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Last updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004 12:51

Trip to Stevens Dig

By Martin Beale

Cave date: 11 February 2004 | Cave Photos | Interactive Map of Daren
Cavers: Martin Beale, Royston Sellman

We seem to be getting the hang of the Aggy entrance series and the First Choke. Southern Stream Passage takes as long as ever (1h05m). I find it difficult to understand how we are going to get this time down: maybe familiarity will help. Priory Road seems easy by comparison, we hurtled through to Severn Beach in 35m from the junction with SS passage.

Our goal was to have a look at the new dig from Severn Beach. As soon as we got to Severn Beach, it was apparent that there had been some progress as there was a fresh pile of blasted rocks, a bang line and flecks of beard: surefire indications that John Stevens and Arthur Millet have been in town. Royston led on (as he had throughout the trip). I waited in Severn Beach as Royston squirmed down a freshly banged hole and along the ensuing small passage. I kept asking for progress reports, but heard nothing until Royston shouted that he was in a widening where we could both fit. I squirmed down after him.

It was pretty obvious from the look on Royston's face that he didn't really want to go further. There was a further small drop that led onwards. I eased myself down (like a Warmbac worm according to Royston) and buried my head in the sand. I was in a low passage with a dry sandy floor and a beautiful solid arching roof: this looked really promising. I followed the fresh marks in the sand until after about 5m, the marks ran out and I could see ahead of me unexplored cave: a beautiful arching roof with an untouched sandy floor and about 8 inches of airspace. It was heading west of south and was surely on a trajectory to intersect the Updweeb fault. Better still, the passage appeared to be curving gently leftwards (towards Dweebland!). This has to be the way on. I could not believe that John and Arthur hadn't dug this: they must be itching to get back in there!

It was quite difficult to engage reverse gear as I couldn't turn round. I squirmed back to the drop into the arched passage. Reverse progress was difficult here and I was very glad to have Royston pulling my leg to help ease me out. I took some photos of that alluring passage and did a draught test with the Testo. Unfortunately, there was no draught (but then again, we couldn't feel a draught anywhere in Aggy - not even the entrance series: it had been high pressure for days) We crawled back out to Severn Beach, attempting to measure the distance on the way out (I think we worked out that it was three Roystons long!).

We sat in Severn Beach for a drink and a bite to eat. I couldn't get that sandy floored arching passage out of my head. I was quite prepared to spend the whole night there digging, but we really should get permission from John before we engage forward gear.

I have seen a few digs in my short caving career and they have all looked hopeless, but this dig looks like it is definitely going somewhere. To call it a "prospect" would be to understate its potential. It looks like easy excavation of sand as far as the eye (and headdark) can see. There seemed to be the prospect of a little side passage on the left: this may or may not be so and was completely sand filled anyway. The direction, size and nature of the arching passage draw you to want to explore it rather than anything to the side. It may very well intersect the Updweeb fault (in which case the issue will be to try and battle up the fault into Updweeb or find some side passage further on into The Archies). The only concern I had about this new passage is that it isn't reminiscent of Updweeb - there is no dry sand in Updweeb and the walls and roofs thereabouts are more jagged than the arching roof of the new passage. I feel that Severn Beach is more like Spaderunner than Updweeb (the water washed walls between Severn Beach Glevum Hall are most evocative of the Spaderunner area). Only time, familiarity with both ends of the cave and smokebombs will tell!

I hope that this dig progresses and a definite point is reached before our next trip to Dweebland. On our next trip to the end of OyDC, I feel we need to:

Martin Beale, Bristol, 27 February 2004

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