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Caine Hill, THE STORY CONTINUES. By Stu Lindsay

July 7th, arrives with early-bird StuL continuing the pipework for C H A P S, (Caine Hill Air Purging System) to the rift bottom. Now some 40m below the entrance at a depth of about 22m, the pipe here dangles a metre or so above the rift bottom. In the Quicklink passage Stu utilized a handy phreatic pocket to make up a joint to branch off toward the End of Dig, this 10m spur can be isolated to allow maximum air displacement in the rift bottom if necessary. Stu exited to meet the others only to find he had a puncture, so a very late start after all present had mucked in to sort it,  still allowed  41 loads to reach  the surface. Using the “single rope method”, that is from the entrance to Son of a Pitch, did not get the approval of Trev at the top, Stu in the middle or John at the bottom. Another lesson learned at this visit was the pipework severely interferes with hauling so will need to be rerouted and fixed tightly.

July 14th, digging wise was a bit of a disaster and only Trev performed at the hole extracting one bag. Jake, Phil and Stu (who was a bit under the weather) choosing to go on a walk to Stock Hill woods to see the Nightjars, as the light rapidly faded, and a light drizzle descended this nocturnal bird made a few flights to the delight of all.

Sunday the 18th and, with a tackle bag crammed with drill, spare batteries and pipe work accessories StuL descended on his own. 'Root 66' has a steep incline, at the bottom it levels out before the left turn into Quicklink. Sliding merrily head first down this slippery tight slope, Stu suddenly came to an abrupt stop, the tackle bag would move no further; it had come up against the proverbial immovable object, a mass of rocks and bags, the result of Trev’s endeavours on Wednesday!  A gap of about 25cms had been left under the roof, but it was some 60cms above the floor level creating a very sharp upside down “V tube” After struggling to inch backwards a foot or so up the slippery 45 degree slope Stu managed to push his bag to one side, and manoeuvre a few of the rocks back in the direction from whence they had come, thus allowing him to squeeeeeeeeze through. The rest of the  4 hour plus visit, was spent venting anger and caps on  the calcite bridge, that was holding up progress for so long  in this cramped area, the End of Dig chipping off fist size lumps with caps and chisels, till eventually it began to look vulnerable. Caine's is a massive learning curve, another lesson learned, “when sitting legs outstretched in front under the object you are attacking, in this case the calcite bridge, especially when a spare rubber debris mat is available USE IT, bigger lumps bite your shins….hard!

A reasonable turn out on the 21st DaveB was at the bottom when Jake and Stu turned up, a while later Trev appeared, and by 1945 there were 6, as Phil on the surface was joined for a short while by a scantily clad Hel's out for a jog. The last 25 bags from S o a P were then hauled out, before Phil went bird watching. Hel's had gone, having done one bag then the quartet descended to refill S o a P from the rock pile at the bottom of slide.

Wed 28th was quite a busy night with 8 bodies on duty. Glyn Roberts and Hel's did a tourist trip before joining Jake at the rift, and assisted in   emptying it. Stu meanwhile, drilled 5 holes in the End of Dig passage to see if finally that annoyingly resistant, but now weakened bridge could finally be encouraged to surrender to a few metres of 40g, especially after the effort of a 4 hour attack with caps. Trev and Dave having arrived a bit later stacked bags back to the base of the slide. With the arrival of Paul and John, Trev went off down to the rift bottom to drill 6 holes.  The rest of the team regrouped and managed to haul 80 loads to the surface. Forward progress this month was unmeasurable, the mineralized/ calcite veins proving to be a real pain.


7th   StuL, JohnN, TrevH, DaveB…..Stu doing pipework, then with others hauled 41 loads..3 ½ hrs 1 hr

14th TrevH..solo trip fettling and removing 1 bag …  1 ½ hrs

18th StuL..solo trip of interesting proportions extracting capping and getting bruised … 4 ¼ hrs

21st JakeB, TrevH, DaveB, PhilC, Hels (jogging)…Hauling out on one rope…2 hrs

28th PaulB, JohnN, StuL, TrevH, JakeB, DaveB, Glyn Roberts, Hels.. shot holes and hauling…2 ¼ hrs







Photo.  Calcite bridge after 4 hours of capping by StuL. About 3 bags of debris generated.





August is never a good month…..


