Author Topic: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007  (Read 12611 times)

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« on: January 07, 2007, 05:04:04 pm »
CUCKOO CLEEVES' NEW ENTRANCE INSTALLATION WORKING WEEKEND:
Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th January 2007

Wayne S (owner), Les W (foreman), Carmen (photographer, belayer and general dogsbody & calming influence), Phil H (belayer, digger, general assistance), Doug H (general advice and general assistance, mud monkey), Stu (rock shifter), Hughie & Elaine (cavalry and savers-of-the-night).

The weekend for the installation of the new entrance arrived. The structure was designed and fabricated courtesy the caving landowner Wayne S and Dave M who provided the concrete ring (thank you!). A keen and enthusiastic working party was assembled to undertake the preparation, delivery and siting - the smiles couldn't be wiped from our faces, we were that keen! First off was the need to clear the previous entrance of the mud, stonework, metalwork and belay and take out all and any obstructions so that the new concrete ring could sit on top of the rings already in situ. The weather was dull and wet and didn't improve so the conditions underfoot were appalling.


Les drives across the fields (with acknowledgements to the farmer) to deliver tools and fortitude: Wayne and myself had to push the vehicle from time to time as it got bogged down


The parlous state of the previously unloved entrance, mostly covered in mud causing problems with the padlock and the lid's hinges rusted apart

The first job on the Saturday was to clear all the mud away from the entrace, to expose the stonework and then to remove everything! Given that huge amounts of concrete had been used to secure an over-engineered monster of metalwork this was exceptionally hard going requiring perseverence with the crowbars and a lot of prising and breaking of rocks. The mud became very claggy which sapped energy from the workers in addition to the hard graft willingly and cheerfully engaged in. It appears that we had to eventually dig down somewhere in the region of about a metre altogether! Blinkin' heck!


The mudfest begins....

Digging down to expose the concrete rings was never going to be easy but work continued well after darkness had fallen.


Wayne and Les slog on....

Eventually work on this stage was completed and a return to base resulted in a rethinking of the next step: the original plan was to deliver the concrete ring to site in a trailer being towed by Les's 4x4 but this was obviously not going to be possible given the conditions and something a bit more heavy duty was going to be needed: a hasty begging phone call resulted in Hughie saying "Yes, I'll do it for you; but I can only come after 7:30 in the evenings". I asked whether he could come soon and he said "OK, I'll be there at 8:00pm". So, action stations, we're back on! ... Hughie and Elaine arrived in style and collected the new entrance and then we went in convoy to the gate and followed on foot to the surface depression.


The Cavalry arrive and make quick work of an otherwise impossible task....

The heavy concrete ring was eased into place whereupon it promptly slid downhill before coming to a halt, causing some raised heartbeats.


Hughie lowers the ring to the ground shortly before it whizzes off downhill doing a mud slalom narrowly avoiding key members of staff

Off then for liquid refreshment and supper at the Hunters. Day 1: 12 man hours labour; tractor delivery (another hour x 5 people, 2 of whom were spectators the other merely expendable targets).


Day two: the story so far...

The weather was far better and we had a larger working gang, the group of three being augmented with Carmen, Phil, Stu and Doug to make light work of a heavy problem. The concrete ring was belayed via two ropes so that its slippery descent to the bottom of the muddy slope was somewhat more controlled than last night's excitement and it was eventually levered, prised and coerced into place after much chipping away of rock and slithering around in the quagmire. It was like the First World War only without the death, or Germans.

Given the amount of mud spread everywhere it is unsurprising that I didn't get any photos (my gloves were coated) until the work was largely complete. The stream running to the entrance was piped and cemented into place and the ring was backfilled around the edges with all the extracted boulders from yesterday and then covered with some of the spare mossy rocks which are bountiful in the doline.

Wayne then had the honour of being the first to descend the new entrance (and also retrieve a chisel which Butterfingery Les had thrown down the hole yesterday evening).



Wayne goes caving....


Doug, Wayne and Stu

Day Two: 21+ person hours.

