress, it was time to make our way to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn.

28th September 2017

With Roz.

Drilled just the two holes, 550mm x 12mm, into a slab of rock that’s obstructing access to the potential connection into the ‘Lower Series’. It didn’t take very long, so went down into the Tuck Shop to swing the sledge at a couple of rocks, quickly decided that capping was a better option and returned to the primary task. All connected, retired to a safe distance, the job brought to a satisfactory conclusion. More rock could be heard falling into the Tuck Shop.

26th September 2017

With Jake.

Although we had talked about it on the weekend, less of a turn-out than anticipated, so didn’t achieve as much as hoped for.

Started capping some of the boulders piled in the Tuck Shop, while Jake busied himself digging at the potential ‘connection’. We thought that an obstructing slab of rock might succumb to capping, but that didn’t happen, the rock proved too thick and solid. I did, manage to get the capping rod well and truly stuck and it required some effort to free it. Decided then, that the rock would require the application of a more persuasive technique and I will return on Thursday evening with the necessary materials.

The bags Jake had filled were hauled to the entrance to be removed on the weekend.

23rd September 2017

With Jake, Nick and Jonathon.

Initially, I went along to the dig-face, reeling in the wire as I progressed, to check the results of Tuesday’s endeavour. The slab of rock was shattered, much of it now down in the Tuck Shop. Duly satisfied, I returned to the surface to haul-out the rocks and bags. Jonathon cleared the dig, Nick on top of the slope transferring the spoil to Jake on the haul and shuttle.

It was non-stop action on the surface as a steady stream of rocks and bags were removed from the cave. It was very warm work but, thankfully I wasn’t pestered by flies and midges. There was a brief respite, when the skip was worn-out and required a replacement, luckily there was one available. 40 bags were hauled out and emptied, some of these had come to the end of use and were incorporated into the spoil heap. It was too busy to count the number of skip-loads of rock, but they must have equalled, if not exceeded the number of bags. About 6m length of wall was heightened and the spoil dumped behind it.

At the end of the morning’s session, a brief discussion, it was decided that many of the rocks in the Tuck Shop would need capping, a job for Tuesday evening. We can do another voice test and re-assess the next stage to make the connection. I can try arranging a Thursday trip if required.

It had been thirsty work this morning and we were now ready for refreshment, to the Hunter’s Lodge Inn!

19th September 2017


On arrival at the dig-face, after some consideration, a slight change to my original thoughts. I decided to remove a large chunk of rock that currently forms the ‘floor’, we should then be at the same level as the potential connection. There are a couple of rocks at ceiling height that we’ll need to keep a watchful eye.

Drilled 7no. hole, relatively evenly spread, c.350mm-550mm depth due to variable thickness of rock and the height to ceiling. It took a bit longer than usual mainly because I needed to keep changing the drill bit, and pay attention to the drop down into the Tuck Shop.

The evening’s task was brought to a satisfactory conclusion from Stal Bend, where a rumble of falling rock could be heard. Plenty to shift on the weekend.

16th September 2017

With Jake, Tav, Nick, Matt, Brockers and Jonathon.

A good team today, me and Tav went to the dig-face, Brockers on top of the slope, Jonathon and Nick on the haul and shuttle, Jake and Matt on the surface, hauling-out and wall building.

As expected, there was plenty of debris. I cleared the rocks, gravel and fine sediment from the connection area, passing bags etc. back to Tav. When that was cleared, Tav went down into Tuck Shop to clear debris and break-up some of the rocks there with the sledge. Meanwhile, I set to work with hammer and bar to clean-out the potential way forward. That done, I decided to head down the pot and along Toil and Trouble to try out another voice test to pinpoint the next move, it’s close, I thought I caught the merest glimpse of Tav’s light, but this could not be confirmed. I returned to the dig-face to discuss with Tav where the aural connection was best heard and to formulate a plan for mid-week.

At the end of the session, 85 loads to the surface, just about an equal split between bags and rock. Some more fine dry-stone wall was also created.

12th September 2017


Another 7no. holes to continue with the connection into the ‘lower series’. The holes were drilled a little shorter than usual, c.350-400mm, only used-up two batteries. Peering down into the Tuck Shop, there are a lot of rocks that require capping at some time in the future. Lots of ‘mossies’ and midges in the cave.

All sounded good from Stal Bend, there was a satisfying tumble of rocks.

9th September 2017

I was on a digging trip to the Gower this weekend, but a team did go to HR and Tav supplied the following report:

“HR – 09.09.2017 Tav, Jon, Matt, Jake

Jake texted that he would meet us at the dig so t’other three made their way up to the Tuck Shop, which was a scene of devastation. There was big pile of rocks on the floor with a couple of alarming lumps hanging out of the roof. With just three diggers we ‘ummed and ahhed’ a bit about the wisdom of carrying on and had just about decided to knock the session on the head when Jake arrived, which swung the pendulum back in favour of digging. We set about removing the spoil – Jake loading, Jon on the slope, Tav on haul and shuttle and Matt on the surface. 45 loads of rock and gravel were duly removed – a mere fraction of the stuff that remains in the Tuck Shop. Loads still to clear but the face (according to Jake) is ready for another bang. Raining on the surface so we applied the ‘old’ adage …

When rain clouds form round Pen Hill mast,

It’s quick lads, to the Hunters’ fast”

8th September 2017


A technical problem meant I was unable to collect the necessary supplies on Tuesday, so a Friday evening trip to loosen some rock.

The cows in the field were a bit excitable this evening!

At the top of the slope, in the north-east corner, drilled 6no. holes to start opening-up the connection to the ‘lower’ series. The evening was bought to a conclusion with a satisfying tumbling of rock. Should be plenty of stuff to clear tomorrow, but not for me, I’m going to the Gower.

It was still quite early so gave the Hunter’s a miss.