When Brendan first suggested a group of us going to Mallorca on a caving holiday, I must admit that the words’ Mallorca’ and ‘holiday’ were the ones that sparkled out at me. As beach holidays tend to get boring after a while, the idea of mixing in some caving as well made it sound like the perfect plan!
Months of planning then ensued; flights, accommodation, car hire, insurance etc. all had to be discussed, arranged and paid for. Brendan admitted that when he went caving before in Mallorca, they had only actually found one cave, as the entrances are extremely well hidden. We were determined, therefore, to be as well prepared as possible to be successful. After making contact with a member of the Mallorcan Federation of Caving, we were able to purchase through him a beautiful book containing the most well-decorated caves, including route descriptions, and we picked out 10 of the best, figuring we should be able to find at least a few of them.
We also found out that permits had to be applied for, and after some trawling through the web for information, plus help from our new contact, a form was filled out in Catalan (!!) and a reply came back that seemed to give us permission for most of the caves we had chosen.
As the day approached, work got busier and busier, and with half a book in Spanish to translate so that we could work out what kit to take and what each trip would involve, I started to panic. It all got done just in time though, and we started packing. As I put in shorts and sandals and pretty dresses for going out in the evening, Mark was taking out his second pair of shorts and adding another overall and extra wellies…
Saturday arrived far too early and we all met at the airport at 4am. Worried about our Scurion batteries, which look very much like small home-made explosives, we had printed out specs sheets and presented them at check in for advice. “Just put them in your hold luggage” we were told. Phil was then held up for half an hour while they retrieved his suitcase from the plane, as he had a set of rechargeable AA’s in his case!
Arriving in Mallorca (relieved that our batteries hadn’t blown up the plane) and after being fleeced by the robdogging bastards at the car hire company, we made our way easily to the villa, which was down a winding, narrow single-track road with high stone walls each side – something we got very used to over the week. The villa had a pool! This of course had to be tested straight away, with Chloe trying out the first of her 3 ½ bikinis and Wal nearly knocking himself out diving in without finding out which was the deep end. After a splash around, Mark was doing his Tigger impression “Cave! Cave! Cave!” so a small party set off to find the cave nearest to the villa whilst the more sensible ones stayed by the pool for a bit. The triumphant cave party returned having found the cave mouth using the book description and GPS and we began to plan our week.
We planned our caving trips for each day based on the weather forecast, the length of the drives and walks-in, the proximity of the caves to each other, and my insistence on having one ‘good night out’ in Magaluf. We worked out that if we were up and out by 8 each morning, then we could have a good day’s caving, get back to the villa in time for a bit of sun, maybe a BBQ or meal out, get kit ready for next day etc. The first cave had been found so easily, what could possibly go wrong??
The Team: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, Steve Wal Wallis, Loz Appleby, Chloe Burney, Phil Lester, Helen Nightingale and Brendan Marris
Report: Jess Burkey