Author Topic: Eldon Hole - Trip Report  (Read 89819 times)

Online Mark Wright

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Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« on: May 04, 2015, 01:54:16 am »
Eldon Hole – Lost River Project

‘Fissure on right has been dug out for 60’ (18m) but has run in since.
Lloyd (1780) reports a lower shaft with a stream in the bottom, but
this has not been seen since.’ CotPD 2010 p88/89.

I’m sure many cavers will have read the above description or even
the similar Eldon Hole descriptions in the many previous editions of CotPD.

Back in the 80’s the TSG seriously considered taking on the challenge
of finding and exploring this lost river. Having only recently
purchased an old wheel mounted crane from Litton Mill they were
keen to try and get some value out of it. Looking back, the plans
were a little farfetched and involved employing loads of people through
the Youth Opportunities Scheme to fill skips full of what is effectively
dry stone wall material at the bottom of the entrance shaft. It was
suggested we should lower down a mini digger to help with the excavations.
The crane would winch out the skips and we would sell the stone for both
dry stone walling and as souvenirs for the many tourists who would
visit the site following a massive publicity and sponsorship campaign.
The project would have required a temporary metal track to be laid
all the way up to the cave to allow wagons to take away the many
tonnes of rock that would be pulled out. As well as numerous dry stone
walls, it’s reported that at least two cottages were thrown down the
shaft over the last 300 years. Great ideas with a few pints inside you
but once sober the idea was soon forgotten and the crane eventually
sold for scrap.

There have been many attempts to find this lost river, as the numerous
abandoned dig sites in the floor of the Main Chamber will testify. I’ve
been down Eldon Hole a few times but have mainly concentrated my
efforts on exploring the high level parts of the Main Chamber by bolting.

In the early 90’s, former Eldon Pothole Club (EPC) member, Martin Veale
and me did a large bolt route around the left wall of the chamber but
found nothing of any significance. A new passage was entered from
part way up the rope into Millers Chamber but it was only an oxbow
dropping back into the Main Chamber. Starting a digging project in the
floor of the Main Chamber was definitely not on my list of potential projects.

25 years later,

In 2014 a number of EPC members took on the challenge of finding
the lost river. Knowing where to start was their first problem and their
first two ideas have since been abandoned. The scale of the project
and lack of progress resulted in the inevitable dwindling digger numbers.
The final option was the previously dug out fissure, already 18m deep.
The way this site was originally dug has a familiarity with the original
Gin Shaft in Rowter Hole with bits of scaffold tube stuffed into nooks
and crannies at peculiar angles down a very narrow and awkward shaft,
typical of the many dig sites before clubs had access to the modern tools
of today. In its current state 8 diggers would be needed to make any
progress at the bottom and as I’m sure many regular diggers will agree,
its hard enough getting 3 cavers to commit to a digging trip.

I had mentioned to Paul (Paz) Vale and Dan Hibberts of the EPC that
the Buttered Badgers Potholing Club (BBPC) were keen for another project,
following their success in Rowter Hole, and might be interested in a joint
venture in order for the large and daunting project to stand any chance of
success. The project was an agenda item at the recent EPC AGM and a
date was set for a trip to weigh up how to proceed.

Saturday 2nd May.

Following Graham Proudlove’s post on ukCaving regarding appropriate
energy foods for caving we met in the café at Wardlow Mires and had
a Full English breakfast before driving to Peak Forest.

No access restrictions, other than its SSSI status, and more importantly,
no access/trespass fee. Trespass fees for the Rowter Hole project were
well over £1,000.00 and that was after negotiating a 50% discount for
half of the 4 years we were digging it!!

The EPC were there in force, Paz Vale, Dan Hibberts, Bob Toogood,
Nigel Strong, Sam and Jon Pemberton with me representing the
Buttered Badgers digging team.

With there being 7 of us we double rigged the entrance shaft and
proceeded to survey the digging options. No matter which way we
looked at the dig site the options were clear, there will be an awful lot
of digging to do before we even start pushing beyond the current
limit of exploration.

