Monday 27 May 2013

Agen Allwedd - and the mystery of the tyre tracks....

Monday's trip was to be the Outer Circle at Aggy. This started with the obligatory breakfast at Luigi's before heading up the hill to Whitewalls where we changed and headed along the tram road to the cave. We were a little pushed for time and it was clear by the time we were in Turkey Streamway that we would not be able to complete The Circle. We decided instead to head up Coal Cellar passage and visit Twin Avens Chamber and the Coal Cellar itself. We then headed out of the cave. On the way back as we reached the Main Passage we noticed tyre tracks in the mud floor. We scratched our heads in disbelief that someone may have brought a bike into the cave. Some days later this video appeared - it was unicycles rather than bicycles in the cave...

Unicycle Caving from Garrett and Garrett Videography on Vimeo.

Present Brendan Marris, Loz Appleby, Rachel Dearden and Richard Dearden

Sunday 26 May 2013

OFD - The Columns and a tour of Top Entrance

As it was the start of working week at SWCC the start to the day was a little slow to get going amidst the destruction that was taking place at the cottages ahead of the main works. After the arrival of Rachel and Richard and the obligatory pot of tea we headed up to Top Entrance to kill and hour or two until Column Hall was opened up. We headed up to the Mini Columns and from there onto the Bedding Chambers to have a good hunt around before we headed towards the Columns which were to be opened at 1pm. Taking the standard route to Column Hall we arrived just as the previous group was leaving, perfect timing..
Plenty of time to take a couple of photos and then have an explore of some of the passages off Column Hall before heading out and letting Brian and Alan get back and rebuild SWCC.

Column Hall
Loz viewing The Columns - Column Hall - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Column Hall
Richard in Column Hall - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Column Hall
Rachel viewing The Columns - Column Hall - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

From Column Hall we headed back to Cairn Chamber and entered the Labyrinth, to emerge in Salubrious, which we followed down to the Crossroads. Heading across Presidents Leap we followed Selenite Tunnel to Shatter Pillar and then down to Cross rift. We then found the connection to Maypole Inlet and Salubrious Passage after exhausting all other possible routes first. We then headed out the cave via the Trident and Judge and the sandy crawls near Swamp Creek. A good introduction to OFD for Loz, and a chance to see some of the bits that we normally go straight past for Rachel and Richard.

Present: Brendan Marris, Loz Appleby, Rachel Dearden and Richard Dearden

Monday 20 May 2013

Little Neath and Pwll Pindar

Little Neath River Cave
This started with breakfast at Asda in Merthyr, before making our way to the cave for a leisurely 11am start. Water was low and Mark headed off into the unknown to be greeted by a bit of a surprise when he got to the duck finding it was a lot smaller than it looked in the photos! We headed to the Bridge Cave sump, then through the Canal to head down to Sump 2. We then returned via Canal Bypass to exit the cave after about 4 hours underground. A quick change of gear for Mark and Jess at the cars and then we headed to the bottom of Pant Mawr moor to located Pwll Pindar.

Pwll Pindar
Our second objective for the day was to have a look in the little visited Pwll Pindar. A 12m scaffolded shaft took us down to a bedding plane where we headed east through low muddy crawls to enter a passage with a number of rabbit skeletons on the floor. From here we headed via more crawls to find a chamber at the southernmost end of the cave.

Pwll Pindar
Jess in the southern chamber in Pwll Pindar.

Back at the rabbit skeletons we found the way into Bishopsgate Passage, a fine fossil passage where we took a number of photos and explored the chokes at the end and the dig at the bottom of the shaft in the centre of the chamber.

Bishopsgate Passage - Pwll Pindar
Jess at the start of Bishopsgate Passage.

Bishopsgate Passage - Pwll Pindar
Mark in Bishopsgate Passage.

Bishopsgate Passage - Pwll Pindar
Jess and Mark in Bishopsgate Passage.

Bishopsgate Passage - Pwll Pindar
Mark in Bishopsgate Passage.

