A last minute phone conversation with Jim resulted in a day trip to Derbyshire with the aim of digging the boulder choke in Dooms Retreat. Jim has been putting in a lot of work since my last visit so the trip would be partly work and partly orientation for me.
Turning up at the Chapel* in Castleton for a cup of tea before the trip we also met John, Bonnie and Rick who were to join us for part of the trip before getting on with their own thing (thanks to John for the carry to Buxton Water). After taking different routes through the cave Jim and I both arrived at Ink sump and soon made our way through to Dooms retreat. On surfacing we found that the week of dry weather had caused the waterfall down the aven to dry up. After Jim had given me a tour of the new facilities on the platform we both went up the ladder to the dig. More work has been done here as well, with scaffold shoring being put in place to create stacking space for the spoil from the dig. Jim showed me the routine for moving spoil and where to put it and we started work.
The plan was for Jim to drill and Hilti cap some boulders and haul some others out with a Turfer winch after placing rock anchors in them. On a previous trip the drill, powered by new batteries, had worked well but not so this time. We had to try every battery from the reserve boxes until we found one that had some life in it. This limited the work done but we still managed to cap several boulders and place two rock anchors and winch one boulder before time forced us to leave.
Visiting the dig in such dry conditions was interesting. Firstly it gave me an opportunity to hear the stream that runs through the boulder choke which is normally drowned out by the noise of the stream that feeds the waterfall down the aven. Secondly it has left me with a false impression of how civilised the dig is because the knee deep puddle that is normally present were I was moving spoil was missing.
* Please remember that this is a caving hut with all that this entails…