Sunday 26 January 2014

Daren Cilau to Cnwc Through Trip

Wanting to cement the route finding for the Daren to Cnwc through trip, Jess, Loz , and I headed in to a very wet Darren crawl for our 5 1/2 hr Sunday trip.
Water levels were somewhat higher than I had experienced before and ensured we kept a steady pace to combat against the cold as we made our way in. 

We were soon through the first obstacle, my favourite,  ‘The Vice’, Jess found this so roomy this time around she even tried to thrutch through with a kit bag attached to her belt!

After an hour of crawling and slithering through S-Bends and Stal Squeezes filled with pools of ice cold water we finally reached the end of the crawl and made our way through The Cascade breakthrough choke to Jigsaw passage.

Onward through The Wriggle we were soon at ‘Big Chamber Nowhere Near The Entrance.’ As we were doing well for time we back tracked to mud traverses in Surveyors Passage to have a poke around before continuing on to Epocalypse Passage and The White Company, past The Kitchen, where the water was looking rather brown and muddy, and through the connection to Antler passage where Loz’s skinny butt managed to squeeze down the hole before the climb down.  After proving my butt would not fit through I opted to climb down.
We then took a quick detour to show Loz the stunning Urchin Oxbow before stopping for a drink and chocolate bar at the Antlers formation.
Re-charged we headed out through Antler passage’s numerous climbs and ladders to Busmans Holiday, Prices Prophecy and out through Cnwc in to a snow filled afternoon. 
Navigating the slippery snow covered muddy path proved some fun and we were all glad to get changed and warm.

Stopping off for a well deserved meal on the way back Jess and Loz compared war wounds in the shape of the numerous leopard print like bruises covering their arms and legs, though Loz probably won the competition with nasty swelling and bruising to her finger resulting in an A&E trip on the Monday!
Mark Approaching The Tighter Section of The Vice

Jess admiring the Antlers formation
Jess in Urchin Oxbow

Present: Laura (Loz) Appleby, Jess Burkey & Mark Burkey
(Photo's from our previous trips)

Saturday 18 January 2014

A 7hr epic round trip to Lowe’s chain?

Saturday morning saw myself, Jess and Brendan sat around as usual in the SWCC hut nursing a full teapot. I had abstained from making any trip decisions and Brendan was looking worse for wear after not a lot of sleep courtesy of a heavy snorer in the bunk below him the night before. After a couple of teapots we finally decided to see what the water levels were like in OFD1 for a possible trip in to OFD1 ½.
Plodding down the hill we were soon at ‘The Step’ checking out the water level. Although high it was probably at a doable level, but as the forecast was more rain we decided to abandon our original trip plans and have a poke around passages that Jess and I hadn’t been to before on the round trip.
En route we diverted to check out The Maypole Traverse before continuing through to explore Slime Street, then in to the Subway to re-emerge in Bridge passage. After getting a little giddy in the roll over crawl we continued on to Starlight Chamber, where Brendan and I went for a play in the tight bedding planes and chokes past Coronation Aven before heading to Lowe’s Climb. The water levels were pretty impressive and we were glad we had decided to do our alternative rather than push on in the stream way. On the way out we checked back at the step and were awed to find that the stream level had risen a good 3 feet from when we had entered!
After the slog back up the hill we were surprised to find we had managed to spend a full 7hrs playing underground and were all glad to see the familiar teapot back at the hut.

A good fun trip visiting some interesting parts of the system normally passed when on the ‘trade routes’

Present: Brendan Marris, Jess Burkey & Mark Burkey

Sunday 12 January 2014

OFD1 - Fault Free Round Trip

After complicated travel arrangements for the weekend with Keith travelling down with Brendan and then going home with Mark, Jess and Brendan awaited the arrival of Phil and Andrew. With the pair arriving in good time we decided that as it had not rained for almost a day and a half we would have a bash at the OFD 1 round trip. Not expecting to be able to do it we had not brought cowstails, we then spent the next 30 minutes creating cowstails for the group.
Kitted up we headed down the hill and we were soon at The Step. With the water only a couple of inches over The Step we headed upstream until we reached Boulder Chamber. There we backtracked and then climbed up into Lows Passage without any incident at all. A brisk climb up into the fossil passages followed and soon we found ourselves in Pi Chamber ready for the climb down to Bolt Traverse. The climb down and the crossing of Bolt Traverse were completed without trouble and soon we were back at the start of the Round Trip. With plenty of time to spare we went back to the streamway and making the most of its sporty nature we lay in the water and enjoyed the water slide. Then we headed downstream to head back out via Pluto's Bath. The final diversion was to climb up into the Fault Series for a few photos before we headed out the cave and back up the hill.