Total: approximately 38+ person hours.

With thanks to everyone who generously assisted with this worthy project! The fencing still needs to be replaced, the ground to recover and become grassed over, a culvert built etc.. - a BBQ/Drinks session will be organised and advertised in due course so if YOU want to come and assist with the completion of this project when it's less muddy, warmer and FAR EASIER, then there's plenty of room and you're welcome to help.

Watch this space.  :thumbsup:  :hug:  :beer2:

P.S. Carmen and Phil also took plenty of photos which should also show much of the "interesting" stuff when the concrete ring was being eased into place.

Thanks to: Wayne S, Dave M, Les W, Doug H, Hugh T, Elaine J, Phil H, Carmen, Stu. Sustenance was achieved at the Centre of the Universe. This was a joint CSCC/WCC/ACG endeavour.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2007, 05:24:55 pm by cap 'n chris »

Offline menacer

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2007, 05:13:48 pm »
Blimey chris you posted that quickly. Was it done from the living room of the Wessex by any chance??? :thumbsup:  :coffee:
Chaos, panic, and disorder - my work here is done.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2007, 05:15:00 pm »
No. I've driven home and plugged everything in - I can type quite quickly, which helps.

Offline graham

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2007, 06:04:24 pm »
Thank you one and all. Mendip cavers are extremely grateful to you.  :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
Caving is for Life not just for Christmas

darkplaces

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2007, 07:27:34 pm »
Yes the last entrance was a muddy nightmare slipping and sliding. I wondered what the funny looking 'Chinese Hat' type lid was in the grounds of the Wessex.

Offline Hughie

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2007, 07:28:38 pm »
Nice work, Chris.  :thumbsup:

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2007, 07:50:10 pm »
It couldn't have been done without your help, Hughie!  :thumbsup: Also it was VERY MUCH a TEAM effort - it's not down to me; I'm just a very small cog in an occasionally very functional machine.

Just out of interest here's some old(er) photos to give people a bit of background if they're unfamiliar with the site:


The previous (old) entrance in summertime - do you know where it is, yet?





Parts of the perimeter which need replacing or repairing

Obviously, once the perimeter is secure the grass can re-establish itself and the quagmire will revert to solid ground; the natural spring which feeds the quagmire will be channelled into a yet-to-be-made culvert and wooden steps could be made to assist the approach for cavers visiting in wintertimes.

The dry stone walling may be made the subject of a wallers training day via the Mendip Hills AONB but that needs a bit more research. Anyone with fencing experience/equipment or who simply wishes to become involved in this project (or others) shouldn't hesitate to add their name to my extremely white and blank roll of fax paper.




« Last Edit: January 07, 2007, 08:12:10 pm by cap 'n chris »

WayneS

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2007, 07:51:47 pm »
As the landowner I just want to say thanks to everyone for their help with this project and a special thanks to Hughie for saving the day :thumbsup:

As a caver I'd like to say that you'll no longer need to bring a spade to visit this glorious piece of Mendip underground.


Offline Les W

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2007, 08:03:11 pm »
You got home OK then Wayne.  ;)
I'm a very busy person

Offline nickwilliams

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2007, 10:10:40 pm »
You got home OK then Wayne.  ;)

No thanks to the tyres on your Disco by the looks of it Les!

Seriously, though, you did blooody well to get it anywhere in those conditions. A good job well done.

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Offline Les W

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2007, 10:21:27 pm »

No thanks to the tyres on your Disco by the looks of it Les!

Seriously, though, you did blooody well to get it anywhere in those conditions. A good job well done.

Nick.

Those pictures don't show it at it's worse. We had to take a run up once or twice to get across the two, very large fields. The trick was to not stop.  :thumbsup:

The mud in the depression was really squalid, it was like Passchendaele. Once the fence is repaired then the ground should recover. We are having a pathe constructed down to the entrance from the stile. It will be lined with solar garden lights and gnomes. I think it will look nice.  :lol: :lol: :lol:
I'm a very busy person

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2007, 10:24:47 pm »
IIRC the run up was required for the two very large knee deep lakes of potters' slick, not fields!  :doubt:

The trick about not stopping was AOK except when the mad-as-kittens heiffers were stampeding all around the place.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2007, 12:23:35 am »
The dry stone walling may be made the subject of a wallers training day via the Mendip Hills AONB but that needs a bit more research.

