Author Topic: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded  (Read 4216 times)

Offline Badlad

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Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« on: December 18, 2021, 08:44:57 pm »
We wanted to tell the story of our latest dig, Fing Hopeless Pot.  Much in the way we related our discoveries in May Day Hole earlier in the year.  It is an ongoing project so please, please respect our openness and leave it to us for now.

So why Fing Hopeless?  Well I am of course being polite unlike our great leader in his description of the Health Secretary back in the summer when the saga began.  We also wanted to try a little reverse psychology hoping it would bring about some success.  Well it ‘fing’ well worked.  He’s a taster of things to come.....



Offline Speleofish

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2021, 10:52:02 pm »
I like the moths. And the straws. How big is it?

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2021, 11:18:25 pm »
So..  following success at May Day we’ve looked at several digs this year.  Here are a few links for them

https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=28023.0
https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=27921.0
https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=28001.0

However, these were all underground and as summer and the good weather came we fancied a move to a surface dig.  These are usually really social with a guaranteed turnout.  Larking on the fell with all those wonderful views – it doesn’t get better than that.  I’d noted a shakehole of interest on our scouting trips which became even more interesting once I’d seen the Google Earth overlays with no known cave underneath it.  There were other well-known pots nearby but this was an area with a lot of cave so anything was possible.  In fact it was only 100m away from one of our other major digs!

Work started in July and has continued ever since with a couple of breaks to return to other favourite haunts.  Initial digging wasn’t very encouraging, no draught and layers of solid mud with just a few voids amongst the cobbles.  Scaffold went in and very soon bedrock appeared underneath it – a good sign we thought.  The bedrock undercut leaving a few encouraging holes that at first looked like ways on but just ended in solid walls.  The way on was down, through the mud….

Photos tell this story better that I can.  Credit to Franklin for keeping such a thorough record. 

The very start


Scaff going in.  Yes, it's level and upright.  Some of us are builders after all  ;)






Bedrock reached but a solid mud floor as well


Undercuts revealed but no way on there


Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2021, 04:02:07 pm »
A few points before I continue with this tale.   :) ;D

Firstly, why instalments?  There are a couple of reasons, in small part it’s a matter of my time getting round to it – much easier if I know I’m only writing a few paragraphs each time.  It also reflects the time taken to progress the dig, metre by metre, month by month.  It certainly wasn’t discovered all in one go!

It’s a good excuse to use more of Franklin’s photographs with each post.  He’s always prepared to go back down with the camera to record each event in full.  We often moan, perhaps we always moan, but it is great to have a full record, a blow by blow, cap by cap, bucket by bucket account.  Chapeaux Old Chap.

Secondly, openness.  I’ve mentioned it before but one or two of the chums were concerned with me posting about an ongoing dig.  Personally I can’t see why anyone would go down there poking about when we have asked people to stay away for now.  I tend to think if you are open with digs and breakthroughs folk are more likely to respect that.  In any case what’s the point in doing it at all if you can’t share the experience .

So please do stay away for now.  I haven’t actually said where it is anyway although some folk will know and others will guess.

So on with the show…

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2021, 04:58:34 pm »
Being surface based and still with summer temperatures it was quite a popular and fun dig if a little muddy.  The main participants were, Mick, Geoff, Frank, Duncan, Bones, JJ, Dave, Nick and Bill although others turned up on occasion of course.



At the sharp end the wall undercut and the area needing to be dug out grew and grew.  We reduced the size with shoring to minimise the effort.  As we deepened a good haul was needed and the scaffold frame was extended to take a pulley.  As usual DB buckets (premium bucket supplier to the stars) were used.  The terraced walling around the hole increased as spoil was efficiently hauled out and dumped.  Remarkably this creates new habitats for all sorts of critters on these remote fells.  Unfortunately, these holes seem irresistible to some of the local frog population as we all know – poor devils.



