Author Topic: Grove Cliff Caves extended a little more  (Read 338 times)

Offline tim.rose2

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Grove Cliff Caves extended a little more
« on: September 23, 2019, 08:16:37 pm »
Following surgery on her hand back in July, today was Sas's first caving trip since.  Naturally she asked to go somewhere easy and Grove Cliff Caves were the obvious choice.  The plan was to go in Allotment dig and out Skittle Alley having a poke around on route.  I think mine and Sas's idea of 'poke around' may have varied a bit but when I suggested putting a crowbar in the bag she didn't seem to object.

Allotment dig (the only phreatic in the cave) quickly intersects a rift.  To the left is Link Rift, being the route to Guano Rift and the rest of today's planned trip.  To the right the rift chokes at a mud bank after 6 m.  Previous Portland diggers had excavated the rift downwards in an attempt to find the continuation of the phreatic tunnel in Coffin Hole, however to my knowledge nobody had looked at digging the continuation of the rift so it seemed a good choice for today's 'poke around'. 

The end was choked to the ceiling with mud.  However 15 min work today and a gap over the top had been cleared to give a view into open cave.  Another 15 min and the gap was Tim sized.  It turns out the mud choke was only about 1 m wide.  On the far side, the rift is approx. 5 m deep and continues for approx. 8 to 10 m.  Like many of Portland's rifts, it unfortunately ends at a point where the rift splits and all options are too small.  Given that Sas was patiently waiting for me I only quickly traversed along the top of the rift and didn't properly examine lower down so it's distinctly possible something was missed.  The breakthrough point over the mud bank could also do will a little enlarging to make it easier to pass - particularly exiting which requires getting ones legs round whilst balanced head first over a 3 m drop.  The rift itself is quite greasy and far from the easiest to move along.  For obvious reasons we're going to call this new section 'Allotment Rift'. 

We'd previously tried to get a vocal connection to Grove Cliff Caves from the rifts at the end of Coffin Hole but had no luck.  It's really not far from and perhaps this small extension might be what we need to work out where to dig to join things up. 

So having extended the cave a little off we trotted to complete the planned trip.  Glad to report by the time we exited Skittle Alley Sas had remembered how this caving lark works.

Unfortunately I forgot the camera, so no photo's.

Offline tim.rose2

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Re: Grove Cliff Caves extended a little more
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2019, 09:48:27 pm »
Myself and Richard have been back to Allotment rift today.  Unfortunately no vocal connection to Coffin Hole has been found and no easy or obvious leads to follow.  There are a couple of vaguely interesting places however one is guarded by a 10ft high, roughly 3ft sq pillar which seems to be sat on little more than a few pebbles and some cheese.  Those pebbles and cheese would have to be removed - neither of us like that option.  The second is right in the bottom of the rift but will required drilling to make progress - couldn't be arsed to get the drill as it didn't inspire. 

Having now descended the rift and found the bottom I'm going to revise the estimate depth to 7 to 8 m rather than 5 m quoted in my last post.  There's certainly a good height to it even if there's not much length.

No doubt the last few days rain hasn't helped, however this rift fragment is a damp, dirty miserable sh*t hole of a place to be.  Today we've significantly enlarged the route in, however the initial descent into the rift beyond the dig is bloody awkward and really greasy.  This makes it extremely arduous when exiting - be warned if you wish to visit.  Once in the rift, it's 'best' traversed high up on reasonable holds to a selection of wedged boulders and then descended.   

I did manage to take the camera today...

The dug way in:


Richard negotiating his way out whilst attempting to blend in:


If you look carefully you'll find Richard lurking in the back of the rift (sorry cr*p photo):