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Shatter Cave - Exploration Fever

Pete Glanvill and John Walsh both write about different discoveries in Fairy Quarry that occurred within a few days of each other.  Ed

On Sunday November 7th 1999 a rather large and optimistic party assembled outside Shatter Cave.  It comprised Pete Rose Nick Chipchase Martin Grass Jonathan Chipchase Nigel Cox (Pete G's brother in law) and Ken Passant.  We still hadn't established a name for the new series we were about to enter, nomenclature having varied from the topical (Viagra Rift) through the descriptive (Halloween Rift, Shatter Pot) to the memorial (Ellis Pot).  I felt it would be nice to commemorate Brian Ellis in some way by naming a bit of cave after him.  He was instrumental in expanding my knowledge of Devon Caves when I was a callow schoolboy by indicating where they were and how to visit them.  He also supplied me with all my original cave surveys and exchanged notes over the exploration of Holwell Cave.

Intrepid caver entering new rift

Anyway back to the 7th of November and the top of the new rift.  After Martin had driven in a bolt and some gardening had been done it was decided to let Nigel descend first - the more sensible assembled having relatively little enthusiasm to be first down a shaft possibly overhung with boulders. After a short interval some mutterings from the base of the 5 metre pitch confirmed our fears.  After a short look over some boulders one way and a peep the other Nigel decided to return leaving the indestructible Chipchase to descend closely followed by yours truly.

The rift drops over jammed boulders to a mud floored boulder pile sloping downstream to a roaring streamway all of 2 metres long.  Although the stream seemed to be entering a sump, one could see and hear by lying full length in it that the passage was an impossibly constricted duck beyond which it continued - presumably into Conning Tower Cave where intriguingly there is, at present, no apparent flow.  Below the entrance climb and beneath some nasty looking hanging death boulders the rift continued upstream and the muted roar of the stream could be heard from its depths.

Peter Glanvill cautiously weaved his way over and under the dodgy boulders and slithered the 6 metres to the bottom of the rift where the stream could be heard under a low choked phreatic arch.  After some desultory digging his glasses steamed up and after a worrying thrutch he managed to re-ascend the rift without rearranging the boulders.

Back at the cave entrance a council of war ended with PG re-descending armed with a bolt kit and a crowbar, moral back up being provided by Chipchase.  A decent belay for a ladder was then constructed to avoid the really hairy boulders before Pete got back to the digging face.  Ten minutes work enabled him to slide feet first into another 2 metre long stretch of streamway.  Downstream the water gurgled into the boulders while upstream a very constricted duck/sump would admit a boot.  There might be scope for a dig here as the floor of the stream consists of loose boulders.  Skinny cavers with a resistance to hypothermia should apply.  The streamway is very immature with little signs of sculpting by the water at stream level.

Exploration completed we removed the ladders but left the bolts and hangers in situ.  Prospective visitors please note that if you visit the new series first you can forget about doing the rest of the system unless you have a complete change of kit.  A trip to the bottom coats you in a nice layer of mud.

So there you have it. Shatter Cave now has 2 - 6 metre pitches and 4 metres of streamway!

Peter Glanvill November 21 st 1999.