Author Topic: Makita Drill - Return to Notts II, Inlet 14  (Read 829 times)

Offline Jimmy Penrith

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Makita Drill - Return to Notts II, Inlet 14
« on: May 30, 2016, 09:51:51 pm »
Having found myself in a somewhat sticky situation previously – see RRCPC Journal 10 for the gory details – and spent several years digging there since with a vast and varied cast of diggers, we knew that the breakthrough was nigh.
So it was, one windswept Thursday night that Johnny Latimer, Simon Cornhill and I found ourselves once more at the threshold of this ‘unique’ passage, ready to once more enter the gloop. Inlet 14 begins as a ladder climb on the left of the Notts II main streamway, about 100m or so downstream from the where the route down from Committee Pot enters. It is fairly unremarkable for its first 40m or so, but soon lowers to a long duck in liquid mud. Progress along this part of the passage requires feet-first entry, whilst bicycle kicking to liquefy the gloopiest bits of mud, followed by a fast retreat to flush out the resultant sludge, human drain-rod style. Several years of effort had led us to this point: having originally attempted pumping out the mud – ineffectual; strapping colanders to our hands and paddling furiously – ridiculous; and the direct approach of pushing onwards through the mud regardless – suicidal. The winning technique had been the slow and steady one of gradually lowering the floor just before the entry into the duck, so that any mud discharging from further upstream would flow back out to the main streamway, rather than backing-up and re-settling.

After many trips, the hard work of rock removal was complete and the previous few visits had seen us systematically push further up the passage, clearing the worst of the mud once and for all. On our previous trip we had passed The Horror in Clay, a prominent stal about 40m in, which required an awkward wiggle to pass. This was made more difficult by having to negotiate it feet-first in grippy wetsuits that caught on any rough surface. Thankfully, Simon had brought his extra large lumphammer for just such an eventuality, and The Horror in Clay is now no more. Beyond The Horror, the roof lowered significantly and progress became much more difficult, necessitating lots of back-and-forth activity to clear a wide enough trench through the mud. This was the bit that had caught me out some five years previously. This time, however, notorious idiot JL was leading the way and, armed with the brand new garden rake that I’d purchased earlier, wasn’t going to let a little bit of mud stop him. Keeping far enough apart to avoid drowning each other under bow waves of muddy water, we slowly progressed through this section, which Simon later christened Stupidity in Mud. From the front, Johnny shouted back that he was through and the excitement levels rose. At last I was going to get a good look at the chamber that I’d previously visited some five years earlier. Eventually, Simon and I appeared from the gloop and caught up to Johnny, who was sat in the small chamber, which was just about big enough for the three of us to stoop in at the same time.  On my previous visit I had noted – but not investigated – two leads: firstly, the main Inlet 14 water fell out of a slot in the ceiling that would need widening to enter; secondly, there was an old, dry fossil passage leading out of the back of the chamber.

Alas, the slot in the ceiling was not a good lead: it was possible to see up a few feet into a dense boulder choke which would be both difficult to dig up to and also highly dangerous. The passage at the back was not much better, leading to a draughtless dig in clay and soil after only a few metres. The rake was deployed here for posterity, leading us to name the passage Rake’s Progress, because, as Simon pointed out, “you have to squeeze past the chuffing rake to make progress”.

So, that, unfortunately, was that – although Simon should be commended for later solo-surveying Stupidity in Mud using a series of well-placed silt-screws and a lot of ingenuity. On the one hand, it was disappointing that the leads from the terminal chamber were such no hopers, but from a personal perspective it was nice to exorcise the demons of the past and finally get to properly see what lay beyond that fateful duck.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2016, 10:24:43 pm by Jimmy Penrith »

Offline JasonC

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Re: Makita Drill - Return to Notts II, Inlet 14
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2016, 08:09:51 pm »
- and some people can't understand why we go caving!  Unbelievable!

I very much liked the varied and fascinating photographic record of the trip  :thumbsup: