Sun 3rd -Tues 5th June - Tony Brocklebank
Not one, not two, but three days of digging at Legit and we’re getting somewhere!
On Sunday after much deliberation we decided to dig rather than head for Bar Pot, leaving the delights of Gaping Gill for Monday. Tom Howard, Allan Berry, Pete Whetham and myself were joined by Tony Llufriu on his first Dales digging trip and at some point Bill Sherrington turned up. Things started pretty normally, digging in the bottom of the hole, below the regularly collapsing ramp. It became pretty obvious that some larger boulders in the ramp we’re going to make people cry when they fell in, so Allan and I turned our attention to removing another large section of the ramp. Very quickly a small hole opened in the wall about six feet or so from the bottom. As we exposed this it appeared to be taking water and running away from us back towards the shakehole. We could feel wisps of draught.
An hour or so later and with three or four feet of wall exposed the hole was growing, around a foot high and stones pushed down it appeared drop away over a lip. There’s a rumour that if a dig is about to go you’ll suddenly find a Dingle behind you, and sure enough Simon Latimer appeared behind me, took one look, and began his human mole impression. Allan had to leave at this point, which was a shame, because an hour later we not only had an eyehole into a shaft, with a huge echo, we also had a six foot deep tube opening up below us.
At this point the first of many arguments broke out. I wanted to cap out the eyehole, Bill and Dingle wanted to dig down. I was right, they were wrong, so we dug down and got nowhere, but we could hear stones dropping for fifty feet or more (through the eyehole). A bit of hammer and chisel work towards the end of the (very) long day let us look down a bit further.
The next day, Monday, saw quite an impressive turnout. Gaping Gill and Bar Pot were forgotten about. I counted fourteen “diggers” at one point but I’m sure there were more. The Earby Grabbing “A team, Simon and Bill, with Dave Gledhill and Simon Wilson, had headed off on an early morning grabbing mission and continued the dig in the tube before the eyehole. I was right, they were wrong. By the time the rest of us got there the early morning grabbers were tired, although they had created an impressive twelve to fifteen foot deep hole in the floor just about where you’d need to stand to work on the eyehole. After drilling half a dozen shot holes rock remover was applied to the eyehole by me, Bill , Johnny and Andrew Latimer. Three Dingles on one dig is too many. The shakehole resembled a Roman arena, as the assembled crowd sat with fingers in their ears and a bang was heard.
The hole filled with smoke. And didn’t clear. This triggered a comedy of four or five hours where burning oil, plastic bags, bits of paper, hay bales, and who knows what else were lowered into the hole to try and create a draught, a fifteen foot high chimney was built. Mats and tarps were flapped and all to no avail. Simon Cornhill spent hours lowering a bucket in and pulling it out full of smoke, emptying it, and trying again. It was comical, depressing and farcical. Too many chefs and loads more arguments. After hours of buggering about all we had was a hole full of smoke, but now it stank of burnt oil, plastic and bush fire. The audience began to thin out, and as evening drew near we suddenly realised that the hole seemed to be sucking in. A few attempts at waiting patiently were aborted as one person after another climbed down to emerge choking announcing they couldn’t see a thing. Finally it began to thin, Simon Wilson made it down to the eyehole and insisted the bang had done nothing, a few minutes later I got to the front and confirmed that this was because the left hand wall wasn’t there any more. The right hand wall was shattered. Back to the hammer and chisel for an hour or so, dozens of missiles clattered down the shaft but we finally had a man sized hole to the pitch. Looking down the pitch was like looking down a missile silo full of smoke so we gave up for the day.
Tuesday. The Earby Grabbing “B” team decided they were going early this time, John Latimer, Simon Wilson and Dan Hibberts. I snapped. It was time to reassert control. I informed them that if when we arrived there was a rope flapping loose down the pitch with a bunch grabbing bastards at the bottom they ‘d spend the rest of the day trying to work out how to free climb out, because I was simply going to chuck the rope down the pitch and go home. Simon said I wouldn’t do it, and continued to make setting off noises. Dan and Johnny know me better and decided to play nicely leaving Simon no choice but to wait, he called me some other names, including reckless, dangerous, lunatic etc but all behind my back, and I didn’t care anyway and got on with breakfast.
Anyway, the end result. The pitch was rigged, dropped, and lands on a ledge about thirty foot down, with a deviation to a chamber in a rift after another forty foot or so. (I suspect this may shrink slightly when surveyed, but should be at least sixty foot in total. Below this is a climb down for about fifteen foot, to a dig. It’s a very nice bit of cave, and hopefully will go a lot further, we’re at least one hundred foot below the surface, hopefully near one hundred and twenty. It’s mostly clean washed once you get through the eyehole, and although several other bits of shaft come in it appears the two original shafts haven’t joined yet and still have potential – giving us three digs.
Everyone’s help is much appreciated! Good job (so far)!