Saturday 15 March 2014

Feeling Peaky After A Trip To Far Sump

At my time of life I should be taking it easy, winding down from silly pursuits like caving and spending more time in my garden with my beloved trains - not leading a serious trip in the Peak/Speedwell system, but Mark wanted to see the Far Sump Extensions in Peak and Brendan wanted to say that he had been to the bottom of Titan and back out.
As far as my failing memory serves me only two people from the club had ever been to the bottom of Titan and as Wal isn’t caving at the moment, it seems, it was left to me to lead the trip, and I really would have liked to be with one of the other groups having a nice stroll around the tourist places!
I thought that if I’d got to do it then I would try to capture some video, but as I knew that it was going to be a muddy and wet trip I elected to use the GoPro camera mounted with the Chesty (chest mount).
In spite of my trepidation things started quite well, until I planted myself face first in the first pool we came to. Both the camera and I ended up submerged much to the delight of Brendan and Mark who thought it was hysterically funny.
We then made our way along Upper Gallery and through Treasury Chamber to the gate at Faulty Tower. The long standing club members will recall the incident when John Smith came back to the gate and found it locked. He grabbed the bars with both hands and rattled them like a caged gorilla. Be sure to ask for the full story sometime - it is worth recounting.
A fixed ladder at Faulty Tower leads to the Trenches and then the infamous Colostomy Crawl. I don’t need to tell you what it’s like - the name says it all.
The Trenches
Another fixed ladder leads down Egnaro Aven from the end of the crawl to enter the Lower Bung streamway.
Lower Bung Streamway
This is followed upstream via a flat out Oxbow to the Bung waterfall. A fixed ladder goes up through the middle of the waterfall to enter the main steam in Speedwell.

The Bung
This is followed upstream via the Whirlpool to a boulder pile where an aven can be scaled to enter the bottom of JH mine.
Main Stream - Speedwell
The Whirlpool
 From here an excavated crawl connects to Stemple Highway with its pitches and traverses. I don’t think I mentioned the traverses to the other two as I know how much Brendan likes traverses.
A pitch in Stemple Highway
Traverse in Stemple Highway
After this my memory was getting a little hazy and I took a wrong turn and ended in a dig off Salmon’s Cavern. Turning around in an almost impossibly tight spaced caused much more mirth for my companions.
Back on the correct route I found the bottom of the Titan boulder choke. This is the largest choke I’ve ever been through - the boulders are stacked for over 100 feet and above them is the bottom of Titan, the largest natural shaft in Britain, 492 feet high.
After this dropped down to Far Sump and then explored AJ Passage before making our way out to emerge from the show cave 6 hours after entering it in the morning.
Heading back to JH
Now I’ve always said that I would know when it was time to pack up this caving lark. The measure would be when I became the slowest member of the team and therefore held the others up. On the way out that happened. Time to slip off and play with the trains I think.

The pictures are stills from the video below.

The Team: Brendan Marris, Mark Burkey and Keith Edwards.

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