Fault Series - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1
Phil Lester - Fault Series - OFD 1

Fault Series - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1
Andrew Williams - Fault Series - OFD 1

Fault Series - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1
Andrew Williams - Fault Series - OFD 1

Fault Series - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 1
Andrew Williams - Fault Series - OFD 1

A Faultless trip completed with style, we will have to take Andrew somewhere a bit tastier next time.

Present: Jessica Burkey, Phil Lester, Andrew(3) Williams, Brendan Marris

Saturday 11 January 2014

Collective Amnesia in the Upper Smithy

The Upper Smithy is a remote and rarely visited high level area of Cwm Dwr that we last visited seven years ago. Our return trip was planned so we could explore all areas, using the fab new Cwm Dwr survey, to video and to take photographs of this area of the cave. The Upper Smithy is divided into two sections with the southern part accessed by scaling a steep calcite slope that rises above the route from The Smithy to Nether Rawl. From the top of the slope a passage can be seen in a wall opposite, which is reached later in the trip. The calcite slope heads up into a lofty calcite covered passage to reach a junction where ahead the passage lowers through some decorated sections to reach a choke after 100m. Heading right at the junction reaches a section of taped off passage containing a crystal pool. We then headed to the northern section of the Upper Smithy where one route took us via some low sandy crawls into a section of magnificent phreatic tube. This is beautifully decorated and meanders until it starts to form a keyhole passage and descends steeply. We followed this to the bottom, where it turns sharp right and becomes a rift passage, before ending on a balcony overlooking the calcite climb that we used to access the southern end of the Upper Smithy. We photographed and videoed the passages back to a point where a climb up leads to a series of even higher passages can be entered. Climbing up to this higher level we reached a fork in the passage, with one branch taking us to a point where we looked down on a floor of loose boulders that formed the roof of a passage we had visited earlier. We did not wish to risk following this branch as is was shown to quickly close down on the survey. Mark and Keith went up a climb just before the point we looked down on the loose boulders to reach an even higher level. Jess and myself followed the other branch to reach a climb up loose boulders to reach the passage that Mark and Keith were in. We decided that the first climb was the safer and headed back to climb it and join Keith and Mark who were now at the traverse above the climb that we chose not to take. We followed passages with breakdown to reach another climb up loose boulders and a traverse to reach a continuation of the passage. Keith and myself were convinced we had not been to this area before and we followed Mark along a phreatic tube in more stable rock. Eventually we reach a window over a gaping chasm. Instantly Keith and myself had total recall - we had indeed been here before. A muddy balcony a few feet below the window allowed us to drop down and then traverse along to a steep boulder and slippy mud floored chamber. Mark and Keith descended as far as they dare to view what is labelled on the survey as "Deep Shaft", while Jess and myself headed up the chamber to reach the choke at the top of the passage. Reviewing the time we decided to head out, taking a couple of photos in this highest level of the passages. Our exit was uneventful, the climb out of the chamber in the northern section providing the only fun and games.

Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr
Jessica Burkey - Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr

Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr
Jessica Burkey - Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr

Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr
Jessica Burkey - Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr

Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr
Jessica Burkey - Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr

Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr
Jessica Burkey - Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr

Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr
Mark Burkey - Upper Smithy - Cwm Dwr

A long trip to explore, photograph and video this remote area of the cave. We will return to complete the video segments needed.

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

Saturday 4 January 2014

Bagshawe Caverns - Christmas Trip

Bagshawe Caverns was a cave that had not been visited by any members of the club and had earlier in the year been requested for booking by 'the boys'. So when it came to planning a post Christmas trip, this cave seemed to fit the bill as being quite local and big enough to have a couple of groups exploring it. Jessica booked the cave, plus a guide to allow one group to visit the gated sections.
The arrangements were to be at the Shoulder of Mutton ready to go to the cave at 11am, or meet for breakfast at 9am, a very leisurely start, unless of course if you were travelling with Andy, in which case setting alarm clocks for 4am was required...
Most had breakfast and then headed to the Shoulder of Mutton, Andy headed straight to the cave. Just after 11am Jon Pemberton arrived and we all headed to the cave entrance. Andy, Fred and Becca were already changed and so we were all in the hut over the entrance signing in. We split into two groups once down the massive flight of steps, one group with Jon to go to the gated areas and the other to explore the rest of the cave. The group with Jon first headed down to the Hippodrome and to the gate at the start of the Full Moon series. Half an hour was spent twiddling the key in the lock, washing with water and then a tin of WD40 was found and that too tried. Eventually we gave up and so after visit to the downstream sump we arrived back at the Hippodrome to meet the other group. They laughed at our misfortune and we sent them to experience the Glory Hole. Our next visit was to the gate to the New Series, here we followed low crawls over calcite flows until we reached Pool Chamber. The duck through the pool was sumped and so we then headed to the muddy ducks. There was a small airspace, but with nothing exciting beyond we elected not to go through. We now headed to the Dungeon pitch to access the lower series. The first group was coming back up the pitch when we got there, all very wet and cold, the passage just after the pitch was sumped and they were not able to get through. Soaked and cold the first group headed back to the surface for early bath and a visit to Hitch & Hike. The second group went down and tried to find a legendary pitch bypass crawl. Keith was sent in first followed by Brendan, and then there was not room for Mark to follow. Keith persevered along a flat out crawl until he dared go no further and so slowly and painfully backed out. We now headed out, with a brief stop to explore Agony Crawl, that Becca had chosen as her group's route into the cave!

