Mark R, Chris, Adam, Shane, Tim Nixon, Geoff Ward
15th March 2014
After a swift drive north I arrived at Badger HQ to find an old police van parked in the drive. A night of wine, gin and discussion about the plan of attack ensued. An early start was had at the Climax cafe for a fry up then off to Rowter in the police van full of new tools, cable, some fence posts, a Daren drum of cement, a sample jar of washing up liquid and some charged up drill batteries.
Arriving at a wind swept Rowter farm we changed in the van. What a difference some protection makes. Mark and I headed cross the field and down the shaft, Adam and Shane were to join us later. Gin shaft disappeared behind us as we made our way to the end of Badger Rift to take a look at what needed to be done.
We spent some time at the end of the rift in a small chamber up a clamber to the left looking at what quickly became Bad Badger Choke. We moved a few boulders around to see how many of the large boulders moved. Surprisingly not many.
Adam and Shane arrived. We installed a couple of scaffolding poles to provide some support for a couple of boulders near the top of the clamber.
Movement was heard along the rift and we discovered that Tim Nixon and Geoff Ward had come for a visit to check out progress. After a quick look around and Tim commenting that it looked a bit too much like a cave, and he didn't like caves, they beat a hasty retreat back to the surface.
We tasked Adam and Shane with bringing some scaffolding and kit down the rift and got them to start mixing some cement to inject into some the cracks and crevices surrounding loose shards of rock in the walls that we continually brush past to get into Bad badger choke. I continued gingerly moving rocks from the choke with the aim of clearing some space to get more scaffolding in to help shore up some large boulders. These were passed Over to Mark who started stacking the rocks off to one side of the small chamber.
The cement mixing was ongoing but we became concerned when Adam asked if there was any more cement. Mark quizzed if it was thick enough to stop it running out from the cracks.
The reply "erm not really" was all we needed.
Mark and I rejoined the mixers in the rift to collect together some more scaffolding kit and decided at this point that we should try and wrap some cables around the wall at the end of the rift. Mark had acquired some cabling after having a dream that it would be a good shoring technique. He started drilling holes and wrapping red electrical tape around the ratty ends of the cables.
I commented that all we needed next was some Bureaucracy and we'll never get anything done. The squeeze up to the choke is now named 'red tape and bureaucracy'. The walls are coincidentally now very well wrapped in cable. Hopefully to be finished off with some cement on the next visit.
We left Adam and Shane to finish another section of cable and continued with our boulder poking, capping and scaffolding. Before not too long we had the first ring of scaffolding in for our next downward digging stint. We'd also cleared a few larger rocks from the end of the choke which allowed us to take a look at where the stream was coming in from above us. We gingerly climbed through the hole we had cleared into the next undercut chamber. The stream from the east was running over a solid floor in here, it fell down over an edge and sank into the boulders. This is good and bad news. We were hoping that the next undercut chamber may give us an easy way back into the rift past the choke but this was not the case. The good news here is that the water from the east sinks. Only 2 or 3 m from the new stream meaning the choke MAY not be as extensive as we might fear. We need to do two things- an accurate survey and a dye test of the water from hypothermia into the choke. If it is hypothermia water it means it runs under the main shaft and we are at the deepest point where water naturally disappears. If it's not hypothermia water, that disappears somewhere under the main shaft and we are looking at a third water source.
We left the dig and photographed on the way out, arriving back at the van after 9 hours underground. Feeling much better about the stability of it all now and happy that we have a way to go. Next time down we need more double scaffold clips and some cement.
Chris & Mark
Bad Badger Choke