Mark R, Tim Allen
Boxhead Pot Digging
After a terrible week in the office I posted on Facebook that I was in need of a day underground at the weekend. Now Tim Allen doesn't actually have a Facebook profile so it must have been by pure coincidence that we ended up making plans for me to head up on Saturday to help him blow something up- caving AND explosives! The perfect office remedy.
Saturday came and went and we were thwarted by the apocalyptic snowfall but by Sunday the roads were clear again and I headed up to meet in Inglesport at 11:00. We sat and had breakfast and a cup of tea and chatted about caving things for a while before heading back to Tims for more tea and more caving chat. Eventually we ran out of bladder space for all the tea an decided it was time to go caving. We headed up the hill to a very deserted Leck Fell and got changed in the life threatening conditions, I kept thinking about what Tim had said the other day about how long you would last before perishing in the cold if you were stripped to your pants and somehow managed to lock your keys in the car.... Not long!
Tim very kindly gave me the lighter bag, not actually out of kindness but I suspect it more had something to do with him not trusting me to carry his expensive new drill and wanting me to carry the explosives! We got to the bottom of Boxhead Pot with very little finger dexterity left after the windy, meltwater drenched abseil. Oh well, you don't need any fine motor skills for handling explosives do you?!
It was a pretty quick job setting the liquorice laces into 300ish mm shot holes, expertly placed by Tim and we retreated to a safe distance up the next pitch. I was kindly allowed the honour of setting the bang off, just as I was about to touch the wires to the terminals I turned to ask Tim how loud it would be. "Oh just a sort of quiet whooof" he replied. Needless to say the resulting blast almost knocked me off my perch. As my eardrums were still singing from the shock wave I turned to see Tim chuckling away with his fingers in his ears!
we went for a quick tour of some tight muddy tubes whilst the smoke cleared, there was even some crawling nearly flat out in water which was nice as at that point I was just in need of cooling off but I did get a good tour of some bits of the cave I had never seen before.
About half an hour later we returned to survey the damage. The bang had certainly done the job and we had lowered the trench in the floor to the Point we had hoped. This was to allow the silted up passage upstream to wash itself clean over the coming weeks and months. We played around for a while chiselling more rock out of the floor and making mud dams until we had done all we could and left the stream to carry on digging the cave for us.
Out, rapid change, pub, takeaway curry, more caving chat, another cup of tea, long drive home.....
All in all a great day and an very interesting experience, can't wait for the next one :)