Taking the Strain

Luke, Mark R, Mark W, Tom

Luke battled us to Derbyshire, first through traffic, then rain, then snow. We arrived in a white Rowter field to find the two Marks huddled in the warmth of the car. Tonight was going to be one of those nights, getting changed in the dark with snow falling around us. Little time was wasted in getting down to the depths of Rowter, so much more pleasant down there than the surface.

There was a few jobs to do tonight, a new diagonal tension line, a new vertical tension line, some board hammering, and some actual digging. Mark W and Luke went to set up the new diagonal tension line while I lowered boards down to Mark R to hammer into place. It seems to get further each time climbing down there, but I eventually descended the several kilometres to help Mark R do some hammer time. After a while I was left on my own to jam a board into a diagonal slot whilst much heaving and pulling occurred to get the new diagonal tension line tight. The top now going much further, ending in a rather nifty y-hang that needed our dig ladder to set up.

The next job was the vertical tension line and my crash course in bolting. After some hammering of the wall to make it so I drilled and fitted the anchor. A bit more wild hammering and apparently it was secure.  I tried to lose some of the gear down our little rift but sadly it was still reachable. We tensioned up our new vertical line and then got to work, myself manning the dig face.  It was quite easy work really with soft loose mud to dig through and hand sized rocks to fill in the gaps in the bucket. After a few loads it was becoming apparent that the floor was becoming more and more solid, to the point I came across a boulder too big for its own good.  A few more buckets to clear space around it and I was able to roll it into the rock net, with only minor injuries sustained. The rock net was only just big enough so I took the executive decision not to stand under it whilst it was hauled.

It took 3 of us to haul it out and I can tell the two Marks were pleased that I decided not to cap this one. Some time the following winter we got the boulder to the top of the dig and with much comical flailing, onto the diagonal haul line. This took all four of us to get it to the top, but at least our new kitchen now has a coffee table.

All in all many jobs were completed by the time we headed out at 10pm. The surface was thankfully slightly less snowy, there was however quite a lot of cloud so we couldn't really see anything. We parted our ways and Luke somehow got us back to Liverpool despite being limited to just about seeing the end of the bonnet.

Good dig!