One of many friends keen to get in on the action  ;)


Anyway, a further step in the undercut disappeared into the distance.  It looked like the roof of a passage.  Boulders were wedged over the top of it but below it dropped away and the walls looked water worn and proper cave like.  It wasn’t long before we could squeeze in and free climb down the 5m drop.  Ahead, a too narrow inlet brought in a dribble of water.  Behind, a wall of jammed boulders hid what was probably the larger potholed entrance beneath the surface shakehole.  At the bottom it was totally choked, but the dribble of water got away somewhere.  It was decided to continue down under the inlet as this was the most protected spot.  The hole down was enlarged and the boulder wall shored up so work could begin.  An intermediate hauler would now be needed to direct the bucket over the offset route.  At first it looked good with a few holes going down, but a lot of mud and unfortunately no draught – nothing up to now had a draught. 







Looking back up from the bottom with daylight at the top of the shaft


The inlet entering at the bottom which we thought would be the best place to dig



After a metre of downward progress, the way became claggier and the fill more and more solid. It looked like a dead end. This really couldn’t be the best way and the only choice was to try further out from the inlet, more into the heart of the choke.  Only trouble was quite a lot of backfill had already been built up in this spot and it required more shoring, a lot more shoring.  We all sighed. Perhaps we should just give up, or at least have a break.  Luckily, as timing would have it, I went on holiday and I wasn’t the only one…

Where will we find the encouragement to go on?  How much more hauling of buckets will we have to do?  All twists and turns will be revealed post Christmas...

Have a good one everyone

Offline darkandmuddy

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2021, 08:09:31 pm »
Excellent report, looking forward to the next bit. I like the bit by bit approach.
Ben

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Offline Speleofish

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2021, 10:08:00 pm »
I'm enjoying it too. I hope it's got a happy ending....

Offline langcliffe

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2021, 10:27:29 pm »
I'm enjoying it too. I hope it's got a happy ending....

I think that they are wasting their time. It'll never go!  :)

Offline adep

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2021, 09:39:40 am »
What was there in the first place that made you start digging, nothing obvious on the first picture that might make you think there was a lead there

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2021, 10:21:29 am »
What was there in the first place that made you start digging, nothing obvious on the first picture that might make you think there was a lead there

It's been an area of interest for a long time.  We'd had other digs in the proximity over the years, some successful and others not so.  This particular shakehole was chosen after looking at the cave overlays on Google Earth.  A very useful tool.  Seeing what is where and where there is nothing is key.  The entrance to Fing Hopeless is only 92m from a well known cave but up to now shows no sign is going anywhere near it.  It's a rich area of cave development and that definitely helps. 

A question I've always wrestled with on where to dig is this.  Should you dig in an area with no known cave or little known cave in the hope of finding a big one?  Or is it better to dig in an area where there are already a lot of known cave in the hope that there is even more?

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2021, 11:20:05 am »
A good question. We are current digging in an area where there isn't a lot of limestone, the caves have been exposed by quarrying and they are unlikely to be very big. However anything found will triple the number of significant caves in the area (one site might even quadruple it).

Offline David Rose

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2021, 05:00:55 pm »
Having seen it recently in real life, I must point out the superb quality of the shoring on display in these photos. Have you ever seen such a neat, trim shaft? These chums have really mastered the art. 

Offline Pegasus

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2021, 06:26:47 pm »
Having seen it recently in real life, I must point out the superb quality of the shoring on display in these photos. Have you ever seen such a neat, trim shaft? These chums have really mastered the art.

I think that's down to Franklin  :lol:

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2021, 11:10:31 am »
So, the decision was taken to abandon digging at the base of the inlet and move out further into the choke, more or less directly below the new drop.  This meant reshoring up the wall at the back and moving some of the stacked spoil behind it.  With everyone finding themselves very busy it fell to Frank on a solo trip to install the appropriate planking.  Personally I much admired the pictures of his handiwork from my sun lounger in Greece  8) ;)

Franks solo shoring.  Being more of a poet than a builder - it's the best he's ever done!


Continuing further down with the old inlet route showing at the base of the photograph


Very soon the full team was back on hand for serious hauling.  When we had a big team the spoil went straight out to the surface – Mick commanded it.  If there was only four or less we built up another wall in front of the inlet and this eventually grew to quite a height.

