Friday 26 August 2011

Brickwork's Dig

The dig was last visited in February when Graham and John fitted the entrance gate frame and started to ‘brick in’ the gaps around the sides.  We also managed to pump out the dig using the new pumping system but failure of the bottom pump along with water flowing in at a rate which would have required continuous pumping meant that we had to abandon any attempt at digging and go caving instead.
This time Graham and John completed the ‘bricking in’ around the sides of the frame and we managed to completely pump out the system.
The pumps and generator were set up on the Friday evening and we pumped for an hour or so until the bottom pump got itself clogged again.  The pump was dismantled and unclogged in the workshop but it was too late to resume pumping operations.
On Saturday as well as bricking in we also finished pumping out, moved 120-130 bags to surface which were stacked in the cross rift and filled another 60-70 bags which were stacked in the cross rift.
Sunday was less successful.  The bottom pump refused to lift the remaining sludge to the middle tank in spite of lowering the connecting pipe.  While pump maintenance and re-cabling was being done the filled bags from the previous day were bought out to surface.  The pump still refused to lift the sludge so we packed up early.
For next time it seems we need a pump for the bottom which can handle the sludge.

Graham lowers the new dig truck containing pumps and sand bags while Keith supervises
The new entrance to the dig complete with giant spider's web which mysteriously appeared when we were underground
The Friday Digging Team: Graham, John, Keith & Mark
The Saturday Digging Team: Andy, Brendan, Graham, John, Keith, Mark & Mel
The Sunday Digging Team: Brendan, Graham, John, Keith & Mark

Monday 8 August 2011

Maskhill Mine

Mon 8th August 2011

After having done our rope access course Jess said she wanted to do some rigging. As I wanted a bit of a challenge I suggested Maskhill Mine.
Jess and I have done this as an exchange, but fortunately Jess has the memory of a goldfish and couldn’t remember the trip and agreed.
As I pulled out rope after rope out of the stores, & others in the club began commenting on the amount of kit, the look on her face changed a little as she realised what she’d let herself in for.

Equipped with over 300m of rope, dozens of maillons and karabiners all stuffed in to 4 well packed kit bags, we set off up the hill only to walk straight past the entrance which was surrounded with overgrown nettles and proceeded to spend the next half an hour cursing and saying ‘well I know it’s round here somewhere!’

Eventually we stumbled across it, and in fairness you did have to be right on top to see it.

With the first 80m of rope Jess jumped in and did a sterling job of rigging to the Jumbles. I followed with the other 3 bags, managing to drop them right in the middle of  Y hangs at least twice and realised just how much like I proper caver I was becoming, expletives pouring forth as I wrestled bags back into position. 
Switching at Trebuchet Corner I continued the rigging through to pool chamber without event.
De-rigging went fine for the first couple of bags of rope, once we got back to the top of Jumbles I could tell Jess was starting to feel it by the way she was often questioning my heritage. The fact that every 10 meters up the entrance pitches I could hear her struggling to free the bags which kept snagging possibly didn’t help!
All in all a great trip and an achievement for two people to do, but I think I’ll possibly take another couple of cavers next time ;)

Don't know why Jess was complaining, I was carrying the camera!

Present Mark & Jess

Saturday 6 August 2011

Five cavers - Four caves - One day

The day started with a very brief rendez-vous in Asda cafe before heading to Ystradfellte and the caves. Some substantial repairs to the road allowed us to park the cars down at the bridge. We sent Wal off to the farm to pay the trespass fees, changed and made our way to our first cave..

Cave 1 Bridge Cave
Our first cave of the day was Bridge Cave, with a quick trip down to the sump and then back out again.

Martin in the Entrance Series - Bridge Cave

Some more photos of Bridge Cave Here

Cave 2 White Lady Cave
We headed down the Nedd Fechan past Cwm Pwll Y Rhyd and down to White Lady cave, it's large arched entrance enticing us in. The water was deeper than I remembered and caused much upset to Wal who as we all know doesn't like the wet stuff. A quick sploosh down to the sump and then a slow return taking photos followed.

Martin and Mel in the main passage - White Lady Cave

Martin and Wal near the entrance - White Lady Cave

Cave 3 Town Drain Cave
A hop skip and jump from the entrance to White Lady was Town Drain, and one by one we entered this linear and impressively scalloped cave. A dash to the end was followed by half an hour of photos taken in the most impressive section of passage near the entrance.

Martin and Andy near the entrance - Town Drain Cave

Martin near the entrance - Town Drain Cave

Cave 4 Little Neath River Cave.
Having ticked off the lesser caves of the valley we headed up to the true target of the day - Little Neath. Low water and warm weather ensured that journey into the cave was not too cold or off-putting. We headed downstream to look at the other side of the Bridge Cave sump before sticking our heads into the canal. Wal was urged to commit himself to the water, but after much coaxing he would not budge. It took Martin heading off down the canal in front to get Wal to follow. After our swim a short detour to Bouncing Boulder Hall was made before the return via the Canal bypass was made. We were all out for four o'clock and in the New Inn at Ystradfellte supping pints in the beer garden by five.

Some Little Neath River cave photos from previous trips here

Present: Brendan Marris, Steve Wallis, Mel Wakeman, Andy Grimes and Martin Saunders.