The weekends trip report.A Jolly Good Shafting.
Mark R, Chris H, Mark S
25th & 26th June 2016
Saturday morning saw us driving to Rowter Farm. We stopped briefly at Peveril stores to pick up breakfast where I was told that they had run out of subs to put my meat feast in and subsequently asked if it would be alright if they put all the meat in a roll instead. We parked up in the Rowter Farm field surrounded by campers. Opened our sandwiches and started to eat. Before long the consequences of an Atkins diet sandwich were being felt. Extreme thirst from the 6 extra thick salty bacon rashers being one of them and I’m no stranger to the problems of potassium salts after excess sausage consumption.
We sat trying to digest and looked at one another pondering our trip to the Party Sausage for a poke around and some photographs. It was a long way to go for some photos. A trip that needed doing but maybe not today. That was it, decision made. We’d go and drop of the materials at Eldon instead so we could make progress tomorrow.
Having filled the van earlier in the morning with much wood and scaffolding we departed the farm and headed toward Eldon instead. The sun shining we started the walk up the hill with some boards. This process continued, turning into a less than enjoyable shoulder bruising slog as we completed several trips back and forth with kit. In total we dropped off 14 scaffolding poles, 17 boards and some rope.
Next up we headed off to get some more supplies, new hack saw blades and some stainless steel pins. Ate more meat at Swanky Franks and suffered some truly awful customer service at the cinema.
Sunday morning arrived all too quickly and we departed to fuel up at the Yonderman Café (with some yet again ‘fantastic’ service) via a quick stop for another dozen scaffolding tubes and another stack of boards. Once at Eldon we did a quick run up the hill with some kit then changed at the van by which time Mark Sims had joined us from York. We spent the first hour or more lowering all the supplies in two uneven batches. The second being by far the biggest and lowered with much haste. I took shelter in the shaft while it landed and popped up to find a car crash of poles and boards strung together with rope.
I was surprised by the considerable change to the entrance since my last visit. It used to be a squalid stoop/crawl past rusty corrugate, squashed milk churns and the biodegrading remains of several hundred years worth of dead sheep, frogs, crows and whatever else had been misfortunate enough to fall into Eldon. Now it had the top section of a shaft, a lot of mud and a hole that looked a lot tidier and slightly less liable to collapse.
We made rapid progress digging out the loosely consolidated mud and rock ready to put the next ring of scaffolding in. Placing a ring was more or less a one man job so whilst Mark R installed it Mark S and I got to work either shifting mud and rock further down the slope or cutting boards/scaffolding, passing clips/tools etc. We then moved some more rock and mud and I had a go installing the next ring. The new Makita drill courtesy of UKCaving (Thanks Jane and Tim) made short work of the pin holes.
Before the ring could be installed we needed to remove a crushed steel milk churn/drum which was wedged between a larger boulder and the overhanging wall.
As we’d been digging down, a lot of material was falling out from behind the boards and making things unstable. Mark unwedged the milk churn at which point the large boulder also started to move. It didn’t look good. We quickly moved to wedge whatever short ends of scaff we had lying around into place to stop an Indiana Jones situation occurring where we’d find ourselves running/squeezing down the slope out of the way of the boulder. This gave us a few more minutes to come up with a plan. One which involved Makita, several steel pins and a lot more scaffolding.
We finally got the ring in place, boards hammered in and some semblance of stability. Another ring went in and we created a step down under the overhanging section of wall.
Mark S then set about attaching our two remaining long sections of scaff to the wall to give us some more horizontal stability before we dig down for the next step and ring.
After about 7 or 8 hours underground we were pretty much out of materials. From all the kit that had been taken down plus what was already there we were now down to 2 scaff poles and 4 boards. The sacks of clips were also looking somewhat sparse.
All in all a great days digging even though its progress into the known it’ll make access for all a lot more enjoyable. It’s amazing how much just three of us could get done in one day, each of us taking it in turns to have a go at everything.
It is still very much a work in progress and will be continued on Thursday so as usual if you are wanting to take a look please use caution.
Photos in the original on our website - http://www.butteredbadger.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=405:a-jolly-good-shafting&catid=45:eldon-dig-reports&Itemid=58