Saturday 14 August 2010

A Photographic Expedition to North Aven in Dan Yr Ogof

Those boys from Dudley Caving Club have figured out that if they need sherpas for caving wilderness photo shoots, then we are the bees knees. Not only are we young, strong and willing to carry large, heavy black boxes, but we also make fine models and carry pork pies to share. So, into Dan Yr Ogof we went. What a delightful cave. Within 10 minutes of the carpark, you’re up to your neck in freezing cold water and climbing awkward rifts with no footholds. After that it’s relatively plain sailing for all of a few metres before entering the long crawl which continues for about 10 km (or so it seems). Once past there, the situation improves a little.
In the large chamber after the long crawl, we decided to temporarily stash the quiche that Brendan had carried into the cave on Keith’s behalf. We decided that it would not last much longer in it’s cardboard box if it continued any further. We also figured that a snack at this point in the cave on the return journey would be most welcomed. The quiche and it’s rather crumpled box was stashed behind a rock and we continued.
We took the passage to Crystal Pool, that led into Elliptic Passage, which led to a crawl that drops you into Bakerloo Straight. From here we went through Thixotropic Passage (a little bit muddy), into the Abyss, up a ladder to trenchways, then through Go Faster (stomping walking passage), through Go slower (big stomping passage with huge boulders in the bottom) and then into Rottenstone Aven and through to the Rising. We took the rather scary chain-linked ladder up to the Windy Way, and then down the 14 m pitch onto the Great North Road.

The Great North Road - Dan Yr Ogof
Richard heading up the 14 m pitch into the Windy Way

The Great North Road carried on for a fair while until we came to Pinnacle Chamber, a place that marked the start of the part of the cave that we actually came to visit!

Pinnacle Chamber - Dan Yr Ogof
Keith in Pinnacle Chamber

We meandered through The Meanders (funnily enough whilst we were wearing Meanders) and then went through to the Mostest. These two final destinations were really quite pretty. The Meanders is a fabulous piece of stream passage with a really high roof – we took lots of complicated photos there.

The Meanders - Dan Yr Ogof
Rachel in the Meanders

The Meanders - Dan Yr Ogof
Rachel in the Meanders

The Mostest has lots of pretty formations, the best of which was probably an entire wall covered in white flowstone, below which the passage floor was a mass of creamy cauliflower-type things in the water.
We took the best part of 100 photos, ate the pork pies and then started the long journey home.

The Mostest - Dan Yr Ogof
Rachel in the Mostest

The Mostest - Dan Yr Ogof
Richard and Rachel in the Mostest

By the time we got to the quiche we were hungry and therefore, despite it having seen better days, the entire comestible was consumed. It was good – although it was not the best timing given that we were just about to start the long crawl. We made it through and out the lakes and were back at the cars by 8 pm and after 10 hours in the cave! After consuming cake (sorry no pictures), we retired to the Gwynn and ate. We even had room for dessert, how could anyone say no to one of these ….?

On the morning after, we considered opting for a sofa Sunday. It nearly happened, but unfortunately someone uttered the words let’s go and off we went. With ankles and wrists slightly damp in yesterday’s caving gear we walked up to Top Entrance of OFD and headed in for a bimble around. One point to this trip was to locate a particular rock formation that required photographing for one of my colleagues. Unfortunately I had forgotten to ask exactly where it was and I only had a conceptual description of what it looked like, along with a half an idea of where it was near from one of Brendan’s pictures! After a good 3 hrs wandering around the cave (not all in search of the rock formation) we located the rock about 100 m from the entrance. A nice trip was had and it left us suitably knackered, which meant that the weekend was probably over. Another weekend, another set of aching muscles.

Rachel Dearden

All of Brendan's DYO photos can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Rachel for this trip report.
    Our objective was to take photos between The Rising and North Aven - an area that Brendan had not photographed before - well we had made one attempt but that trip was cut short when someone (OK it was me) dropped SRT kits and his one and only car key into Lake 8 - a 60ft deep sump.
    There's still a lot of photography to be done so we will return.
    PS I didn't stay for the meal or the Sunday trip.