27/02/14 - Scuttled down White Rake to have a look around and set up flopjack at the end of the crawl for Glyn & co.  It's a bit muddy. (Mike, Rob, Syd)

16/07/14 - Went down to give Glyn a hand (because he has no friends). Rob digging down from level at bottom, beneath scaffold. Spent about 2 1/2 hours. Me and Glyn hauling and moving spoil back to end of rift. Hole now about thigh deep and hopefully following vein down. Possibility of a false floor underneath, which would be good news. Tried to wash up in the delph, but pitiful stream so had to get changed still covered in white rake shite. Pretty grim, but at least there was a "boomy echo nose". (Rob, Glyn, Mike)

28/08/14 - Rob wallowed round in the bottom rift, trying to take advantage of the lack of water down there. Could clearly see where the water was draining away and was making good progress until Glyn, complaining that he was getting a bit damp in the tube above, redirected all the water pooled from the crawl and sent it shitting down onto Rob and re-flooded the rift in the process. (Everyone thought it was great that Glyn had done this, and told him what a great guy he was for doing it). Glyn then hammer tested his way through the crawl. We didn’t really make much progress with anything, and agreed it’s probably best to carry on digging down at the end of the crawl following the vein. (Rob, Glyn, Mike)

23/10/14 - Got there early and headed down alone. Disappointed, but not completely surprised to find the hole that Rob had dug at the end of the crawl had completely filled in since we left it a few months ago. It’s all subsided from the back and run in. Glyn and Angus turned up after I’d sorted stuff out a bit and we set to work. Me digging with Angus and Glyn hauling. Works quite well with three but will probably need four if the dig progresses. After a few hours, regained the depth from last time, making the dig a bit longer too. Interesting fill towards the end, very dark/black silt, maybe mixed with soot and bits of wood. It will undoubtedly fill back in before we return. Will have to think of a way forward, either start boarding it up, or take the whole lot out - shit load of digging to do either way. Managed to wash off in the Delph this time, which made things marginally less grim. (Mike, Glyn, Angus) 

29/10/14 - Met up with McBain about 6.30 after dropping some stuff off at the hut and headed down. The dig had once again subsided from the back and what was left of the hole had filled with water (as expected!). Bailed out the water/slop and sent out a few buckets worth of silage before Glyn and Angus made their merry way down. Angus then joined me at the digface so we had 2 at each end. Dug for about 2.5 hours and shifted a lot of fill, nearly taken it all right back to the far wall and gained about a metre in depth. Virtually nothing left to fall in now, so hopefully no more subsidence. The big boulder on the left is looking a bit dodgy now, we’ll have to shore it up as we're starting to undermine it. Next trip will probably be spent sorting out the scaff before we can start going down proper. Lots of dark silt/wood/charcoal in the fill again. Get that boulder sorted and I'll feel much better about digging under it! (Glyn, McBain, Mike, Angus)

03/11/14 - Went back with Glyn to take on the boulder before the big trip on Thrusday. The boulder was much bigger than Glyn was expecting (having not been up that end for a while) so the plans he’d had for either supporting it or capping it insitu went out the window. Decided to go for a poke and run approach. Although there’s not really any space to run, so it was more of a poke and frantically crawl backwards approach. Managed to make it slump by loosening the other smaller boulders around it from a safe-ish distance. Then we extended the hose and gingerly poked that up behind it, which managed to wash away quite a lot of fill and other small rocks.  We spent a good hour sending surges of water down the back of it, pinching the pipe in between to build up a good head of water. This seemed to do quite a lot of work before the water inevitably filled up the dig and overflowed back down the crawl where we were huddling. In the end Glyn just got bored and went a bit mental with the iron bar and managed to bring the whole lot thundering down along with half the scaff frame. I was at the other end of the crawl and got caught in a tsunami of shitty water as the boulder collapsed into the pool beneath it. Glyn then got on with capping as much as possible before the battery died. Silly amounts to shift now. Hopefully a big team for Thursay to get capping and get the whole lot shifted! Got out in time for a swift pint. 5 hours from car to car. (Glyn, Mike)

