Volume 39 Number 2 Article 5
The Notts II Log
The wind repeatedly shook the car in the dark winter night. It had done so for weeks - this year was the worst weather ever on Leck - but out of the gloom came the lights of the huge Batmobile of Alan Richardson's van. The trip was on!
So what was the plan? Well, where do you start? Providing cross beams and platform for support of the second dig so no-one can fall fatally down, concrete lining of first shaft that stank of wood rot, concreting and lintel for the first "adit" that has already suffered freeze-thaw causing some potential head bashing stones to fall down, similar for next adit, or final dig that was washing itself out, or fill some preexisting cavities that had worried us over the long absence of Foot & Mouth, or survey the 3 km left to do the grade 5, or dig, or do the sensible thing and go to the pub to discuss. Oh sod it, let's just start on the most pressing and doable for tonight! Afterwards in the pub we seemed to have done well. Yep, we were winning the war against the elements.
Gradually over the months following the re-opening of the fell, work carried on despite the horrendous weather. Digging by some of the original team on a large choked phreatic tube just beyond Mincemeat Aven broke into a chamber with a fine column which, as it was large and grand, was named 'Gordon' after Gordon Procter whose dig it was. The dig extended to further bells and a great roar of a streamway which unfortunately, when pushed through, was the main stream, (Gordon's Exit) and was not, (or perhaps is), the mythical stream at the end of inlet 5 a few hundred metres away. However, it does provide a possible flood escape route, (the stream-way floods five metres up at the junction with inlet 13), coming out opposite Dome Inlet.
Meanwhile, having the time on my hands, I got permits for Leck Fell on Tuesdays for January, February and March, and press-ganged anyone I could get to help. It then rained consistently on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or, on a good day, snow came. Steady progress was made putting hollow concrete blocks in, some in sideways to ensure footholds, and all interlocked with each other, both physically by angle of placement and with iron rods through the thinner blocks. Similar work was done on the adit with Bill putting blocks and lintels in. Indeed few could go in without the hindrance of a block to carry!
Poles were put across the main dig to prevent fatal falls and strengthen the shaft. As the entrance shaft built up, the alloy ladder in use was sawn up to use further down. Loads of voids were filled up and cement put in.
Then at the start of the closed season we had six weeks of draught!
Onwards... Survey work proceeded onto what was already done by Ray and Co. Most of the system is now done. Some of it, (e.g. far end of inlet 5), is pretty awful - i.e. pretty formations but awful mud and water! Big digs done at Showerbath Inlet, (playing 'beat the boulder), Curry Inlet mud-mining, and for the masochists, mud submersion in Inlet 5.
Summer came and permits for Tuesday and Wednesday in July for a break-through push on the shaft helped by Lionel, Terry and others and, despite setbacks, three car-loads of bricks and loads of cement were put in all over the place, (i.e. on bathroom floor, towels, car seats, ear holes, and some in the cave!)
Work is ongoing. The entrance shaft is finished, the second shaft is well on its way. The general aim is for an entrance that will provide trips until the far future when the sea level rises and the system reverts sadly back to a diving trip.