by Chris Grimmett

Click here for extra photos by Graham Christian

Easter / May - down again

Walling with some of the big rocks

The winch in its new purple livery

Simon brings yet another
barrowload of fertilizer

Over both the Easter and May Day bank holidays, the weather was quite good and some long digging days were fitted in.  Initially, spoil was removed very rapidly as it consisted of broken rocks in large chunks, interspersed with fine sand.

The length of ladder down the shaft was increased as the floor went down and the buckets came out.  The rocks were greatly needed for finishing off the right hand side walls of the spoil heap.

The Easter digging went well until late on Good Friday when the winch broke; the main shaft had sheared at a weak point.  On Saturday, Clark and Chris took off for Swansea, looking for a 30 year old motor mower part which was not surprisingly unavailable.

Luck was on our side however, and instead of a spare shaft, they obtained an entire mower for the princely sum of �10.  The mower was stripped and the winch back in action and reinstalled up the hill by Saturday night.

Over the next two days, disaster struck again when the engine governor broke, but having now a spare motor, this was swapped for the original and we were back in business with little delay.  Graham took both the engines and the winch home for maintenance before the May Day session.

In May, an engineering break was forced as (i) the digging had outgrown the shuttering on the rift side wall and (ii) it was found that the bottom ladder, far from being fixed to bedrock, was attached to a very large lump of loose calcite.

Both were swiftly remedied; some wood went in and a load of calcite came out.  After that, the dig continued downwards albeit a little more slowly as the fine sand and large rocks had once again given way to lumpy mud which was difficult to dig.

The right hand spoil heap was liberally adorned with cow pats in an attempt to start some plant growth on what is otherwise a very barren substrate.

At the last count, the bottom of the dig was 20 metres below the original datum point.

Cutting up wood for shoring

The view up the shaft to the flume and beyond

The view down the shaft from the flume