Chris A, Ryan S, Tom H
Ryan and myself arrived to a snowy Rowter farm a little after 7pm. My car was telling me it was below zero and all my senses were fighting the fact that I needed to get changed in a cold windy field. Eventually a compromise was reached and my clean clothes were changed in the warmth of the car. Chris arrived around 7.15 after worse traffic issues than us and by 7.30 we were huddled together at the top of the pitch. Chris rigged the pitch and headed down whilst we cowered in a dip away from the biting wind. Ryan was next down and then I brought up the rear, struggling a little to operate the stop due to total loss of feeling to my fingers. The warmth once just a few feet down the shaft was lovely, ignoring the fact I was here by choice it almost made the whole caving malarkey worth it.
When I arrived at the dig I found Ryan going at a boulder with a hammer and Chris measuring various bits of wood and scaffolding. I got on the haul line which is still a bit of a faff on 10mm rope and a wee pulley. The going was a bit iffy as we swapped between buckets for the small stuff and then the rock net for the big bits. There’s still one pretty big boulder down there that seems to be partly in the wall so that should be fun. Once Chris had finished his measuring her went about constructing a wall around the scree pile near the dig and generally tidying up the place (as well as helping me with haul the particularly heavy loads).
After an hour it was time for a tea break, with a Rowter dig first of 3 cups for 3 people. There were still mini mince pies in the drum from the last dig which were happily devowered along with a nice cup of Yorkshire, Chris even had time to throw his helmet down the slope. Once tea was over it was time to go back to work, with me taking a turn down the dig. We were now about 3 foot below the last ring and some board hammering was needed. I dug for a little while and even found a new air pocket before Chris came down to help (along with a crowbar) hammer the boards down. It was a bit of a pain to keep the boards straight and not bowing but we managed to get them down a fair bit to stop all our hard work being filled in.
Time was soon getting on as the clock ticked past 10, and with my first experience of the whacking wood hitting me in the face it was time to head out. Ryan packed up while Chris hammered the last board down and then it was time for our escape.
I headed out first and enjoyed all but the last foot of the pitch as the temperature plummeted once again. A mincey jog back to the car later and I was once again half naked in a snowy field, climbing back into genuine clothes. Chris and Ryan weren’t far behind, with us all changed a little after 11. The pub was skipped so that we could get home before 1am (we’d probably missed last orders anyway).
Another good dig with a fair amount hauled out, many measurements taken, and much tidying and hammering!