Raisgill Farm Sink, (3rd Attempt) by Phil Ryder.

NGR SD 90534 78583 Alt 265m.

Since lockdown has been eased, things have been fairly manic for the B team diggers. Grassington Moor digs have been visited once again and we even bumped into the A team diggers on one occasion. 

Malham Moor was another, nice to see my old mate Alan Speight again, and some great YSS digs. Also drew a couple of surveys for them.

(They need more diggers up there so if you are interested get in touch with the YSS please).

Hemplands Rising has been surveyed though still not photographed. The cave floods completely and unpredictably, usually when we want to go in it! Still waiting to approach the landowner and farmer to see if we can publish details. (Although some information appears in the latest CDG Newsletter).

Which leaves us us lastly with Langstrothdale, a place we haven’t dug in for at least 3 years. 

An early call to the farmer confirmed we were still welcome there, as long as we parked on the Common and kept way from farm buildings.

Details on the previous digs in the side of Hagg Beck at the back of Raisgill Farm appear on another article on the website so I will just give a brief mention here. The first dig was in 2011/12 until a massive flood in Hagg Beck completely covered it over. The second dig in 2016/17 got to over 5m deep but hit a solid floor, the water flowing away outside the scaffolding.

Buried in the mud near the bottom was a piece of calcite some 30 cm square, with a 20 cm long stubby stal attached to it. It must have come from some ancient cave.

The stal / calcite found buried in the mud in 2017. Photo by Phil Ryder.

For this attempt we decided to abandon the original scaffolding, and sink a new shaft next to it where we thought the water was sinking. The original dig was now half full of silt and could be used to put all our digging spoil in.

The B team for this dig consisted of Hucky and I, plus John Clarke who had returned after 3 years in Littondale with Harry Long and co. Dave Milner from the Craven, who we greatly appreciate for his rock elimination skills and barbed wit, and Gordon Proctor and John Southworth from the Earby, who are great at spoil removal and all manner of contraptions to aid this.

We soon had the scaffold in but the dig didn’t go well. We found the bedrock but no draught or indication where the stream sank, we could have been digging there for ages. The stream also dried up so we couldn’t follow the water by allowing some of it to leak into the dig.

One last attempt saw the Club Generator, Hucky’s Submersible Pump, and piles of cable and pipe lugged up to the dig. Water was pumped from a deep pool higher up the dry Hagg Beck. The idea was to blast the mud away with a high pressure water spout. This was achieved by fitting a short length of scaffold pole on the end of the water pipe.

The submersible pumping water over 75 metres to the dig. Photo Phil Ryder.

The plan worked perfectly but we didn’t find a way on so nearly all the scaffolding and shoring was recovered and the site restored.

A week later and you couldn’t tell we had been there. But to add insult to injury about half of the Hagg Beck water was sinking a metre upstream of the dig we had just filled in!

We still don’t know where the water sinking at the back of Raisgill Farm goes? We must get a dye test done someday. 

Details of the hydrology of Langstrothdale appear on Page 455 of the excellent BCRA book ‘Caves and Karst of the Yorkshire Dales Volume 2’. I  have a Google Earth overlay of the area which contains much more information and will put it on this website at a future date.

John Clarke and Graham Huck at the dig. Photo by Phil Ryder.