Nidderdale Digging Reports

Having been told many times by the nice UK Caving lady :mad: that Facebook is for losers and we should post more on here, I have decided to try and mirror our FB digging reports for all to read.

They are generally not very exciting but do form some sort of a record of events.

If anyone has any comments on any of the reports it may be better if they start a new thread so this digging report topic can be kept clean and to the point.

I hope our scribblings are of some interest.


To get the ball rolling here is BSD UKC Dig Report No1 02.12.2018

Originally Tony, Nick and Chris planned to follow up the incredible Big Push event down Guscott with some scaffolding work and reinstalling the tip bucket. We then found out that Ian Cummins and Adele Ward were able to join us which was great. The weather turned very wet indeed and although Scarhouse reservoir was still very low after the very dry summer it did mean some of the caves were affected by localized streams in high flow. Guscott was very wet indeed. This all added up to too many people for this set of tasks and in wet conditions, people getting cold hanging about not doing much.

We all met at the How Steam caf? and a new plan was hatched. Tony would go off to install the tip bucket at Guscott while the rest of us went for a dig at Thrope pot.

Tony's Report...???..

Sundays digging log star-date 201812021730:
Unusually over subscribed for Guscott Pot tonight + being very wet Chris, Nick, Adele and Ian elected to poke about the dig in Thrope Edge Pot - it was drier! As I'd brought back the water intake kit taken out of Guscott on Friday I elected to go and put it back in. So just a maintenance trip on my part.
1. Did an excursion up the inlet passage to find out where the water was coming from. Answer ~5% is from Farm Inlet and 95% from Ralf Inlet. Be interesting to find the sink on the hillside.
2. The back wall of the dig has been slowly collapsing as mud peels off. The top row of scaff poles are no longer supported by the walls and need down poles to connect them to the scaff cage below. Do this on next trip.
3. The water is now following a new route to the back wall of the dig and disappearing in an undercut. This is directly under a large hanging death boulder that's just outside the scaff cage. This needs to be removed to make safe and gain room to work on following the water. The water in the undercut goes sharp left to join its original path. So basically the stream is just going either way around the vertical stack of boulders on the left side of dig face.
4. Restarted the tipping bucket. Funnel and new metal filter installed to replace the shredded cloth filter. This was done rather quickly as under the waterfall coming down the "half tube" climb. Cleared the water pipe by banging on it down its length to loose the trapped silt load. Once the bucket filled the axle promptly broke. Repaired the axle and once the bucket refilled for the second time it promptly snapped at the other end. The bucket is now using the long round-shafted crowbar as an axle!
Job done after 2 hours work so exited to meet others at the pub.

Report From Thrope Pot Team...??..

The team went down Thrope pot to a point halfway down the climbs where a scaffold pole bridges a deep hole to phreatic passage the other side. Previously Black Sheep Diggers have pushed this tube east under the main riverbed on the surface into the hillside beyond towards the obvious lead mines that at present have no access.

Adele and Nick dug forward pushing back boulders, mud and pebbles down the passage. A water blaster like we set up once before would be a great help in moving stuff along more easily. Ian threw the stuff down the hole by the scaffold pole. Chris was at the bottom of the hole using the large boulders to build a retaining wall so that spoil was kept at the top and did not go down to block access to the main New Goyden stream passage. It was important Ian did not throw stuff onto Chris' head so they set up a communication system of sorts. It worked very well which is surprising since they only called 'clear' to each other whether starting or finishing throwing stones!!

At the end of the session there is now a clean washed hole rising up to probably join a high-level passage we know about. The whole passage right through to the end of the dig is clear of debris and all is ready to install the water blaster probably in the high-level passage and make the link there. It will be easier to remove spoil from the lower passage so the link is a good idea.

Good to join Tony afterwards and swop reports in the pub..where else!

Picture is of Adel, Ian and Chris in Thrope Pot just prior to walking the scaff pole of doom to get into the dig.