We then returned to the bottom of the entrance shaft from where we explored the bedding cave to the west, Mark boldly leading the way through the tight bedding to take us into Singing Stal Chamber. We missed Ted Moult passage and returned to the bottom of the entrance shaft again where a 2m climb down took Mark to a lower series where a climb down reached a perched sump.

A fine cave that we will have to return to and explore the couple of sections missed on this trip.

Present: Mark Burkey, Jessica Harding and Brendan Marris

Sunday 19 May 2013

Oxlow and Pilgrim's Way

Sunday saw my second trip to Derbyshire, this time for an SRT trip in to Oxlow. Arriving at around half nine, Andy, Mel and I took a final look at the route from the West Antechamber before dishing out the tackle and heading up the hill.
We swiftly made our way down the 4 pitches to the pull through up to Pilgrims way where we paused to remove our SRT kit before continuing. Andy led the way down the hands and knee's crawl through to Mecca Aven and then on to the flat out wet crawls. Not far in, the passage became very tight, silted with gravel. After having a bit of a dig we managed to get a few feet further till a tight bend closed down again. Andy was happy that we'd achieved what he'd wanted and found our way to connect to the chamber of horror's and Mel said that she was far too intelligent to push on any further, so a wet and happy trio made our way back out to find another group coming in.
Mel was the first up the entrance shaft to find the group had put the cover back on and she had to struggle by herself to lift the steel lid.

Again another great trip, although I may have to leave the actual connection through to the slimmer members of the club!

Present: Andy Grimes, Mel Wakeman & Mark Burkey

Friday 17 May 2013

Giants Hole Round Trip & The Head of Geology Pot

On Thursday Evening Jess hatched a plan to get me out of her hair so she could get on with some work at home and pimped me out to meet Carl and Grant in Buxton at 9am.

After a slight miss hap, having to go back as they forgot their wellies, the boys finally arrived a little later than planned at Morrison's. I had a print out of the route for them so they could lead so passed this on to Carl to take a look at before heading off.

Parked at Peakshill farm we were soon off down the entrance passageway where I suggested Grant have a play in the oxbow on the way in. Carl had a great laugh at Grant's expense, as Grant cursed struggling his way around the tight bend. After this diversion I pointed out the climbs to the upper east and west rift passages and the way to the upper stream passage past Base Camp Chamber.
Whilst I rigged Garland's I Sent Carl and Grant to take a look at the blind October Aven, before we headed off down the crab walk with Carl in the lead.
The Vice had plenty of water and both Carl and I took a soaking whilst Grant simply walked through as if there were no obstacle....the skinny sod...!!!
At this point I suggested Carl take a look at the guide I'd given him and lead the way on, but he had left it back in the car, so I thought I'd have a little fun. Off we went down Razor's edge and on to the fixed ladder climb where even Grant couldn't avoid the water. Following the passage I took them down to take a look at sump 2 where I told Carl this was the route to Geology pot. He began to edge with uncertainty toward a thick bank of foam before tossing a stone ahead to hear it fall in to deep water. I couldn't help myself and had to tell him he was heading in to the sump.
Back on route we ducked under the waterfall and headed off down the correct route toward Geology pot. Bad step traverse had a rope in situ so we continued on to find a hand line rigged climb down futher along. Following passage after this we arrived at the head of Geology pot. Returning to the crawls we think we found Valentines sump, but after a tentative search didn't find the syphon bellow's, but it may well have been further in than I ventured.
Onward we were soon in the Giant's Windpipe where I have to admit the water was rather refreshing, although not as much as the squeels from Carl and Grant would lead you to believe!
After having a poke around handshake passage and sticking our heads around various other holes and climbs we eventually wound up on the traverses.
Although Grant has done these before he was some what nervous of them this time round and even had a 'moment' at the calcite hole half way along requiring a sholder or two to assist.
After this all was plain sailing and we were soon back up the pitch and in to the sunlight.
Back at the cars Carl and Grant realised they'd neglected to bring any spare clothing or towels so had a slightly soggy ride back :)

A great day out and good preparation for a future trip to the east canal.

