One Man and his Dog
(or in this case – Shetland Attack Pony)
How did this start and
why? I don’t remember now but I do know when, 18th October
1992, or at least that’s the date on the survey that has my name on it.
Actually, I’d already been involved in a bit of surveying earlier in the year
but only as a body to be moved along the passage or left behind as in
I guess you could say I kind of drifted into the survey and was left holding the poison chalice after a succession of disasters and ‘bottled-it’ people had done their bit.
The original complete
Ease Gill survey by Pete Ashmead was beginning to
look a bit of a ‘hotchpotch’ on Bull Pot Farm boiler room wall with all the
additions added on. Frank Addis took on the challenge with his partner in
crime, Julie Mundy, and set about
The data that was collected was being fed to Anne Hodgson and filed in various folders and recorded in exercise books. Sooner or later this was going to have to be dealt with and it was decided to give a program called SMAPS a chance. The idea was to feed in the distance, bearing and clinometer readings to the software and it produced the straight line of the survey. Until then the coordinates were worked out by slide rule, logarithms or the newly acquired calculators all very laborious methods and then drawn to scale on graph paper. With SMAPS it was easy until the data started to add up, then the program couldn’t handle the loops which created masses of mathematical juggling, the whole thing ground to a halt. The same thing happened to the newer SMAPS II and by now people were really getting annoyed with having to input all the data only to have the thing crash.
The solution came in the form of the saviors from SURVEX, those clever people designed a system that allowed as much input as we could get and even added some of our requests, brilliant! Now we could produce a straight-line survey and see where everything connected with ease.
Peter Grant (RRCPC)
started to input the data into his computer while at work for
The general consensus
among those involved was that we needed to get the straight line between
Lancaster Hole to Top Sink surveyed first then the inlets. As most of this had
been surveyed it didn’t seem a problem but when we started adding known loops
like Wretched Rabbit and
As an important issue
we were trying to fix the entrance positions of not just
We did try to laser
sight between points but on the day we’d arranged all the equipment to arrive
it was blowing a gale and so the signal bounced all over the place,
frustration. The next time we used a laser theodolite
it blew a gale and there was a freezing constant drizzle at least we did get
some result but not the expected 1km legs more like 20 to 30 metres, hay ho! At
least we’d worked out that if the above and below ground surveys all linked
then that was what we really needed irrespective of whether they fitted the new
Google Earth, Memory Map or not. Over several years we logged up 38km of
surface survey, flogging through bogs, being eaten alive by midges in our
effort to locate our caves. One evening after work
Underground things were still getting cocked-up with what at first sight would seem to be rudimentary errors, but then that’s only if you think a survey team consists of highly trained and motivated individuals and not a set of mad cavers as they usually do. One of the best involved a team surveying from Oxbow Corner to Fall Pot down the streamway. After a certain number of legs, yet to be ascertained, the instrument reader realised that there were % and degree readings on the clino and started reading the correct scale, big oops! They didn’t note when they changed over so the whole lot had to be surveyed again. I had the misfortune of trying to survey from Assembly Hall to Holbeck Junction with a well known Dr Who character. After the first half hour was wasted as he tried to get a compass bearing out of the clino I was less than sure about the accuracy of our work and the whole thing had to be repeated, as in most cases of surveying, enthusiasm needs to be tempered with common sense.
There have been some amazing trips involving great discomfort either of the wet/cold or tight/nasty or loose/dangerous variety. Some of our members have fallen foul of the misinformation trick as was the case on 17/11/2002 when Andy Whitney foolishly accompanied me down Pool Sink thinking that we were just surveying to the bottom of the pitches and not as we did to Holbeck Junction, only 10 hours, stupid boy! (Said in a Captain Mainwaring voice)
Then there was the time that Mark Savage, Ben Shaw and me surveyed through the Wallows from Link to Pip. Now that was really cold, as we were wet from the start, with a howling draught and the instruments kept misting up. We took hours while lying in cold water and got severely hypothermic, we knew this because we actually started laughing uncontrollably, not a good sign.
Or the time Hugh St.Lawrence abseiled out of Sideline Passage with our survey notes stuck down his front only to find that the last few hours notes had rubbed off on his furry suit, oh dear!
Some of the nether
regions of Ease Gill have involved serious trips and then surveying so a lot of
credit has to be given to those who surveyed pieces like Montagu
With the building of the Shetland Attack Pony and then the Mendip Karate Otter by Phil Underwood, both electronic compass/clino combinations, and the loan of a laser distance measurer form the CNCC, the rate of surveying took a leap forward. Unfortunately, this wunderkind is now broken so it’s back to compass and clino for us surveyors.
We’ve surveyed all but one passage on the Casterton side of the gill and an awful lot of the Leck side, minus the Grind, so things are still looking quite good. Roll on the next twenty years.