Saturday 31 May 2014

First time leaders in Dan Y Ogof

Jess and I have been waiting for the weather to be in our favour to lead our first trip in to Dan Yr Ogof for a while now.
Seeing the decent forecast for the weekend we invited Ian, Andy W and Mel to come along as our Guinea Pigs to drag around the system.
The lakes had a little froth on the top from where they had been sumped the week before but water levels were normal. Jess took the lead and we did the normal round trip route taking in all the usual highlights as we made our way around the crawls, climbs, canal and stunning formations that make DYO one of the must do trips in the UK. After 4 hrs of caving we emerged in to a dry and sunny day. Having just missed the cafe we headed to the SWCC head quarters where Mr Marris had a much appreciated cuppa waiting for us.

Mel at the Crystal Pool

Andy in Flabbergasm Oxbow

Ian traversing the Crystal Pool

Mel in Cloud Chamber

Present: Andy Williams, Mel Bell, Ian Millward, Jess Burkey and Mark Burkey

Sunday 25 May 2014

In and out of Gaping Gill through lots of 'oles

On the Sunday of the Yorkshire weekend we all met up (after several breakfasts and some shopping) at the car park in Inglebrough, ready to take on Gaping Gill. Not everyone was aware of the long walk up, and in full caving gear including wetsocks and wellies Mark was soon hobbling with blisters. Finally at the main entrance we found out that there would be at least a 3 hour wait for the winch. Brendan, Rob and Tony agreed to wait but Keith and Rich had to drive back fairly early so decided to explore other small caves in the vicinity.

Brendan had already informed us that the Bradford club rig all the other entrances into Gaping Gill, so with an ambitious plan to enter and exit various entrances in the system, Mark, Andy K., Loz and I set off to the first entrance; Corky’s. Following GPS coordinates we soon found an oildrum entrance with a fixed ladder inside, so we kitted up and Mark led the way. We soon entered a tight, awkward phreatic passage which made wriggling through in SRT kit very interesting! On arrival at an unpleasant duck Keith (who had decided to accompany us to the first pitch) chose to turn back, and shortly afterwards the passage got even tighter, but there was a shout from Mark: “I’m at the head of the pitch! And there’s no rope!!) With a grumble we all found somewhere wide enough to turn round, and struggled our way back through the passage to climb back out. After chatting to one of the Bradford guys we discovered that we had not found the Corky’s entrance, but had instead gone into an entrance called Hensler’s Pot. “It’s not rigged” he said “and you wouldn’t want to go in with SRT kit, it’s too tight and awkward!” He also informed us that the Corky’s entrance was being rebolted, so we had to revise plans.

Brendan then led us to Stream entrance, to make sure we got in the right one this time, and the trip began in earnest. As Andy K is SRT competent but it was Loz’s first proper SRT trip we wedged her between me and Mark and headed off down the pitches. Every pitch was interesting, some with quite awkward deviations but straightforward routefinding. We had to wait at one point for a party which was coming up the other way, and I made use of this by asking each one for directions to Flood Passage, our destination, so that I could impress the others with my routefinding. With a very vague idea of the way I asked directions from a very muddy caver who said he would take us part of the way. Trotting along through muddy, mud-filled chambers, I lost sight of our guide, but we continued along until Mark decided to stop and have a look at the survey. While he was doing so, a caver who had been following us at a distance came up and asked him for directions – it was our muddy guide who had gotten lost and wound up behind us!

With the survey and as a team effort we made our way to Sand Cavern, and from there to the main chamber, just in time to see Brendan, Rob and Tony arrive on the winch – talk about timing! We decided to team up and all do the short round trip that Brendan had planned for the guys, which gave us the chance to see a bit more of the system and gave Tony and Rob the chance to carry some kit for us, which I’m sure they appreciated.

After a climb up out of the main chamber and a rope traverse in Mud Hall we followed Brendan into Hensler’s Mud Crawls. The name says it all, though Mark thinks there should have been more mud and less water! There was certainly plenty of crawling…

Brendan skilfully found his route back towards the main chamber, but took time on the way to point us in the right direction for Flood Passage. Mark took a small detour to go through the Blowhole and found that getting through was easy; coming back not so much. While lying with his face in a puddle, blowing the water out of his mouth (hence blowhole) and trying to contort his knees backwards, he wondered if any of us would actually come back for him if he didn’t return!

