This had been arranged for some time as a Christmas trip for some of the newer members of the Club and the chosen cave was Craig A Ffynonn, but extremely wet weather on the day meant that we had to look for an alternative. We spent a highly amusing few minutes listening to Andy unsuccessfully trying to lead through the corkscrew squeeze before being shown the correct way to do it by Mel.
Afterwards several members of the team spent a few minutes proving that it is possible to turn round within the few few metres of the Daren Cilau entrance crawl.
Chris negotiating the calcite corkscrew squeeze in Pen Eryr.
A long and arduous trip taking in most of the length of Southern Stream Passage which had to be negotiated in both directions. We wasted a lot of time trying to find the way into Priory Road as our written laminated route description has suffered from water ingress and was virtually unreadable, and the survey seemed to imply that we should climb up above the stream and find a passage on the right. The route is actually much easier but requires a fair amount of hands and knees crawling. Eventually three members of the team got to see the formations in Trafalgar Passage but with two members left behind in separate locations we ran out of time and were forced to exit without taking any photographs.
A rash decision was taken to abandon the photographic gear in the cave and to return during the week after Christmas to find Corkscrew Chamber and take the photos.
A very tired team, regretting the decision to ditch the photographic gear emerged after ten and a quarter hours underground.
The Team: AnCr, KeEd, CoJe, BrMa & ChWe
Saturday - Lancaster Hole Present: Mike Clayton - DCC/Craven PC, Emma Porter - DCC/Craven PC, Andrew Cross - DCC, Dave Williams - DCC, Neville Lucus - Craven PC, John Allonby - Craven PC, Hadi Kaassamani - Speleo Club du Liban, Firas Fayad - Speleo Club du Liban The projected route was into Lancaster Hole through to the main drain and exiting from Wretched Rabbit. The trip took longer underground than expected as Wilf Taylor's Passage was carrying a significant stream. At one waterfall, it was decided to turn back. On the return journey, Neville lost a wellie (never to be seen again) due to the force of the stream. We exited from Lancaster Hole. Sunday - Bar Pot Present: Mike Clayton - DCC/Craven PC, Emma Porter - DCC/Craven PC, Andrew Cross - DCC, Joanna Campbell - ex-DCC, Shepton Mallet CC, Graham Salmon - Yorkshire Ramblers Club, Hadi Kaassamani - Speleo Club du Liban, Firas Fayad - Speleo Club du Liban The intended pot was Swinsto Hole, but this was abandoned due to the high water levels in the Dales. Bar Pot was a suitable trip with the main chamber very impressive as Fell Beck was carrying a significant stream. After the main chamber we visited Sand Chambers, Stream Passage streamway on the way to the start of the South East Extension. After Saturday, this constituted an uneventful trip.
Top Entrance --> Big Chamber --> Bagpipe Chamber (for Del) --> Arete Chamber Top (for Andy) --> Birthday Cake --> The Clay Figures (for Andy) --> Chasm Passage --> Poached Egg Climb --> Straw Gallery (Photo stop) --> The Crevasse --> Bhowani Junction (to look at the pretty) --> Chasm Passage --> Timo's Table (short break for Brendan and Keith to explore the route to the Prokofiev Series - we'll do this next year and need a back-up team of the thinnest members in the Club) --> Arete Chamber Bottom --> Salubrious Stream --> Trident --> Judge --> Out by the normal route except Keith decided to take the crawl past White Arch.
A good time was had by all.
Straw Gallery in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu II.
Brendan, Keith, Del, Carol, Chris, Mel & Andy G
Keith with the assistance of Brendan navigating found the mine this time. (Last time we failed to find it - both believing that the other one knew where it was!) A 400 foot ladder climb led us down into the tunnel, to breath in the diesel and smoke fumes from the recently departed train. (An audible sob was heard to escape from Keith.)
We then headed to the limestone working where we spent about 4 hours taking photos in some of the larger galleries. We then headed out via the upper limestone workings.
