Sunday 29 June 2014

Brickworks Dig - June 1014

Due to the Forest of Dean Symposium being cancelled we moved our venue to South Wales to continue the Brickworks Dig. This was a very well attended weekend which allowed a mixture of caving and digging to happen over the weekend with a BBQ on Saturday evening. Pumping started on Friday evening and proved slow due to problems keeping the generator running, but we were able to remove the bulk of the water. Saturday morning saw the rest of water pumped and the bottom of the slope filled and levelled to a constant gradient, then covered with conveyor belting. Once this was completed work turned to the dig face. Sunday saw the whole team turn their attentions to the dig. Some engineering was undertaken with pumps and pipes to allow the overnight water seepage to be quickly despatched. Dig trays were re roped and we commenced bringing spoil up to the cross rift. The digging continued to explore the roof tube over the dig face, but this does not look like a useful direction, the way on looks like it will be down in the floor. Bad air stopped play at about 3pm, we will need fans to continue digging.

Present Saturday: Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, John Smith, Graham Smith, Brendan Marris, Becca Kirkpatrick, Darren, Loz Appleby, Andy Kempster, Helen Nightingale, Tony Ferrun, Rob Campbell, Phil Lester and Steve Wallis

Present Sunday: Keith Edwards, John Smith, Graham Smith, Brendan Marris, Becca Kirkpatrick, Darren, Loz Appleby and Andy Kempster

Saturday 28 June 2014

4 out of 6 ain't bad...

The Dig Weekend at the Brickworks Dig was so popular that the exercise needed some careful planning. It was decided that while one team was down the dig, I would take one group into Top Entrance for a quick trip, then we would return to take our turn at digging, while Brendan would take a group into Pant Mawr and return later to take over digging from our team.

In spite of having been caving for the last 9 years, this was my first try at leading a trip into OFD (something to do with being navigationally challenged) so I decided to keep thing simple by doing a short 'tourist trip' to the Trident and Judge, taking in the Corkscrew, Swamp Creek, Shatter Pillar, President's Leap, Selenite Tunnel and Salubrious Streamway. With a group comprised of Helen, Phil, Becca, Loz and Darren, we soon found ourselves at the Corkscrew climb down. Phil's shoulder had been playing up as soon as we got into the entrance, and he felt that relying on his dodgy shoulder to support him through the Corkscrew would not be sensible, so he decided to head back. As Helen knows Top Entrance well, I asked her to accompany him back to the entrance while the rest of us made our way slowly down the sand crawls towards Swamp Creek.

We met up with Helen again at the Trident and Judge and continued with the trip. All went well - 9 years of Keith and Brendan tutting in despair every time I failed to identify areas of the cave was finally vindicated. The most difficult part was tearing Darren away from all the 'pretties' - stals, curtains, helictites, and the roof of Selenite Tunnel being just a few. It's so lovely to go caving with people who are overwhelmed by how beautiful the caves are!

Once back at the entrance Helen left us and went off to squirrel around down a muddy tunnel and the rest of us went back to the club ready for our turn to dig.

Keith was waiting for us at the club, and for some reason didn't seem too impressed that I had set off with a group of 6, and come back with 4! I later found out that Phil and I had our wires crossed earlier, and that he had thought Helen was taking him an alternative route to join up with us, so had waited at the entrance and even wandered around some of the passages looking for us, before he gave up and went back to the club! Just goes to show how important it is to make sure we all understand the same thing.

Helen wasn't long in joining us, and although we were all ready to dig, there was no digging to be had, as one of the pumps had failed and there was a problem with bad air, so we were forced to drink tea in the sunshine for the rest of the afternoon.

Present: Jess B., Becca K., Loz A., Phil L. Darren, Helen N.


Pant Mawr Pot

After buying SRT kits during the Gapping Gill winch meet weekend Rob and Tony had put the time in practising on the windmill and were now looking to complete their first SRT trip underground.  As the club were heading for the Brickworks dig for the weekend we decided that a trip into Pant Mawr Pot would be an excellent diversion from the main effort of the dig itself and give Rob and Tony an opportunity to chip some of the paint of their new gear.

