The Rediscovery of Raisgill Farm Sink by Phil Ryder

In 2011/2012 we investigated 3 sinks behind Raisgill Farm that take the whole stream and we still don’t know where this sinking water reappears. During July 2013 one of these sinks was showing promise and was being dug at least twice a week by John Clarke, Ian Cummings, Chris Smith, Steve Warren and I.

It was during this time that Chris made rather a loud noise and we knew trouble was on the way when we heard the farmer’s quad advancing towards us at a high rate of knots. Being gentlemen we all hid and let the senior, Steve face the music.

The dig looked very promising, we uncovered a largish shaft in fractured rock, obviously on a fault. We dug down over 2 metres and there was a draughting bedding / rift going off. (My memory says bedding, my notes say rift).

The shoring was lacklustre consisting of one length of scaffold and half a dozen fencing posts.

Later that month there was an almighty flash flood in the area and the dig just ceased to exist, there was no trace of it at all. Vanished!

Forward nearly 3 years to February 2016. We were due to move onto pastures new but Hucky said we should first clear up all our old digs. Raisgill Farm Sink was looked at in the first instant just to recover the scaffold.

Unfortunately we toiled at the site for a month but the dig didn’t seem right, so I looked at the some old photos of the dig in 2013 and realised that we were digging in the wrong place.

You know you are in for it when Graham goes quiet and you get the ‘Hucky Stare’. I still can’t enjoy a pint with him without him bringing up the subject of Ryder The Old Git, the most useless navigator in the world. And for God’s sake don’t give him a GPS or we really are in trouble!

We moved our digging site up 3 metres in the streambed; I breathed a sigh of relief when the lost scaffold pole was exposed again, about a metre down. The rapidly expanding hole was scaffolded and shuttered with boards to hopefully protect it from floods.
And then came the swarms of man-eating midges, and the dig was abandoned. We tried everything, literally everything, to protect us from them, but to no avail.

Bucket! Hucky at Raisgill Farm Sink (Photo – Phil Ryder).

We didn’t get back to the dig until the 28th December. All the shoring had protected the dig from countless floods but mud had been washed from the sides and a section of ladder, some scaffold poles and a bag of clips were partially buried in thick glutinous mud.

Hucky giving lessons in shuttering (Photo – Phil Ryder).

It wasn’t until April 2017 that the Hagg Beck stream had shrunken sufficiently to allow digging again, Hucky and I being joined for much of the time by Richard Gibson. This was in addition to Hucky’s daughter Katie who had accompanied us for the last 3 years helping by emptying buckets, passing down scaffold clips etc.
Eh bless you lass!

Hucky & Richard Gibson at the coal face in Raisgill Farm Sink (Photo – Phil Ryder).

We have also been joined on several occasions by Steve Woods, which has led to a barrage of piss taking, sarcasm, cynicism and innuendo between Hucky, Woody and me. The hard day’s spent digging have simply flown.

Steve Woods at Raisgill Farm Sink (Photo – Phil Ryder).

John Clarke, Andy Cole and Steve Warren have also done bucket-emptying stints.

It is now the middle of May, the dig is over 4 metres deep and needs some more scaffolding and boards fitting to make it safe. The squadrons of midges are now lining up; ready to start their endless onslaught, so the dig will have to be abandoned again till winter.

The Author at Raisgill Farm Sink (Photo – Steve Woods).

I still can’t enjoy an après dig pint with Hucky. My navigational transgression temporarily forgotten a new subject eats into his soul.

“Where is the draughting bedding that persuaded me to this dig?” “Was it a mirage?”

Because so far we have been unable to find it!