Report by Jon Pemberton
Cavers: Jon Pemberton (EPC), Sam 'Dervish' Pemberton (EPC), Pippa 'Pippy' Furlong (EPC).
Went for a real quick look to inspect the timbered shaft in nickergrove, dropped the main internal shaft only to land sitting in the old cart from the 1984 dig. Pretty good bit of kit with use of a shock absorber for the self tipping mechanism (one of Tom Proctor’s creations.) Anyway we followed the railway to the clay chamber, unsure of its location I sped off the continuation level to a crawl which led to loads of stacked deads where ahead lowers until its too tight.
I met Sam & Pippa back at the clay chamber where Sam noted the spits on the wall. “Ahhhhh!” We were standing on it. We quickly removed two metal sheets a few large sleepers and a few rotten timbers to find the 6m Shaft. It has been said that this shaft is totally funked, but it’s not totally! It drops a few metres until it through timber and hits an oil drum shaft lined with three fairly solid drums. From here the way on is back underneath (towards the left wall as you enter clay chamber.) The way was through a metre square frame to a short timbered level, this leads to a solid level to a large stretch of streamway that’s sumped in both directions. Upstream is the downstream continuation of streaks east sump. Only a few metres separate the two but it has not been dived as its fairly constricted and is thick with black mud.
Downstream water is next seen in the Merlin streamway. It was pushed by Beck in the 1990 drought through a squeeze to a chamber and a continued duck to an air bell where it sumped. He said it was a very scary push, He could feel the airspace beyond and dived through into a large cross rift where the passage beyond sumped. Once it had been surveyed he got back down and started feeling for this air bell at the base of the rift but did not have a clue where it was. He eventually got out if you didn’t know but you could imagine the panic set in!
I climbed down the timber and stood on the oil drums. They seemed ok but the timbered level at the bottom may well have collapsed. If it is buggered it was noted that to gain access back to the streamway started a new shaft following down the left hand wall in the clay chamber thus deleting any need for a shored level. Although it would be a pretty difficult job as the amount of clay in there is unbelievable.
A quick climb back up the shaft and exited via the Didsbury shaft, Job done.
Oh and Pippa decked it coming out and nearly died! Haha, She said she was really having to hold back the tears, Sam just laughed, “We wouldn’t have helped you, probably just laughed.”