Established: 1977

South Bristol Speleological Society



Jane's 'A history of the SBSS Dig', takes us up to March 1999. She ends…"the search for the Burrington Master cave should continue shortly"…

We're going to pick up the story in September 2001, after probably more uhms and aahs about whether we should continue the dig, a new dig coordinator is installed and it's decided that it can't be abandoned without another attempt.

So digging started again with purpose in September 2001, the main protagonists, Chris Whale (me), Trevor Timmins, Ian Mildon and Dave Cundy, who was then a recent acquisition to the club. The team is soon joined by Roger 'Raving' Inglis and there is also an early recorded visit by the Chairman Martin Windmill (never to be seen again)

The dates are a bit hazy, but at his time what we basically have is a dig below 'better than sex', with 'better than sex' still being dug and progressively extended, early enthusiasm sees much spoil dragged up to the second chamber, although he bottom of the monorail remains buried somewhere below.

The end of 2001 sees 'muchos problemo' rearing its ugly head. In the past as far as I remember we have always had the option of sending the stream past the cave and down onto the road. Mr Council finally put pay to this by ploughing up the path and raising the ground level on the down side of the entrance, this time sending the entire stream down the cave. The cave and dig are now more open to flooding and it shows.

Winter 2001 is a wet one; a visit with Phil Walker sees the squeeze with a one-inch air gap. Something had to be done, previously we have known that the stream could be sent down the top sink, this is done and the squeeze drains. Not a pretty sight beyond with a lot of damage right down to the bottom and water standing probably 6-7m deep at the bottom. The has been a lot of scouring leaving a lot of loose material on the surface. The cave looks like it has flooded up to and possibly above the entrance to Spar.

On a later trip, the water has all drained away (a good sign me thinks). The effort goes on, we know we can do nothing about the water, but taking a lesson from previous digs, as long as we can stop the sediment going down we should make progress. One visit sees guest banger Keith Jackson blowing a large hanging boulder below the first drop. This is only partially successful as the explosion splits the corner off and then launches the rest down the bottom of the dig at a rapid rate of knots. A large dent in the scaffolding for good measure. Still the larger boulder, now affectionately known as Kevin, is successfully winched to the top of chamber 3, with his little brother still perched below 'better than sex' awaiting rescue. Dams are constructed further up the cave to form a succession of pools, and although at first we still have problems, we are now at a stage where the cave can flood if it wants, but no extra sediment seems to reach the bottom. In the future we can repeat this by just digging out the sink pool which takes most of the water.

The spring of 2003 saw good activity; although all recognised that we were still digging old ground. I think though if we look back a year, we would not have predicted that we'd have got as far as we had.

The cave as a whole is a little unstable, however, this appears to be mostly on the surface and general clearing and maintenance can keep the place safe and tidy. The main wall below Spar Pot needs a bit of shoring and a little weight removing from the top.

The winch remains a classic and a big up for Ian and the installation of indestructible nylon bearings to the monorail. This has been the key I think making the winching much smoother and easier, I'd almost say pleasant.

Stability above the dig remains an issue. Again some shoring and scaffolding is needed, which could provide storage space for spoil, however, the angles are not right and some major bolting works are needed.

It may not be a serious issue for a while, there is some slumping at the bottom, however, if we accept this is going to happen, it only actually amounts to the first 1-5 buckets on a dig night.

Recently has seen the demise of Raving Rog as a digging force (although he threatens a return, possibly with brother Iglis who sporadically makes an appearance). The past year has seen the emergence of the Danish Bacon and in the past month the combined madness of Bob and Otte onto the team. Maybe more progress has been made in the past two months, than in the previous six, long may it continue. The good news is we now have a good pool of idiots prepared to get sweaty and muddy on a Wednesday night, for the sake of a lovely pint afterwards. Ian, Chris, Bucket Dave, the Danish Bacon and the Man in Pants Trev remain the stalwarts, now joined by Bob and Otte on a regular basis. The days when only two or three turned up, may well be past us. The end of the monorail has been passed and we close in on new ground. When available Better than sex can still continue, although we must ask ourselves if digging up stream is the best idea. New scaffolding and a bit of shoring down the bottom and above will be in order, hopefully early in the autumn. One question remains…. When will Tim Fell return to do the survey???, for that matter, when next will he be seen down a cave??

Better then Sex - May 2003

The Bottom of the Pit May 2003

……To be Continued

Chris Whale
Dig Waller
June 2003


You can't have a dig without diggers, a big up for the team, here are all the names since 1999, even if you only move a bucket, it wouldn't have been moved otherwise.

Ian, Dave, Christian, Trevor, Roger, Malcolm, Bob, Otte, Jason, Robin, Phil W, Sue, Del, Martin Pete, Sam, Tim

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