06/11/14 - Got there about 6 and headed down with Rob. Set about bailing out the water from the dig before Glyn, Angus and McBain arrived about 30 minutes later. (McBain after a 1.5hour drive - commitment!). Glyn immediately got to work hitting stuff with a large hammer, capping and generally making a lot of noise, most of it coming from him. Rob got on with building a Samp-like wall with all the rubble at the head of the ever growing soil heap. We dug, hauled and stacked for about 3hours before the air began to get a bit stuffy at the end. The large boulder we trundled down so spectacularly on Monday wasn't capping very well, as it seems to comprise 90% quartz/calcite. Is this why its called White Rake?? Pulled out a lot of vein material anyway, and at least it shows we're in the right place. Will probably be a couple more trips before we can start heading down proper. Hopefully that's when things should get interesting! (Rob, McBain, Angus, Glyn, Mike)

08/01/15 -  The three of us have been drafted in to clear up Glyn’s mess as he’s had a White Rake related meltdown. Plan for the night was to head to the vein and see what needs doing with the intention of sinking a proper shaft down through the omnishambles. Glyn and Angus had continued to dig and cap away on their last trip, but as with before (since the big boulder came down) most of the side walls collapsed in. Getting it properly boarded up is going to be the only way. Rob and Ed combined their engineering skills and I furtled about ferrying clips and poles down. Even headed back up to thieve the scaff pole that the entrance ladder was rigged to, as that’s the only one long enough for what they have planned. In the meantime Rob and Ed smashed up a boulder and found some ‘soild’ walls to anchor into. Drill bag works pretty well and Barry Bosch survived his first trip underground. Should start getting the cage in on the next trip. (Ed, Rob, Mike)

14/01/15 - Tonight was all about getting the first poles in to launch the shaft down through the omnishambles. Rob and I picked up the postcrete from Glebe Cottage and met up with the others by the Sheep Roast as usual. After ferrying all the gear across, Eddy shot off down to get started with his coring. Meanwhile the rest of us struggled to get the 2m boards round the bend before the top of the 3rd pitch. After a bit of persuasion with a hammer, taking a corner off the bend, they just slipped through. Ed managed to get the master pole in a good few inches into each wall, so it won't be going anywhere anytime soon and we managed to have a bash at one of the boulders before the batteries died. Glyn got on extending the dam, and later took out the scaff at the very bottom of the rift. Should be able to get the boards in on the next trip and make some proper progress over the weekend. (Ed, Rob, Mike, Glyn, Angus) 

17/01/15 - After a bit of a delayed faff getting all the kit together we got to Eyam around 2. Ferried the stuff over and said goodbye to the Old Man who’d managed to carry a scaff pole almost all the way to the hole like he was cradling a baby. Rob and Ed got straight to work getting the 2nd horizontal in and breaking up some of the boulders. I busied myself by installing a nice seating and unloading area for hauling out the tubs. A lot of gloop shifted, a lot of rocks shifted and by the end of the day they’d managed to get a proper solid back wall installed to hold back the rear end of the cavity, all nicely cored into the sidewall. It finally gives a semblance of order to the place, and digging there now looks like a much more manageable task. After getting through 5 batteries and most of the air, we left around 7.30. I walked back to Carlswark Cottage from The Delph, which wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. Stoney feels quite a long way away in a piss wet furry when it’s snowing. Beer and steak made up for it, not to mention getting the fire so hot we cracked the glass on the stove. Woops. (Ed, Rob, Mike)

18/01/15 - After a lie in and a fry up, we made our reluctant way back up the hill to Eyam. We started where we’d left off the day before with more digging and breaking of boulders. All the rock went down the rift where the water drains away and I spent some time arranging the loose blocks around to try and make best use of the valuable space down there. By the end of the session Ed and Rob had pretty much got back to the level of the crawl, so from here on we should finally be digging down again! Out around 4, back to the hut for a shower, then over to the Yorkshire Bridge to meet up with the walkers for food. Knackered. (Ed, Rob, Mike)

