Tuesday 27 December 2011

Maskhill Mine

This trip was 2 years in the planning.  A Maskhill/Oxlow exchange trip was the proposed Christmas trip for 2009, but on arriving in Buxton it started to snow heavily and we only just managed to escape home before the roads became impassible.
This time 10 members, or was it 11, signed up for the experience, but on the day the excuses came thick and fast and no better excuses had been heard since the infamous Jim Durr came up with the, "I can't go caving because I have to hang up a plate rack", excuse.  So the 10, or was it 11, became a mere 5.  The exchange was abandoned and the Maskhill only trip was agreed.
The videos tell the story.

Video Trailer

The Complete Video

The Team: Mark Burkey, Keith Edwards, Jessica Harding, Graham Smith and Steve Wallis.

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Moss Chamber Peak Cavern

Moss chamber sunday 4th of December

Earlier in the year (January) we had a club trip into peak cavern but due to illness i wasnt able to go to moss chamber and had to do one of the easier trips, so this time i was adament i was going to go and see where poor neil moss was entoomed, even if it ment i may of had to go solo.
Now poor mark and jess had decided that thay wouldnt be coming to Moss chamber as some body had told them it was tight (i think some one was exaggerating) as in my opinion there was plenty of room.
In the end Steve,Mell and myself set off to find Moss Chamber, now bear in mind that Steve and Mell had been to the chamber earlier in the year so navigation should of been quit simple, Steve led the way with a nice easy hands and knees crawl to a large boulder wich was easy to hop over, closley followed by a junction where we where sopost to turn off somewhere on the right, but we missed the turn and ended up in a wet muddy flat out crawl wich took us to cohesion sump (not a nice place) so we backtracked to the boulder and consulted the survey, and Mell quickly found the right way on, wich was quit nice after that crawl up to cohesion sump as there was very little crawling if any and Moss Chamber was soon reached, now the awkward bit was on the way back out through the eye hole, as there is a bit off a drop to the hand holds, and as you come through it head first you think your going to slide through and miss the holds, if you did you would end up droping about 10 feet head first, now that would be painfull, but we all managed it without any problem, and a steady exit was made from the cave back to the caving club for a nice shower and to await the other groups who had gone on different routes in peak cavern

Present : Andy G, Mell and Steve

Saturday 12 November 2011

Swildon’s Short Round Trip

Trip Report by Mark Burkey

After a trip earlier in the year to sump 1 and then the greasy chimney, Andy, Mel, Jess and myself had been planning on going back to have a go at the short round trip.
This time we were minus Jess (after she decided to jump off her new scooter before actually stopping) and plus Dominic.
We knew it was going to be busy as soon as we arrived by the number of cars at the green. Sure enough as soon as we got in the entrance cavers begun appearing from everywhere!
We made swift progress to the pitch head only to have a half hour wait as there was a traffic jam of cavers waiting to descend.
At Tratman's Temple we again caught up a group who were also doing the short round and as we had already lost a lot of time we decided to tag along rather than jump ahead and risk navigation errors.
Everything went smoothly with no surprises to the greasy chimney. Andy went first.....grunt, grunt "I'm nearly there"...THUMP!! “Strike 1”...THUMP!! “Strike 2!”... Fortunately Andy flew up on the fourth attempt as I’m not sure there were anymore swear words left for him to use!
Again with our guides we swiftly made our way through to the Troubles where the other group decided they wanted to get some pictures of everyone going through. Andy was first up.....”Exactly how long IS this?”.......”THAT’S not much airspace”.....”What do you mean on your BACK?!?!”  In the end Andy showed us how it was done and just treated the whole thing as a sump and swam under it! Next went Mel and then Dominic who, after a ‘moment’, took to the ducks like, well like a spluttering duck to water. I myself had been so focused on the Birthday Squeeze ahead that I hadn’t even given any of the other obstacles a second thought. At least not until I wedged tight through one of the later ducks with my head half submerged and had to be dragged through. It was at this point I decided I really, REALLY wanted to fit through the squeeze and not have to do the Troubles in reverse.
Andy and Mel flew through the Birthday Squeeze, and I followed family tradition by first stripping off down to my furry. Following advice from Paul (an experienced caver who swore he’d got “corks” through the squeeze before)  I eventually went in on my back and was just thinking to myself how well I was doing when everything came to an abrupt halt. I’d reached the tightest part of the squeeze and no matter how hard I pushed I wasn’t going anywhere. I would just like to say that I was very manly at this point and took it in my stride, but unfortunately I can’t.  I begun to panic, making some very un-macho noises! However, with Paul wedged in behind me to push against, & Andy telling me there was no way he was going back through those bloody troubles and to suck it up, I eventually popped through like a champagne cork through to a slightly wider part, managed to turn full circle, and actually wound up having Andy pull me feet first out of the squeeze. I’m reliably informed this is a manoeuvre that has never been performed before and certainly gave cause for a few giggles!
With nothing more than a couple of minor navigational errors we were through the sump, back up the pitch and out with no further events.
In conclusion I think it is important for a caver to approach such a challenge with guts and determination, though I do feel a little less guts on my part would have made the whole experience far easier :)
My thanks go to Dominic, Mel, Andy & my new foot-rest, Paul, for getting me through my hardest challenge to date. The ribs are a little sore and tender, but I couldn't have done it without the whole team.

