Sunday 2 November 2014

Somewhere over the Rainbow...GB lies...

As Mark and I had to be back home fairly early on the Sunday, the group decided a trip to GB would fit the bill. Loz, Chloe and Mel had done the round trip previously but not the Ladder Extensions, and Mark hadn’t been there at all.  A night of very heavy rain saw Chloe almost float out of her tent but by morning was hardly a drizzle.

A new farm shop/cafĂ© just up the road from Swildon’s was discovered that served an excellent breakfast at a decent price (we may be seeing more of Keith and Ian in the Mendips now perhaps?) and Mel turned up to join us just after 10.
We got into GB and made our way down the rifty climbs into the main passage, to be met with a surprising torrent of water where on previous visits there was only a trickle. When we got to the rock bridge we paused for Mark to take a couple of snaps – made more difficult as no one could hear each other over the roar of the water.
Once over the rock bridge I was looking forward to everyone missing the drop down to the way on, as you can wander round for ages once you go past it, but Brendan spoilt my fun by pointing it out. Chloe then led us through to the climb down near Bertie’s Pot (not the pot itself this time) and we were back in the main passage. At the bottom of the passage (now streamway) the Ladder Extensions are accessed via a short rock wall on the right. The wall has to be climbed by clipping alternate ends of a ladder into first a P bolt then a chain. I’d wanted to have a go ever since I saw Becca do it, and it was indeed an easy way to get up a wall!
Mark followed me up and went off to see if we could get through the duck or if it would be too full of water. While the others were coming up the ladder he came back to report that it was indeed passable. Most of us went through the duck on our backs but Brendan always prefers to make it more fun by trying to squeeze through the tightest bit with his face under water so that he can’t breathe when he really needs to. It’s very kind of him to entertain us and we showed our appreciation with plenty of laughter.

Brendan then sent Mark up a dodgy-looking climb up boulders into the Great Hall while he led the rest of us up a slightly easier climb, punctuated by a squeeze up between boulders where he again provided some entertainment. Following him up, I became physically trapped in the squeeze! Before the team could call out Cave Rescue I removed my Capri-Sun and slipped through easily (this is the 2nd time a Capri-Sun has almost caused a caver to require rescue, Brendan having previously been trapped by one in his pocket....I can't stress strongly enough just how dangerous these drinks can be and advise that only very experienced cavers even consider taking them underground!)

Chloe followed up, hauling both camera boxes, only to find that neither photographer felt they could get a decent picture. Time-wise we should really have turned round at that point, but I really wanted Mark to see the very pretty Bat passage, so we pushed on there and it was duly admired and photographed.
On our way back out of the cave we felt that the water made the cave much more fun and it was actually quite intimidating as we crossed the waterfall. Brendan pointed out that the water in the sump at the end of the main passage had actually fallen quite a bit, proving that the cave reacts quickly to rain, or the lack of it.

A beautiful rainbow awaited us as we exited the cave and was a lovely finish to a great weekend.

Brendan and Loz at the rock Bridge
Chloe and Mel in Bat Passage
The walk back from the cave

Present: Chloe Burney, Mel Bell, Loz Appleby, Mark Burkey, Brendan Marris & Jessica Burkey

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