The way back up to Flood entrance was really interesting, with a variety of pitches joined by little tunnels, crawls and bedding planes. Loz coped well with the various rebelays and long pitches and we arrived at the foot of the last pitch to hear Brendan’s “Cooeeee” from above. The head of the last pitch was designed to catch us out, a really awkward squeeze, but gave us the opportunity to laugh at each other before we popped out.

Andy K volunteered to return the winch tags and we all made our way down to the car park and from there to the YSS hut, where we had a very late but very delicious chilli courtesy of Brendan. A very good day!!

Swinsto Classic Pull Through

On the Monday Mark and Brendan seemed fairly ambivalent about caving at all, Andy K, Carl, and the Telford Twins had gone home and it was up to Loz and me to demand a trip. “How about the Swinsto Pull Through?” I asked, as everyone had said what fun it was last Yorkshire trip. Mark agreed it was a classic, and Brendan said he would go for a walk and meet us in about 3 hours.

3 hours sounds like a nice bumbling Sunday afternoon trip, so Loz and I dressed in thin furries and we all ran (I puffed!) up the hill to the small entrance to start the trip. We were carrying a rope to rig the pull throughs and a backup rope, which I really enjoyed pulling through the long crawl. Already regretting the thin furry and the fact I had lent my new kneepads to Mark, we arrived at pitch after wet pitch after even wetter pitch, which left Loz and and I cold and shivering and wondering what we had let ourselves in for!

The highlight for me was watching Loz swinging wildly into the full flow of the water at one point, where she learnt quickly to abseil with eyes closed but mouth still squealing loudly!

Mark did well rigging all the pitches safely and finding his way through to the Kingsdale Master Cave, where we exited to sunshine, Brendan and cake. Definitely a classic trip, definitely a lot wetter than I expected!

Keith proves Hensler's Pot is indeed a crap hole!

Jess abseiling Flood Entrances Pitches

Loz in Stream Chamber

Andy K in Stream Chamber

Present: Carl Knot, Keith Edwards, Rich Gibbons, Andy Kempster, Loz Appleby, Brendan Marris, Tony Ferran, Rob Campbell, Jess Burkey & Mark Burkey

Friday 23 May 2014

Dudley CC Yorkshire Meet Friday & Saturday

We started the weekend off with myself, Carl and Brendan meeting up at the YSS on friday before heading off for a quick through trip from Yordas Pot to come out through Yordas Cave with Carl leading the way. We then headed off to do Heron Pot where we swiftly made our way down the pitches to take a look around the fossil passage at the bottom. I did the crawl to the surface before a quick about turn to join the others to de-rig. Back at the surface though I could only remember that I'd exited at the base of a tree following the water out and couldn't find the other entrance from the surface!

Carl rigging the Yordas Pot entrance

Yordas Pot
Mark descends Yordas Pot

Yordas Cave
Mark in Yordas Cave

Carl and Mark at the Heron Pot top entrance

Present: (Yordas & Heron Pot) Mark Burkey, Brendan Marris & Carl Knot

On Saturday we were joined by Tony, Rob, Loz and Andy K for another through trip, this time Browgill to Calf Holes. Loz had a play with her shiny new gear whilst the others had fun navigating the hidden connection.
We then set off in search of the new and old entrances to Dismal Hill Cave. First we headed down the rifts of the Old entrance to the tight flat out crawl where Loz was the only one skinny enough to get in the tight bedding plane to have a poke around so we all headed to the surface to try the other entrance, but not before Andy K had a moment when the ledge he was climbing gave way!
All back to the surface safe and sound we rigged the ladder in the new entrance and headed down to play. We found traverse lines going in both directions and after a good play we unfortunately failed to find the connecting passage to Old Ing. It was only after reaching the surface did we realise we had assumed we were heading down stream for the connection but we should have in fact been pushing in the other direction ;) Doh!

