Cambridge Underground 1981 pp 23-4


Sometime back in November 1980 John Bowers, who had been on early exploratory trips down Link with the NPC, suggested that rumours of a draughting passage beyond Damnation Aven might be worth investigating. In the hope of finding a route beneath Easegill Beck, John, Andy C, Tony, Ben and his mate Richard, eagerly descended the short distance to the surveyed limit. It soon became apparent why the passage had not been pushed to a definite conclusion.

The end of the survey shows a fairly large aven with a climb up some four metres through boulders to a boulder strewn chamber. Beneath this a tight rift was entered for three metres before interest was lost as it narrowed. At the higher level two routes ended quickly, but a flat-out bedding plane was passed into a phreatic section with boulders lodged over a rift in the floor. Further on a three metre drop landed in a small chamber with an inlet from an impassable bedding, and a narrow rift winding back under the phreatic section apparently towards the previously mentioned aven. Awkward progress was abandoned at a T-junction.

Back on the main route a bedding was found to be uncomfortably low and a slightly larger by-pass was followed to the right, leading to a boulder choked rift. On the left of this the low bedding was followed in limited airspace to an enlargement, increasing quickly to a standing room rift, again choked by a boulder slump. There appeared to be no continuation and the draught had been lost. On the return it was noticed that the draught came from the smaller side of a flake which just cleared a pool of grimy water. Some enthusiastic scrabbling led through an unpleasant wriggle into a small chamber in one side of which a slot appeared to lead into a large chamber or aven, from which a strong draught emanated. Spirits were thus reasonably high on the outward journey.

Subsequent visits, however, failed to breach the narrow slot. The club chemist was called upon to provide some extra persuasion, producing a large bath in the process. This led disappointingly to a chamber 3.6m long by 1.2m wide by 4m high, with hanging boulders in the roof, and no obvious way on, except for a dry phreatic tube leading back over the rift previously entered. As no draught was discernible and entry required passing a boulder of daunting structural significance and size, the passage was not entered on this final surveying trip.

This area seems to be rather close to the beck, consisting as it does of a number of minor inlet streams falling through the broken roof, the rifts being choked with boulder debris and sand. It seems probable that the draught is in some way related to the surface, although the narrow rift at one end of the final chamber, where a small stream enters, might be interesting - if it was large enough.

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