BABYSITTERS DIG - February 2000 update

by Chris Grimmett


The dig site showing the winch and 'Penwyllt Python'

The 1999 season had not been a very productive one, partly due to repeatedly poor weather conditions on digging weekends and partly due to a key member of the team defecting to the Antipodes at frequent intervals.

The main achievement of the year was to source a pump suitable for lifting water out of the dig and yet capable of running from one of the club generators. It now became possible to empty water that had collected between trips with little effort and at 2 to 3 times the rate of conventional winch assisted baling. With a view to making digging conditions more tolerable over the next 1000 years than they had been for the previous millenium, the components of a sectional Anderson shelter were moved up the hill and set roughly into position. The only other notable development was the theft by some desperate individual of the depth measuring tape and a Land Rover intermediate gearbox shaft used as its weight.

Some downwards progress was made, following the same line as before, and trending further towards the now massive hanging death in the rift; all of this necessitating the installation of another section of fixed ladder.

We also received several suggestions of alternative uses for the dig on the basis that it would never go anywhere, ranging from a diving pool, a missile silo, and perhaps more practically, a multi-pitch SRT training shaft.


The first trip of the year was made on the weekend of February 11th./12th., with a typical crew of Clark Friend, Chris Grimmett, Graham Christian, Simon Amatt, Andy Amatt and Brian Clipstone. Despite heavy rain over the preceding week, the water in the bottom of the dig was considerably less than 1 metre in depth, contrasting with previous quantities measured in 1998 at over 3 metres deep. There is definitely a mechanism operating by which water drains through the dig, although there are no obvious signs of how this is happening.

The pump disposed of the majority of the water in about 45 minutes and despite cold conditions on the Saturday, two good days of digging were achieved. The floor level was lowered by approximately 0.5 to 1 metre in spoil that was very diffcult to dig as it contained a large amount of small rocks. Towards the end of the weekend, we noticed a change to larger rocks and hope for a further change back to jammed boulders. The increased depth also meant that the third ladder had to be swapped for a longer one that can now be lowered on its mounting point as the dig descends. The floor now lies 14.6 metres below the datum point.

Before the dig goes much deeper, there will have to some attention to stabilising the loose wall behind the digging point.


It's odd how workmen always seem to be resting, rather than doing anything