This was to have been a day on the dig to see if it would be possible to pump water into the cave along the newly discovered roof space, however when we went into the dig the water levels were too high, so instead we went caving. Present: KEd, BMa, DRo & CWe
At the dig face nearly all of the in-fill from the 'lost' roof of the passage had slumped in revealing back space in the ceiling. After some digging we were able to climb up into this. The passage here is around ten feet high. Ahead appears to be the continuation of the chocked narrow rift, above is a 4 inch square hole in the roof which is another inlet, but to the left is (as we suspected from last time) another passage and the in-fill does not go quite up to roof level - more black space! We can see about six feet along this passage before it appears to turn right again. This is a very interesting area.
This year the conference was relatively close to the West Midlands and once again was a great success thanks to the hard work of the volunteer staff. It was a great opportunity to catch up with friends, buy new kit and to be inspired. Attendees: Acr, BMa, DWi Lecturer: EPo Technical Support: MCl
A trip to Canyons East and Canyon West with the purposes of a) visiting a part of the cave we haven't been to before and b) introducing Del to something a little tastier like the traverses in Indiana Highway. No real formations to talk about but some fantastic guano deposits. Present: KEd, BMA & DRo
SRT exchange trip with Shepton Mallet Caving Club, Shropshire Mine and Caving Club and four members of Dudley. The Scenic Route was particularly impressive. Present: Mike Clayton Andrew Cross, Dave Williams and Emma Porter.
Despite taking 1 hour to set the ladder at the cave exit, a successful and pleasant trip.
Swinsto hole starts with a pleasant short pitch, but is soon followed by around a 1000 ft crawl in water. We developed a system, Mike C rigged, I carried the rope to the pitch head and Emma removed the rope behind us and passed it forwards. All went well until around the fourth pitch. When the knot in the bottom of the rope was not undone before starting to pull it up, fortunately this was noticed when the knot was only 12 ft from the floor, although under the waterfall. Despite fears of cutting the rope, it was recovered by climbing the pitch and being lowered on the rope. Present: MCl, ACr & EPo + Cara Allison (TSG), Mike Wilson (BEC) & Zot (BEC)
The standard round trip to The Rising - in via the Green Canal and out via the Lower Series pausing to take some pictures in Cloud Chamber. Unfortunately this gave another group the chance to overtake us, so by the time we got to the Green Canal the only buoyancy aids left were three life jackets all with broken zips and one small plastic container.
Keith and Derek exited via the Lower Series while Brendan and Chris came back through the Green Canal to ferry some buoyancy aids back.
Weekend 12/13th August We now have 150, 13" x 30" sand bags - each one holds more than a bucket full. On Saturday we filled 100 bags (approx. 120 buckets) and stacked them at the bottom of the main railway track. With only 4 people we had to initially stack the bags in the cross-rift and then move positions to get them to the bottom of the entrance passage.
On Sunday we pulled 80 bags out to surface before the front wheels of the main dig truck were worn so badly that they splayed out and came off the railway track. We took both trucks back to the workshop and swapped two wheels between the trucks. We were then able to drag out the remaining 20 bags. After this we filled another 50 bags and stacked them in the cross-rift.
Over the course of the weekend we added approx. 10 feet to the system. Near the dig face we have lost the roof again, but we think that at the dig face we may have got the roof back. Also on the left there may be a side passage.
Keith Edwards with the stacked sand bags at the cross rift.
Keith Edwards below the cross rift.
The Dig Team: JDu (Sat and Sun morning only), KEd, CJe (Sun only), BMa and DRo
Emma rigging and great SRT practice. Quite a trek to get there, 2.12 miles to be exact!! With heavy bags, but well worth the effort. A pleasant mixture of everything for me, SRT (5 pitches) an interesting 'ramp' on third pitch, short climbs, crawls, ducks and waterfalls, just enough to keep us damp, with plenty to look at along the way.... and I was the only one who didn't have to lug a tackle bag round with me!! Approx 5hr trip, a 'sprint' back across the Dales and back in time for curry at 9:00pm in Settle. Great day and excellent caving trip.
