Nidd Heads report not yet on site
Previous exploration: NL 29:19
Aim: to relay lines in sumps 1 and 2 of the Flood Rising of the N.W. Rising.
J.T.G. dived the first sump and put a new line in place. R.J.S. followed through and tackled the second sump. 107 m. of thick line was laid into the sump ending at a depth of -3 m in a comfortable passage. The air bell must be within a few metres of this point. On the way out a great mound of old line, which had broken and become tangled, was successfully removed.
Continuing on from his limit of 5th November R.J.S. laid a further 15 m of line to reach the air bell discovered by O.W. Statham on 1.7.73. Allowing for the length of line at the start of the sump, Sump 2 is 119 m long with a maximum depth of 3.7 m. The continuation from the air bell was entered and O.W.S's. "two foot slot down to a lower level" was reached. This was descended to the lower level, which was found to be a low boulder-strewn bedding. After 6 m of awkward progress amongst large fallen boulders the diver decided to return to the air bell. Compass bearings and observations of the flow direction at the air bell indicate that this is not the way on. The correct way must be somewhere in Sump 2.
The bulk of the flow in this cave emerges from between fallen blocks near the entrance and R.J.S. had a look at this to see if an alternative way could be found. A squeeze between two of the blocks leads to a descent to a shingle floored bedding leading on with a strong current emerging. This quickly becamo too low. An alternative way down over the top of a fallen block leads to another squeeze into what is almost certainly the same bedding. This confirms the findings of Waddon and Davies (1961, C.D.G. Review 1962, p. 22).
Whilst R.J.S. was amusing himself in the above sumps, J.T.G. looked at this small rising in the left hand branch of the cave. He confirmed that the water rises from a low bedding plane which is undiveable.
Plan opposite page 19.
Aim: to confirm previous finds and compare with the N.W. Rising. Same reference. Survey in Diving Review of 1961.
Both main stream sumps were dived and the previous finds were confirmed. The second sump can be followed for about 10 m to a point where two precariously balanced blocks, which have fallen from the roof, make further progress hazardous.
The short sump through into Backwater Chamber was also dived. As noted by Davies, water only flows here during flood. It is probable however that Backwater Chamber represents the original rising for the water. This would explain the comparatively small dimensions of the mainstream passage. A dig in the choke in the floor of this chamber would possibly give access to a bedding plane from which the water originally rose.
In 1 m visibility laid line on from the point reached on 11.5.81 (NL 60:20). Following the left hand wall, the diver made about 23 m of painful progress blundering around in what appeared to be an area of confusing cross joints. Unsure of the general direction in which he was travelling the diver tied off and returned. Passage continuing but small at the end.
Searched the left hand wall, going in, between the air bell and the junction at 122 m for possible alternative ways on. Nothing found; this wall is solid. The main line passes very close to the air bell, as J.T.G. saw G.W.C. sail past, as he was sitting in the air bell. As the visibility was better than on Wednesday, 2 to 3 m, J.T.G. then decided to have a look at where he had got to on Wednesday. First he searched the passage between the 122 m junction and the 152 m mark. Apart from a cross joint leading off on the right, probably connecting with the area of cross joints explored on 21.12.80, there were no other ways off. 8 m along the line laid on Wednesday the error of his ways became apparent, as the line disappeared off up a comparatively minor joint heading west. To the right, north, at this point was a black space and shingle slope leading downwards. This is probably the way on.
The black space seen on 2.8.81 proved somewhat illusory and the diver soon found himself squeezing up into a joint heading north. Nine metres and one dog leg later he broke into a much larger passage also heading north. Following the right hand wall, the passage appeared to divide, the right hand branch taking the form of a boulder strewn rift. 30 m from base his line ran out. Depth still only about 2 m. Total distance from start of sump about 190 m.
Left the 190 m mark generally following the right hand wall. After only about 15 m of progress in a northerly direction the diver was forced first west and then seemingly south. At 220 m not at all sure he was heading in the right direction the diver reeled back in. A fruitless search was made of the area where the passage turned west and the diver exited with no clear idea of where the way on might be.