There were some gaps appearing, annoyingly mostly right under the line of the shoring.  The solid wall here haded downwards and we followed it.  One day, Dave opened up a small hole and a good draught blew out of it.  It was probably the best indicator yet of things to come.  Some large limestone blocks started to appear which held back a lot of the clag and smaller debris, as long as they stayed put.  Getting some scaffold in under these blocks to restrain them was key if not tricky.  Whilst one side was resting on the solid wall the other was embedded in the debris some of which needed removing to make it large enough.  This was still the fill from the surface pothole and, even by this stage was at least 20m deep.

First signs of a draughting hole


The big guys shored in and the way on heading under the scaffolding


Never the less the big guys held and holes opened up headed back along the wall but away from our nice safe shaft.  We had been in a solid corner but opted to follow the gaps which seemed to lead diagonally down to a passable 3m drop.  With careful digging and shoring Bones eventually got down this, the wall cut under more and there were the tell-tale signs of clean washed cobbles.  But the way on was back under ourselves, towards the corner.  On two of the digging trips the draught did blow and this was obviously the right way to go.  The draught was annoyingly inconsistent with some days not even a flutter.  This seemed directly related to the atmospherics of the day, piling out when high pressure loomed, zilch in the mizzle and cloud.

Heading under away from the corner


Bones at the 'passable 3m drop'


Digging back under ourselves was fraught with problems of shoring and hauling out.  Already you needed six or seven to get the bucket to the surface.  We decided to abandon that route and go straight down in the corner through the thicker mud and rock, presuming it would get us to the same place as the source of the draught.  We could also use the space of the original route for backfilling.

Change of plan - digging down in the corner


It took two or three trips to accomplish this, where hints of a roof appeared at foot level in the corner.  More scaffold was needed and that required a further whip round for funds and a visit to Rolland in Kendal.  Any breakthrough would have to come soon as we were nearing the limits of hauling efficiency…



Meanwhile on the surface winter is closing in.  Geoff and Nick out in the cold - time to get underground

Offline Alex

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2021, 09:46:11 am »
Sounds like an excellent dig, wish I lived closer to the dales so I can do this regularly.

Quote
A question I've always wrestled with on where to dig is this.  Should you dig in an area with no known cave or little known cave in the hope of finding a big one?  Or is it better to dig in an area where there are already a lot of known cave in the hope that there is even more?

I always wonder why no one does the former, all the digs I know of at least take place in area's with known caves, and it's much harder to get excited about those as they are all going to go into a known cave and just be another way in. Why is it no one digs in lesser area's there's so much potential outside the 3 peaks area, I guess it's the same reason as me though that no one lives near by and loads of digging sessions would be unfeasible. I guess you need to scout for that cave that will only need a few digging sessions and hope you get lucky like we did with Cutthroat a number of years ago.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2021, 10:03:06 am by Alex »
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2021, 11:08:22 am »
Quote
The entrance to Fing Hopeless is only 92m from a well known cave but up to now shows no sign is going anywhere near it.  It's a rich area of cave development and that definitely helps.

Another good breakthrough yesterday.  It's amazing how this cave fits into such a small blank area.  We're also quite keen on Dowlass Moss where much less is known about feeders to White Scar, Skirith, Jenkins etc but that is for another time.  If I lived over Grassington way I'd definitely be keen on Swarthgill, Benfoot and other great sites in Great Whernside, but caves are where you find them buddy
 ;D

Offline Pitlamp

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2021, 11:45:12 am »
Sounds like an excellent dig, wish I lived closer to the dales so I can do this regularly.

Quote
Why is it no one digs in lesser area's there's so much potential outside the 3 peaks area,

"No-one"?

I know you were involved in Cutthroat but a glance at the excellent new Moldywarps journal (MSG14, just out) reveals plenty of folk are active outside of the classic Dales area - and finding a lot of very good stuff.


Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2022, 10:10:08 pm »
We were now following the corner down and the original route was soon backfilled.  Some scaffold was retrieved from it but crucial poles had to be abandoned.  After a few metres depth we were back to hauling up to the surface but luckily we always had the numbers turning up to do that.   Digging was relatively easy as despite a few loose sections, the sides mostly stayed put whilst scaffold was installed and a few large jammed boulders helped support everything above.

Looking up the final section in the 'corner'.