22/01/15 - Early evening start at 5.30 for maximum mud fun. The snow on the ground made the usual churned up cattle field much more pleasant and we set off down the shaft, ferrying new supplies as we went.  A vital roll of hosepipe was dropped down the entrance shaft and unknown to us went down the 'other' hole at the bottom. This resulted in all three of us merrily crawling all the way down to the dig assuming one of the other two had it. On the way down I also managed to throw a scaff pole onto my own hand. Which was quite a special moment. After reteireving the hose, Rob installed his Scrapheap Challenge dam (made from an old car sump) at the back of the dig chamber. This now catches all the drips that cause the dig to fill with water whilst we're away. Seemed to work quite well, I guess we'll find out when we return on Sunday. From 6 till 9.30 we managed to break up more boulders and shift lots, and lots of mud. We're now about down to the lowest point we had before the walls  fell in on us, only now the chamber is about 3 x the size. As usual we exited covered in cave juice and slid down to the Delph for a wash. Another good trip. (Rob, Ed, Mike)

25/01/15 - Got there after 1 and headed off down with a few more bits and bobs for the dig. Wettest it's been so far and there was a reasonable stream of watter going down the 3rd pitch. The dam was taking it all and it was draining away nicely down the narrow rift (initially). However, the dig was completely full of water and Ed and Rob spent a good 10 minutes bailing it out back down the passage.  Ed had his eye on sorting out the scaff in the roof as you exit the crawl and soon got to work coring in a new horizontal then supported the existing scaff and the boulder above it with a nifty bit of scaff magic. Standard digging then took over and I was pretty much rushed off my feet at the other end, hauling then carrying all the spoil to the back of the rift. We went from about 2 till 6.30 and I was pretty dead by the end of it. Good progress though, and we're now getting to the stage where we'll have to get a pulley in. What we've managed to shift and shore up in just 4 trips is pretty amazing really. Can't really get over how much the place has changed! Hopefully back Tuesday night, no doubt the dig will be a swimming pool by then. (Rob, Ed, Mike)

27/01/15 - There was hopefully going to be four of us tonight, but unfortunately Ian was unwell and couldn’t join us in the end. Rob and Eddy had headed down first whilst I waited on the top for the sick publican, so I scuttled on down the shaft a little while later and collected the 4 scaff boards at the bottom. It was a bit of a battle getting them round the bend and down the last pitch on my todd but I met up with the others soon after they’d managed to bail the dig and bang in a stemple to help them get out of the ever deepening pit. Normal service then resumed and we dug and hauled for about 2.5 hours before full blown knackeredness set it and we called it a night. The dig is steadily getting deeper and the stacking space steadily smaller. There’s quite a section of unsupported material on the back wall now, so this’ll have to get sorted, probably on the next trip. A lot shifted again, and another productive evening. Would be nice if the water started draining away! (Mike, Ed, Rob)

01/02/15 - We arrived just after 12, late again, got changed and carried the ladder we'd salvaged from the hut's wood store and stashed it in the shanty town for later. Very wet again, and the whole place was very drippy. By a miracle though, the dig was dry and the water must now be draining away. Although where it goes isn't obvious, but it's at least a good sign. We set to work as usual, Ed and Rob digging with me hauling and carrying. Started filling in the rocky slope at the far end of the rift. It's hard work getting up there but it's space that would otherwise be wasted, and who knows how much we might end up needing. About halfway through, the engineers stopped to put more scaff and boards in, (during which Ed attempted to take Rob out by dropping a scaff pole onto his spine) and the back wall is now well supported again. Although slightly further in than the last lot.  By the end of the session they'd got down to a very narrow section of rift, too narrow to get your foot through, but it bellows out again below. Digging further forward may be the answer, as at the moment we seem to be half in the rift and half in the cavity. We headed out around 5.30 and washed up in the Delph as quick as possible as everything began to freeze around us. Coldest its been yet. Unfortunately Eddie had to shoot off, but Rob and I managed a quick pint and a toast to John in the Miners. The place won't be the same without him, and neither will Stoney Dale for that matter. We'll miss him. (Ed, Mike, Rob)

