Author Topic: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014  (Read 3314 times)

Offline dave_the_cave

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Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« on: January 08, 2014, 12:15:48 am »
who: Dave G, Scott W, Steve B, Jake B, Pete H
where: Swildon's - black hole series
when: 4th January 2014
duration: ~ 7 hours
Link to photos
Previous trip to Jake's Dig

Jake's Dig - Black hole series, Swildons

I had visited Jake's Dig a few month ago (just to look) with Ivan and Simon. But we had shown sufficient interest
to use his charm and wear us down to come on one of his digging trips. It seemed fair Jake had come into OFD
with us, and he is nothing short of enthusiastic about the dig. He makes it clear it is an open dig and all are welcome on
the digging trips.   Jake was keen for some caving between Christmas and New Year, but it did not happen to the New Year.
We met up around Jake's for Coffee- myself and Steve arriving in Scott's car, and Pete arriving in an awesome 4 wheel drive. The weather - the wind, the rain, floods had reduced the turn out - but we were a good size for visiting the dig. Swildon's was in flood or pretty much so, and there had been much talk about whether to cancel at the last moment. But we were going to play it one step at a time. Rain was predicted just before midday and then was meant to stop. Well we would not see it - but the water levels as we went in and out were pretty similar - high and frisky. Everyone but Jake was in a wet suit plus oversuit. I came to regret not having elbow pads.

It was Scott and Steve's first trip beyond black hole. Pete and Jake were seasoned diggers, whereas myself, Steve and Scott were novice diggers and would provide labour (although Scott is an archaeologist and digs for a living). Jakes Dig is in black hole series and the plan is to provide a connection to the Swildons streamway near Barnes loop. The projected route is shown in the red line below - this looks to be around
50 metres. The dig itself is around 20 metres long. We dug another 2 metres.


Jake's dig is beyond black hole and we would have to pass through sump 1
in high water, carrying tackle bags.  I was not looking forward to this, not because I would need to hold my breathe longer but
more because these days the sump feels narrower than I remember it.

We entered the streamway and I was immediately impressed by its power. Pete and Jake and seen it higher but I had not, and Scott and Steve had seen it worse, but they had stayed above the waterfall under the old forty. We followed the short dry way which was in full flow, to the confluence of the wet and dry ways. The shower bath immediately after was awesome, Jake contrived to avoid it and climbed high. I was battered by the water. The stream was in powerful flow, foaming down towards the waterfall under the old forty. I nervously descended - trying to keep out of the water, but unable to see the usual footsteps. I was afraid the water would take my foot away when I put it into the water, eventually I sat down on the lip for a quick soaking. The power of the water was immense on the climb back up, but climbing out was easier for me. Scott did an interesting climb up on the right, whereas I used the step and handle on the left.

We reached the twenty and the noise was fantastic. We got a soaking and I was glad for the wet suit, but as the trip went on
I regretted that it was only a shorty and I was regularly up to my waist. Scott and Steve became sons of mendips (again?) on
the twin pots, whilst I narrowly hung on. Jake and Pete did it with ease. On the way out when climbing the twin pots the water nearly stole one of my wellies twice. I stopped halfway up the waterfall to put it on again! Eek!

As we went on descent of the usual waterfalls were much more difficult than usual and our progress was slow even by my standards. It was all very exhilarating. We reached sump 1. Jake made the plan of sending Pete through first and then pushing all the bags through tied together. I was sceptical but it worked a treat. The water pushed them through beautifully, I was not so sure it would be so easy on the way back. But it was. My turn was uneventful - my chest was constricted briefly but I was through quickly enough. On the return Jake and Scott complained of large pebbles or small rocks blocking the sump, but they had cleared it out before my turn.

We floated down to our right turn and took a wet crawl and clambered up to the bottom of the 10 foot climb. I was not feeling brave and did not wish either to use just the fixed rope nor demonstrate my poor climbing skills. So we used our ladder which made it easy.

The black hole itself has recently been rebolted with eco-resin-bolts (Thanks to Andrew). We were initially puzzled by the lack of a y-hang but the single bolt and what we thought was the backup or traverse bolt made a rather good y-hang. We also found there was a bolt on the ledge just down for a descent down black hole itself. On our return we also spotted but did not use the two new bolts on the far side. Jake abseiled down and rigged a traverse line across black hole. We also rigged a lifeline. The traverse line takes the bold part out of the final bold step because you have a line to pull on and can put your cows tails into a loop as soon as you are on the far side. Good system. We crossed without issue.

We then continued into black hole series passing the well chamber to reach the start of Jake's dig. It was midday so we stopped for lunch. Not everyone's lunch had stayed dry. Here is Lunch at base camp


After lunch we began digging. Scott and Pete were at the coal face, I was at the base camp the halfway point for our hauling, and Steve and Jake were stacking rocks into a dry stone wall adding to Jake's existing master piece. We worked to past 4 o'clock. I managed to topple the container we were hauling rocks three times, which was a pain because you had to do the crawl to repack the rocks. The trick is slow gradual stready pulls. I am better now. But Scott was not too happy with my performance as the container toppled nearer his end and so he re-filled twice to my once whereas I crawled more but it was my fault. Scott explained how he carefully packed the container so it was balanced - when I refilled I just stuffed it in. Hmm the joys of digging - not something I know about.

Here are some photos I took of the dig.

