Saturday 26 July 2014

A rather dry trip to Little Neath River Cave

The original plan was a trip into Porth Yr Ogof to make the most of the current warm dry spell, but over breakfast we decided on a change of venue and a trip into Little Neath River Cave. We arrived at the entrance to find very little water flowing in and with the sun out the water was pleasantly warm. A standard route in was followed down to look at Mud Hall and Sump One before we approached the Canal. Water here was much lower than normal, and we found it difficult to float very far, which made for an awkward crawl. We headed down to Sump 2 which did not look very enticing with crusts floating on top. Heading out we followed Canal Bypass and too a detour into North East Inlet Series. We followed a lead that had been missed on our previous trip into some nice passage, where we thought we had completed this section. Referring to the survey when we got back showed there is still plenty to have a go at here (after a very low crawl..) The way out was completed following all the low wet crawls, where we met my mate the rather large brown trout again.

North East Inlet Series - Little Neath River Cave
Lucy Collins - Approach to Bouncing Boulder Hall

Lower Main Streamway - Little Neath River Cave
Lucy Collins - Lower Main Streamway

Lower Main Streamway - Little Neath River Cave
Mike Bonner - Lower Main Streamway

Lower Main Streamway - Little Neath River Cave
Mike Bonner - Lower Main Streamway

North East Inlet Series - Little Neath River Cave
Lucy Collins - North East Inlet Series

The water was pleasantly warm, but we really needed more of it...

Present: Mike Bonner, Lucy Collins and Brendan Marris

Sunday 20 July 2014

Wet Sink

After a busy Saturday the Dudley group set off  to explore Wet Sink on the Sunday - after the obligatory breakfast and faffing of course!

Knowing that most of the caves in the Forest are small and muddy, and with Brendan trying to scare us with tales of sewage strewn streamways, we really didn't know what to expect from Wet Sink, but we were in for a very pleasant surprise.

Efficiently dropping down the entrance series of ladders and pitches, we soon met the streamway, which was low and sewage-free. We headed upstream, hoping to be able to find our way around the round trip which would bring us back to the stream downstream. A series of sandy crawls and roomy passages, including the impressive Chunnel, showed us that the cave is really very extensive. When we stopped to look at the survey we found that although we had been trotting along at some speed, we had hardly visited any of the 13km cave system.

Brendan and Mark successfully navigated us along the round trip and we popped out above the streamway, which we then followed downstream to the sump. It was hard going, with the floor determined to trip us up and squeeze our feet, but beautifully sculptured rock. Climbing back out of the streamway we made our way under a rather smelly but very picturesque shower inlet back towards the entrance series, and were soon all out in the sunshine.

The Chunnel - Wet Sink Cave
Matthew Maylin - The Chunnel - Wet Sink Cave

The Chunnel - Wet Sink Cave
Chloe, Mel and Jess consulting the survey - The Chunnel - Wet Sink Cave

Lower Streamway - Wet Sink Cave
Loz in the Lower Streamway - Wet Sink Cave

The Showerbath - Wet Sink Cave
Mel in the Showerbath - Wet Sink Cave

The Showerbath - Wet Sink Cave
Jess in the Showerbath - Wet Sink Cave

Well worth a return visit here I think!

Present: Brendan M., Mark B., Jess B., Mel B., Chloe B., Loz A., Matt

Saturday 19 July 2014

Here's to mud in your eye! The Dudley Otter Hole Trip 2014

A tired looking Dudley bunch met at the 365 steps car park at 8am. The night before had seen the worst thunderstorms and heavy rain of the year and no one had managed much sleep.
Ian our trip leader arrived at 8.40 to find us all changed and raring to go. As we made our way through the woodland the tired faces were replaced by excitement at the thought of what was in store.

After a quick shot of the team whilst still clean we signed the logbook and headed in. 
The entrance series is immediately flat out and muddy and everyone squealed with delight as we slipped and slid our way through the crawls. We soon made our way over Pyramid Step, down Breakdown Passage to the tidal sump where there was plenty of air space so we quickly paddled our way through, up the ladder and through choke 1.  The traverse proved no problem for anyone and we were soon stomping up stream to the 2nd choke. 
After taking some time to wash ourselves off thoroughly we headed in to more muddy passage in the Link Crawl where Mel approached the rift at an odd angle and made getting through slightly more work than necessary :)
Reaching ‘The Extension’ we were immediately wowed by the pretty formations before us. Every corner we turned seemed to impossibly become prettier than the last until the huge stalagmites and stalactites of the Hall of 30 loomed in to view to take our breath away. We could have happily spent the entire day with the formations already passed, but there was still more to come. We continued on to ‘Long Straw Chamber’ passing more beautiful curtains, stal’s and columns of colours varying from Black to pure white dripping from ceilings that at one point became the brightest of reds. Then on to Tunnels Junction. At this point Becca went with Ian to the Sump in Tunnels Left whilst the rest of us pottered back taking a few pictures as we went.
The outward trip was uneventful, though everyone was feeling the pace on the return, and we arrived to find the sump high enough to be a duck on our exit. Well chilled we soon warmed up as the flat out mud crawls are up hill on the way out!

Paul Taylor was filming for his sequel to his otter hole video at the wash off point, fortunately Mr Edwards has taught us well and Mr Taylor was very pleased with the quality of his actors.

