THE RED ROSE SERIES OF AYGILL CAVERN

Link to passage description

from RRCPC 5
Discovered 1965

The discovery of Red Rose Series was made in August 1965 by a small party of R.R.C.P.C. members whilst exploring in the downstream area. A party of three, namely, Sandra Kilburn, (now Mrs. Wilkinson), Jim Newton and Duncan Baldwin was responsible for the initial entry.

On the occasion of the discovery, the usual descent was followed by a spell of sightseeing and an enthusiastic look into many inlets. Continuing downstream brought us to the canal crawl, where a low flooded bedding plane rose to an elliptical tunnel leading directly to the terminal sump pool.

Immediately before the sump, a sloping cleft ascended on the right wall and opened above into an oval passage. The climb began as a chimney, giving easy access to the way above. On entry this was found to run back towards the sump and widened gradually into a junction complex in the form of a "cross roads".

Bisecting the passage at right angles flowed a narrow stream-way 10 ft. below. A short climb led down to the water. So chose to head downstream until a re-encounter with the sump pool left us more surprised than disappointed. To the left, a projecting rib concealed this passage from the usual viewpoint over the pool. Retracing our steps, we passed underneath the "Cross Roads" and proceeded in the upstream direction. The passage size soon increased to walking dimensions and developed an upper phreatic tube winding sinuously through a maze of perfected solution hollows. The quality of phreatic sculpture became more marked, and as we reached the limit of the vadose rejuvenation, the whole lessened into a tubular tunnel. Within a short distance the echo of crashing water sounded clearly along the passage. Passing two acute bends brought us into a spacious inlet chamber where the water divided. The main flow discharged from a fissured roof, the remainder flowed from a tight inlet at floor level.

Back at the "Cross Roads" we scrambled to our former position above the streamway. Gazing across the chamber, we saw an obvious counterpart to the entrance passage leading on.. This began as an upright fissure carrying an intermittent trickle. The way shortly lowered to a series of low crawls scattered with painful pebbles and strategically placed serrations. About to retreat, J.N. and I shuffled backwards, allowing Sandra to tackle the tortuous way ahead. Within a few minutes an excited voice announced that the crawl had suddenly widened into a comfortable passage. Picking our route back, we joined our ambitious pioneer standing in a large fault chamber stacked throughout with boulder debris and presenting a choice of ways. Our first action was to examine the chamber. To the right, a choked rift was climbed to its dismal extremes amongst infill. Bearing left, the same rift became choked in a similar manner. The chamber floor rose gently above the point of entry and an ascent led to an abandoned streamway 15 ft. high by 3 ft. wide. Forward the way narrowed, and a short crawl led on until a sharp bend directed the passage into an oblique fissure. The way decreased again and with deepening fill we struggled on to an expected blockage. Reversing, we caught sight of a higher section above a series of wall flutings which could only be described as a collection of multidirectional bacon slicers. Risking the wear on flesh and wet-suits, J.N. and I eased our way through the razor jungle to enter the open section beyond.

The floor was covered with a coating of mud and displayed some unusual mud formations at the time. Exploring in a downstream direction the muds deepened to eventually bind a matrix of previous stream wash into a cemented choke. The upstream direction was less filled and contained some formations. The passage then rounded a slight bend resembling the lower and shortly ending in a similar choke.


Speleological Notes

Judging by the succession of development phases in the main passage, it predates the main stream route to the sump. The destination of this horizon is at present uncertain due to the effect of constant surface invasion transforming established levels. A detailed account of the observed features will not be given at this stage as it has formed as part of the upper phreatic complex of Aygill and Bull Pot, and a full description would have to include such. For those who are concerned with the development of the area, an introductory outline is given below.

Geologically, the series are centered on a fault zone of 70 the displacement being unknown.. Some shale intrusions lie in the fault. The bedding dip varies greatly, little consistency being present.

The first stage observable is phreatic, being a syphonic tube extending from the inlet chamber through the "Cross Roads" and becoming detached to choke before the fault chamber is reached. The entrance tunnel may have been next formed by an interaction between the two from the established sump chamber of tectonic origin. The intervention of a vadose stage has transformed the upper tube somewhat, causing incised pockets to break down. The third stage is that of an even-graded displacement phreatic horizon in the same direction becoming lost in the fault chamber. An extensive vadose stage new follows with mixed phases developing to the present. On a directional basis, it would seem that the whole has headed towards Bull Pot and has become progressively abandoned as the shales receded.

Duncan Baldwin.

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RRCPC 2001