Sunday, 30 September 2012

Should have gone to Specsavers – Agen Allwedd and Eglwys Faen

Ian in the entrance series
This was my first trip into Aggy for several years and the first time I had seen the Main Passage by Scurion light and what an impressive passage it is. The trip was arranged for the newer members of the club and the planned destination was the Music Hall and Cliffs of Dover.
Five of us met up at Luigi’s in Abergavenny for the customary brekkie and then Brendan and Keith collected Chloe from the car park in Crickhowell. On finding Whitewalls open we asked if we could change inside. Jess left her clothes in the changing rooms and retrieved them after we thought we had explained to the whole party that Whitewalls wouldn’t necessarily be open when we got back.
On the way to Aggy Mark was sent to do the short through trip in Eglwys Faen. On arriving at Aggy I tried the key in the lock and found that my bad luck was still holding – it fitted.
The Cliffs of Dover
The trip to our destination in the cave was fairly uneventful except that Chloe found that she needs more practice on traverses and Keith and Brendan walked past the entrance to Southern Stream Passage thinking it was the next passage on the right.
On the way out we stopped at regular intervals to take photos and video and remarkably no one complained. The cave does seem like a completely different place and much nicer with 4100 lumens of light. On the way out we did manage to find Southern Stream Passage and did the first few metres.
On the way back to the cars we stopped at Eglwys Faen and this time five of us (Brendan excluded) did the through trip from the Main Entrance to the Waterfall Entrance. As Brendan had decided not to join us he was loaded up with boxes and bags and dispatched to the exit. This cave too seems like a completely different and much nicer cave when well illuminated. On exiting, the waterfall was flowing freely and the small passage leading to daylight was half full of water so a thorough soaking was guaranteed.
Back at Whitewalls Mark found that he had left (or it had been left) his spare Scurion battery outside Eglwys Faen and had to walk all of the way back to retrieve it. Still, although this is a long walk, it required slightly less effort than when he had to go back down Knotlow Engine Shaft and back up when a re-belay had not been untied. The rest of us found Whitewalls was indeed locked up. Under my car was a black plastic bin liner full of clothes. Chloe hadn’t heard what we had said about the hut being locked up and had left her clothes inside but some kind person had saved her embarrassment.
The Music Hall
The Main Passage
Later in the car Brendan realised that when he had put his contact lenses in inside the changing rooms he had not picked up his specs. Fortunately he had been to Specsavers but on returning home was going to have to turn the house upside down to find where he had put the ‘spare pair’. Then on Monday I received an email from Ian saying, “Would you have contact details’ for anyone at the club hut yesterday, as I managed to leave my glasses in the back room when we were changing in the morning.” He went on to say, “My intention is to send the contact person a S.A.E. with a spare spectacle case that they can pop them in and post back to me (that will save a car or even a train journey, now who had to do that once before??” The new members learn very early on how to take the p*** out of the chairman!
The Main Passge

The Team: Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris, Chloe Burney, Jess Harding, Mark Burkey and Ian Millward

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Hidden Earth Video Competition

Here is what was my entry for the Hidden Earth 2012 video competition.

There were 4 entries on the competition. I didn't win and I didn't get a distinction or a merit, but I did enjoy making it.
I must say a big thank-you to Mark, Steve and Brendan for their encouragement, support and acting ability.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Eldon Hole

After meeting at Morrison’s in Buxton, us arriving later than planned due to us trying a different route than usual, and Ben’s breakfast arriving even later, we finally arrived at Eldon hole around noon. I rigged the West Wall whilst Andy rigged the South Gully.
Andy rigging the South Gully

