Adam Walmsley, Mark S, Tom Tom, Mark R
A leisurely morning was in order after the previous day's escapades, and it wasn't until half 10 that we met at the car park for Eldon Hole. At least, it should have been half 10, but having sung the praises of how convenient it was to keep all his caving gear in his van to avoid forgetting it, Mark realised half way there that he'd left his SRT kit in his garage.
So perhaps it wasn't until closer to 11 that we were at the car park. After waking up Walmslers and a round of cake, we carted some kit over to the entrance and set up a tensioned line between the East & West routes. Why? We thought it would look good as we headed down, and we were right.
I was fairly impressed with the scale of the shaft at the bottom, and Tom dropped straight to the bottom to set to work on some digging, while Walmslers & I hauled buckets and Mark tried to blind us, fairly successfully, with some flash guns. Reports of a good draft from the bottom were promising, and a mixture of Frank Sinatra, Green Day and Franz Ferdinand accompanied our hauling. After plenty more buckets, Tom escaped for a comfort break and I went down to enjoy a session digging through the sticky wet mud & grit that constituted the current bottom layer of the shaft. It makes for pretty slow & tedious digging, but some exploratory pokes with the crowbar suggested this layer shouldn't last too long.
Thankfully, after I'd filled not very many buckets, tea was ready so it was time for a pause. The problem we were having was that hauling buckets up the 6 m dig shaft somehow wasn't hitting the spot. We needed something bigger and better to make our day feel complete. How about hauling much heavier loads up something much bigger? That sounded good. Handily, we'd brought down a large number of big tackle sacks & bags with us, so we set to work filling them with any bits and pieces we could find around the chamber. This gives the wrong impression that some degree of searching was required to find such things. It wasn't.
After filling the bags, creating a heap of extra stuff that wouldn't fit in the bags, and dragging it all to the top of the slope, we had the enjoyable task of getting it up through the grotty crawl to the base of the entrance shaft. The crawl is now probably a fair bit wider than it was when we started due to the dimensions of some of the things were dragging out.
We were soon stood at the base of the main shaft amongst an alarmingly large pile including about 12 metal fence-post-type-things, some old rope, the remains of some electron ladders, 2 big squashed steel barrels, 10 or so rotting planks, a load of metal wire, a large spade, 2 large sheets of corrugated iron, a metre long section of a large girder, 12 buckets (don't worry - there are still 4 down there for digging!), some sheet metal, a sledge hammer, a bag of "stuff" which should probably never be unpacked, plus a some general rubbish like gas cannisters, coke cans, tins etc.
Obviously we needed 3 people at the top for hauling, and one at the bottom for clipping on loads. Intriguingly the unanimously preferred option was hauling. Perhaps this was to do with the smell of the bird carcass at the bottom of the shaft, or the desire to be outside in the sunshine (or not), or most likely it was due to the prospect of being stood near to the potential firing line of all manner of heavy items that would somehow have to be attached "securely" to the haul line. I put forward the fewest objections, and therefore had the pleasure of preparing loads while the other three hauled over a pulley on the handily rigged tensioned line.
Over the next hour or two, load after load was hauled up the shaft, generally in 20-30 kg batches, probably with about 10-15 loads in total. Thankfully nothing came detached on its way up, and come 5 o'clock we were stood at the top amongst the huge heap of rubbish. Each of us carried 30 kg or so of it back to the cars, so there's plenty left at the entrance for whoever's there next to take away.
It was certainly hard work, but equally extremely satisfying to leave the chamber and bottom of the shaft in infinitely better condition than they were when we'd arrived. A great day to top off a great weekend.