The Rest of the Dudley Forest of Dean weekenders met us as we washed off in the bath tub and we were soon back at the cars munching cake and planning our next adventures.

The team before entering Otter Hole
Rich in a grotto off the main passage
Chloe in Gour passage
Mel admiring formations near Tunnels Junction
The team on exit!
Present: Becca Kirkpatrick, Mel Bell, Rich Gibbons, Chloe Burney and Mark Burkey

Miss Grace's Lane Cave

After a night of stupendous thunder and lightening we woke (did we sleep?) to persistent rain, the Otter Hole team headed off and it was for the rest of us to make a more leisurely start to the day. We headed into Monmouth for breakfast at Wetherspoons and then took the drive down to the cave. We were soon kitted up and rigged the entrance shaft before dropping down into the cave. We took a standard trip into the Spring Fever area of the cave. We headed to the via Dome Chamber and Nurden Hall to reach Canyon Hall where we headed up to look at Phreatic Passage. We made our way back exploring side passages and then a circular route to visit Dog Tooth Chamber.

Miss Grace's Lane Cave
Ian Millward - Miss Grace's Lane Cave

Miss Grace's Lane Cave
Matthew Maylin - Miss Grace's Lane Cave

Miss Grace's Lane Cave
Matthew Maylin - Miss Grace's Lane Cave

We headed back to the campsite for showers and a change before we headed out to meet the group at Otter Hole. As we went down the hill we met up with them mid shower at the bathtub.

Present: Jess Burkey, Mark Burkey, Matthew Maylin and Brendan Marris.

Sunday 13 July 2014

OFD 1 Round Trip

We arrived at a very quiet SWCC to find Rob already there and we were soon joined by Ian and Chloe. 
I had been juggling between a couple of different trips, one SRT and one for Jess to practice leading the classics. In the end my mind was made up by a provisional SWCC member asking to join us on a trip who didn't have any SRT kit, so the OFD 1 round trip was decided upon.

Rob had obviously spent too much time in Brendan's company as he realised half way down the hill that he had neglected to pick up his helmet!
After retrieving his lid we continued on. Water levels were very low and we were soon skipping along a very gentle stream way. We made good time in to the cave and went for a quick look at boulder chamber before returning to Lowe's climb and the continuation of the round trip. All went well and before we knew it we were heading back over the bolt traverse and exiting the escape route.
On our way out we popped for a quick look in Skeleton chamber, Pearl chamber and through the squeeze in to Downey's cave to the boulder blocked exit to the surface before about turning and heading back to the club for cake and a cuppa :)

Rob at Lowe's Climb

Chloe Next to The Escape Route

Jess in passage near Downey's Cave

Present: Ian Millward, Chloe Burney, Rob Campbell, Jess Burkey, Mark Burkey and joined by SWCC provisional Phil Knight.

Saturday 12 July 2014

A Hitchhikers Guide to Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney

We were joined by Matthew, a Kent University caver who has moved just down the road to the Dudley Club. Following breakfast in Luigi's we headed to Trefil and parked up at the end of the village. It was a fine day and we headed out on the long walk to the cave. We found the entrance straight away and after a short break for a drink and cool down we headed underground. On the way in we decided to go and have a look at the Nant Criban branch of the cave. We spent a good bit of time in this area, the route through being tighter and more awkward than we had thought, all assuming we were on the right track... We turned back when no one could, or would fit through a tight descending squeeze. We then headed down the main passage, through the choke and to the start of the lower stream passage. The meandering rift soon became a hands and knees crawl, which was followed for about 200m with a short flat out section to reach a small choke. Beyond lay the final section of stream and from the choke, upwards through a hole lead to a area of short sandy passages. We returned taking photos on our way out.

Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney
Jess and Matthew - Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney

Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney
Matthew and Mark - Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney

Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney
Matthew - Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney

Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney
Matthew - Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney

Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney
Matthew - Main Passage - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney

Towards Nant Criban - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney
Matthew - Heading to Nant Criban - Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney

The Trefil quarry was used as a backdrop in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Some more photos and information on Ogof Tarddiad Rhymney here.

Present: Jess Burkey, Mark Burkey, Matthew Maylin and Brendan Marris.

Saturday 5 July 2014

Pant Mawr Pot - SWCC provisionals trip

The Dudley branch of the SWCC volunteered to take a group of provisional SWCC members on a trip to Pant Mawr Pot. Following a stop-off for breakfast at Luigi's en-route by Brendan and Keith we met up with Mark and Jess at SWCC to start a session of extreme faffing. Much of the SWCC tackle was packed up for the Summer expeditions, so a little while was spent arranging gear to get up and down the pitch safely, after some time we were ready to set off. The weather was great for the trip, we walked the 4km in glorious sunshine.

The pitch was rigged with ladders and all descended into the darkness. The ladder pitch was a little daunting for the new recruits and played at the back of their minds for the rest of the trip knowing that they would have to go back up it on the way out. We headed through the cave taking a detour to the Chapel and then split off at the Great Hall. Mark, Keith and Brendan headed off through the Graveyard to look at the Vestry and Organ loft, while Jess went to the Fire Hydrant. We all met up again at Straw Chamber on the way out for a quick photo. The climb up the ladder went better for the provisionals than they had dreaded, and soon we were all on the surface ready for the steady walk back to the club.

The Video

Present: Keith Edwards, Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, Brendan Marris, Sian, Tom, Gethin and Chris.