Here are some fossils that were above my heading when I was hauling


The crawl at the start of Jake's dig (sadly over-exposed by my light sabre)


Base camp


The view down the streamway from the start of the crawl to where we were stacking the rocks into a dry stone wall. This view shows the extent of the dry stone walling from Jake's previous digging trips. Rocks are now being stacked quite a distance from the dig.


Scott and Steve stacking rocks in Jake's dry stone wall.


The view up the streamway towards the start of the dig from where we were stacking the rocks.


Jake at the end of the dig.


Looking back from the end of the dig to the returning crawl


Jake pointing the way on - to a narrow slit that continues another 7 metres at least.


I only took photos of the dig. This was a mistake as the black hole series is well worth a dedicated photo trip. Fool's paradise
streamway is impressive and there are special formations on the way to Jake's Dig. I would also have liked pictures crossing the black hole. I was lifelining on the way out and was not thinking about photos on the way back.

The real star of this trip was the Swildons streamway - awesome but frightening. I have never concentrated and contrived so much to avoid the streamway before in Swildons. I did not enjoy my drowning like experience on the twenty where I was battered by the water. I am keen to do some more digging trips with Jake and Pete, but would prefer more sedate weather conditions.

Good trip and a good project - a lot of digging is still needed but at least we know where it is going and when it should end.
It is a cross club or open dig and everyone is welcome. We ended up in the Hunters for a pint and food where I was toasted by the fire, as I realised I was rather cold.

Offline ArchaeoScott

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 09:36:51 am »
Excellent report Dave, that sums it up nicely! I was pretty knackered on the way out trying to haul that bloody bag around, but it was a superb trip. I enjoyed the digging and will be back... Thanks goes to Jake for inviting us along.

Offline Andy Sparrow

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2014, 10:58:05 am »
Good luck to Jake with this.   What a superb new variation this would create, as a new round trip or a variation of the ever-popular Short Round Trip.   The Swildon's 1 end (above the start of Barne's Loop) was dug back in the 90s by Wessex members.  Would it be worth resurrecting this?  Mr Williams, weren't you on that?  How was it left?
Andy Sparrow



Offline Les W

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2014, 11:17:31 am »
Already on it Mr S  :thumbsup:
Been liaising with Jake for some time now.  ;)
Just waiting for the bulk of the work to be carried out before we "nip in" from the other end to steal the glory...  :tease:

I'm a very busy person

Offline dave_the_cave

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2014, 06:18:53 pm »
Excellent report Dave, that sums it up nicely! I was pretty knackered on the way out trying to haul that bloody bag around, but it was a superb trip. I enjoyed the digging and will be back... Thanks goes to Jake for inviting us along.

I was gutted there were only four bags. Perhaps we should not have put the ladder in your bag. But there again I was knackered
with no bag.

Offline ArchaeoScott

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 09:00:33 am »
I was gutted there were only four bags. Perhaps we should not have put the ladder in your bag. But there again I was knackered with no bag.

That's because you're a national treasure....

Offline Dingley Dell

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2014, 10:39:28 pm »
Great report and photos Dave.  As my first digging (read "stone wall building") experience this was good fun, albeit a fair amount of that enjoyment was being in the streamway in those conditions.  The dig itself was a rewarding experience though and there was good camaraderie.  Jake's enthusiasm for it is infectuous.  Hopefully with a bunch more days like that we can make some more significant progress.  It would be one hell of a connection to make.  Was also great to have a look at Fools Paradise, an expected but awesome stretch of Swildon's.

A great trip to the bottom of the Black Hole today too.  Anyone gonna do that dig between the Blackhole streamway and the Swildon's 1 side of Sump 1?  Would be another great addition.  We also had a great slide around the muddy phreatic tubes of the Old Approach series.  That must have been one hell of a trip to the Black Hole when that was the only option

Offline ArchaeoScott

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2014, 08:45:12 am »
That was certainly good fun roaming around the Old Approach passages, but I wouldn't fancy the climb up to get there from the streamway. Perhaps someone could put a bolt at the top, that would make a nice little round trip with an abseil down to the streamway. Those muddy tubes certainly made our return an energetic undertaking.

Offline JohnMCooper

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2014, 04:36:56 pm »
Quote
but I wouldn't fancy the climb up to get there from the streamway

If you are referring to the original route and the climb from the main streamway there is an excellent thread belay just before the step across into Approach Passage. No bolt required.

Offline mrodoc

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2014, 05:53:30 pm »
Sounds like an excellent dig. It would certainly encourage more visits to Black Hole series and perhaps inspire further digging in Fool's Paradise.  I would have thought digging it from the Barnes Loop end would be easier but there may be spoil dumping issues I don't know about.

Offline The Old Ruminator

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2014, 06:32:50 pm »
Just the sort of thing the forum needs. Photos, survey, report -- the lot. Keep it up. :clap2:

Offline graham

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Re: Jake's Dig - 4th January 2014
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2014, 08:12:53 pm »
That was certainly good fun roaming around the Old Approach passages, but I wouldn't fancy the climb up to get there from the streamway. Perhaps someone could put a bolt at the top, that would make a nice little round trip with an abseil down to the streamway. Those muddy tubes certainly made our return an energetic undertaking.

The climb up is OK, coming back out of the tube into the stream way (cos you don't know any better) is alarming but certainly do-able. If I could do it, anyone should be able to.
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