Present: Dominic, Andy, Mel, Mark & around 200 other cavers popping out from everywhere!!!

Saturday 5 November 2011

OFD - Towards Top Waterfall

With the weather looking very poor in the South West, Keith decided to take James and Chloe on their introductory caving trip with the club to South Wales and OFD. A little rain had fallen in the week, but the day was glorious and so we headed up to the Top Entrance to OFD and then on to the streamway. The plan was to head upstream to Top Waterfall and then return along some of the trade routes. The journey in was a little slower than planned and after climbing down Maypole Inlet we headed downstream for a short distance to visit the impressive cascades in the streamway.

James at a pot in the OFD Streamway

Chloe at a pot in the OFD Streamway

We turned around and made our way against the flow of the peaty coloured water towards our goal for the day. After reaching the oxbow in the streamway we decided that it would be better to return than carry on to Top Waterfall, as we were in danger of exceeding our call out time.

Chloe at a cascade in the OFD Streamway

See more photos of OFD 2 here

Present: Keith Edwards, Chloe Burney, James Charlick and Brendan Marris

Sunday 16 October 2011

North Wales Digging

Another Sunday spent in the company of Heather and friends of North Wales Caving Club. A great volume of dry sand was dug, bagged up, hauled up to the chamber above the dig and made into sandcastles. This continued until we were exhausted, the oxygen had run out at the dig face, the fan to pump fresh air to the diggers had packed up and and one member stabbed himself trying to repair the connector to the fan. The connection between cave X and cave Y is now 4m closer, unless of course we are going in the wrong direction and we are now 4m further away.

Photo taken on a previous digging trip

Present: Heather Simpson, Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris, Rebecca, Julian, Dave and Patrick

Sunday 25 September 2011

Hidden Earth 2011

Hidden Earth was attended by a good number of Dudley Club members. At the end of the weekend the annual presentation of the Giles Barker Award was made. For 2011 the award, a hand-crafted statue of a cave photographer made by Ceris Jones, went to Brendan Marris. Brendan has become known for a consistently high standard of underground photography and, since 2008, publishing regular updates on his website at ogof.org.uk As part of a personal online project, he is documenting the caves of South Wales, logging the results against digital maps. Both the quality of his work and his comprehensive approach make Brendan a worthy winner.

South Wales has been a regular venue for many cavers from Dudley Caving Club and the South Wales Cave project was born out of a passion for the caves of the area.

To embark on such a project was quite ambitious and could only be undertaken with the support of an equally dedicated team. Some spectacular locations have been visited on trips that would have been a challenge to simply reach without the added burden of photographic equipment. During this time I have been grateful for the level of support and commitment in visiting a range of places from the Out of this World to the quite simply horrid. I would like to express particular thanks to Keith Edwards who has offered consistent support and encouragement, and although he only appears in selected photographs, is generally around the corner out of sight, waist deep in water providing the lighting that is key to the photographs.

Friday 26 August 2011

Brickwork's Dig

The dig was last visited in February when Graham and John fitted the entrance gate frame and started to ‘brick in’ the gaps around the sides.  We also managed to pump out the dig using the new pumping system but failure of the bottom pump along with water flowing in at a rate which would have required continuous pumping meant that we had to abandon any attempt at digging and go caving instead.
This time Graham and John completed the ‘bricking in’ around the sides of the frame and we managed to completely pump out the system.
The pumps and generator were set up on the Friday evening and we pumped for an hour or so until the bottom pump got itself clogged again.  The pump was dismantled and unclogged in the workshop but it was too late to resume pumping operations.
On Saturday as well as bricking in we also finished pumping out, moved 120-130 bags to surface which were stacked in the cross rift and filled another 60-70 bags which were stacked in the cross rift.
Sunday was less successful.  The bottom pump refused to lift the remaining sludge to the middle tank in spite of lowering the connecting pipe.  While pump maintenance and re-cabling was being done the filled bags from the previous day were bought out to surface.  The pump still refused to lift the sludge so we packed up early.
For next time it seems we need a pump for the bottom which can handle the sludge.

