Tuesday 23 July 2024

Caving Trip to Agen Allwedd in South Wales

Before embarking on our caving adventure to Agen Allwedd, also known as ''Aggy'', a renowned cave in South Wales, we spent days planning and deciding which section to do. There was six of us with mixed level of experience, including a novice on his 3 rd. caving trip ever! Equipped with appropriate gear, food and drinks we were ready for the underground adventure. 

For a change, the weather was clear and sunny. The entrance to Aggy was reached after 20 minutes’ walk, luckily for us the key worked at first try and we descended into the darkness. 

The first section of the cave, Entrance Series, was relatively straightforward in terms of navigation, consisting of collection narrow rifts, crawls to squeeze through, climbs and boulders to hop over. We navigated through the initial passages with relative ease, the thrill of exploration driving us forward. We quickly reached the Baron’s Chamber and continue down Main Passage. We soon reached a right-hand side turn onto Main Stream Passage. Once again we navigated crawling under boulders or climbing over another. The passage seemed to go on forever. Soon we reached Turkey Pool where couple of us decided to cool down a bit and unintentionally jump in up to our chests, brrrr. The Selenite Needle Passage was another noticeable place where lots words of amazement were heard. 

Turkey Pool

Selenite Passage

We continued to complete our objective of Inner Circle, through Eastern Avenu and St Paul’s Passage with its amazing Dome of St Paul’s. Soon after we were on our way back retracing our steps, carefully navigating the tricky sections once more, our fatigue counterbalanced by the exhilaration of our adventure. Emerging into the daylight, we were greeted by the warmth of the sun, vibrant green of the surrounding landscape and midges. 

Inner Circle Chamber

St Paul's Dome

Our caving trip to Agen Allwedd was an unforgettable adventure. It tested our limits, rewarded our curiosity, and left us with memories that will last a lifetime.

Report: Paulina

Photos: Bartek

Cavers:Bartek, Paulina, George T, Becca K, Dino, Loz

Saturday 13 July 2024

Craig a Ffynnon

We started our day with a breakfast at Greggs. To ready ourselves for a days caving. We decided that our aim for the trip was to reach helictite passage.

The trip started with a steady walk through to the first bolder choke where we climbed up the waterfall. We then progressed through gasoline alley with a crawl through some low water. Then the climb up through the corkscrew.

Then come the second choke which me and Dave battled our way through with the dry sack wedging on every rock. A great crawl with some level changes.

Travertine passage was our first photo stop with Mark, taking some excellent photos throughout the trip.

We carried on along to Hall of the Mountain King which was something special to see with some beautiful formations. This is where Keith and Mark left us.

We were down to three. George,Dave and Jas.
We had a long crawl (about 20minutes) through the third choke, which was great fun, and hard work. Along the Severn tunnel and into the fourth choke. We found our way through after going into a few dead ends and a little bit of searching we found our way on.

We then carried onto helictite passage taking in the beautiful formations before stopping for some lunch and a little rest.

Dave couldn’t resist taking me and Jas to the fifth bolder choke which we had a little look around before turning around and heading for the exit.

On the way back we couldn’t resist getting very wet and cold. In things to come which was a great opportunity to clean down our oversuits from a very muddy trip.

A great trip. Thanks all.
Trip Report: George
Phots: Mark
Cavers: George, Mark, Keith, Dave & Jas

Thursday 27 June 2024

Heron Pot

After several days of hill-walking, climbing, and some aborted mountaineering in the Cuillin (thanks to Scottish weather), Anne and I decided we had to finish off our active streak with some caving. Being in Yorkshire, we were spoilt for choice, and having been taught the basics of rigging by none other than rope aficionado Mr Bartek Biela, I picked Heron Pot as a relatively easy cave to rig unsupervised.

After the short entrance crawl we met the stream and followed this for 10-15 minutes to the head of the first pitch. From here I shimmied up to the start of the High Level Route and began rigging the traverse. I quickly found out why the description said that having long legs was helpful. So too did Anne, who discovered a hitherto unknown talent for doing the splits. Before long (in distance terms, not in time terms as I was pretty slow!) I reached the bolts for the Y-hang. After rigging this, I swung out over the darkness and enjoyed the great pitch (maybe 20ish metres) to the bottom of the cave.
Anne soon joined me, and instead of completing the through trip (and then coming back to de-rig), we decided to crack on with prussiking back up and derigging. Part of me was a little worried about how Anne would manage going back along the traverse with her little legs, but she managed fine and I thoroughly enjoyed working out how to de-rig the traverse while keeping myself safe.

With lots of time remaining, I rigged the first of the wet pitches and dropped down to the head of the second. A grunt from above made me look up to find Anne dangling from her cows’ tails, with her legs waggling in thin air. Apparently the tiny traverse to a nice ledge was just the wrong shape for her, so a controlled lower onto her cows’ tails was in order. After another couple of goes she had it sussed and soon joined me at the bottom of the pitch.
The second pitch had me completely baffled. Unless I was missing something, it involved an easy but very exposed traverse right across the pitch head to the second anchor. The anchor was quite high, meaning that when I arrived at it, I would have had to lean out over the pitch to clip into it and rig it. Risking a big fall and swing on a long piece of rope didn't seem a great idea to me, so I decided that caution was the best part of valour and retreated. (I later checked the topo again, and could see all the anchors marked on it in the cave, so I can't see that I missed anything

All that remained was for us to prussik back up the first pitch, and for Anne to struggle with the mini traverse before I derigged and we headed out of the cave. Once back at the car, we nipped into Yordas where we did the (very mini) through trip, before driving to Valley Entrance and going to the pitch down into the master cave. Being late in the day, we didn't go further and explore, but I'm looking forward to doing a through trip from Swinsto at some point.

