Hill Hole Quarry: Crayfish rescue!

A little tired from four days diving in the sea off Plymouth; I’d driven back home the night before. Now the alarm was going off again. It was 6am. The sun was shining. Today was the second site in our Midland Pools Project: Hill Hole Quarry.

Our aims, as before, were to investigate what lay beneath the water, do a preliminary survey, and remove what rubbish we could. We’d got permission to dive, and a key to the site, from Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council.

Rob and Ellie picked me up at 7.15am and we set off for Markfield. Arriving at the site we unlocked the gate (the key worked!) and began to unload the van. Shortly afterwards we were joined by Steve, Mike C, Mike W and Jorge. We began setting up for the day’s diving, clearing a path down the concrete stairway to the water, installing a rope to assist entry and egress, and removing rubbish from the area where we’d kit up.

For the first set of dives we split into teams, and set off in different directions to record the depth and visiblity in the quarry pool (using our newly acquired secchi disk and measuring tape), as well as noting what was down there. And there was plenty down there!

Below the water we saw eighteen vehicles (cars and vans) all around the pool perimeter, in places four deep! These included a Ford, Fiat, Land Rover Series 2 or 3, and a yellow Hillman Avenger. Motorcycles, bicycles, car and lorry tyres, wooden pallets, scaffold poles, and plastic and metal barrels were also there. A set of vehicle licence plates, a bolt-cutter and the door of a small safe were found! Rubbish, including drinks cans and bottles, plastic bags, cardboard packaging, disposable barbecues, a sun lounger, items of clothing (shoes, socks, swimwear), a football, golf balls, fishing tackle, and a drone; signage, metal and chain-linked fencing, a wheelie bin, a rubber ring, a life ring cabinet, and a shopping trolley were also seen…

The second set of dives we planned rubbish removal by hand collection into net bags. We removed fourteen refuse bags of rubbish including:

  • Drinks cans and bottles, plastic bags, cardboard packaging, two disposable barbecues
  • Clothing: shoes, socks, swimwear
  • A football, golf balls, and fishing tackle (line, floats and hooks)
  • Five inflatables (three boats, a large ball, and a rubber ring)
  • A length of wire (likely from fencing)
  • The set of vehicle licence plates, bolt-cutter and safe door
  • A drone.

One team did a third dive. On this a crayfish trap was found. It had clearly been lost, and contained thirteen live white-clawed crayfish, and a perch, as well the the remains of six dead crayfish. Having confirmed they were native crayfish we carefully released them (and the unfortunate perch) back into the quarry pool.

There is still work to be done to investigate some features within the quarry pool, and remove more rubbish from above and below the water, but time was quickly up for the day, and so we left the site and returned home.

For more details, please take a look at the final report.