Church Pot - Kevin Francis

Thursday, 18 February, 2016

3 trips underground in 3 days for me! A trip to carry out some jobs in the system instead of one of our regular digs.

Vicky and I met Chris and we went to look at the collapse at the entrance of Goyden Pot. A few large slabs had peeled off, but I was more impressed by the flood debris around the entrance, stating that it looked like a birds nest - "A bloody big bird" Chris retorted! Next we wandered up to Church Pot, a dryish way into the system. Some piping had been washed in and Chris had removed some but the remaining was very high up by an inlet that would need a decent climber to retrieve it. Leaving that for another day we went down to the Gargett Way (a connection to Goyden 2) and removed the conveyor belt matting that had be used during digging. This was hard work as it was thick, long and unweildy. It took a lot of effort to haul it out and desposit it in a nearby side passage for removal from the system at a later date. Also removed - one smelly dead bird. At this point Nick arrived and he and Chris continued down the connection to see if it was clear or sumped. The verdict was it had become blocked by shingle and would need clearing from the other side. This was one of Mine and Vicky's first projects with the diggers to it's a shame to need to go and do it again! We brought out another shorter square or matting and a large sheet of wood on the way out. Nick decided to check out a tight side passage and disappeared for a while, whilst I spotted Vicky as she ascended (and a bit too rapidly descended) an inlet above the connection.

Next we were off to Goyden to look for other rock fall. The climb down the chain into the main streamway was fun, with foam everywhere on the rocks - a scary thought. The water was running fast at around the level at the top of one's welly. It was brilliant streamway caving to march to the main chamber - I hadn't been in a wide fast flowing stream like this for some time - fantastic fun. We clambered around the boulder whilst Nick and Chris noted what had moved. When they were pointing at boulders the size of vans it reminded me again the power the flooding has. There were some other areas of roof collapse, but also some areas has started draining water differently. Vicky and Chris explored one route looking at the new holes (and getting wet in the process) whilst Nick and I climbed to the top off the chamber and found a foul smell - a very bloated sheep. We retreated and exited by the Goyden entrance - taking care of the collapse.

Now quite wet and getting chilly we heading back into the system viaa Lesser Stream Pot. Nick ran in first, I missed where he went and Chris gave me direction. A lost Nick then appeared and joined the back of the group. The aim here was to remove any blockages in the Eternal Optimist passage which leads to the Main Stream Passage in Goyden. Working in a chain we hauled numerous small and large boulders up and along the passage. the pièce de résistance was a chunk of tree trunk, which Vicky initially thought was an unmoveable large boulder. No idea how they got it out, but the log made it's way up to Nick who had been building a small wall with our blocks. Once Chris was happy we headed out and had another cold change and dash to the pub where the open fire was enjoyed and Vicky had a Renaissance moment with the locals.