Four of us set out from the South Wales Club Hut heading for the pitch head some 4 Km further up the hill: Brendan, Tony, Rob and myself.  As we approached the entrance shaft the sun disappeared and it started to drizzle with rain so I quickly began to rig the pitch so we could get underground into shelter.  At this point Brendan announced that he had forgotten his helmet and so he would have to stay on top.

This is an ideal introductory cave for SRT as there is only one pitch with two simple rebelays; one on the slopping ground leading down to the main shaft, and a large Y hang directly above the shaft itself.  This meant that Brendan could supervise Tony and Rob whilst remaining safe himself as it was their first descent by rope into a cave.

Once down the entrance shaft we removed our SRT kit and stowed them away at the bottom of the rope as we would not need them again until we were ready to head back up to the surface.  We immediately consulted the survey and read the brief description and then headed downstream through a very large passage to our first boulder choke.  We navigated through the choke and followed the main streamway passing through an area decorated with straws and stalactites into Sabre passage where a large sabre like stalactite gives the passage its name.

We decided to follow the passage through to the end sump and explore the other routes off to the sides on our way back so we didn’t run out of time and headed through the third boulder choke past the fire hydrant and followed the passage through into a rift like passage and on to the final sump.  I stopped short of the final sump as the water was getting deeper and unlike Rob and Tony I was caving again in the morning and didn’t want to get my feet wet if I could avoid it.

On the way back out we explored the Graveyard, the Vestry, and the Organ Loft and spent ages looking all over for the Chapel. But despite all of us reading and re-reading the description and exploring every possible chamber we simply could not find it.

At the bottom of the shaft I whistled up to Brendan who was slowly roasting in the sun and once we had put our SRT kit back on and ‘buddy buddy’ checked each other we headed up the rope and back out into a very hot summer afternoon.  We walked back down the hill to the club hut wondering whether Brendan had really forgotten his helmet or whether he had actually planned to leave it behind.

All in all it was an excellent day exploring an interesting cave system.

Trip report by Andy K

Sunday 15 June 2014

A Dali Delightful Birthday Treat In Dan Yr Ogof

For the second half of Chloe's birthday request for trips we offered up a trip to a less visited area of Dan yr Ogof.
We followed the normal round trip route in to the system and were planning on heading straight to the lower series but Chloe really wanted to do her favourite bit….The Green Canal.
Upon arrival there was only a couple of rings and a couple of life jackets. I explained that it was bad form to remove all of the buoyancy aids from one end and that as it was Chloe's birthday and her idea to boot, that she could have all the fun she could handle by doing the Green Canal a few times to retrieve more rings from the other end.
Knowing that we would be standing around shortly to play with the camera I suggested we warm up by popping to the Rising for a visit.
Warmed back up we headed down the Abyss and made our way up the pitch to Dali's Delight. A very unusual area filled with odd shaped rock, a maze of passageways and numerous avens. We spent quite some time exploring this unique area of the system and it was only when the girls begun to complain of starting to chill down again that we made our way out.
Taking the normal route out we were soon back at the car park where we were feasted upon by the midges!

Chloe at The Green Canal

Chloe at the head of the pitch at Dali's Delight

Jess admires the unusually sculpted rock

Present: Jess Burkey, Chloe Burney & Mark Burkey

Saturday 14 June 2014

A Cave Of Old World Charm…..Well Except For The Leeches!

Early on in my caving career I discovered a love of water. So when I asked for a special birthday trip, I learned my lesson from last year when I asked for a ‘memorable’ day and found myself on the beginning of terrifying Midnight Traverses in OFD, and instead requested a trip to Little Neath River Cave.
When we reached the small entrance next to the flowing river I enthusiastically jumped in the hole first. However what they neglected to mention to me, was the stream in the entrance passage was riddled with leeches, which is a very unpleasant discovery when you are flat out crawling and your nose is a few inches from the water! Once through the sprawling entrance stream we popped up into Mud Chamber for a few photos before entering The Canal which had a few interesting ducks. We then continued to follow the streamway to sump 2 before retracing our steps. To escape the water for a while we headed down into the 3D Maze which involved a back bending drop down between some boulders which was significantly easier on the way down than it was coming back up! Being the best decorated section of the cave with a crystal river and many other formations, we stopped for a few more pictures in the old world series before realising our call out time was fast approaching. We made a swift exit via the canal by-pass and we sent Brendan up the entrance stream first this time as leech bait!