05/02/15 - Four of us this time, which made the hauling and carrying of the spoil far easier. Although progress was slower than usual for the diggers owing to the depth and constricted nature of the rift. This meant only one of them could dig at a time whilst the other waited at the top to feed the dray tray. Rob and Ed managed to make a metre or so of progress and bypassed the tight part of the rift and are now digging beneath it. However, there's now a substantial 2.5m step at the crawl end of the dig that will need taking out as the dig gets deeper and more constricted. The more space the better. This will probably be ripped out on the next trip and will mean we'll have to put in a landing platform for the hauling and board up the front wall. Another productive evening, but no sign of anything changing anytime soon. Will we be digging the rift out for the full 30m!? I guess there's only one way to find out... (Ed, Mike, Rob, Angus)

08/02/15 - The evening started off well with four of us again. Glyn made a cameo appearance, although how much work he did was debatable. Word has it he mainly perched himself on a scaff board and "supervised" the diggers like some Scouse Pharaoh. Meanwhile at the other end I'd managed to sort out the slumping spoil heap and build a retaining wall to hold back the impeding sludge. The ~2m clay/mud step was taken out at the crawl end of the dig making the rift that little bit longer. Ed & Co then got to work boarding up the front wall and making the whole thing secure. Both ends of the rift are now boarded and look very tidy. Unfortunately, this is where things started to go wrong. Left to my own devises, I'd got a little carried away with my skip management scheme and inadvertently sploshed an excessive amount of gloop into the rift where the water sinks. Over the course of an hour the whole thing filled up (despite me swearing at it and flailing around with the long bar) and just before it overflowed into the crawl we were forced to abandon ship. As we left there was no sign of it abating and it was just shy of overflowing into the dig itself.  It was a bit alarming to see bubbles rising out of the floor of the crawl and we can only hope that it builds up enough pressure that it eventually drains itself. One might say I dropped the ball. Sorry guys. (Ed, Rob, Glyn, Mike)

11/02/15 - Arrived a bit late (as usual) and loaded up the drill and various bits of kit supplied by Sampson Digging Solutions Ltd. Ed had crafted a bespoke loading platform to place at the end of the crawl from which the pulley can be operated. We wandered over to the shaft and were relieved to find that the east side of the Delph was still intact, and hadn't blown apart under the pressure of a whole load of water because some idiot blocked up the rift on the last trip. Rob headed down first and relayed the good news that the water had cleared itself, but it had been busy whilst we were away. One of the boards at the entrance to the crawl had gone swimabout and parts of the crawl had slightly run in, including sections of the roof. The high tide mark was found a short way up the original shoring that was put in right at the start of the dig last month... (which is pretty high!). Thankfully the dig itself was only about half full with water so it must be draining or overflowing somewhere..? I got to work and attempted to clear out the crucial 1st rift where the stream sinks in order to redeem myself for last time. Unfortunately, due to my remedial digging skills, I managed to instantly block it again. After a bit of flailing about in the rising water and a failed attempt to fight off a literal sinking sensation of dejavu, I called for backup and luckily Rob managed to re-punch a hole through the silt and the water drained away instantly. There's now a 5ft scaff pole shoved in the hole and the pipe now feeds directly into it, so hopefully no more flooding. A little while later Glyn turned up with the pulley and krabs and he managed to dump a further 4 scaff boards at the top of the 3rd pitch for later. The three of them then got to work installing the platform for the pulley operator (this mainly involved Ed back and footing above the pool whilst drilling).  With everything up and running the first loads were pulled out and normal digging and hauling commenced. We made steady progress again, and it's slowly getting deeper. Still no signs of anything changing, but its an intriguing little rift. We headed out just before 10, washed up in the delph and headed to the Miners as usual. Probably back sometime over the weekend. (Rob, Ed, Glyn, Mike)

15/02/15 - Another Sunday trip, another gaggle of tourists to get partially naked in front of. We shifted the remaining boards down to the bottom and Rob and Ed got bailing. I set to work with extending the height of the wall holding back the spoil heap. We've had to start using sandbags as there's a dearth of decent stone, so the digging was slow to begin with as the bags were filled up. It's added about a metre onto the wall so should last at least... another trip. Digging then commenced in earnest and I ended up having to carry both tubs at a time in a futile attempt to keep up with them. Meanwhile in the rift Rob and Ed were making good progress and managed about another metre and we're now ready to get the next boards in. One slight drawback is that we've unintentionally  created a bit of a mantrap. The rift is now deep enough, smooth enough and slippery enough that it involves a 6a move just to get out of the bottom.  We should probably put in a handline before one of us comically falls down the thing. After the best part of 5 hours we called it a day, and headed to the hut to meet up with the others for food and beer. Another good trip. (Mike, Rob, Ed)