After a little swearing from Andy’s end of the rift we were soon at the bottom and scrambling through the short grubby crawl in to the main chamber. Andy pointed out the pull through for Millers Chamber and warned that it could take some time to get the rope through, but Jess and I employed a pull-me push-me approach and managed to get it rigged in around 10 minutes. As Andy and Mel had been up there before, and as there would be a queue to ascend, they decided to start the prussic back up whilst the rest of us went to take a look.  It was nice to see the lads finally out of breath after the short ascent to Millers chamber, but I think they’ll agree it was well worth it with sparkling calcite slopes, 6ft stalactites and plenty of flowstone. After a quarter of an hour poking around and playing we made our way back down to the main chamber. For practice it had been decided that Ben and Carl would de-rig. Jess shot up the west wall followed by Ben and I went up the South Gully with Carl following. I think it’s fair to say that both lads found the de-rig tiring, but as youth trumps intelligence they were already looking forward to their next chance to play on the ropes whilst walking back to the car! The lads were in a hurry to get back (probably to start cleaning all the rope we’d given them ;), but Andy, Mel, Jess and myself finished the day with tea and cake at the cafĂ© by Hitch ’n’ Hike.

Andy descending

Present: Andy Grimes, Mel Wakeman, Jessica Harding, Ben Marklew, Carl Knot & Mark Burkey

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Ogof Craig A Ffynnon - Lower Series

An early explorer of Ogof Craig A Ffynnon - Chris Leach had seen Keith's video of the cave and having been impressed with the quality made contact with Keith. It was agreed to meet with him and make a visit to the rarely visited Lower Series near the Fourth Boulder Choke, deep into the cave. We met with Chris at the limekilns and with two bags of tackle, a camera box and a video box we set off to the cave. We found at the climb up to the Second Boulder Choke that a set of steel plates had been installed on the climb up to accompany the new BCA handline. We soon reached the Hall of the Mountain King and much to Mark's relief found that he could still fit through the flat out section of Hurricane Highway. The flat out section was a long slog with all the tackle, and 30 minutes later we were stomping down the Severn Tunnel. At the end of this passage the cave reaches a quite interesting area and we spent some time looking at all the opportunities here before heading to the way into the Lower Series. Once reaching the entrance to the Lower Series, we sent in our passage size testers, who were not able to get to the passages beyond a long low section (quite diggable). Mark and Jess then headed to the Fourth Boulder Choke to look at the Promised Land Pitch in preparation for a future trip. Keith and Brendan, then explored all low passages that fitted Chris' description of the route to the Lower Series in an effort to find the pitch to the main area. A lot of passage was followed, some pretty grottos were found along the way, but the pitch was not located.
All meeting up we then headed out together with lots of muddy, but unused tackle!

Jess viewing formations in Severn Tunnel

Mark, Chris and Keith in the Severn Tunnel

Mark in the Severn Tunnel

Footnote: John Parker's original exploration account gives a clue in that a 15 foot pitch needed to be climbed up to reach the top of the pitch down into the Lower Series. We are confident we found this and will no doubt return in due course.

Present: Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey, Jessica Harding and Chris Leach

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dan Yr Ogof - 100th Anniversary

This year marked the 100th Anniversary of the Morgan Brothers first exploration of the dry passages of Dan Yr Ogof. To mark this auspicious occasion Ashford Price and the Showcave management laid on a party at the showcaves with live music, hog roast beer and a spectacular firework display to finish off the evening. Somehow even the weather was laid on and a fine day allowed a caving trip to proceed the outdoor events in the evening.

We set of on a standard round trip and Mark had not been in the cave and Jess had not gone through the long crawl on her only visit. Our trip was slow as Keith was taking some more video footage and Brendan was taking a few photos. We missed out visiting the Rising to ensure we were out for our call out time and to change for the evenings events.

Jess at the Candlewax Formations

Jess at the Candlewax Formations

After a spruce up at the caving club we returned to be greeted by dinosaurs and a warm welcome by Ashford.

Beer was drunk, dancing was avoided, and the roasted pig was eaten before we headed to the vantage point on the track to view the spectacular firework display that rounded off the evening.

Present: Brendan Marris, Keith Edwards, Jessica Harding and Mark Burkey