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Well-known member
I found that Crossing the scaff bar is far less scary when the water is at the same level (provided the water level is going down and not up) Only issue on the way back after digging the drop suddenly became a lot further.
Dig Report No2 09.12.2018

Dave, Adele, Chris and Tony met up at How Stean for a quick coffee and eats before going digging. It had been raining for several days so we wondered what conditions down in Guscott would be like. Scarhouse reservoir is still not full after getting so low over the hot summer so there is noway Goyden system will be badly flooded. Guscott though reacts to local streams and we knew it might be taking quite a bit of water. We were now wrong once past the entrance chamber and down the first scaffold climb a good size stream poured out of the many gaps between the stonework. Slithering down the large boulder was a very wet experience with water pouring in from different heights down your neck. The following the crashing stream to the final drop...a waterfall. Once down this, we followed the stream down the steps and over the final drop into the dig area.
Tony and Adele immediately set about erecting scaffold to support the horizontal tubes in the roof. These had been pushed into the mud and boulder wall but this was now washed out exposing the ends of the scaffold. Dave and Chris wondered what we could do to help other than pass scaffold and clips. Chris then went down to join the pair and set about drilling into a large rock to demolish it. Conditions were difficult with water everywhere and sure enough the demolishing gear dis not work. At this point, Tony had to go.
Chris, Dave and Adele erected more scaffold and built a wall that will stop further erosion of the end wall and supports the roof preventing movement there. Adele at this point started digging and soon made herself a whirlpool with an ever increasing hole into a large void beneath. By the end of our digging session, they could see easily in the large void about 2m deeper. There are just a few large boulders to remove for access BUT the slower and essential job will be making a scaffold frame to protect our way through and prevent a humongous boulder the size of two large fridge freezers moving.
Chatting by the cars after the trip it was clear Adele and Dave had the digging bug...and so wanted to return to see where the hole leads to...the dig continues...



Well-known member
Dig Report No.3  22/12/2018

Nick, Chris, Tony, Dave and Alex met at How Stean on Saturday 22nd .

We left How Stean cafe and delivered Christmas presents to the farmers then headed ober to Thrope pot. A quick look at the lower level of East Fault passage and it reminded us of the vertical hole going up towards the Upper Level. Alex went round to the Upper Level and started digging there while Dave made the dig area bigger below.....and we mean bigger! Rocks and mud were coming out at an alarming rate with Nick pushing them down the passage towards Chris and Tony.
Tony and Chris used many of the larger boulders to build a wall in the large gap half way down the passage. Alex and Dave managed to get a voice connection initially and after a while were able to see each other?s lights.
Eventually after Dave had created a large void Tony took over. Chris after a while heard a crash and shouted if Tony was ok he said yes and then soon after another crash was heard. This time Tony indicated a large boulder had fallen from the roof but he had managed to side step it. Chris volunteered to break it up with a lump hammer and then pulled some more large boulders out the roof. While trying to get these out with Tony they heard Alex and Nick (he had gone round to help Alex) shouting so Chris crawled back into the end of the dig and stood up and to his surprise he saw someone face. Alex then squirmed his way down and went back up immediately after Nick came down. Just as he popped through into the dig area the wall behind him decided to part company and he instinctively pushed back so it slowly slid down the wall even though it was huge. To finish off all the many boulders were taken down the passage to near the drop at the end.
We left satisfied with our efforts...the upper level and lower level are linked. The dig is definitely still ongoing and moved half a metre towards the lead mines. It will be easier progress now we have done that work and when we get a water blaster installed.
As usual we left for the Crown for eats and drinks.


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My version of events from above

I had great fun at the top, we established a voice connection but surprisingly the passage opening we could see from the dig face below was not the passage I was in now. So I thought there could be a mid-level passage to get into and maybe even bypass the choke if it did!

I thought it would be easy to get through, but I had to dig out a hell of a lot out to get down to the too small hole to make the opening bigger. This all happened while the overs beavered away below. So I dug and dug, with nothing but a crow-bar and made myself a fantastic little sand/mud pit. Unfortunately my digging efforts often dropped bit of of mud down to the dig below and added more spoil for Chris and co to remove below, as I got deeper I had no choice but to chuck it down the hole below me, with warning of course. Eventually I was through into the void and a connection was made with my welly. The space turned out to be nothing but a filled in shaft with barely enough room to stand. No ways on except a small mud filled tube (even more mud filled now).

I could dig down no further without collapsing the floor onto them, reversing out was interesting, so I made the hole bigger still once out. I called Nick up to look at the end of the passage. While we starting a new dig up there,  there was a large crash as the floor I was stood on earlier was now at the bottom of the dig!  Once Chris got his composure back I volunteered to make through trip. Going through now was quite easy though thanks to their digging it bells out quite significantly at the bottom. Unfortunately I left my SRT kit on the other side of the hole so Nick got the honour of doing the round trip while I settled for climbing back out. Probably loosening a boulder or two as when Nick went down he took a few down with him Indiana Jones Style!