Graham lowers the new dig truck containing pumps and sand bags while Keith supervises
The new entrance to the dig complete with giant spider's web which mysteriously appeared when we were underground
The Friday Digging Team: Graham, John, Keith & Mark
The Saturday Digging Team: Andy, Brendan, Graham, John, Keith, Mark & Mel
The Sunday Digging Team: Brendan, Graham, John, Keith & Mark

Monday 8 August 2011

Maskhill Mine

Mon 8th August 2011

After having done our rope access course Jess said she wanted to do some rigging. As I wanted a bit of a challenge I suggested Maskhill Mine.
Jess and I have done this as an exchange, but fortunately Jess has the memory of a goldfish and couldn’t remember the trip and agreed.
As I pulled out rope after rope out of the stores, & others in the club began commenting on the amount of kit, the look on her face changed a little as she realised what she’d let herself in for.

Equipped with over 300m of rope, dozens of maillons and karabiners all stuffed in to 4 well packed kit bags, we set off up the hill only to walk straight past the entrance which was surrounded with overgrown nettles and proceeded to spend the next half an hour cursing and saying ‘well I know it’s round here somewhere!’

Eventually we stumbled across it, and in fairness you did have to be right on top to see it.

With the first 80m of rope Jess jumped in and did a sterling job of rigging to the Jumbles. I followed with the other 3 bags, managing to drop them right in the middle of  Y hangs at least twice and realised just how much like I proper caver I was becoming, expletives pouring forth as I wrestled bags back into position. 
Switching at Trebuchet Corner I continued the rigging through to pool chamber without event.
De-rigging went fine for the first couple of bags of rope, once we got back to the top of Jumbles I could tell Jess was starting to feel it by the way she was often questioning my heritage. The fact that every 10 meters up the entrance pitches I could hear her struggling to free the bags which kept snagging possibly didn’t help!
All in all a great trip and an achievement for two people to do, but I think I’ll possibly take another couple of cavers next time ;)

Don't know why Jess was complaining, I was carrying the camera!

Present Mark & Jess

Saturday 6 August 2011

Five cavers - Four caves - One day

The day started with a very brief rendez-vous in Asda cafe before heading to Ystradfellte and the caves. Some substantial repairs to the road allowed us to park the cars down at the bridge. We sent Wal off to the farm to pay the trespass fees, changed and made our way to our first cave..

Cave 1 Bridge Cave
Our first cave of the day was Bridge Cave, with a quick trip down to the sump and then back out again.

Martin in the Entrance Series - Bridge Cave

Some more photos of Bridge Cave Here

Cave 2 White Lady Cave
We headed down the Nedd Fechan past Cwm Pwll Y Rhyd and down to White Lady cave, it's large arched entrance enticing us in. The water was deeper than I remembered and caused much upset to Wal who as we all know doesn't like the wet stuff. A quick sploosh down to the sump and then a slow return taking photos followed.

Martin and Mel in the main passage - White Lady Cave

Martin and Wal near the entrance - White Lady Cave

Cave 3 Town Drain Cave
A hop skip and jump from the entrance to White Lady was Town Drain, and one by one we entered this linear and impressively scalloped cave. A dash to the end was followed by half an hour of photos taken in the most impressive section of passage near the entrance.

Martin and Andy near the entrance - Town Drain Cave

Martin near the entrance - Town Drain Cave

Cave 4 Little Neath River Cave.
Having ticked off the lesser caves of the valley we headed up to the true target of the day - Little Neath. Low water and warm weather ensured that journey into the cave was not too cold or off-putting. We headed downstream to look at the other side of the Bridge Cave sump before sticking our heads into the canal. Wal was urged to commit himself to the water, but after much coaxing he would not budge. It took Martin heading off down the canal in front to get Wal to follow. After our swim a short detour to Bouncing Boulder Hall was made before the return via the Canal bypass was made. We were all out for four o'clock and in the New Inn at Ystradfellte supping pints in the beer garden by five.

Some Little Neath River cave photos from previous trips here

Present: Brendan Marris, Steve Wallis, Mel Wakeman, Andy Grimes and Martin Saunders.