This was a great day of caving: three fun caves, a great challenge and lots of variety. We shall have to come back and complete the Heron Pot through trip at some point.
Cavers: Dave & Anne B
Trip Report & Photos: Dave B

Sunday 9 June 2024

OFD 2 Again By George!

The old pensioner got dragged out of retirement again to take new member George on his first caving trip. 

We visited the Bedding Chambers first,

The Mini Columns

and then headed for Salubrious streamway

At the bottom of the streamway

to visit The Trident and The Judge.

The Trident

The Judge

After a short excursion to see Swamp Creek and The Nave, we then headed for the Crossroads.

The Crossroads

Our next destination was Maypole Inlet to show George the climb down to the Main Streamway. This was followed by Cross Rift, Shatter Pillar and then Selenite Tunnel.

Selenite Tunnel

Our final destination was President's Leap before the Old Git decided that he'd run out of steam. We headed out but the Old Git couldn't resist a quiet visit to the Club Dig on the way back to the hut. The water level was surprisingly low so we were able to get almost to the dig face.

Cavers: Keith Edwards & George Tolley

Monday 27 May 2024

Fairy - Hillier's Through Trip

After finding myself with a spare bank holiday, I put the call out to Dudley members to see whether anyone wanted to join me for a quick caving trip. A lot of folk seemed to be helping with a project in Yorkshire, but Jonny was free, so the two of us toddled off for some Mendipian fun. I'd been wanting to do Longwood Swallet for some time, having been enticed by the streamway. Unfortunately, predicted thunderstorms put paid to that idea, so we opted for the Fairy / Hilliers through trip instead.
This trip started very pleasantly, with simple clambering over boulders and a short flat out squeeze into a small chamber. Easy caving led to a diversion off the main route, up through a loose choke to Disappointment Chamber. Here Jonny's time in the gym scuppered him from getting his chest through one of the squeezes, so I continued alone through the slightly unnerving choke (it was loose and poorly travelled), so that - as Jonny put it - I wouldn't be disappointed at avoiding disappointment. On reaching Disappointment chamber, I could see why it was given this name: a couple of uninspiring decorations make negotiating the choke not very worthwhile.
Next on the list was the wet crawl connecting Fairy and Hilliers. This was quite unpleasant, and involved getting a rather wet ear when ducking through the lowest point. A tight-ish squeeze followed, and having popped through this, we started down a descending tube. This lead to a narrow crawl which looked very tight to me. Jonny reassured me that it wasn't that bad, so off I went, not entirely convinced that it was the way on. To make matters worse, Mark and Jess had warned me of bad air in this part of the cave. After a few metres of crawling, I was a bit spooked; I was breathing hard, but told myself this wasn't due to bad air, but physical exertion. In any case, it was obvious it wasn't the way on as I turned a corner and it closed down.
Back out of the crawl, we retraced our steps and found the way on. Once in Hilliers, the different character of the two caves became obvious. Hilliers had a lot more boulder chokes with tight contortions and squeezes to complete. Following the polish was easy, though, and before long we were in Cambridge Grotto which was beautifully decorated. Shortly after this we turned around, and retraced our steps, before passing the connection and heading out to the exit rift where we’d rigged a handline before going into Fairy. This was a really fun, sporting trip, and I've that I'm glad I've finally got round to completing it.

Trip Report: Dave B
Cavers: Dave & Jonny
Photos: Jonny B

Monday 20 May 2024

Mendips - Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink

Being in Bristol on Saturday for Rope Rescue Event with work team, we though that it would be a shame not visit Mendips once we are so close.

Our option was an easy-ish Sunday trip and we decided to visit Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink. The cave entrance is very conveniently positioned in a car ark of Hunters' Lodge. As we arrived the night before we though it would be sensible to arrange the key straight away since the pub doesn't open until mid day next day. Having arranged the key we also tasted the produce of a local brewery.  

Paulina in the entrance crawl

On Sunday morning, after a drive from Priddy to Hunters' Lodge via Wookey Hole (due to the road closure) we were ready to cave at about 9.30am and we opted for a photo trip. The idea was to explore it all the way to the end and take pictures on the return. Not knowing the way we managed to poke into all the dead ends and eventually found the correct way on. We decided to go full SRT as we were planning to get to the bottom of 18m pitch - Pewter Pot. Even though the cave is grabby in places we managed to keep our gear on throughout most the of it, but left the rope and harnesses by the pitch head and went on to see the end with the camera. The cave surprised us pleasantly with few decorated chambers and water features. 

Returning from Barmaid's Bedrooms

Happy Hour Highway

Cavers: Bartek & Paulina

Saturday 18 May 2024

OFD 1: Round Trip

Fairly mellow, quick & easy enough trip, is the best way I’d describe this one. However, is that because I’ve already experienced so much? Who knows! One thing I couldn’t have probably done sooner is the rigged traverse. As frightening as it was, I knew there was a drop but it was confusing because I knew I couldn’t fall. Think i need to do this one again. I did enjoy it, very good beginners trip I’d say and thoroughly enjoyed being the only ones in there (thanks to the weather 🤓). Loz is a great leader and i will look forward to her trips again!
Trip Report: Rebecca Guy
Cavers: Loz, Rebecca
Photos: Rebecca