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Lloyds Shaft Dig, May 2000:

Eldon's Jase Rider reports on the progress of the Lloyds shaft dig -

Progress has been good so far and the shaft is getting deeper on a weekly basis. To help with getting rubble out over the increasing depth, Mike Salt has been drafted in to strengthen the original dig team of Steve Rider, Gary Bode, Dave Jones and Jase Rider. At a vertical depth of about 35ft below the dig entrance, the rift that we have been following so far goes off at a 30 degree angle. This has been excavated as far as possible but has now become fairly awkward to dig and so we have turned our attention back to the boulder floor of the shaft. Progress has been slower through the boulder floor as the newly exposed rocks have collapsed on several occasions (sometimes on our heads !) - stemples and across have now been put in place to reduce this problem. Dave Jones added "Although we haven't yet made a breakthrough, steady progress is being made and the dig now extends some 15 or so feet below where we started digging in February."

previous report 02/2000


Full report, May 2000:

Report from John Taylor -

Tony Revell & I had first noted the small stream issuing from the up-dip end of Burton Pingles Pipe on the 23rd of October 1999. The water flows over a thin calcite floor, which lies on top of gravel. The gap between the calcite and solid roof formed along bedding was 20cm but digging would not be too strenuous due to the nature of the fill. We began to dig on the 11th of December.

As suspected the digging did go quickly with the water making the relatively fine gravel fluid and easy to move, quite fortuitous as we were lying flat out in running water. We had soon pressed a channel about 0.7m square and 5m long. Sitting trying to roll a fag and warm up ready for my next stint I heard shouts from Tony. Rushing up the passage I found that the roof had raised and he was now ahead in a hands and knees crawl. After around fifteen feet the right wall moved in and made the passage awkward. I then passed this and the passage lowered after around 2m to a flat out crawl over calcited gravel for 3m. I then encountered a triangular squeeze, the passage roof had raised sufficiently to flip onto my back but I was too cold to get through the squeeze.

We returned on the 18th of December armed with wetsuits and I pushed up the crawl shoving my helmet, battery, a lump hammer and a small crowbar in front of me. The squeeze takes the form of a right-angled triangle with the straight upright on my right and the stream forming its base. Taking a long hard look at it I figured that it was just too small and arranged my equipment to give me enough space to start excavation. Working the crowbar under the water I loosened small pieces of rock and calcite. There was just enough room at my side to enable my right arm to extend behind me where I found a small horizontal crack in the passage wall and, one handful at a time, that is where I stashed the spoil. In this way I deepened the stream by around three inches for the length of the squeeze, around one-foot. I had judged it just right, my upper torso fitted tightly to the two walls and floor but there was just enough room to allow me to push through using my feet. I had thought that the constriction ahead would again be tight but once there it was just a flat out crawl prior to the passage returning to hands and knees height. At this point the right wall receded a couple of feet to mud. The roof of the tube we had followed rose to where it had been carved in the bedding that until now had formed the roof. It is here that the water enters the passage not from the tube in front but the bedding to the right over mud and with only a couple of inches air gap. I followed the tube in front but after around 3m that too closed up to a gap of around 0.2m. Due to the constricted nature of the passage beyond the squeeze we may now have to push the initial trench right up to the end of our explorations so far. I returned on the 27th of April with Jason and Steve Rider and surveyed from the entrance to the end of our exploration. Including the dig we have extended the cave by 40m.

previous report 01/2000