During 2016 Intake Dale Mine was rigged, made safe(r), explored and surveyed. It is a fascinating old mine which follows an irregular vein to a depth of 55m via 3 pitches and some narrow rift climbs. Here the rifts turn natural and roughly 100m of high rifts and large natural cavities lead off to the East and North, seemingly untouched by T’owd man at all.
Sam led a number of bolt climbing trips near the bottom, including a roof traverse along the main rift and a climb up at the back of a large cross rift. Unfortunately none of these efforts revealed much passage.
Meanwhile Rob and Luke started work on the upstream boulder choke. This vertical choke feature can be reached at four places in the system and all of them draught strongly at times, suggesting the existence of a continuation to the west heading up the dale. Plus the draught direction agrees it’s coming from a higher entrance. The lowest point was chosen as this was closest to the natural passages, and after four trips enough scaffold had been chucked in to yield a breakthrough into a new cross rift. This was on the evening of the referendum hence the name Brexit Rift, particularly apt with the team members voting different ways. This rift unfortunately was not the source of the draught and met a solid end after only 10m, so it seems a route further into the choke will need to be engineered.
Two years on, I returned with Sam and Luke this Thursday for a pre-pub refresher to take advantage of the cold evenings to check the draught (but mostly because I wanted my crowbar back). This was a good excuse for Sam to quite literally dust the cobwebs off after nearly a year of avoiding caving.
The entrance pitches were dry and strongly draughting inwards, and soon we were down at the choke again. I’d forgotten my disco smoke so Luke valiantly lent the team his vape thingy, this week fragrantly instilled with BlackJack flavour to reinforce his sexuality. The air cleared but the draught was not strong and if anything it was being driven more by our body heat than the cave. We surveyed through to Brexit Rift and familiarised ourselves with the options and challenges, whilst Sam became increasingly unhappy with all the hanging death (even though there’s loads more scaffold than when we originally went through!).
Remembering my trusty crowbar we headed out, although it wasn’t long before a stronger draught was met and we spread out to try to follow it. The best route (my one) led through a tight rift into the second highest boulder choked passage and the draught was very strong, although making progress here would be a brave undertaking.
Back on the pitches up Sam strengthened his rusty status by putting his foot jammer on the wrong side of the wrong foot, but made up for it by openly admitting to it allowing us to berate as necessary.