18/02/15 - Met up with Steady about 5.30 and headed down with 2 drills this time. Even so, the bag was lighter than usual due to the absence of Rob's standard 7 litres of water. We got to work bailing out the dig, this took about 15 minutes or so and then Ed got on with installing the next scaff poles. During this time Rob arrived with two of the remaining boards. As the next section steadily went in, Glyn and Angus turned up. 5 of us tonight, but unfortunately it was probably the least productive evening (digging wise) we've had as there was quite a bit of measuring and sawing to do. Glyn amused himself by pushing out the boulder that was wedged in the rift immediately before the spoil heap. This now gives a bit more headroom. We also played around with the dam, blocking up the pipe until the dam overflowed then releasing it all down the hole with the scaff tube. It swallows everything, which is intriguing... are we digging in the wrong place? Who knows. Time ticked on and Rob got down to a narrow section of rift again. We'll probably be back sometime over the weekend, so it'll be interesting to see if it opens up again. None of us had a watch tonight so we got out too late for the pub. Which is an absolute disgrace. (Ed, Rob, Mike, Angus, Glyn)

22/02/15 - Far too early a start for a Sunday. Leaving Bradwell after a fry up, we met the old boy just after 8.30 at the sheep roast. We weren't sure if he'd turn up, but turn up he did, and after shoehorning him into his caving gear we set off across the fields. The dig was bailed, and quite a bit of water had collected again since our last visit. This must have taken around 15-20mins and it's becoming a bit of a chore. Work began as usual with Ed and Rob taking it in turns to insert themselves into the ever narrowing rift. Pop came out to give me a hand with the hauling and did a really good job. It's certainly much easier with two, especially when there's a lot of digging going on. At 11.30 we had to call it (as we had prior birthday related engagements) but they'd got down through the tighter section and into another flaring out of the rift. We're now 5m below the level of the crawl (but probably about 7m down from where we actually started digging from). (Mike, Ed, Geoff, Rob)

26/02/15 - Glyn and I went straight from site and arrived at Eyam just after 4. We decided to head down and get a head start with the bailing, and it's a good job we did. It's by the far the largest body of water we've had the pleasure of bailing so far, and it must have taken us the best part of an hour to shift it. It had filled the dig right up to the ankle snapper protrusion in the rift and was over 2m deep. With that sorted, the grumpy one inserted himself into the bottom of the rift and got digging. As there was still only two of us at this point, I filled up the remaining sandbags with the spoil and stacked them at the end of the crawl ready to be hauled out later. Sometime after 6 the others arrived, more pipe and some of the parts for Ed's Venturi pump were brought down, and the spoil began to get taken out the crawl again as usual.  Ed got on with clearing out the end of the crawl and installing some new boards to stop the tray from rolling over and, after Glyn's escape, Rob took over at the bottom of the rift. We dug till shortly after 9 and made good progress again, but the water is continuing to be a problem and it was very drippy throughout the whole cave tonight. Hopefully back soon to try and get Eddie's pump up and running, the plan being to use the stream to pump out the bad air from the digface. Fingers crossed it works! (Rob, Ed, Glyn, Angus, Mike)

04/03/15 - Glyn and I were dropped off in Eyam around 4 and scrambled on down the entrance shaft, having forgotten to bring a ladder. Glyn then got straight on with bailing whilst I added a few more sandbags to the ever rising spoil heap retaining wall. The volume of water in the dig was similar to last week and we were bailing as Ed arrived and still bailing later when Rob arrived. It's getting pretty impractical, not to mention knackering, and it eats up too much time. The general consensus was to lengthen the dig in order to get back into the vein, hopefully to reveal some space in the boulders for the water to drain away. Whilst Glyn got on with digging, Ed put the finishing touches to his venturi pump and plumbed it into the waterworks. A roll of pipe now takes the bad air out of the dig, all with the power of the stream; and it seemed to work pretty well. With that up and running, the three of them got on with the digging and began to fill up the remaining space above the 2nd wall of boards at the end of the rift. Meanwhile, I finally sorted out my unloading platform so it didn't keep collapsing under my immense bulk. By the end of the night they'd managed to excavate back into the vein to uncover a matrix of boulders and mud, with the plan to dig diagonally down, hopefully still protected by the 2 solid walls of the rift. A fairly productive night, especially with regards to getting Ed's clever pump rigged up. Made it to the Miner's around 10.30ish (Rob, Ed, Mike, Glyn)