Present: MCl, EPo & DeWi plus Mike Peters (Craven Pothole Club)
The idea was to attempt a through trip from the resurgence to top entrance. This can only be done in drought conditions so we hoped that after many weeks of very dry weather it would be possible.
We rigged top entrance for our exit and then walked down the valley and entered the system at the lower entrance. None of the cave is easy going. Most of the passage is flat out crawling and everything is covered in a thick layer of sticky dark brown mud. The cave feels gloomy and uninviting. After about half an hour we were forced to turn back where the way on was flooded and would have required helmets to be removed and noses to be pressed to the roof.
We then went back and dropped into top entrance to explored the nicely decorated Waiting Room and Lathkiller Hall.
We found it this time after a 2 mile trek over the Black Mountains due to the advent of GPS technology! It's not the easiest cave to find and almost impossible if you only have the instructions in the guide book to follow. Also the description in the guide book appears to be incomplete. We explored most of the 'old series' and dropped the second pitch to explore some of the new. Lots of places in the cave to still explore next time.
In the chamber below the entrance pitches.
Keith Edwards in the chamber below the entrance pitches.
The clue was in the name "Small Cave", but with 1km of passage, it was one to be ticked off. Picking one of the hottest days of the year and praying to avoid thunderstorms we set off to explore this 'sporting streamway' The cave is formed in gently dipping bedding planes often following bands of washed out shale. The cave is very flood prone with much debris in the entrance passages and further into the cave the walls and roof covered with silt. The route follows the stream, but you often have to climb up over collapses. A long silted up flat out canal brings you to sump one, where a sporting duck with a rope handline leads you to the sump bypass. A exhibition in comedy climbing techniques followed as we tackled the 15 foot tight chimney up into the rift passage that bypasses the sump. A large oppressive passage is gained before it reduces in size and sump 2 is gained.
A very successful weekend. On Saturday we were able to remove the infill which had fallen out of the cross rift and make a little forward progress under the arched roof.
On Sunday we added another few feet to the system. In the afternoon we managed to drop a boulder out of the roof which revealed some "black space", but after much excitement we found after a few feet the infill was back up to the roof.
The Dig Team: PAn (Sun only), MBo, MCa, KEd, BMa, MNo (Sun only), DRo, GSm, JSm & ASt
A trip to Gilwern Passage and then on to the Galeria Garimpeiros Extensions. The intention was to see how Chris performed in the 30m duck in theGwter Fawr Streamway and then explore Breadfruit Boulevard and the Saint Giles Series. Unfortunately the duck was heavily silted and none of us could physically fit through!
Chris Webb in Galleria Garimpeiros - Ogof Draenen.
Chris and Keith - Hearts of the Olden Glory Streamway - Galleria Garimpeiros.
We headed to the lay-by above Nant Rhin and scrambled down to the stream. I could see from the road that there'd been a bit of a mud/rock slide. The nice new entrance to Nant Rhin seemed to have partially collapsed and was half blocked with rubble, including a couple of small dislodged scaffold bars sticking out of a pile of rocks in front! I shifted a bit of the rubble out of the way, and went in to have a quick look as far as the streamway. Just inside, the boards and scaffolding are still intact and solid, and beyond that, the cave 'proper' is fine, but I think a lot more rubble and mud will wash down in front of the entrance next time it rains heavily, needing shifting again. We didn't go in any further.
Next we rapidly dispatched every inch of available passage in Ogof Clogwyn. [Nice shelving! :-)]
Finally we motored along the rifty passage in Shakespeare's Cave and got soaked to the skin in the (remarkably cold) ducks up as far as the sump.
Little Neath River Cave A trip on a very warm day through the canal to the second sump and returning via the canal bypass. The warmth of the water entering the cave filled the passages with fog, somewhat spoiling the splendour of some of the larger river passage.
Chris viewing the formations in Canal Bypass.
Cwm Pwll y Rhyd A trip down the valley to the lesser caves started with a short foray into Cwm Pwll y Rhyd, but the smell of decaying matter soon forced our retreat.
White Lady A short trip in one entrance and out the other, some nice limestone in such a short section of cave
Town Drain A quick trip to the end and back in this very linear cave. some impressive scalloped limestone passage in the first 100m or so. Will be back with the camera.