Starting from the 190 m mark (NL 61:12) followed the left hand wall and ended up at exactly the same place, as had been reached on 16.9.81. Another fruitless search, including a look at some holes in the floor, ensued before the diver got fed up and started reeling in. Alighting on a shingle slope some 15 m back from the end, he noticed silt being whisked away by a strong current. Following the slope downwards he popped through a 'dog's front door' at -3 m into a large passage. This descended steeply before levelling out. 250 m into the sump at -17 m, his line ran out. This last section of passage was far less affected by breakdown, as one might expect, as one moves away from the top of the limestone.
Managed to prize R.J.S. away from a wedding to give his verdict on the latest developments at Nidd Heads. He led in surveying from the 122 m. mark to the point reached on 18.10.81 (plan opposite page 19). He confirmed the depth as -17 m and also the impressive nature of the passage; it being about 5 m high and of indeterminate width. J.T.G. then continued on following the right hand wall over a gently undulating shingle floor. After 35 to 40 m he ran into an alcove and reeled back into the main passage. Here a combination of the cold, a jamming line reel and overweighting dictated a return, so the line was attached to a weight. Limit of exploration 280 m at -15m.
R.J.S. also released a quantity of dye at the start of the tube some 60 m into the sump. Not surprisingly this reappeared at the entrance to the rising after about 2 hours. No trace was seen at the S.E. Rising even after 5 hours. This suggests that the junction between the two risings is somewhat further into Sump 2 than was suspected. As there are no passages off to the right between the start of the tube and the 122 m belay, this may mean that the waters part past the 'dog's front door'. A further test should confirm this.
Little achieved. At end of line passage is 5 to 6 m wide. No extra line laid because of a faulty valve. On the way back had a touch of what I can only assume to be the narks, losing all concept of the passage around me. Probably due to apprehension, cold and alcohol the previous evening. Felt much better in the higher levels.
At 280m R.J.S. took the line over to the left side of the passage and started laying line from there. At this stage the passage was from 6 to 9m wide, 1.5m high on the left and 4.5m on the right. Past this, the passage soon took on the form of a wide bedding, and 60m of line was laid out along this, being finally belayed at the foot of a little drop at -7m.
The lines had broken at several points in the heavy floods and this was complicated by further breaks during the process of repair. The last dive through saw the line continuous to 340m with all loose line removed.
J.T.G. started at 340m and laid out 60m of line. The passage dipped down
to -15m before rising to -6m at the end. The left hand wall was followed
throughout, the passage dimensions being huge. Following on, T.G.Y. went to
the end of the line, while G.W.C. turned back at 245m.
1st May, 1982
Divers: R.J.Shackleton and J.T.Griffiths
From the 400m mark R.J.S. laid 75m of line, following he left wall. The passage again dipped down to -15m before coming up again slightly. J.T.G. experimenting with a dry suit, went to the end of the line and back.
A gala day at Nidd Heads, but very little achieved, because of atrocious visibility (less than 1m). It had rained heavily the previous day and, although water levels had not risen, a lot of muck must have been washed down. R.J.S. released some dye at the 240m mark. This reappeared at the N.W.Rising, together with the poor visibility, 2½ to 3½ hours later, ceasing flowing after 5 hours. No dye or muck had appeared at the S.E. Rising after 5 hours.
Training dive for Mark through Sump 1. J.T.G. armed with dry suit and twin 2548 l bottles laid another 88m of line at an average -13m depth. This should have brought the line length up to 563m, but, to be conservative, we have estimated the length to the end as 550m. The passage still continues in a northerly direction. A lonely frog was met at 240m and -15m.
R.J.S. removed the jump lines at 122m and 152m.
J.T.G. went in on Saturday to check the lines. Returning on Sunday with G.W.C. he went to the 550m mark and tied on. Within 5m he found himself in another blind alley, this time at -16m. The way on must be shortly before the end, probably to the left, where the passage rises to -9m. On the way back the passage between 550 and 475 m was surveyed. It is generally at -16m and has a prominent chert band as its roof. Total dive time was 1 hour and 25 minutes.
The end of Nidd Heads is now at the limit of twin 2548l bottles. Staging will be required, if further progress is to be made.