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Following the Streams in Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink

by Tony Jarratt

Since the breakthrough report in BB 514, work has continued at four separate dig sites despite atrociously bad air conditions.

The Hatch

Situated on the RH side of Pub Crawl just below the 2m fixed ladder.  A strong draught sometimes emanates from this originally tiny, vertical fissure which has now been blasted to body size for some 2 metres to where two wet weather inlet streams enter from updip and combine to form a steeply dipping outlet.  At least one of these emits water which sinks in an impassable bedding plane on the RH side of the standing height section of Pub Crawl just before the iron ladder.  A hosepipe test also revealed that they both carry the water which sinks in the rift below the entrance shaft.  This water is next seen pouring out of the boulder choke in the ceiling of Lower Bar Steward Passage (B.S.P.) which would indicate that there is a parallel bedding plane to Pub Crawl, or more likely an extension of the same plane, running down the NW side of B.S.P. at about the same level. Water also filters through the choke here from the field above, probably via the shallow depression SW of the new car park.  Traces of flourescein have been noted at the entry point to Happy Hour Highway (H.H.H.) where a dig has been started in the hope of bypassing the grim terminal choke in the streamway below.  There maybe an updip continuation of H.H.H. below The Hatch but work has been suspended here for the time being.

Lower Bar Steward Passage

Reached via a 7m deep shaft excavated down a boulder filled rift c.lm wide and 4m beyond the stream sink at the end of Pub Crawl.  A scaffold frame was built to stabilise the up and downstream walls of poised boulders. On the 11th October the boulder infill was finally passed to gain some 5m of open stream passage with perched and heavily calcited boulders obscuring the way on.  Whilst rearranging these, a very large chunk of the RH wall started to move and so was hastily propped up before a rapid retreat was made.  Work then commenced on blasting a route higher up the rift in order to reach this calcite covered slab from above and also to gain access to a black void between boulders which could be seen ahead.  The stream here issues from the base of the dug shaft and is the water sinking at the end of Pub Crawl.  All of this passage is aligned along a substantial fault, as is The Hatch, the stream from which enters from a boulder choke above. Alex reports slickensides, fault breccia and crushed limestone lenses from the exposed sections of this fault and is very enthusiastic about potential.  Again, blasting is being resorted to enlarge the downstream passage. On the 6th November the black void was entered and proved to be some 4m of spiky bedding plane with a c.l.5m square stream passage below and on the LH side.  Unfortunately a ruckle of loose boulders prevented access to this and the continuing bedding plane streamway beyond, but following a bang on the 6th November a return was made on the 10th, the ruckle was dropped and a mere couple of metres of passage entered to a decidedly horrific choke.  The new dig in H.H.H. above will hopefully bypass this.

Happy Hour Highway - upper

The original high level dig at the end of the fossil cave has been restarted by Trev, John W., Shaggy, Matt and others and is reported as easy and promising but long term.  The plan is to sink a 2m deep shaft through sand and collapsed ceiling slabs and tunnel under the wall.  Trev's homemade plugs and feathers have been successfully employed here for boulder splitting.  A deckchair and parasol have been installed on the "beach" below the dig!  No, don't ask .....

Happy Hour Highway - lower

After having been laboriously excavated downwards for some 4m the compacted nature of the sand and rock infill, coupled with the recent CO2 problem has driven some of the team to seek easier pickings in the upper dig.  Now that the air conditions have improved this dig has seen a considerable amount of work.  A phreatically enlarged joint is being pursued downwards in order to find a wider section which can be excavated forwards and should theoretically lie at c.4m depth from the floor of the phreatic pocket above this dig.  The wall is beginning to undercut towards the centre of the main passage above so we may nearly be there.  Work continues in the steeply dipping sand/clay infill.

Photography/Tourism etc.

Pete Glanvill and Nigel Cox enjoyed a damp photographic recording trip to the cave on the 20th October and a couple of tourist trips have been done with some of the visitors assisting with spoil clearing.

More diggers and helpers

Hugh Tucker, Elaine Johnson, Simon Moth, Sue Whitby (all A.C.G.), Rachel and Andy Smith, Mike Kelly (all Gagendor C.C.), Pete Glanvill, Nigel Cox, John Christie, Simon Flower (V.B.S.S.), Lloyd Dawes, Roger Galloway, Martin Hayes, Dan Harries, Dave Robinson, Kate Janossy, Fraser Simpson (all Grampian S.G.), Pete Golide, Matthew Butcher (S.M.C.C.).