Saturday 23 July 2011

Another Fechan Caving Trip

Ogof Fechan is a reasonably sporting caving trip with 1km of passage leading to the second sump. The cave has some low passages with water in that flood to the roof, so a dry weekend in July was taken to make a return visit to this cave.
A break in tradition saw breakfast taken at Asdas on the route to the cave. Arriving at Cwm Cadlan a courtesy visit to Wernlas farm was made before changing and heading towards the cave. A camera box, a camcorder box and a flashgun box was shared between the two of us, making progress through the cave a little awkward.
The route description was left in the car and Brendan in a fit of navigational ineptitude went up every dead end and side passage as we went through the cave. Towards the end, the duck that bypasses sump 1 was met, looking very uninviting but after a little deliberation we made our way through and headed to the second sump. For a few moments on the return journey through the duck Keith thought it had sumped, only to find he was heading the wrong way through it.

Keith in the Entrance Series - Ogof Fechan

Keith in Sand Chamber - Ogof Fechan

Keith viewing formations in West Rift - Ogof Fechan

Keith in Waterfall Chamber - Ogof Fechan

See more photos and information on Ogof Fechan Here

Present: Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris

Alum Pot from Lower Long Churn

July 23rd 2011

On a very wet weekend in July Andy, Mel, Jess and I decided to visit Yorkshire for an SRT trip I’d always wanted to tick off...Alum pot from Long Churn.
After an interesting night of very heavy rain and someone trying to break in to the van whilst Jess and I slept in it! We met up at Inglesport for Mel to fuel up and the rest to have a cuppa and discuss options. Long Churn had been flooded to the roof over the past couple of days, but the streams had actually dropped significantly in the past 24hrs, so we decided to have a wander and check it out and retreat to a backup if it looked too risky.
Walking past Alum the stream was a little higher, but nothing like we were expecting. The sun had decided to make an appearance and once at the entrance to the Churns I was ready for a little water!
 After a wade through some thigh deep passage to double shuffle where Andy couldn’t be bothered with acrobatics and jumped straight in. A quick rig and drop down Dolly tubs and the view to Alum was spectacular. Everything went smoothly and after a few hours of happy caving we were back to the cars for a cuppa.

Andy at the opening to Alum Pot

Present Andy, Mel, Jess, Mark

Friday 29 April 2011

Friday 22 April 2011

Ireby Fell

A long weekend trip to Yorkshire for some, and a shorter one for others over the Easter Weekend. We confronted all of our worst fears, going north, caving on rope and worst of all camping. Friday was started in Bernies with obligatory breakfast before the drive to Masongill and the walk up the hill to Ireby Fell. A little faffing and short nap was taken in the shakehole before the descent down Ding, Dong, Bell, Pussy and Well pitches all rigged by Rachel, left the final rope descent to the lower streamway and the horizontal section of the cave. While in the cave Richard sussed out the connections to Ireby II for a future visit to complete the round trip.
Following the trip we headed off to the campsite, while Keith left a trail of dust behind his car as he sped off in the opposite direction to the M6. Saturday was a short trip into Marble Steps and then a walk along the top of Kingsdale to Large Pot, Swinsto, Simpsons, Rowten and Jingling pots. 

Rachel and Richard preparing to descend
Brendan - not really in the mood for an SRT trip


Present: Brendan Marris, Rachel Dearden, Richard Dearden, and Keith Edwards (not a happy camper)

Sunday 17 April 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams

A facinating 3D film of the discovery of a French cave that contained prehistoric cave art. A compelling film that proves that the French are as mad as a box of frogs. Saturday - Brendan Marris, Rachel Dearden, Richard Dearden
Sunday - Bartek Biela, Paulina Biela, Mike Clayton and Emma Porter

Thursday 14 April 2011

Ten pin bowling

A social night kindly organised by Andy Grimes and the Dudley bowling alley.

Monday 21 March 2011

Swildons Hole

The last time I was in Swildons was a good few years back and to say that things have changed a bit is an understatement. For a start, when I went to pay the trespass fee at Manor Farm the back door was no longer there so I had to knock on the front door. When I asked where the money box was, I was told that they have moved it to the barn conversions next to where you get changed - BARN CONVERSIONS !! so that was it fee paid time to get changed and go caving ha ha.
Not only have they converted the barns, but something has also converted the entrance to Swildons. OK, the little round tower is still there and so is the manhole opening, but once you drop inside that's when you notice the hanging death and carefully pick your way through until you spot somewhere you recognise. The object of this trip was to find Tratman's Temple and have a feel around the beginning of the short round trip. So off we went with part of a survey in one hand and a copy of the directions in the other. Well we found what we thought was the climb up to Tratman's Temple, but unbeknown to us it wasn't, and only realised when we noticed we were back in the main stream heading for sump 1. Not to worry, Mark and Jess had a play in the sump and then we headed back to have another go at finding Tratman's Temple. We eventually did find it and progress was made rather quickly, surprisingly being we had met another group who had got lost up in Tratman's. Mind you, we had to study the directions rather carefully, and before we new it we were at the greasy chimney, and that was as far as the directions went. I had left the rest of the directions in the car never expecting to get as far as we had, so not wanting to get totally lost and spend hours going around in circles we headed back out and off to the pub for some lunch. We can finish the rest off another day - it's not going anywhere.
Present ... Andy Grimes, Mell Wakeman, Mark Burkey and Jess Harding

Sunday 20 March 2011

A weekend in Horton in Ribblesdale

An excellent weekend in the Dales on string. Sat, the Dudley/CPC team were joined by Bruce Bensley (Wolverhampton CC and YRC) in Little Hull Pot. Sun was Sell Gill, the Wet Way to do some photos. 