The standard round trip with out that many deviations (we only got lost once or twice). There was a fair amount of water in the system, due to the volume of rain they had had in the area over the past few days. The only real problem we had was that after we had de-rigged the ladder pitch on the way out, it was observed that the tackle bag was still at the bottom of the pitch - oh dear someone has to go down again!
A trip to the Antlers taking in Urchin Oxbow and White Company on the way. We also had a look at Man in the Roof. Chris thoroughly enjoyed his first visit to this notorious system although tales of people trapped by their legs in the Vice did cause a just little nervousness.
A lazy start to the morning, followed by a crawl under the Hunters pub thanks to J'Rat and team's hard work during Foot and Mouth disease. This is an interesting cave with plenty of formations, significant bone discoveries and is very handy for pre and post trip liquid refreshments.
This was to have been a digging day, but the weather decided that this was not to be so - see dig page. Adrian, Graham and John left to browse the bookshops in Hay on Wye and Brendan and Keith would have liked to have joined them, but the new boy pleaded with us to take him caving so a short trip in top entrance was hastily arranged. The route included Big Chamber, Bagpipe Chamber, Arête Chamber, Edwards Short Cut, Frozen River,Shatter Pillar, Selenite Tunnel, The Trident and Judge.
The water slightly higher than 'normal level'. Pumping took nearly all day. When we got to the bottom of the extension passage it was noted that more infill had fallen out of the roof and had washed down to the dig face. Also by this time the rain which had started when we started pumping had set in for the day and was falling heavily. More .....
Several scenarios were investigated on the day mainly involving stretcher handling in the pitch bypass crawls. MCl & EPo worked on moving a stretcher from the first chamber through the connecting crawl and up the scaffolded climb, the rest of the DCC members investigated rigging the traverses below the third pitch and the pitch itself.
Present: From DCC: - MCl, KEd, BMa, EPo + Dave from Wolverhampton
A trip through the infamous Colostomy Crawl into Speedwell then via Whirlpool Chamber to Main Rising followed by a look at the pitch at Cliff-hanger then the lower reaches of the Lower Bung Streamway pausing only to take some photos at the Bung Waterfall - all in relatively high water conditions.
Verdict: - tiring and wet.
A trip for the club novices to the sump and back. Party 2 also took in the first part of the 'Short Round Trip' via Tratman's Temple to the first of the 'Troubles' which was completely sumped. Peter was the only one brave enough to dive the sump.
Peter climbing up the Wet Way.
Del climbing up Double Pots.
Present: Party 1 - MCl, EPo & DeWi + Dave from Wolverhampton. Party 2 - KEd, PLi, BMa, JRa & DRo
The water was at 'normal level' with only a foot of so of water in the extension passage. Pumping took less than an hour. It was found that several tons of infill had fallen out of the roof of the cross rift exposing the ceiling and about 6 feet of passage to the right - not in the direction we want to go but another 6 feet for the survey nevertheless. More ...
It's not often that experienced cavers end up looking like idiots, but that is what happened to us when we took 'Mell' who had never been underground before on a taster trip into Wapping Mine/Cumberland Cavern.
We decided she could lead – big mistake and she was off like a whippet leaving Pete and me puffing and panting like a pair of old steam trains. So just to get our own back we took her to Jug Holes to practice SRT on the 40ft shaft – s**t that still never slowed her down. Well done Mell you can come again ????
A novice trip mainly for the benefit of Bill's sword fighting chums. As the water in the streamway was sportingly high we decided to go up the Escape Route instead. Some of the party made it as far as Pi Chamber while the rest of us had a rest in the small chamber before the chimney climb. Back at the streamway we found that the water level had dropped so we had a little play in the water before coming out.
A photographic trip to the crystal pool. We also attempted the climb toDali's Delight, but came to the conclusion that we needed prussic gear. On the way out we explored some of the side passages in the lower series.
Jason Cashmore at the Crystal Pool.
Jason Cashmore traversing around the Crystal Pool.