The Pemberton brothers wasted no time in stripping the old scaffold
from the previous digging attempts giving us a healthy stash of tubes
and fittings to make a start on the project once the necessary SSSI
permissions and timbers have been acquired. The key will be to make
the place big enough to get people in and out easily but more
importantly to be able to get the many tonnes of rock out easily and,
ideally, with a 3 person digging team.

We attempted a small trial dig to see how deep the mud was and
determine how well packed the rocks were. As it turned out the mud
layer was only on the surface rocks and they were pretty loosely packed
so, apart from the inevitable engineering obstacles and the many
tonnes of rocks that need moving, it should be a ‘relatively’ easy dig
with the possibility of some major discoveries.

We tidied up the dig site, had one last look at what we were letting
ourselves in for and started to head out to the Wanted Inn to finalise
our plans for the next digging trip over a pint of Farmers Blonde.

Watch this space.

Mark

Offline Rob

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2015, 08:46:18 am »
Nice report, and great news of a collaborative Buttered Eldon digging team!
The end is where we start....

Offline braveduck

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2015, 11:21:12 am »
Did you use any smoke to detect any obvious drafts ? 

Offline pwhole

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2015, 11:48:41 am »
Awesome news. I'm sure I'll be able to lend a hand at some point when I've put other rock-hauling projects to bed.

Online Mark Wright

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2015, 06:58:35 pm »
I've been down there again today with Mark Richardson and TomTom from the Badgers for a second opinion on Saturday's observations. Everybody agreed it was going to be a big job with a good few trips just making it all a lot bigger. No draughts were noticed in the dig today or Saturday but others have reported draughts.

We are going down there on Thursday evening with a pile of timber and we will make a start on stabilising the entrance to the dig.

Mark R had to be at a BBQ for 5pm so TomTom and me went down P8 to clean all the mud off our suits. I even managed to go paragliding on Rushup Edge on the way back and bumped (not literally) into John Cross in the landing field. I'd not seen him for years.

Mark 
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 07:14:53 pm by Mark Wright »

Online AR

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2015, 09:00:34 am »
Regarding timber, what size/quantity are you after? There's a lot of 6ft lengths of 2" square sat around at the farm where we keep our ponies right now, I can ask the farmer about it if it would be of use?
Dirty old mines need love too....

Offline Mark R

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2015, 12:45:26 pm »
Hi,

We will only be using 6"x1" tanalised (or similar treated) planks for the dig with the occasional 4" plank slotted in here and there. Sadly we will have to buy the materials. Badlad taught me very quickly that it's not worth trying to shoe- horn in free materials of irregular sizes that won't last. Best to bite the bullet and buy the kit to do the job properly.

Cheers for the offer though.

Mark

Offline seamoose

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2015, 05:30:27 pm »
... No draughts were noticed in the dig today or Saturday but others have reported draughts.

Myself, Stick, Gaz Bode, Mike Salt and some other Eldon members last dug here in the late 1990's (we dug about 15' and put in the lower two sections of 7' vertical scaffold poles).
It did draught occasionally, but not greatly.

Good luck with the project - I should be able to lend a hand some weeks.

Jase

Offline braveduck

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2015, 05:46:40 pm »
Might be worth logging the draught verses weather conditions.
May only draught in flood/wet conditions, assuming the elusive stream does exist !

Offline Goydenman

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2015, 10:14:00 pm »
Good luck with the project guys

Offline bograt

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2015, 11:14:46 pm »
Remember to keep your receipts, DCA cave discovery fund is there when you break through!
Aim low, achieve your goals, avoid disappointment

Offline Roger W

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2015, 03:13:10 am »
Make sure you're well tied on to something solid when you do break through.

If there's any truth in the singed goose legend, it's a long way down!
"That, of course, is the dangerous part about caves:  you don't know how far they go back, sometimes... or what is waiting for you inside."   JRR Tolkein: "The Hobbit"

Online Mark Wright

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2015, 09:58:21 am »
With Mark Richardson, TomTom and Dan Hibberts we manhandled 16 x 6' boards into the Main Chamber last night and set about clearing up some of the rubbish that has been dumped in the chamber by passers by hurling rocks down the shaft and from the many abandoned dig sites. This will gradually be cleared from the cave and disposed of appropriately.

