Ice Age II – Cawfields Quarry

February 2009

by Gordon Lambert

Following the previous branch Ice dive to Cawfields Quarry (see Ice Breaker January) we couldn’t miss the chance to do it all again. Second branch dive of the year and we are back under ice.

In the week which saw most of the country ground to a halt with heavy snow fall and blizzards, 4 hardy soul’s from Tyneside 114 braved the elements and ventured back to Cawfields in search of fun and excitement. Our intrepid explorers (some would say window licking crazies) once again donned drysuit, safety ropes and then diving equipment to venture under the ice.

Gordon arrived first and kitted up in the carpark waiting the arrival of Andy and Fiona Hunt . Dive kit was transferred to the edge of the ice and soon Andy had suit on, ropes attached and was out on the ice sawing a hole through the 30mm thich surface just as Dan arrived.

First to enter the water was Gordon who gingerly padded out onto the ice towards the hole. The sound, like pistol shots as the ice cracking echoed around the quarry. Andy as ‘dive tender’ followed out onto the ice also attached to a safety rope taking a different route out to the hole. The entry in this case is unique and not something you get to do often. No giant stride or roll entry here, just walk up to the edge air in your jacket and bounce a little, gravity does the rest.

The underwater views at Cawfields much like Ellerton isn’t what you travel here for. Not even the Perch from last visit put in an appearance although there was a good 4 meters visibility of the abundant pond weed.

With Gordon safely out the water Dan kitted up and prepared for his first dive under Ice. Rope signals were discussed and practiced before entry using sharp pulls called bells and the acronym OSDUE

1 Ok, 2 Stop, 3 Down (or away),4 Up (or closer),5 (or more) Emergency

With Andy again being ‘dive tender’ , Dan edged out onto the ice again choosing a different route to the edge. An effortless entry was followed by a 20min dive exploring under the ice and practicing those rope signals. Dan even attempting walking upside down on the underside of the ice !

Andy was the last to dive with Gordon as dive tender exploring under the ice to the limit of the safety rope before making his way back to the entry point. A visible trail of air bubbles trapped under the surface marking Andy’s track under the ice.

A great day was had practicing skills not everyone gets to use then we all headed for the warmth , comfort and food of the Wellington at Ridding Mill on route home.