August is never a good month for digging, what with holidays and fine sunny weather, could this year prove to be different?  Work really has stagnated, progress constantly being hampered by the nature of the impure limestone, multiple calcite and mineral veins being a massive hindrance.  If you hit a solid bit of rock with a lump hammer, use Plug and Feathers, caps or 40g cord; it breaks up easily. Hit a mineralized or calcareous lump with any of the above and the result can be disappointing at the very least.


Wed 4 Aug

Just the usual suspects tonight including Mr T (NT) himself

A vast amount of shothole furgling was carried out and by the end of the evening, two successful sounding detonations were made.

Sun 8 Aug

Stu, Jake and I visited the two sites – the rift site was not a success but the EOD area was liberally covered in bang debris. More work needed at the Rift base.

This will be done on Wednesday.

Watch this space!  Trevor.


The laying of the bang on the 4th was using some new spec 56grm. With approaching 15m of mixed cords, we descended to fill about 10 of the holes previously drilled or modified on the night. Two successful crumps were heard and CHAPS was activated, but no smell wafted into the fresh Mendip air, after a minute or so, and amid all the excitement of the moment came the cry “Blimey, the pipe has not been connected”, within seconds a rich toxic aroma spilled into the lane. (less than 10secs to suck from 40 metres) The follow up visit of the 8th proved to be more disastrous as the month unfurled. On closer inspection the rift was hardly damaged, it was good rock but the explosives had failed to do their work, the amount of debris almost non existent. In the End of Dig it looked to be good news, a fair amount of shattered rock liberally spread around awaiting removal and hopefully exposing “the way on”? maybe this time!



Photo.  showing the result of the bang on the 4th. At last the calcite bridge is almost destroyed. It later succumbed to hammer chisel and crowbar on the 8th after absorbing 3 separate attacks with explosives, P & F, caps and a session by Duncan! who stated:

 “that’s @=#@ blah blah hard bloody stuff “


11th   August 2010 saw Jake and Trevor fill about 20 bags in the End of Dig, a very good number as in recent months the tally has been well down, in single figures at times, we were now back into light loamy spoil and the atmosphere was once again tinged with joviality.

The 12th saw Jake and Stu continue enlarging the new area behind the remnants of the demolished bridge. 15 or so bags filled by Jake as Stu capped off odd lumps on the side of the passage. The obligatory “have a look at the end after my efforts” resulting in a 30 minute addition to our stay as Stu found a couple cracks to fit the crowbar into, Jake finished them off and a couple serious lumps joined the heap. We now appear to have a false floor where the hole under the old bridge was. With “inlets” or passages seemingly blocked by boulders all around this new exposed area its looking promising again.

13th A team of 5 eventually got underground, Jake and Stu had been copiously  filling bags and capping the new End of Dig “chamber”, when DaveB advised that Trev and NigelT were on the way down to rectify the apparent lack of damage caused by the last bang. Later a pleasing crump, but then so was the last one, resonated from below. That’s more work, down the rift and still tonnes to come from End of Dig.

17th The fume removal pipe (CHAPS) , fondly referred to as “ the telepipe” works well, as down in the depths Nigel was able to contact us from the surface, audio is not great, but works. A marathon trip, anything over 4 hours, resulted in some heavy capping and digging at the End of Dig to enlarge it to an area which allows standing. From here to the Third Chamber we have the most physical of our hauling routes, at the moment no skip is able to assist due to the passage character. We left with what appears to be at least four ways on, besides the obvious downward route funnelling into another constriction. Air was breathable but foggy after 4 hours with the efforts of 2 energetic diggers, about on the limit. 

With it being holidays and all,   just a quick up date to cover August.

Complete vindication of pursuing the End of Dig has manifested itself into quite a "chamber" size area with more than one way to pursue. A full report will appear in the BB in due course. The last bang, whilst initially appearing to have "failed to a degree" has actually worked wonders. Other than Trevor soaking up Mediterranean sunshine, most members of the team have had a go in the NEWLY regained mud spoil. 3 trips (11 hours total) by Stu and Jake have re built the momentum needed to progress. A couple serious capping sessions have made things easier all round, and CHAPS has been brilliant, generating the first!?  draught in Caine Hill.

 The rift was also banged recently, a follow up to a disappointing previous bang, although another session is required, but is looking quite good. StuL.

