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Caine Hill Moves into 2011

By Stu Lindsay

January 7th, 2011’s first visit saw TrevH, NigelTnT and StuL blow up the two ends. A quick visitation on the 9th by Trev and Stu found fume filled air and quickly checked all explosive material had detonated. Moved all bags to First chamber. 12th saw DaveB and StuL clear most of the End of Dig debris, 20 bags and some large lumps of rock, probably a metre of progress, so is that it for 2011? January 19th StuL and TrevH a quick clear up operation getting EOD debris to Third Chamber when DaveB turned up so we hauled to Son of a Pitch

Again on the 26th DaveB joined Trev and Stu to haul to Son of a Pitch, the total bags here now approaching 200. The final hauling session for the month saw JakeB join  Trev and Stu on the 26th,  the 2 hour session saw the surface temperature dropping  from chilly to bloody freezing,  even the effort of 132 bags to the surface failing to ward off the approaching zero temperature. It was a quiet month, but progress achieved after the stagnation of December.

February’s first visit of the month, the 2nd  saw just Trev and Stu,  all  “stray bags ” from End of Dig  were amassed in First Chamber,  before 30 bags were shunted up to  Son of a Pitch.  Trying to guess the stored bags at Son of a Pitch on the 6th failed, the hundred plus was actually only 79. Jake on the surface, Stu at half way and Trev at the bottom had them out in just over the hour. The 9th saw a solo from TrevH, when he cleared the bang debris from the base of the rift, and is now ready for more shotholes, there does seem to be some improvement in passage size but still a lot to do. The two large rocks in the Third Chamber were also rendered into baggable bits.

13TH   A 3 ¼ hour session, before Trev and Jake arrived , saw Stu capping and P& Feathering the way on at End of Dig heading downward in a passage, as opposed to a Rift, it looks to be maybe a metre high and wide. Jake and Trevor arrived concentrated on the rift getting everything back to First Chamber. Its back to Stu and Trev on the 16th, the original extension to the End of Dig after tonight’s clearance operation  is now almost big enough for two, there is the original higher level “tube”, uncovered in January, heading off pretty much northward. But the likely way on is probably down under the now quickly diminishing archway, chip chip, cap cap.  Saving the best to last, the final visit of the month was a good turnout with Ian Cedegy, Paul’s mate joining StuL, TrevH, JakeB, PhilC and JohnN to make 7 willing souls. Jake whizzed off to the end of Dig followed by Phil and were joined by the late arriving John.  The rest of us hauled to Son of a Pitch, the grand finale being to get the largest of the specimen rocks up to Son of a Pitch…a mere 30kgs or so

March, Stu, Trev and Dave kicked off the 2nd day of the month; Trev went down the rift to drill holes whilst Dave and Stu continued to loosen up the End of Dig. At the End of Dig progress was slowly beginning to reveal a possible way on down to the right, after a dozen bags and 5 or 6 rocks had been removed it made it clearer where Stu would drill some shot holes, initially just three at 500mm long but in the end six were drilled, with drill entry points in 2 groups of 3.  March 9TH was bang night, Trev, NigelTnT StuL and DaveB descended, Trev loaded the Rift and Stu and Dave marked time before the End of Dig also received a length or two. After 2 successful crumps, CHAPS was allowed to run for 15 mins, the strength of the fumes growing fainter as the pub beckoned.

An early start on Sunday 13th by Stu saw the CHAPS switched on for an hour. Below, in End of Dig fumes were mere occasional wisps, whilst the rift was not so clear and duly left for another day. Trev and Stu on this 3 hour session saw 40 bags dug, and moved back to First Chamber. The current rock bridge is almost history and working space has doubled.  2 again became 3 on the 16th Trev and Stu, joined latterly by Dave.  Stu in a 2 hour or so session before Trev arrived had almost made as much debris as the previous bang! This area, End of Dig seems to be quite wacky! Its like a boulder pile that has been modified, it does not seem to follow a basic conformity, and it is also quite damp, making the spoil claggy.  Dave joining the throng was an opportunity not to be missed, he was poked into the hole, whilst Trev departed for the rift to bag all the debris.  Finally about 40 bags were eventually hauled to the First Chamber.  March 20th weather was very good so with just 2 of us in 3 sessions, Stu doing surface haul first and last, Trev at Son of a Pitch we managed 77 bags out.  23rd, with Paul, PeteH and Phil digging Trev and Stu maintained the supply at Son of a Pitch by shunting 50 plus bags up. 27TH saw Jake join Stu, Jake filled another 5 bags in rift, before a concerted effort in the End of Dig, which is looking tight again. Last session was 30th of March 2011, when StuL, JakeB, TrevH and DaveB were joined by Henry Rockcliff from Derby area. Trevor drilled in the rift with Henry, whilst the size of the End of Dig allowed me to drill whilst Dave and Jake dug around me.

April 6th commenced with a bang, or should I say BANG. Nigel duly turned up with the bang and Trev and Stu descended to End of Dig. With 2 of us on the job detracted from our usual practice and increased the number of holes to 6 all went well with a pleasing crump that just about rattled Tims windows.  13TH saw JakeB, DaveB and StuL clear some quite large lumps and gain access to some more of the delightful Cainehill spoil, clearing all to Third Chamber the End of Dig was left as confusing as ever. 2 possibly 3 ways forward, the likely 2 being to the NW or the North.  With Stu migrating north the 20th saw Dave B and Trevor lengthen the Rift shotholes to 550 long and drill an additional one. Whilst Dave laboured away the evening digging at EOD, producing a good pile of bags of rock and mud. But most importantly, cleared away down dip to reveal an archway with soft mud infill and to prove that the flat bedding floor is not connected to most, if not all, of the obstructing rocks ahead. Last visit of April the 27th saw a good crew, Dave B, Phil C, Pete H, John N and Trevor and a warm evening so it seemed like a good idea to surface haul: the base of SOP was emptied of the 58 loads and the huge ‘specimen’ rock which took the combined strengths of John, Pete and self to get up the first part of the shaft. This rock is not the striped rock which has been so carefully guarded from assault by hammer wielding fanatics, and to get that out we will have to repeat the exercise all over again  but these rocks will do fine at the base of the Belfry Stone. By the close of play John had managed to loose or leave behind his helmet, light, gloves, changing mat and caving belt: there can’t be much of his kit left – if anybody finds a naked caver with a Charles 1st beard wandering wantonly on Priddy Green please return him to the Caine Hill diggers.

MAN HOURS SPENT OVER THE PAST 4 MONTHS TOTAL AROUND 143. With a further 346 bags reaching the surface it took the total  to 5 figures, yep, that’s 10,089 or over 150 tonnes. .Work continues, hopefully NOW with more pace.

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