Round trip description

Note this currently should not be attempted due to the looseness at the bottom of the connection.

From the bottom of the entrance scaffold, turn right to go under a dubiously looking big black block. Follow the scree slope down to a small chamber. A short flat out crawl leads to a slight enlargement before shrinking to a easy sideways crawl which opens out into a dug mud/sand pit. Slither down the pit, where a right angled wriggle brings you into a small chamber with a ledge, climb carefully down as the shaft opens up at the bottom and is currently very loose. Land in mud. Crawl out and into a scaffold stoop and then a step down into more crawling. Soon a pit is reached with a scaff-bar making a bridge. Traverse across this (shitty rope in-situ) to join the normal route down into new Goyden. Up the roped calcite climb leads to higher passage and then the scaffold entrance climb at the start, completing the round trip. Down via knotted rope leads into New Goyden.
Nick, Tony and Chris

We met at How Stean as now our usual practice. Nick and Chris were a bit late having had trouble locating large enough jubilee clips. The plan was to collect water from a surface stream (How Gill) into a pipe and feed that all the way down Thrope pot into the Upper East fault passage down through the recently formed connection with Lower East Fault passage to the dig face.
First stop was collecting our resources from the storage area near Limley Farm. There we met the farmer and stayed for a quite a while chatting about the huge cavern beneath where he was sat with his tractor and also about Tony's recent research into Limley Mine. Before we left him we got permission to reinstall the stile over the fence near New Goyden Pot/Thrope Pot and also to bring him maps of Limley Mine and video footage of Bridge Hall chamber shot by our diver, Cristian.
Tony agreed to collect our 'water blaster' from Guscott pot and also to check on the choke dig. Meanwhile, Nick and Chris set about laying out the blue pipe and linking sections together with Nick's homemade connectors. Tony came over with the 'water blaster' and helped Nick lay the pipe along the low Upper East Fault passage. Tony at one point was working his way through the squeeze only to come up against Nick who was manoeuvring to get down the hole that links to Lower east Fault passage...he was not a happy hector having to wait in such a confined space but soon had space to turn.
Tony came out to help Chris make the final link to the water collector (road cone with chip fan fryer to act a sieve) while Nick waited to film the arrival of the water spurting from the water blaster. Immediately connected water was leaking from many places in the first section of pipe so Tony and Chris set about replacing it. Nick got fed up of waiting and came to the surface to help too. Finally, the water was sent along the pipe and Tony and Nick went underground to check on it and make a video. They came back with the report that although there was still many leaks significant water was blasting into the dig and running away down the passage taking with it the sand and clay. A good job well done. We might at some point replace with better pipe that has no holes in it!
The dig is an easy to get to dig, easy to dig and from now on the mud will be washed away while the stones will be used to build retaining all should make for faster progress. The dig is on the fault, already far side of the dry river bed above and aiming for where some lead mining has taken place. Beyond the mines is the open passage between New Goyden downstream sump 1 and 2. Bit of a pipe dream (ugh sorry) but worth a go especially as being an easy dig accessible in all but the most horrendous floods.
Nice sit by a fire in the local pub to finish off and make more plans....
Sat 26.01.18

Quickly arranged trip and leisurely approach gets surprising progress.

Nick and Chris hastily arranged a trip to Nidderdale today. We spent quite some time at How Stean Gorge making arrangements for the upcoming survey course there and drank coffee plus eats. By the time we got to Thrope pot it was 4.15pm. Initially, Chris had a dig in Lower East Fault passage while Nick started taking back boulders along the increasingly longer passage to the drop at the end. Chris having pulled out numerous big boulders helped him move them all down the passage and heave them down the drop. Nick had a look at the dig then while Chris went down into the base of South Aven to build retaining walls using the boulders sent down. We then went into Upper East Fault passage where Nick pulled up the pipe with water blaster and re-laid it into the end of the upper passage. Chris then went back to the dig on the lower passage while Nick went back to the surface to open up the intake to let in more water. While Chris was digging he was surprised to see a torrent of water come out surging out the dig! Overall good progress with all boulders removed left from the last digging session plus several more from this one. At least 1m of new ground was gained and the water surging out the dig will help remove the clay.
Finally, during the latter part of the dig, Nick found a small band of galena with clear 1cm width lead band.
At 6.30 we had our usual finish having a pint at the Crown Hotel Middlesmoor.