Little Neath was an excellent cave which I would love to finish off at some point in the future However I admit that scraping about 100 leeches off myself put a slight dampener on my excitement!
Chloe admiring formations in the Old World Series

Chloe in Crystal River Passage

A Stunning Shot By Mr M of Chloe in The Lower Main Stream Way

Jess and Chloe in Mud Hall

Trip Report Chloe Burney

Present: Chloe Burney, Jess Harding, Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

Saturday 7 June 2014

GB Cavern - Ladder Dig Extensions

After the free bar in the Hunters on Friday night in honour of Roger and Jackie's 50th wedding anniversary, all was very quiet on Mendip at 9am when we met up for breakfast at Dig-Fest headquarters at Priddy village hall. We were among the first for breakfast and polished off bacon rolls and coffee before heading to the Shepton to fill in paperwork, collect key and head off to the cave. Parking at Tynings Barrow Farm we walked down to the cave and were underground by 11am. Mel led the way and we took the standard route into the cave down to the Gorge and along to the Bridge, where we crossed and took the Loop Route, entering the main passage just upstream of the sump, which was starting to back-up a little bit following the thunderstorms of the early morning. Wal free-climbed up to the Ladder Dig and then rigged the ladder and lifeline. We were soon all up and crawling through into the Ladder Dig. The first real entertainment of the day was the wet grovel through to the boulder choke, all had fun especially Wal as he likes the wet bits so much. We then climbed up through the choke to pass through the very tight slot between boulders to enter the Great Chamber. Mike found this most entertaining and after some time was able to get his chest into the right orientation to push through. After a walk around the chamber we dropped back dow (much easier this time) and then dropped through the boulders and found our way along to Bat Passage. After following as far as sensible, we returned to derig the Ladder Dig and make our way up to the surface. We passed a couple of groups on the way out, who had made a later start by virtue of copious amounts of Butcombe consumed the night before.

The Bridge - GB Cave
Mike and Lucy on the Bridge - GB Cave

The Bridge - GB Cave
Mike and Lucy on the Bridge - GB Cave

We took a couple of photos of the Bridge before heading out to be greeted by glorious sunshine. The day was finished with a meal at the pub in Priddy and a visit to the sheep race (don't ask)....

Present: Mell Bell, Steve Wallis, Lucy Collins, Mike Bonner and Brendan Marris

Sunday 1 June 2014

OFD1 a trip to the Annex

An earlier attempt to reach the Annex had failed with both Mark and Brendan being unable to squeeze down the tight tube from Crystal Pool Chamber. An alternative route via a pitch down into The Canyon was planned and so the five of us headed into the cave with rope and an SRT kit with the aim of exploring this area of the cave. We headed straight to the Waterfall Series and were soon in Crystal Pool Chamber and climbed up into the passage leading to the pitch down into the Canyon. Our 20m rope was rigged to the natural threads and soon Mark was heading down the three stage pitch, most of which could be free-climbed with care. The rope was just long enough and one by one we dropped down into the impressive Canyon passage. We followed it in both directions, taking photos of the fantastic calcite flows in one section.

The Canyon OFD1
Clive and Jess in The Canyon

We then climbed up into a side passage that linked to The Annex where we admired the black gour pools and formations in the chamber, before our attention turned to the connecting crawl to Crystal Pool Chamber. Loz took the lead and after a little persuasion was through, Clive then followed with little trouble. With two through Brendan followed but not with the same ease, and had to have Mark remove a drink sachet from his sleeve pocket so he could push into the tightest section of the tube, with Mark pushing and Clive pulling Brendan was through too. Mark and Jess had seen enough and then decided to retrace their steps and de-rig the pitch.

The Annex OFD1
Jess viewing the black gours in The Annex

The Annex OFD1
Mark in The Annex

The Annex OFD1
Loz in The Annex

We then headed out taking in a circuit of the main passages in the Waterfall Series as we went, plenty more leads to explore in this area of the cave.

Present: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, Clive Westlake, Loz Appleby and Brendan Marris