On entering the system through the Oval Entrance we headed left to explore the Eastern Series. We made our way through the crawls and squeezes leading to the 4m free climb, as this was my first leader trip I was a little apprehensive when faced with what could be a nasty drop, I turned to my two experienced cavers for advice and without hesitation Andy K lowered himself into the opening and one by one guided the rest of the group down. Once we had all regrouped Lucy pointed out that the chamber behind her would be worth checking out. This actually turned out to link in with the main route to the canal, which unfortunately for Lucy was flooded to a level slightly higher than the tops of her wellies. On reaching the sump (normally dry according to the survey) we were faced with a flooded passage, with only a small air gap between water level and the roof of the cave, we discussed the various options (one being that as it was my choice of cave I should be the one to go ahead and investigate) but Ian made a valid point that we could always come back another day and why not continue to explore the ‘dryer’ areas.
With this being the most favoured option we retraced our tracks, making easy work of the 4m climb back to the Aven Entrance where we made a left turn into the Main Chamber. We spent a couple of minutes taking in the scale of the cave until continuing on over to the Western Series. This passage began following a small stream which soon turned from a walk, to a stoop, to a crawl along a smooth sandy surface down into Grump Sump. From here we continued over the concrete dam and along the passage until just reaching the boulder choke. On our return we poked around in a number of smaller passages, but not fully trusting the survey and hearing that some areas of the cave could be unstable, we didn’t want to venture too far from safety.
We retreated back to the Main Chamber where we took a quick rest stop and then headed off to explore the Inner Chamber to the back. This quickly reduced to a long crawl which, with the previous days aches and pains rearing their ugly heads, we decided to leave it for another day. We resurfaced through the Main Entrance agreeing that it was a good cave to finish a good weekend of exploring.
Trip report: Mike Bonner
Present: Mike Bonner, Lucy Collins, Andy Kempster and Ian Millward