Looking back out of Autumn Chamber


After a couple more metres the right hand wall undercut just as we had hoped.  When we could eventually get our heads down far enough to look, a flat roof stretched away in front and round to the right.  Capping the edge and a bit more hauling left the hole just big enough to slide in.  A couple of jammed rocks had to stay in place to avoid a landslide of everything above into the space beyond. The slithering height space was big enough for a couple of folk with care.  There were even a few dirty formations.  Due to the time of year it was named Autumn Chamber.  Nothing about it looked that good, it was the sound which got us excited.  We could hear quite a noisy stream running beneath the rubble on the far side.  With a bit of gardening a hole between blocks gave a glimpse of running water some three metres below.  The stream appeared to be running towards us from a tall narrow rift but it was not obvious what happened to it, however, it gave us hope that we were finally about to be rewarded.

A few formations in Autumn Chamber


Squalid work on top of the stream rift


Mud and shoring... but the sound of a stream


In order to dig down and uncover the rift the loose wall needed to be shored up.  Soon the top of a narrow rift was revealed and a healthy stream flowed towards us below.  The top was enlarged and Mick descended to stand on top of a large block.  It suddenly dropped six inches and he came flying back out.  After a bit more digging Dave had a go but as he bent to squeeze into the upstream rift a rock fell from the roof and put him off.  It was left to another trip to bring in more shoring and make safe.  I had a go at that and once installed, a way downstream could be seen between two jammed blocks.  The downstream passage headed almost back on itself with seemingly just a feather edge corner.  Carefully taking a chunk off one of the boulders and the edge created a big enough hole to slide into the passage.  It was a good two metres plus high but quite narrow.  The stream cascaded down around the corner and was quite boisterous.  This was it, I set off to explore.  After five metres I came to a bend and could not believe my eyes or my luck as I peered around it – the wall came directly down into a brown, frothy sump.  No way on. 

The cleaner rift uncovered


A squeeze into the downstream passage


The streamway - shortest on record?


I just can't be, but it is a sump



Everyone came down to take a look but no one could really believe it had sumped this high above base level in an area with many other much deeper caves.  A lot of excess gear got carried down the hill that night and there was serious talk of giving up.  On a later trip we took in a length of pipe and prodded beneath the surface.  Bones put on a wetsuit and tried to get in it and I drilled a series of metre long holes just on the off chance that one would ‘go through’.  They didn’t.  What bad luck after all that effort.  There was one last hope though, and that is where we’ll pick up next time….

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2022, 08:26:44 pm »
I managed to recover a couple of crappy vids I took on my old phone from the discovery of the sump.

Nick returning up the rift from the sump and a fruitless attempt to 'rod' it in the hope of it all draining away.  Both taken on the day of breakthrough.




Offline Alex

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2022, 09:52:50 am »
good stuff :) I wish I lived nearer to the Dales to get involved in these sort of long term digs.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2022, 08:14:30 pm »
Remember I mentioned the draught.  Sometimes it was stonking out and other times nothing at all.  Well, on the first breakthrough into Autumn Chamber several of the team mentioned that a good draught came out of holes on the left hand side, ie, the opposite side to the rift down to the stream.  Clearly we were distracted by the later but also, on the occasion I looked at them, they were pretty draughtless.  The holes then got buried by spoil whilst uncovering the stream rift.  However, these holes were the last hope.

They were uncovered and the draught was encouraging – a proper blower on that day.  Digging wasn’t easy, solid rock with sticky mud and boulders in front.  Digging down uncovered a thin bedding but the bedding rock above must have been in tension or something as each set of caps only brought off small fractious chunks.  It was going to take a while to dig we reckoned.

Bones at the start of the bedding dig


Little progress after a few hard trips


Not that we minded that but there was a problem.  We had six to eight people turning up keen to dig but there was not enough for most to do.  Before, everyone was helping to haul up to the surface but now one person capping and one throwing the spoil down the stream inlet passage was all that was needed all trip.  After a couple of sessions with half of the team wandering aimlessly about the fell Mick came up with an idea.  While we had a big team, let’s go back to Five Ways where the dig there could easily use up six or eight people – and that dig looked equally good.  We’d return to Fing Hopeless when we only had three or four turn up, plus it would be a good change of scenery. 