Dudley/CPC Team: Mike Peters, Bartek Biela, Paulina Biela, Mike Clayton, Emma Porter.

Sunday 13 March 2011

Giant's Hole - The Vice Squad

Following a mini revisit to a white winter we all met at the elite eatery of 'Mo R Risson' renowned for its pastries, pies and well more pies, and may well have been my demise later on!!
After conducting alfresco quick change it was down the hole, but without my knee pads; and how I paying the price now.
The trip to the pitch was pleasant and going down the pitch was interesting!
Then the meandering of cosy passages commenced leading to the first tight spot which was assisted by Wal's shoulders, followed by the extremely tight and proved to be impassable spot for myself and Mark - Barrel Chests don't compress too well!
After much tugging and trampling on Wals' shoulder again it was the end of the trip and back out Giants Hole with Mark and Jess. Mark was non-too impressed!!!
Coming out into sunshine and abusive god4bids was like stepping back to South Armagh in the 80's - sorry flash back..
Overall it was a great day with wonderful company.


The Team: Brendan Marris, Dea Wilkins, Gary Chapman, Jessica Harding, Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey, Sinead Herlihy and Steve Wallis.

Saturday 26 February 2011

A South Wales Weekend - The Water-Gate Affair

Graham constructs a gate for the dig

The Team: Roger Bryan, Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris, Graham Smith & John Smith.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Knotlow and Wharf Mines - Where's Andy? Why didn't he untie that flipping belay?

So one Thursday evening it was suggested that an exchange trip from Knotlow to Wharf Mine was on the cards.  Andy hadn’t had a decent outing to test himself for a while and had always wanted to have a go at the Engine Shaft and Meccano passage.  There was to be another party coming in via the Wharf Climbing Shaft and I really fancied giving my shiny new pantin a workout, so said I’d be happy to join Andy and Mel coming in from the Knotlow side.  As is often my downfall, after hearing that there was a squeeze in the Meccano passage, and with Keith’s uncanny assessment that it might be ‘a little cozy’ for me, flooded, coffin and suicidal came up in my Google foray!

After a good hearty breakfast we were off.  I was a little nervous, but excited at the same time.  I like to imagine anything that worries me to be so horrendously bad that when I actually encounter it it’s a pleasant surprise.  Unfortunately this is in perfect contrast to Jess who likes to arrive oblivious, so my nervous chatter in the car on the way to the mines was not well received.....

Mark: ”So do you think that the guys on UK Caving Forum were kidding when they put that they wouldn’t do Meccano again and that it was suicidal, tight and wet?”
Jess: “If you don’t shut up I’m going to shove that Pantin where it’s not designed for!”
I decided on quiet and contemplative after this.

At the Engine shaft Andy and Bartek swiftly rigged.  Andy was describing the descent to me and how you had to swing across the passage before reaching the bottom, but I was only half listening as SRT is the bit I enjoy and was concentrating on the flooded stage.  All rigged and ready to go Andy commanded, “Right Mark, down you go!”......That’ll teach me.

The descent was smooth, the passage was obvious and I happily tied in a belay and backed it up down the passage to give those following a line to clip in to.  Down came the others and we removed our SRT gear ready for the crawl.  Andy explained that he’d untie the rope so that if the others decided against the ascent out that we could pull the rope up from the top.  
Into Meccano we went with Andy in the lead.  We soon reached the flooded section.  The passage was roomier than I’d imagined (I have a wonderful imagination) but the water was coming up fast.  Andy ahead was in good voice with expletives being used frequently, much to Mel’s amusement.  Once the water had forced Andy’s head to the ceiling and his chin in the water he decided he was not a happy bunny and ordered a retreat to drier land to talk through if we had missed something.  With water now in just about every cavity and no room to turn around we shuffled backward down the passage till we could all re-group.  After Andy kindly offered the lead to Mel, Myself and Jess (All of us graciously declining) he decided that it was helmets off and he’d show us how it was done.  Down the passage he went expletives and all and was soon calling back that he was through and at the squeeze.  After a few cusses and grunts he was through, Mel of course shot through like a whippet out of cage.  I looked nervously down the passage and called to Andy to have a look back through and see if he thought I’d get through. After being assured that if I got stuck that he’d pull me through by my ears I gave it a go......and......turns out that some trip reports are made a little larger than life.  Imagine that!