12/03/15 - Rob and I arrived first and headed on down the mud hole. The streamlet was pretty feeble and took a considerable time to fill up the dam. Despite this, the dig was still deep enough for ITV to film an episode of 'Splash!' in it and we set to work bailing before the others arrived. After the best part of an hour, the water had been shifted and Glyn and Angus appeared. (No Steady tonight, he's currently (selfishly) sunning himself in New Zealand). Rob got on with driving the dig back into the vein and Angus took over on the pulley platform. (Glyn luckily bringing a new pulley along to replace the one we'd managed to trash in about 5 digging sessions). With the crawl cleared of the debris (which had decided to fall out of the roof since our last trip) the first trays were pulled out and digging commenced in earnest. Rob continued to extend the digface both across and down, digging beneath the ankle snapper. Meanwhile, Glyn and I steadily filled up the remaining stacking space behind the sandbags at the back of the rift. We'll have to think of a new plan, or bring the whole wall forward before digging gets underway on the next trip as this area's now reached capacity. After a few hours, we called it a night and headed back to fresh air and a wash up in Jumber Brook as usual. Good progress again, but the dig filling half full with water each time is becoming a real problem and simply takes up too much time and energy to bail. Here's hoping that the water finds a way to drain away through the boulders uncovered in the vein. (Rob, Angus, Glyn, Mike).

19/03/15 - Arrived about 5.30 and headed across the fields and on down the hole. Luckily the tactic of digging back into the side of the vein seems to have helped with the water problem, with it only rising as high as Rob's little exploratory tunnel into the boulders. With the (much smaller) pool drained, we set to work digging and filled up all the available tubs to hand and filled in the remaining space at the back of the boards. Just as we were struggling for space, Glyn and Angus arrived and the gloop could be taken all the way out as usual. Angus and I switched round and I got to work sorting out the main spoil heap at the back of the rift. Made another wall about a metre in front of the original so it's now a three tier heap and we managed to tidy up the original sandbag wall, so its all a lot tidier and should give us some more space. Will need some more sandbags for next time though. In the meantime Rob and Angus continued to dig into the vein from the bottom of the rift and made more inward progress. It's all still very compact with no sign of any voids between the mud and boulders, but anything could still happen. Fingers crossed! Out and in the Miners around 10ish. Back next week for more muddy misery. (Mike, Rob, Angus, Glyn).

26/03/15 - More of the same. More water bailed, more cave innards shifted. As usual, the younger of the team arrived earlier and set to work bailing. Digging then got under way in earnest and Rob continued to tunnel back towards the vein with Angus on pulley duty. At the other end, Glyn and I continued with our industrial waste management scheme and managed to reinforce the ever growing wall with some rather hefty feed bags. Ended up leaving a bit earlier as usual as the air started to get quite thick at the bottom, and Rob had understandably had enough. Out nice and early around 9. Glyn failed to throw a handful of mud in my eye this time, which was a disappointment. (Glyn, Angus, Rob, Mike)

05/11/15 - Bonfire night, and Eyam was filled with fireworks to celebrate our return to White Rake. We primarily went with the intention of sussing out a plan for capping the shaft top. This done, (very quickly - Ed has calibrated retinas and can measure stuff with his eyes) we headed down to see if anything had changed in the 6 months or so since we were last there. To our surprise the dig was bone dry, with what is usually a 2m deep plunge pool now just a dried up pit of the usual black and brown mud. As it was dry, we thought we best do some digging. Rob dug, Ed pullied (with a seized up pulley) and I was back on spoil logistics. Dug for a sweaty hour or so and made pretty good progress. We're now apparently 5.5m beneath the level of the crawl (just another 24.5m to go then). If it stays dry, we should probably take advantage of it and save capping the shaft until the winter swimming pool returns. (Rob, Ed, Mike)