So off we embarked for a series of trips up the much longer route to Five Ways Pot on Ingleborough.  There is a separate thread on that dig and it is still active so please leave the digging there to us.  Anyhow, at that time, as luck would have it, Dave and his mate were looking for a new Tuesday night dig and offered to plug away at the bedding in our absence.  Now it took a few weeks before he got around to a trip – and he brought along three mates instead of one!  Well, they had a good night as it turned out because in a single shift they managed to enlarge the bedding to a point where the view and the echo became intoxicating.  Pushing on late into the night, eventually one of them got through to the head of a fairly significant pitch – not too deep but wide, well developed and encouraging in every way.

The next day the rest of us had arranged to meet for Five Ways again but a message from Dave soon had everyone quickly making plans to change venue and me racing home to pick up a ladder and line (Five Ways didn’t require SRT kits and so not everyone had theirs with them).

I got down to the bedding first and managed to shoot through fairly easily.  The bedding emerged on a broad ledge with some calcited blocks on the edge and a pitch of around 8m dropping down into what looked like a well-developed passage.  The size of the hole was a good 2x4m across but the ledge extended further all around.  The roof was fairly flat but a slight arch drifted off to the right into what might have been a continuation across the pit.  On that side a bank of sandy sediment sat on the ledge and a grovel over it revealed a low bedding of some sort which would need further investigation.  However, the pitch was beckoning.

Our digging team comes in all shapes, sizes and stiffness of bone so we have an unwritten rule to make digs ‘wheelchair friendly’, open for everyone, if you know what I mean.  This meant the bedding needed enlarging.  It was pretty filthy muddy in places but that made it easier to dig from the far side and I set about that.  Dave, Mick and co set about capping the solid bits from the far side.  After about an hour’s work it was declared big enough for all and gear was passed through to rig the pitch.


Descending the pitch


Looking back up towards the pitch


The chamber or junction or whatever it is, but something significant anyway


The pitch was a full ladder hang down a calcited wall.  On the far side a couple of inlets brought in a tiddle of water which kept the boulders at the bottom clean.  A gully continued down a steep slope of boulders to a junction or chamber if you like.  Anyway it was big, definitely big and perhaps quite a major piece of development.  There was a roof passage, an inlet passage, a crashing stream but the most exciting thing was the rounded scalloped wall at the bottom where the steep slope of boulders came to a halt and from where, between dark spaces a cool wind blew. 

This is the way on


This short but significant breakthrough needs more of a description and I’ll tackle that in the next instalment.

What is also worth mentioning at this stage was how well the three behaved who made the lucky breakthrough with Dave.  They obviously recognised the effort and expense we had put it to the dig and stood well back whilst we had our fun.  They have since been and looked around and helped out with a number of tasks.  Not mentioning anyone’s name but not everyone was so restrained, eh  ;)

Photo credits to Franklin and one from Nick.

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2022, 09:48:39 pm »
Just to capitalise on this first breakthrough I've found a few more shots which give an idea of the potential.

First here is a shot of Pegagsus in the breakthrough dig - it's pretty muddy


...and another photo of the pitch.  Tim's pitch it might get called  ;)


The main cave comes in from the entrance choke at what might be described as a chamber.  Up in the roof is the hint of something prominent.


A streamway also enters the chamber.  It may come from the sumped route but is not yet fully explored.  Progress can only be made along the roof tube.


The other end of that roof tube led into a passage up a difficult climb.  It started flat out but soon became more keyhole shaped.  It went for about 70m to a climb down and choke where another run in entered from above.  The photo is me fixing a ladder at the top of the climb but no one has been along it with a camera as yet.  Plus we now have a better idea how it ties in...shhhh



More in a minute...

Offline Badlad

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Re: Fing Hopeless Pot - diggers rewarded
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2022, 10:36:03 pm »
There was clearly one very exciting dig.  At the bottom of the boulder slope all the rocks came to a halt against the curved passage wall.  Behind the inlet stream crashed down a narrow drop from above and sunk amongst the same boulders.  Between the blocks the draught blew upwards into our faces.... and there were glimpses of blackness below.  More shoring would be needed to support the slope so a new batch of scaffold and pole was brought down and work commenced.

A reminder of the dig site


So to work with the planks






Until eventually enough scaffold is in and it is looking good..


 

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