Very happy with myself for fitting through and skipping along through to Wharf we met Keith and Bartek on the way.  Brendan was wandering around further back muttering something about Mines, but looked less enthusiastic than I’d ever seen him.  Andy was on a roll and already headed off up the route out and I decided to hold back and let Jess go up first whilst I popped on my new toy to see if it made the prussic up any easier.  After some interesting rift and re-belays I was happy with my new piece of kit and was soon up and out.  I mentioned to Jess as I emerged that I’d like to do a larger SRT pitch and try out the pantin on a good sized prussic to which she grinned and told me that Andy wanted to see me. Apparently Andy hadn’t realised that I had tied in at two points and only untied the one, so it looked like I would get my chance at a larger prussic a little sooner than I’d anticipated!  It was now quite cold, windy and spitting with rain, so it was almost pleasant to get out of the weather and in to the shaft. Everything was smooth on the way down.  I untied the belay and pulled plenty of rope through the chest croll knowing that there would be plenty of bounce on the rope and stepped out in to the shaft. I was pretty chuffed with myself that I only dropped around 6ft and begun my prussic back up. I hadn’t counted on just how much bounce there would be on the rope and pin-balled around the shaft each time I stepped up!  After 10 minutes I’d gotten the hang of the rope but realised that after the trip and prussic out of Wharf that I was going to need to take it steady............45 min’s later I could hear Keith shouting something about hurrying up and I’m sure it was most encouraging had I been able to make out all the words.  Back at the top of the shaft I looked around to let Andy know that I thought it a little inconvenient that he’d forgotten the 2nd belay but as soon as he’d seen the steam rising from the shaft he knew I’d almost reached the top and retreated to the car.

The day was finished with some lovely cake back at the cafe and even Brendan seemed to have stopped mumbling about mines and enjoyed a cuppa.

Bartek in Hillocks

The Team: Andy Grimes, Bartek Biela, Brendan Marris, Jessica Harding, Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey & Mel Wakeman. 

Saturday 5 February 2011

OFD 2 - Into the Labyrinth

Where Mark 'The Chin' overcomes his fear of traverses, Wal, for once in his life, doesn't wander off (too far anyway), Gary discovers the delights of Meander 'Boil in the Bag' over-suits, Jess dares to criticise her leader for slight navigational errors, Sinead manages to go caving without screaming (too much anyway) and Keith gets verbally abused.

The trip was arranged for new members Sinead and Gary.  The trip was a meander around a number of passages in top entrance as it was too wet to go to our planned destination - Top Waterfall.  The route through the cave was - Big Chamber, Bagpipe Chamber, Arete Chamber, Cairn Chamber, The Labyrinth, Salubrious Streamway - downstream, The Crossroads, Cross Rift, Shatter Pillar, Selenite Tunnel, The Crossroads, Trident/Judge, Salubrious Streamway - upstream, Arete Chamber - from the other side, Gnome Passage and out via White Arch.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the experience although some members of the team were more than a little knackered on the way out.
The team on the traverses just beyond Big Chamber
Keith and Gary negotiating President's Leap

Wal climbing the waterfall in Arete Chamber
When it became obvious that a Top Waterfall trip was not possible I did moot the idea of taking the group into Cwm Dwr, but was persuaded against the idea as it was suggested that Mark might not fit through the squeeze.  As we were out of the cave well before our call-out time Mark asked if I would take him a short way into Cwm Dwr to see if he would or would not fit through the squeeze.  I asked Brendan who was Duty Officer for the weekend if he would like the pleasure of leading the trip for Mark.  It was difficult to hear his reply as I was outside a window of the club in a bitterly cold northerly breeze and he was inside the club basking in the warmth provided by the new central heating system, but he shook his head and said something which sounded like 'fork cough'.  I'm not sure what that means.

Jess joined us and we set off down the drainpipes and along the watery crawls.  In a short while we were at the infamous 'Grade 2 Constricted Space' crawl where with a little huffing a puffing Mark managed to feed his body through, although I don't think he would have before some kind soul bagged up large quantities of the stones.  Jess then said, "You were thinking of bringing the new members into here."  I nodded and she replied, "You sadistic bustard."  I don't understand why I was compared to a large bird which has been extinct in Britain for nearly 180 years and I'm sure when Gary and Sinead do go to Cwm Dwr - probably during the caving weekend of 2nd/3rd April they will think it's a lovely cave.
Keith at the entrance
Bustard - is there any similarity?