11/11/15 - News of the dig being miraculously dry last week brought forward fresh reinforcements in the shape of Glyn and McBain, swelling Team Shithole to a very handy 5. (McBain very commendably arriving after a 1.5 hour commute from deepest darkest South Derbyshire). More bags were brought down for the ever towering retaining wall, including a tonne bag which will be very handy if the dig continues to produce copious amounts of slop (it will). Unfortunately, we must've caught White Rake right at the end of the dry season last week as the dig was once again hiding itself beneath a small brown pond. Luckily, it didn't take long to bail and Glyn slithered down and got digging. This went on for maybe 45mins before McBain arrived and Glyn and Rob switched round (having 3 at the spoil heap end makes things a lot easier/humane). After about an hour of the usual mix of dry mud, wet mud, dry mud, wet mud being sent up and out, Rob hit a hard bit and interestingly what could be some form of false floor spanning the rift. After a fair while twating away with the big bar he managed to punch through to reach another solid surface about a foot further down. Couldn't really confirm what either feature was, but it may be some kind of chert band, which would be good news, even if it only means a break from shifting mud for a bit. Back next week to find out what's going on! I predict we'll break through to reveal a 30m pitch, leading us straight into the Stoney Dale master system (this is definitely going to happen). Good trip! (Rob, Ed, Mike, Glyn. McBain)

16/11/15 - Arrived at 6.30 to be greeted by the unusual sight of a Staffordshire based pub landlord wielding a shotgun. Mad man placated, we trapesed across the field and stashed another salvaged mini-ladder (rescued from the hut wood pile) in the shanty town for later. The whole place was very drippy again, and there was a good stream heading into the dam and through the plumping on the 3rd pitch. Great news though - the dig was dry, with the water seemingly draining through the small hole Rob managed to punch through the floor on the last trip. We set to, hauling the usual mud and after about an hour or so had cleared the remaining area to reveal that the floor stretches the full length of the rift. With the mud now gone, Ed and Rob got to work enlarging the first hole and attempting to break through the next level below. I crawled through to see what looked like two eskimos ice fishing down in the gloom below. Unfortunately it proved too tough for tonight and we retreated. Will be back with a long bit to drill a pilot hole to find out how thick the next floor really is. Hopefully our activities haven’t blocked up wherever the water was finding its way through. Will be a pain if it has! (Ed, Rob, Ian, Mike)

18/11/15 - 5 of us back tonight for the inevitable breakthrough, which inevitably didn’t happen. The dig was of course full with water on our return and as Glyn and Angus had arrived early, they quickly got bailing. After this was cleared, Rob and Ed inserted themselves at the bottom and began by removing the last step of fill at the base of the rift before resuming work on the floor itself. The drill came out and the floor was chain drilled in various spots and rock/chert hauled up and out. By the end they’d managed to penetrate the next band, but still no sign of an enticing void or the water freely draining away. Plans were devised in the pub, and the consensus was to continue down through the floors and if nothing changed beneath, use the bands as a solid roof to then tunnel back towards the vein. (Ed, Rob, Mike, Glyn, Angus)

06/11/16 - On and off since March, Glyn and a few TSG mates had been sorting out the shaft top at White Rake. We'd helped out initially, casting a rather superb concrete retaining wall on the downhill side of the rift but very quickly got distracted by the Spring sun and climbing as soon as the clocks changed. The shaft top was completed in October by Glyn & Co and comprises a short section of plastic piping capped with a steel grille with a concrete/stone surround. All that was left was to remove the shanty town surrounding the shaft. I did this over two trips, the last of which I managed to rip my jacket to shreds dismantling the barbed wire. (Mike)

17/11/2016 - Back down White Rake after a day of torrential rain. Very surprised to find the bottom of the dig was dry. Ed and Rob set to work at the bottom, buckets were hauled up and more chert smashed. After about an hour they reached a solid pinch point at the bottom of the rift. All solid rock. Looks to be pretty terminal here, so we'll have to head forward a bit before trying to go back down again if we decide to continue. Out nice and early and headed to the The Moon. (Rob, Ed, Mike, David)