Mark Richardson, Robbie Shone, Chris Haigh
Monday 27th December 2010
Having driven up from Rutland I arrived at Robbie's house to find Mark and Robbie sat expectantly in their furry suits. I had some tea and a warm croissant with a dollop of strawberry jam thrust into my hands. The weather had turned from snow to a miserable drizzle and the thaw was starting as we set out to Rowter.
After an interesting drive involving clipped wing mirrors, uphill pushing on a snowy road and a skiddy U'y we hurriedly changed at Rowter farm. A few minutes later we were across the fields and beginning our descent into the relative warmth of the underground world. It's been a few months since i've been into the dig and a great deal has changed. The addition of several re-belays made the descent slower but I knew would be good thing for the return journey out, especially after one too many mince pies over the festive period. Once at the bottom I was amazed at the work that had gone into the dam and the pipework to drain the water in any which way you choose. Descending the ladders I had a quick gander at the 'coal face' to see what progress had been made - mainly downward and there was quite a bit more water than my previous visit.
We got a brew on and while the water boiled we set about making dig life that little more comfortable. Within minutes a bench seat had been cobbled together and made the perfect perch to sup tea on. Mark made some tea and announced a selection of appetising treats to sate our greed. Mince pies, chocolate coins and the pièce de résistance - Ferrero Rocher. Robbie and I tucked into our mince pies while Mark dug around to see what else he had tucked away. Seconds later he was scoffing Bourbons.
Mark started the digging proceedings and was quick to fill the buckets. I took my place standing on the spoil heap next to the Maccaferri mesh hauling Marks buckets while Robbie smoothed out the floor to the new dumping area - I think he was practicing his welly dance here.
The new dumping area is a muddy rubble filled sump which should be large enough to contain a great deal of dug out spoil. This was agreed pretty sharpish as we would likely start running out of areas to dump material. After the first 10 or so buckets I had to concede defeat and ask Mark to fill them less. My arms couldn't take the pace. Hauling continued with Robbie collecting buckets from me and dumping them and Mark filling them faster than I could haul. After 30+ buckets we had a swap round. I swapped with Mark in the dig and was faced with a small lake of water.
Having spent some time picking into the rubble to loosen it off I found that shovelling in water was more useless than a roofrack on a helicopter. A nice full shovel of water instantly washed off anything solid that had been picked up so I resorted to scooping with a pan, draining the water and then filling the hauling bucket. A slow progress was made with 1 to 1.5 buckets every 10 minutes. Frustrating for me and even more so for Mark who is used to a more ferocious speed.
We had another brew and made use of the new benches before setting off on the prusik out. Once changed we headed back to Robbies and prepared for dinner at the Red Lion. A nice meal with plenty of beer to wash it down.