Video Trailer

Video Highlights of the Trip

The Team: Mark Burkey, Gary Chapman, Keith Edwards, Jessica Harding, Sinead Herlihy and Steve Wallis
Photos by Mark Burkey

Sunday 23 January 2011

Yorkshire Caving - Heron Pot

Having taken part in the Peak Cavern trip photographic extravaganza for Jess' birthday, we thought we'd better take a camera to Yorkshire for Mark's birthday caving weekend.
Saturday saw us joining Heather and some friends from Crewe to do an SRT trip in Bull Pot of the Witches - with 15 of us shimmying up and down ropes it became an exercise in logistics as well as ropework! As we were out by half 3, we popped off for a quick through trip from Calf holes to Browgill to finish the day off.
Sunday we set off to find Heron Pot - as recommended by Andy G. Armed with O.S. coordinates but having mislaid the GPS, we nonetheless managed to pinpoint the pot straight away - or so we thought! It fitted the description perfectly so we kitted up and slid in to the first chamber...to find that we way on was a very tight flat out passage. We hummed and hah'd over the fact that Andy said it wasn't a tight cave, and the description didn't mention it either. Climbing back out rather despondantly, we then noticed a very obvious cave entrance only feet away, which we'd been standing with our backs to, doh!

Once we got into the real Heron Pot we really enjoyed the trip - full of formations, interesting passages and not much water. The pitches weren't the most straightforward to rig but by combining Andy's advice with the couple of descriptions we'd taken, Mark managed to rig the pitches quickly and efficiently. We explored the cave down to the start of the through-trip wet crawl, including a climb up to a well-decorated chamber and a look at the upper fossil series, which is accessed up a calcite slope. We decided to give the "long wet crawl" to the valley a miss as we weren't doing the through trip, and returned to the pitches.
At the bottom of the first pitch I managed to swing right into the waterfall as I started prussicking up, which was a real incentive to prussick fast as I spluttered to Mark "Hold the rope! It's not going through my ascender!" It was at this point Mark remembered Andy had mentioned something about a deviation??? Sure enough, half way up there was a p-bolt that wasn't mentioned in either of the descriptions, but would have just kept that rope out of the waterfall :0(
We were back at the car and toasty again just as other cavers were popping out of holes all over the hillside - such is the beauty of Yorkshire!

There were formations throughout the cave, including the famous "pickled onion" formation (above).

The passages were full of calcite curtains and flowstone.

Present: Heron Pot - Mark "the chin" Burkey and Jess "Globetrotter" Harding

Sunday 16 January 2011

Peak Cavern - A Cinematic Extravaganza

Deep in darkest Derbyshire a team of crack cavers go to probe the inner depths of the place that the locals refer to only as the Devil's Arse.

Will Adrian ever fit into his oversuit?

Will Sinead ever escape the clutches of darkness?

Will Andy ever go caving again?

Will Mel ever speak to Keith again after seeing the film?

Will Wal ever shut up?


Trailers for the soon to be released  Peak Cavern - The Movie

The Complete Movie

Group 1 - The first photographic trip 
Chief photographer - John Smith, Props Manager (Rocks) - Adrian Stanley, Chief Model - Sinead Herlihy and Chief Lighting Engineer - Andy Grimes

Group 2 - The second photographic trip 
Locations Manager Christine Wilson, Chief Photographer - Bartek Biela, Photographers First Assitant - Paulina Biela, Photographers Second Assistant - Dominik Mokrzecki and Chief Model - Heather Simpson

Group 3 - The third photographic and video trip 
Director of Photography - Keith Edwards, Chief Stills Photographer - Brendan Marris, Stunt Coordinator - Graham Smith, Leading Lady - Melanie Wakeman and Best Boy (Grip) - Steve (Wal) Wallis 

Group 4 - Floating cavers who could not remember which group they were with. 
Jessica (Globetrotter) Harding and Mark (The Chin) Burkey

The crew assembled in the Chapel, and fortunately for Adrian there were so many there to help him get into his oversuit. We decided that due to the wet weather and high water that we would not go through into Speedwell, and so we divided into groups and headed to the cave. John's group headed to the Main Streamway to commence their photos. The second group headed to Neil Moss Chamber to take photos before heading into the Main Streamway. The third group headed into the Main Streamway to take some photos and to fill Adrian's  tackle bag with rocks when his back was turned before heading to Neil Moss chamber on the way out. Mark and Jessica could not decide who they were with and moved from group to group in a vain effort to avoid being involved in the photos.