U/F AONB is unable to provide volunteers to engage in free dry stone walling for private landowners - they can only assist with dilapidated walls belonging to charity/nature reserves etc.. Hey ho.


Offline whitelackington

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2007, 07:27:19 am »
Chris try British Consevation Volunteers, they stayed @ M.C.G. cottage for a week and constucted a dry stone wall along edge of our property.
We had to provide the stone.

Offline Hughie

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2007, 07:42:49 am »
The dry stone walling may be made the subject of a wallers training day via the Mendip Hills AONB but that needs a bit more research.

U/F AONB is unable to provide volunteers to engage in free dry stone walling for private landowners - they can only assist with dilapidated walls belonging to charity/nature reserves etc.. Hey ho.



Possibly suggest that as the landowner has limited resources, and the wall is in a perilous state, has decided he may have to demolish the wall, sell it as rockery stone, and use the money to purchase and install some of that lovely building site stylee fencing.

That might perk them up a bit!  ;D

Offline Elaine

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2007, 08:28:09 am »
The dry stone walling may be made the subject of a wallers training day via the Mendip Hills AONB but that needs a bit more research.

U/F AONB is unable to provide volunteers to engage in free dry stone walling for private landowners - they can only assist with dilapidated walls belonging to charity/nature reserves etc.. Hey ho.



As a general rule that is only right and proper.
Wot tiny writing!

Offline badger

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2007, 04:41:21 pm »
how about paying a goodwill fee for access to cuckoo cleeves, as only been down  cuckoo cleeves once about 10 years ago can't remember if this is already in place

darkplaces

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2007, 05:16:07 pm »
I have no experience in dry stone walling but I will have a go for free :D

Offline Elaine

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2007, 05:32:21 pm »
Likewise, though it would have to be in the long spring/summer evenings.
Wot tiny writing!

Offline Hughie

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2007, 06:06:21 pm »
And I've done a little bit before as well - so would help out. Same restrictions as Anne though.

Offline Cap'n Chris

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2007, 06:40:33 pm »
Had an email offer too - blimey! - that's four volunteers in one day. Looks like the job will get done after all. Watch this space for details about when it's likely to go ahead....

Offline Mr Cosmic

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #21 on: January 11, 2007, 10:13:35 am »
how about paying a goodwill fee for access to cuckoo cleeves, as only been down  cuckoo cleeves once about 10 years ago can't remember if this is already in place

I wonder what the market price would be for a goodwill fee to access Cuckoo Cleeves? 

If Swildon's cost £1 to access up to 10Km of cave then, pro-rata, it seems a goodwill fee of 3p would be appropriate to access Cuckoo's 300 metres.

According to Cap'n Chris drystone walling costs about £80 per metre for labour.  There's about four metres that require immediate attention.  So that'll only need about 10,667 cavers to visit. :smartass:

*puts calculator away for another year*

I'll volunteer to help with the wall too.  So that's five.
That's not going to fit!

Offline whitelackington

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2007, 10:20:22 am »
Upper Flood Swallet would cost about 28 new pence,
I wish we still had 960 farthings to a soveriegn :clap2:

Offline Elaine

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2007, 04:41:52 pm »
Upper Flood Swallet would cost about 28 new pence,
I wish we still had 960 farthings to a soveriegn :clap2:



 You still do, only you can't spend it any more!!
Wot tiny writing!

emgee

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Re: Cuckoo Cleeves: New Entrance, January 2007
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2007, 10:25:47 pm »
Upper Flood Swallet would cost about 28 new pence,
I wish we still had 960 farthings to a soveriegn :clap2:



 You still do, only you can't spend it any more!!

Why would you want to spend it? You'd get a lot more from a coin dealer..