28/3/19 – The 5th Avenue, Nettle
It has taken us 4 trips to survey most of the lower sections of Nettle. This work has revealed a surprisingly complex phreatic structure downstream of Easy Pickings with at least three different offshoots stretching through and over the top of Hell. All of these seemingly end at Fourways Chamber, although two of them lost in boulders in the floor. The main obvious way on from Fourway is also phreatic, however it gets increasingly small and looks to be an inlet. Another way on from Fourways is in the roof on the main rift, but that also ends in up too tight, high up in the rift. There seems to be a way on missing, maybe in the boulders in the floor?
Mulling this over with Luke over a Wizard in the Anchor he mentioned about the obvious hole in boulders heading off in about the right direction. I hadn’t spotted this during the survey trip but it seemed promising. I finally returned in March with French Jeff and sure enough an obvious hole was cutting under the Northern wall, and with a good draught coming out; The 5th Avenue! We both moved out boulders and got down into a small space with more loose rocks than solid ones. Lifting boulders out was really awkward as the entrance hole was exactly body sized, but we didn’t feel comfortable making it bigger as everything was so loose. After a couple hours digging we could see down through gaps where the draught was coming up from, but to move anything else from the floor would mean supporting the walls and roof properly. According to the survey we are roughly 4-5m above the top of the aven me and Brendan bolt climbed back in January, and slightly further North. This, mixed with the fact the draught is almost certainly a circular draught driven by water (due to the entrance of the cave not having any noticeable draught), makes it most likely that this dig is just going to connect to that aven or the one next to it. I’d love to carry it on for a few more trips, but the amount of work required to stabilise it properly unfortunately doesn’t feel worth the effort.
Jeff went for a wonder up the phreatic inlet armed with a hammer, whilst I killed some time (and thankfully not myself) pulling rocks out of the rift in the roof. My way lead through to a little chamber on the rift but with no obvious way on. Meanwhile Jeff’s “10 minutes” was now more like 50 so I went to see what he was up to. He’d supposedly spent 5 minutes loosening a boulder which blocked the way and got it almost out of the crawl. He then spent forever getting it the last 50cm in what I can only describe as the worst digging I’ve ever seen. No matter how he pushed or pulled this rock it simply wouldn’t come free. In the end he had to hammer half the wall off to get it out! Needless to say the lead didn't go anywhere, but it was beautiful to watch!
We then started to head out, having made the difficult and sad decision to derig. This not only called our adventures down there to and end, it also more importantly ensured there was no way we’d make the pub. Sad times…