Mark took a few photographs of the area around the entrance to the dig which will allow us to show what it looked like before we start the mammoth task of removing many tonnes of rocks. Although we shifted a fair amount of rock last night, there is still plenty of work to do at the entrance to the dig on Saturday and we should have the first supporting scaffold in next week.   

If anyone is going into Eldon Hole could you please keep to the left when you enter the Main Chamber to avoid causing a slip of the slope into the entrance to the dig. We will make a start on digging out the awkward and grotty crawl that gets you into the Main Chamber at the weekend and cut some steps into the slope which should help protect the entrance to the dig site.

Watch this space.

Mark 

Offline Fulk

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2015, 10:28:02 am »
Sounds like you're doing a great job – good luck  :thumbsup:

Offline TomTom

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2015, 10:38:58 am »
and so it begins!



Offline Madness

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2015, 12:58:53 pm »
Good luck fellas, I hope all the hard work pays dividends.

Offline braveduck

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #17 on: May 08, 2015, 03:04:42 pm »
If you need any digging buckets etc. please contact me after Spring bank holiday.
Buttered Badgers have used my gear down Rowter.

Offline Mrs Trellis

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2015, 05:31:34 pm »
When you've shifted all that sh*t you can try Windy Knoll next. Then Bull Pit. Then Wormhill Springs.
Mrs Trellis
Upper Sheeps Bottom
North Wales

Offline EDB4YLI55

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #19 on: May 08, 2015, 07:07:06 pm »
I see you're working on Saturday but will any of you be around on Sunday? I've got the day to myself, and could offer another set of hands?

Offline Tangent_tracker

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2015, 08:01:11 pm »
Good luck, will be watching this with much interest :-)
Olly.

Online Mark Wright

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2015, 09:48:46 pm »
EDB4YLI55,

I don't think anyone has any plans on going down on Sunday but if you find somebody to go down with there is plenty of work to do clearing out all the tree trunks and bits of old angle iron from the miserable crawl through into the Main Chamber and take it out for disposal. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Mark   

Offline richardg

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #22 on: May 09, 2015, 05:58:22 pm »
Very very interesting adventure you've embarked on here.....




Online Mark Wright

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #23 on: May 09, 2015, 10:07:00 pm »
What started off as a three man team soon dwindled to two by the time we got to the bottom of the entrance shaft. The youngest member of todays team had to turn round with complaints of tired arms after completing his IRATA Level 1 course the week before. The problem was he had the water and kettle for the brews in his tackle bag leaving Paz Vale and me, two parched 50 year olds, to save the day with very dry mouths.

We wasted no time in clearing about a tonne of rocks from the entrance to the dig site, most of it being thrown to the bottom of the Main Chamber. The dig is now ready for the first of the scaffolding and boards to go in next week.

Before leaving the Main Chamber we both commented on how few people we thought came down Eldon Hole only to find 6 students from Newcastle University on their way in for a trip into Damocles Rift.

Both the North and West routes are permanently rigged but you will need a 20m rope to get you down to where the permanent rigging starts on both routes. The West route has been rigged with a number of re-belays to facilitate a quicker exit for larger digging teams and easier to transport awkward heavy loads of scaffold tubes and boards using two descenders to zig zag your way through them.

Further digging trips are planned for this coming Tuesday and Thursday evenings with next weekends trip being on Sunday.

I'll keep you all informed of the progress.

Mark

Offline SJB

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Re: Eldon Hole - Trip Report
« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2015, 12:14:41 pm »
Brilliant, :clap2: this is exactly the co-operation and commitment that has yielded some impressive cave finds in the Peak in the last few years.  Having had the privilege of delivering the Peaks Round-up (Probably not to everyone's taste but ho hum) I have been staggered at the amount of new stuff that is uncovered year after year.  If you have regular digging sessions I may be able to join you and assist as and when I am available on the odd occasion as being over 50 I would seem to qualify...