Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Bent over pumping furiously

- Everything suddenly got very wet

Bob T, Mark R, Mark W, TomTom
14/08/14

I arrived at Rowter farm just in time to witness the heavens opening at around half 6. Mark R soon joined me and so we both hid in his car from the horrid rain, watching a group of campers battling with some tents. Just after 7 Mark W and Bob turned up and so it was time to get cold and wet. We desperately tried to hide under boot lids as we changed, covering my car in mud as I was slowly moistened. Tonight's plan was a bit of a all rounder, we planned to bolt 2 cast aluminium pumps to the walls and to build a dam for the pumped water. We would then give the whole thing a little trial before we acquire some fresher's to do the pumping!

We hurried into Rowter to escape the rain, experiencing the odd feeling of getting rained on 60m down as the water fell straight down the shaft. I was looking forward to seeing how much the water levels had risen at the pool under the Ice Cream Trail since our stream diversion had been in place for 2 weeks now. There had been worries that the pipes may have failed in our absence but we were soon to find out. We took great care getting the delicate pumps through the squeezes and when we finally arrived at decisions decisions we were in for a bit of a surprise. The dam and pipework had held but the pool under the Ice Cream Trail hadn't risen even a centimetre, this was because it had found a way to escape. On the last trip we had witnessed the water seeping into a small hole at the side of the pool, this hole was now a little larger and ran underground until it reappeared 15m or so back towards the sump where a stream now ran along the wall. Not ideal but fixable!

Despite the torrential rain at the surface Rowter and its waterfalls were pretty dry which was nice, it meant Mark R was able to fit the first hand pump by the sump in relative dryness. I provided some assistance and pipe cutting whilst Mark W and Bob got to work sealing the pool with plastic sheeting and sandbags. Fitting the pump to the wall was a little difficult as the holes had to be drilled precisely, which when hammer drilling through solid rock can be interesting.  After a while Mark R had the pump set up and so we attached some pipes and gave it a whirl. I watched the unusual sight of Mark bent over pumping whilst waiting for something to come pouring out the other end. Mark announced that the pumping was getting harder and then soon after liquid came pouring out the other end. The pump seemed to be shifting a fair amount of water but it was only lifting it about half the distance at the moment.

Next it was time to fit the second pump, this pump was mounted in decisions decisions and would do most of the horizontal lifting towards the pool. As we started mounting it to the wall things started to get louder, we assumed that the other two had blocked the pipe whilst building their dam as water started to flood the top dam and come cascading down the pitch. It turns out they hadn't blocked the pipe and it was in fact the wet weather outside finally catching up with us. At least we now know it takes approximately 2-3hrs for wet weather to reach decisions decisions. It was also a good job we had bolted the pumps in this order as the one at the sump was now getting a soaking.

Once we had the second pump in place we used the excess plastic sheeting to create a pool in between the pumps, the setup we were going for was to use one pump to lift from the sump to this man made pool, and then use the second pump to shift the water to the pool under the Ice Cream Trail. This meant the pumps could be used independently , and eased some of the load put on the first pump.

The new dam at pool under the Ice Cream Trail was taking shape now, and after the water level not rising in the two weeks we were away it had now risen in the last few hours due to the plugging of an escape hole. The dam is set up so we don't have to get wet feet  to get into the Ice Cream Trail, but I'm not sure how long this'll be viable once we start pumping the sump properly. We gave the whole setup a whirl and after overcoming some head issue and splattering to the face the furiously pumping was working. We were able to fill the mid pool with water whilst the second pump shifted it under the Ice Cream Trail. Great success but a fair amount of effort so if we do this for any length of time we're going to need a few of us and shifts!

We'd achieved our aims for the night and so we headed out, I didn't even have an empty tackle sack to carry out, nothing at all, and so I made for the pitch and scampered away before Mark R found a rock or something that needed taking out.

Good trip where we achieved quite a lot due to having two teams of two, it meant the whole pumping setup from sump to pool was completed in a matter of hours. A bit of tidying and finishing off of the setup is probably needed but we seem to be more or less there. There are plans for some Badgers to bolt climb again soon so the pumping will have to wait for now, hopefully until an end of summer drought!

TomTom
xxx