Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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On the 4th day of Christmas...

Chris A, Luke N, Simon B, Tom H

After a week of decimating the British Turkey population it was decided that a day of caving was required. With it still being Christmas and various family events to still be ticked off it was decided that a reasonably early start was required. The four of us met in a rather busy Rowter field at 10am with Chris ticking of the second of his annual on time requirements. With the other cavers in the field looking far more professional we waited for them to go away before we changed into the peculiar arrangement of clothing. Once we were all dressed in orange oil spill response overalls, casual cotton wear and actual oversuits we headed for the shaft. It was the first time I’ve seen Rowter in the daylight and so I had to rely on the urge to escape wind chill as my only desire to get underground.

I missed the last, somewhat productive dig, and so was eager to the changes which had occurred. I was third down and arrived to find Simon down the dig hammering something whilst Luke was busy producing horrific noises with the pulley. I was pleased to see the new tension line down the dig face which meant buckets no longer got far too involved with jamming under scaffolding poles, an event that was sure to push someone over the edge one day.

I got onto the diagonal haul line as we began some actual digging and Chris turned up to reconstruct the kitchen into a new dumping ground. It seems Chris is wasted in the Nuclear industry and so the pain of hauling with ruined gloves was made more pleasant by watching him constructing some fine dry stone walling. Luke seemed to be struggling with bleeding ears as the pulley liked to remind us all it was rotating, I’ll try to remember some grease for the next time I’m down. With the new vertical pulley now 2:1 and avoiding getting caught the buckets flew up, even with Simon filling them with material that seemed as heavy as Uranium. We ploughed along until the clock struck 12(ish) and it was time for a tea break. The new kitchen seemed to work as well as the old one and I spoiled us all by bringing down luxuries such as fresh milk and actual cups.

With time getting on and Chris and myself needing to leave at 1:30 we got back to digging 20mins later. We changed places and decided it was time for another ring. Health and safety would have loved to see us passing the scaff poles down the dig, in fact they’d probably love many things but I’d say this would have easily been in their top 3. Chris and myself measured, levelled and dug until Chris was in a position to drill the wall. Time was really starting to get on but we managed to get both pins into the wall and lay the scaffolding in vaguely the right place. We even had a chance to look down the mildly disconcerting air pocket which followed the wall.

It was now 1:30 so the two of us had to leave, giving Simon and Luke the lovely task of finishing the ring and enjoying any innuendo that such a task brings. It’s very odd to see light at the top of the pitch and sadly it stops you from kidding yourself that it’s only a small climb. Not long later I was at the car getting changed, so stuck in habit that it took me a while to remember that I could take my helmet off as I didn’t require torch light to get changed with.

I believe Simon and Luke escaped Rowter around 4 with the ring levelled and secured in place. The boards will need to be hammered in during the next dig and so a very early 2014 dig could be on the cards.

Happy Christmas and Merry New year to all Badgers

TomTom xxx