Present: Carl Knott, Grant Wilkes and Mark Burkey

Thursday 16 May 2013

Cocktails at Manor Farm Swallet

For a little midweek play we headed down to the Mendips on Thursday, meeting Chloe in Barrington Coombe.
We arrived slightly before Chloe, and headed off to find the entrances to Aveline’s Hole, Goatchurch Cavern, Sidcot Swallet and Pierre’s pot. Although Jess can often not find her way in, around or out of a cave, it turns out she is a demon at finding cave entrances from the descriptions and made short work of locating all in the area!
Chloe arrived and took a walk up the valley to see the entrances for herself. Going through our options we eventually decided on Manor Farm Swallet as Jess had been there before and highly enjoyed the trip.
I went on ahead whilst the girls changed and dropped a rope down the main shaft, Jess tramped over the field and exclaimed she didn’t think it was the entrance to which I just gave a smile….back to form honey ;)
We were soon down the pitch and dropped a ladder to assist at September rift. Very quickly we were admiring the formations in curtain chamber. Climbing the calcite we dropped through the slot in the floor to avoid the 20ft free climb and  popped through the cascade to follow the passage down some impressive fluted pots and on to ‘Albert’s eye’, a fun little squeeze through in to still water. 
Jess at Albert's Eye

Shortly we arrived at a junction with one direction leading to tall Aven and an intimidating looking climb up to ‘Fleet Street’ which we decided to leave for another day.  Back on route we were soon at the impressive ‘Beehive’ formation and then to John Ham’s corner. From here the rift tighten a little and we were soon squeezing through pools of water swimming with shrimp (plenty for a nice cocktail!) and other nasties till we arrived at Florence’s Bathtub and the end of the passage.

Jess admiring the Curtain Formation in Curtain Chamber
Chloe at the Beehive Formation
On the return we climbed up in to the rift poking around in search of ‘NHasa Gallery’ but couldn’t really make sense of the description, so plodded back out taking some pictures on the way. The return was uneventful till September rift where Chloe decided she wasn’t going to let go of a particular rung of the ladder which she had become quite attached to and had to be coaxed up the rift by Jess whilst I wedged in to be stepped on…again!
Chloe in September Rift

Heading back to Burrington Coombe  Jess found the entrances to Fox Holes, East Twin Swallet and Lionel’s  hole before parking up at Barrington Inn to walk up to find our final two on the hit list, Rod’s pot and Read’s Cavern.
We finished the day with a drink and a cake back at the Inn before heading back.
Present: Chloe Burney, Jessica Harding and Mark Burkey

Sunday 12 May 2013

Cwm Dwr - Return to Fault Aven

The Fault Aven series had proved more complex than we had anticipated on our previous visit and so we returned with camera and video equipment, with the aim of finding the other side of the Fault Aven and to photograph the Pom Pom.

We headed into the cave avoiding loosing the tackle bag in the choke this time, but having the misfortune of both straps on the bag coming off enroute. We climbed up into the Fault Aven Series with no hiccups and headed straight to H Junction and the start of Pom Pom Passage.

Pom Pom Passage - Fault Aven Series - Cwm Dwr
Jess in Pom Pom Passage.

Pom Pom Passage - Fault Aven Series - Cwm Dwr
Mark views a crystal pool in Pom Pom Passage.

The climb up into Pom Pom Passage proved more tricky that expected, but soon we were looking down to the lower level. Treading very carefully in this delicate area we viewed dry crystal pools before traversing to the Pom Pom.

The Pom Pom - Fault Aven Series - Cwm Dwr
Jess views the Pom Pom Formation.

The Pom Pom - Fault Aven Series - Cwm Dwr
A close-up of the Pom Pom Formation.

Photos were taken of the Pom Pom before heading back over the traverses to H Junction. From here we then set out to find and explore passages that had not been included on the previous trip. This area of the cave is a 3D maze with passages at many different levels, often one above the other. We found a lower entrance into Fault Aven, but turned back at an exposed rope climb on the route that we believe takes you to the uppermost level in Fault Aven. We will return with tackle to protect the climb on a future trip. A tricky but fascinating area of the cave.

The Video

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