The crew in the Chapel - Ready to go. Photo Bartek Biela

Jessica and Heather at the start of Pickerings Passage. Photo Bartek Biela

Heather in Moss Chamber. Photo Bartek Biela

Paulina on the Surprise View ladder. Photo Bartek Biela

Wal and Mel pause for a moment in the Upper Gallery.

Wal and Graham in the Upper Gallery.

Wal about to jump across the main streamway.

Wal jumping across the main streamway.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1 - With a new pole for the streamway

Our plan was for a round trip with a deviation into the Waterfall Series to take some photos and video. There had been some recent posts on the caving forums warning that the third pole from the pots in the main streamway was missing. This concerned us as apart from making the trip potentially dangerous it would also mean that we were likely to get very wet. We had to form a plan...
The solution was obvious, we needed a to find a spare pole to take along so Keith and Brendan could keep their feet dry. 
At the Club on Thursday night we looked across to Dominik Mokrzecki and asked "How do you fancy a caving trip on Sunday?"

Keith uses the new pole to keep his feet dry at the third pot.

We headed upstream in OFD 1 making use of the new pole in the third pot in the streamway to ensure that the photograher and videographer remained dry. At the end of the streamway we headed up the traverses that take you up to the Waterfall Series and then followed the Dry Way to the West Leg to take the photos.

Keith climbs up to the West Leg in the Waterfall Series.

Dominik in a well decorated oxbow passage in the Waterfall Series.

Keith in a well decorated oxbow passage in the Waterfall Series.

A detour was taken to Crystal Pool Chamber, Keith headed off first with Dominik, while Brendan stayed at the bottom of the climb that he really did not like the look of. Some video was taken in the chamber before Keith and Dominik headed down into the Annex. This was tight going down and proved to be a real struggle on the way back out. On leaving the Waterfall Series we headed to the climb into Lowes Passage and started our way on the Round Trip. This part of the trip went like clockwork, which was just as well as we had taken so much time with photos and video in the Waterfall Series.
With the Round Trip complete we headed back up stream to pick up the photo gear and to take some video clips in the streamway. 

See more Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1 photos here 

The video of the trip

Present: Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris and Dominik Mokrzecki

Underground in Liverpool - A Magical Mystery Tour

During the weekend of 8th and 9th January Paulina, Bartek, Dave Appleing, Mike & Em visited a small part of the Williamson Tunnels, as well as going to the excellent Shackleton photography exhibition (the photos looked like they had been taken yesterday), the Beatles exhibition and Another World.

Present: Bartek Biela, Paulina Biela, Emma Porter, Mike Clayton and Dave Appleing

Monday 3 January 2011

Ogof Dwy Sir - A short dry trip

This was a short post Christmas trip to a cave that we had not visited before to grab a few photos of the cave. The day started with the obligatory breakfast in Luigi's before the drive up to Gilwern Hill and a walk around the tramroad to Quimps Quarry to locate the cave. The quarry has intersected a rift passage that can be entered and followed for nearly 200m. This is an extremely dry cave and the walls have been engraved with much graffiti over the years. At the end of the cave a muddy tube was followed up into the Queen of Hearts Chamber that was discovered in 1997. The Chamber is a large collapse feature under the gritstone. Some time was spent looking at the abandoned digs before taking photos on our way out.

Not a cave to be recommended,  but remember... 

"We Go There... 
                                  ....So You Don't Have To"

Keith traversing in the entrance series.

Keith in the entrance series.

Keith in the Queen of Hearts Chamber.

See more Ogof Dwy Sir photos here

Present: Keith Edwards and Brendan Marris

Sunday 2 January 2011

Dancing on Ice

With all this snowy stuff lying about it was time for another trip uphill. In fact they are getting that regular I fear it's time I shall have to find a new excuse to avoid the caving excuse trips!!  Usual ungodly start etc. etc. to arrive in Snowdonia at 07:50 to tackle Moel Siabod.  The trio was now down to just myself and Rob (global warming is clearly affecting the elderly). To keep things concise we went up the hard way and came down the long way.  Turkey, mince pies and nuts alas do not make one fitter and so things seemed all rather harder and longer than normal.... the walk was a pig too!!  But it was all done and Robert dragged me off to the shops under protest for 3pm.  Another cracking day with brilliant visibility, away from the crowds and Rob stepping those post walk shiny clean boots of his into a pile of dog poop.  Such inconsideration from a fellow mutt owner......... how could I defend our corner?  I couldn't too busy laughing that's how!! Some things in life do make the suffering worthwhile after all!!!!

Oh Mother

Lurking at Snowdon!

Moel Siabod
by Graham Smith