Carl Looking down the waterfall at the top of Calf Holes

Brow Gill Cave
Andy Kempster in Brow Gill

Calf Holes Cave
Rob Campbell in Calf Holes

Calf Holes Cave
Tony Ferran in Calf Holes

Present: (Browgill to Calf Holes and Dismal Hill Cave) Loz Appleby, Carl Knot, Mark Burkey, Andy Kempster, Brendan Marris, Tony Ferran and Rob Campbell

Sunday 18 May 2014

Dan Yr Ogof - Squeezes and crawls

This was the first trip for Loz into DYO. We planned to go off the beaten track a little on the way in to take some photos, but mud got into the shutter button on Brendan's camera so we did not come away with the photos we planned to take. We had spent quite some time exploring on the way in, so did not complete the round trip and only went as far as Cloud Chamber. We were out just in time for tea and cakes in the showcave coffee shop.

Present: Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey, Loz Appleby and Brendan Marris

Saturday 17 May 2014

Return to Little Neath River Cave

With a warm sunny weekend in prospect we decided to take the opportunity for Loz to pay a return visit to Little Neath River Cave, to see if she would appreciate it a bit more after a year of caving. Following a Luigi breakfast we headed to the Nedd Fechan to find the river very low indeed. A quick trip to the farm house and then we changed and headed into the cave, this time Loz taking it in her stride. We took the standard route into the cave and headed down to sump 2 before an about turn and time to explore some of the bits that normally get missed. We first headed up into the Genesis Gallery and entered the 3D maze. We found plenty of cairns to mark the key junctions and soon found ourselves staring down an impossible looking slot. Mark tried first and found it too tight, coming out to let Loz have a crack. Following some encouragement she was through and indicated that there was substantial passage below. Mark tried again and this time facing the other way and after some painful contortion made it through. I tried to follow, but had problem flexing my back enough to make it through. Mark and Lox explored this area to Gooseberry Pot in the Old World Series before returning and the three of us then completed the rest of the Genesis Gallery. Our route out was via the Canal Bypass where we diverted off to spend some time exploring the passages of the North East Inlet Series. We were soon back in the Canal Bypass and made our way to the streamway. We took the advantage of the very warm water to follow the passage out at stream level all the way out the cave. Some low ducks were passed and an encounter by Brendan with a giant fish provided the entertainment of the day.

Present: Mark Burkey, Loz Appleby and Brendan Marris

Saturday 10 May 2014

Raiders of the Lost Shark - Ogof Draenen

We met up at about 9.30 at the Lamb and Fox so we could get into the cave at a reasonable time. We changed in the driving wind and soon headed down to the cave entrance. We held back a few minutes to allow an SWCC group to go in the cave ahead of us as they were heading to the Dollimore Series. We made an uneventful descent through the entrance series to sign into the log-book in Cairn Chamber. We took a quick diversion to the north, past the Big Bang Pitch and to the start of the Waterfall Series before heading back into the cave and taking the standard route to Lamb and Fox Chamber. From here we headed to the start of Indiana Highway and from there we dropped into the start of Raiders Passage. A low crawl took us to the top of a deep rift and after assessing other options we dropped down. We were now in one and a half kilometres of fine phreatic passage that we followed for about an hour until we reached the sandy dig at the end. On our route back we took some photos and then paused for a little while in Lamb and Fox Chamber as we met another group on their way into the cave.

Main Passage - Ogof Draenen
Main Passage - Ogof Draenen - Near Big Bang Pitch

Bat Guano - Raiders Passage - Ogof Draenen
Bat Guano - Raiders Passage - Ogof Draenen

Burma Road - Ogof Ap Robert
Bat Guano - Raiders Passage - Ogof Draenen

Raiders Passage - Ogof Draenen
Tony - Raiders Passage - Ogof Draenen

Raiders Passage - Ogof Draenen
Tony - Raiders Passage - Ogof Draenen

We then headed back via Lamb and Fox Chamber, the Main Passage, past Tea Junction and on to Gilwern Passage. We headed up Gilwern to have a look in Old Illtydian's Chamber, then through the choke into Galleria Gariempeiros, through the Hearts of Olden Glory Streamway to the start of the Realm of Baron Von Carno, before time dictated that we head back out. On reaching the surface we found Jess and Mark awaiting in the carpark. A speedy change saw us in the Lamb and Fox for post caving beers and a slap up pub meal of pork scratchings and peanuts.

Some more photos and information on this area of the cave here

Present : Rob Campbell, Tony Ferran and Brendan Marris