21st With coffee and food a lengthy session was planned but in the end only went to 4 ¾ hours. Loads of capping in various places and a vast amount of spoil bagged and generated. The Third Chamber was very full with the EOD finally beginning to fulfil its enticing promise. So leaving Stu capping at EoD TomC and Jake removed all bags to the other side of the Quicklink. Approximately 200, plus rocks in First Chamber and Root66 now await hauling to Son of a Pitch. The 25th saw this operation commence as Jake, along with DaveB, Neil Usher and StuL.. achieved a hundred in even time, and thus completed the last visit of August….wow what a busy month that was, over 80 man-hours in 11 visits.


September heralds the autumn at Caine Hill

Where did it go, the summer has all but gone and September beckons the next season, autumn. From around late May to mid October Caines dries up, but in a few short weeks it will degenerate to wet sticky mud as percolation water drips from a myriad of miniature fissures throughout the known passages.. mostly, well ok 95% of them “mined” clean by the dedicated Cainehill digging team. As a reminder of progress to date, Caine Hill is an ANOMALLY. I do not think anyone yet fully understands it, it certainly seems to have major “thermal?” and/or phreatic origins, with heavy calcite and mineral veins in blackrock limestone. Analysis of the spoil seemingly points to a dissolution process, in slow moving water?  on horizontal planes leaving an enticing air gap, usually 3 to 7 cms but vertically totally infills with a non compacted deposition. The spoil when initially bagged seems to be just damp, but readily transforms into a doughy lump after being moved a few times. All spoil is removed from Caines and tipped on a site some mile or so away, it would be nigh on impossible to dig Caines if this tip site were not available. The Priddy fault lies some 100 metres or so to the North, the general direction the bottom of the rift is looking to follow, whilst the End of Dig is currently trending slightly down dip toward the WNW. The rift appears to have walls of differing rock types, the west side Blackrock Limestone, the east side??…..any proper geologists about??

Back to Septembers activities.  After an August of unprecedented activity Sept started with a solo trip. Unable to gain access to the clubs new Hilti drill, Stu bought a new Hitachi 24v and proceeded to christen it by improving conditions in the base of Son of a Pitch. With over 9000 bags and rocks removed so far it is important that major hauling points are comfortable to work in. 3 bags of debris, the spikey protrusions, were removed from the walls, with the floor also being flattened a little.

The rift, for so long the main focus of attention is now developing a worthy contender for popularity, the End of Dig. Nevertheless the rift still gives up its secrets slowly and so it was on the 5th Trev and Stu once again emptied it ready for the next bang. Hauling up 8m in a cramped muddy space is not easy, so changes will be made, more space around the west rim of the rift and a thicker rope. Air again was suspect as Trev was a little breathless when regaining the Third Chamber…although he has been soaking up the Mediterranean sunshine and sangria la for a fortnight!


Hols over so it’s back to the dig-face.

Stu L and yours truly today after a fortifying beverage at the Hunter’s.

The spoil from the blast of 13 Aug was hoisted up the terminal rift – 13 bag loads of chippings and a similar amount of larger rocks were hauled. Some deft hammer and chisel work produced a large rock flake that will need a bit more work done to it before removal and more can be produced.

The dig face has been opened up considerably but more work needs to be done to open up the on-going passage, another trip before the next set of shot hole drilling will suffice.

The End of Dig area has seen an impressive effort over the past two weeks – it starts to look like a mud filled boulder choke, plugs and feathers will come into their own here.

SoaP now needs a good evenings hauling + there is plenty of digging to do. Biffo

 8th saw Stu carrying out some of the aforesaid modifications latterly joined by DaveB who readily went to the End of Dig to fill bags. 22nd was also a solo trip for Stu spending over 3 hours in the End of dig area flattening floor and capping generally. Skip hauling along this section will be difficult. 29th PhilC joined Jake and Stu at the End of Dig and whilst Stu moved bags back to First Chamber, Jake and Phil chatted away filling a hard grafted 11 bags. AND so September proved a disappointment.



1st …StuL joined late by DaveB…enlarging and improving SoaP area… 1 ¾ hours

5th ….TrevH StuL…hauling from bottom of Rift to Third Chamber….2 ½ hours

8th ….DaveB, StuL..digging End of Dig, and modifying rim of Rift… 1 ½ hours

22nd…StuL… solo trip improving the area to and around End of Dig…3 ¼ hours

29th …PhilC, JakeB, StuL…filling bags, hauling etc etc in End of Dig ..1 ¾ hours