Dungeon Pitch - Bagshawe Caverns
Keith Edwards - Dungeon Pitch - Bagshawe Caverns

Bagshawe Caverns
Carl Knott Bagshawe Caverns

Bagshawe Caverns
Mark Burkey - Bagshawe Caverns

Bagshawe Caverns
Keith Edwards - Bagshawe Caverns

Post trip we headed back to the Shoulder of Mutton for large portions of steak & ale pie, lasagne and home made chips. A great end to a fine year of caving, or perhaps in mind of the date a great start to 2014.

Present: Jessica Burkey, Mark Burkey, Keith Edwards, Carl Knott, Ben Marklew, Grant Wilkes, Andy Grimes, Becca Kirkpatrick, Amy Sawyer and Brendan Marris
Guide from Eldon PC Jon Pemberton

Thursday 2 January 2014

Peter's Pretty Passage & Northern Canyon

After another leisurely start to the day Jess and I decided on a photographic trip to Peter's pretty passage and then on through Northern Canyon to finish in the Labyrinth.
After some fun getting up the slippery slope to Peter's Pretty Passage Jess and I spend a while taking some pictures before sliding down into the end of Edwards Shortcut. From here we made our way through the Northern Canyon to some awkward climbs and on to the Labyrinth where we wandered around lost for half an hour or so before Jess called me to say there were some pretty formations around a corner that I may want to photograph. 
Grinning as I finally saw somewhere I recognised I explained to Jess I had already taken some photo's of her here on a previous trip. 
After this is was fairly straight forward finding our way back to Salubrious and out. Not a big trip but a lot of fun.

Crystal pool at the end of the passage

Jess admiring the Helictites

Wednesday 1 January 2014

OFD2 - Chasm Passage

The plan was to take Chloe to visit the Columns before heading out on an explore of Top Entrance. Unfortunately spending New Year's Eve on the pop and some people confusing the New Year with the clocks going back we had a late start into the cave. We bumped into the Columns Warden in Cairn Chamber heading out of the cave, we were too late so we turned around and headed to the top of Arete Chamber. Here Brendan's memory of the survey failed and we arrived at the wrong side of Arete to explore a route to Chasm Passage. Blind to this error we headed off up a passage following the Arete stream to climb and squeeze through passage much smaller than that recalled on the survey. A super tight squeeze up and round a corner was ahead, Mark called me through to see if I would like what he saw ahead. Hauling myself through I pulled my back and then arriving at Mark decided that I certainly did not like what was ahead. The stream cascaded down an aven, we were on a calcite ledge half way up and the way on would be a traverse and climb up calcite above the gaping hole. We backtracked to the top of Arete where we consulted the survey. It was immediately clear that we were at the wrong side of Arete so we made or way around and were soon on the planned route. The passage alternated between pleasant, muddy and very wet until a towering mud wall blocked the passage. Mark traversed up to the top, Brendan then climbed it before we looked at the slippy route ahead. It looked viable so all of us came up and we proceeded over a muddy traverse to regain the passage proper. A steeply ascending side passage was explored before heading to a junction where a large boulder balcony overlooked Chasm Passage way below us. We then followed the continuation of the passage which became a nice sandy floored scalloped passage. This then broke out into the side of Chasm Passage where a climb down on muddy footholds took us to the floor. When we looked for the way on we had a little surprise as the passage came out directly over the pitch down into Chasm Passage shakehole. A slip on our climb down would have resulted in very long fall! We then took some photos in the top end of Chasm Passage before heading to the Railway Series above White Arch for some fun climbing up tight muddy tubes on our way out of the cave.

Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Jessica Burkey - Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Mark Burkey - Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Chloe Burney - Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Chloe Burney - Chasm Passage - Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

An interesting route from Arete to Chasm that has given a little better understanding to the relationship of the passages.

Present: Chloe Burney, Jessica Burkey, Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris