Sunday, 20 December 2015

A Light Caving Trip in OFD Top Entrance

With the poor weather set to continue we decided that we would have a play with lighting techniques and practice setting up shots in a suitable location. Top Entrance to OFD provided a suitably dry location with the added bonus of several drippy inlets flowing quite nicely to add some atmosphere to the shots. During our six hours underground we were never more than 200 metres from the entrance. The aim of the day was to test out new flashguns, radio triggers, infra red triggers, light output of flashguns verses different types of flashbulbs and also to try out some experimental shots. With a dry location we could practice techniques that we would not otherwise risk on long trips in difficult locations. Some of our output is shown in the gallery below.

Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole
Cascades lit by light painting - Photo Mark Burkey

Cascade lit by Flashbulbs
Cascade lit by Flashbulbs - Photo Brendan Marris

Inside Top Entrance - lit with flashguns
Inside Top Entrance - lit with flashguns - Photo Mark Burkey

Cascade lit by Flashguns
Cascade lit by Flashguns - Photo Brendan Marris

Cascade lit by Flashbulb
Cascade lit by Flashbulb - Photo Brendan Marris


Cascade lit by light painting - Photo Brendan Marris

In conclusion Mark's new flashgun the Yongnuo YN560-III is a little more powerful than the Vivitar 285s. It has the benefit of much lower power output and although the infra red slave has poor range, the radio slave easily works underground for the quoted 100 metres in a straight line, although does not work far round corners.
Bulbs were giving much better results than flashguns when shooting falling water, and the much higher power output and all round soft light making them great for use in larger chambers and passage. The AG1B bulbs easily giving four times the light output from a Vivitar 285 with the M3B bulbs giving twice that of the AG1Bs.
Light painting was a revelation too and will come into play in suitable locations. Colour balance from the LED lights is a challenge as is the need for the camera to be tripod mounted and having people keep still in the shots.
We will continue to experiment and work to blend different lighting types in the same shots to enhance the overall lighting.

Present: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey and Brendan Marris

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Poles apart in Cwm Dwr

We’ve often mentioned visiting the short passage above Piccadilly waterfall and so decided that would be our main objective for Saturday.

 After much tea drinking and procrastinating we eventually made our way in a rather wet Cwm Dwr entrance series.

 Our plan was to use the Upper Piccadilly maypole to access the inlet. This proved to be a lot heavier than it looked. After attaching a ladder and line it took three of us to move it in to position.

 I climbed first, soaked and blinded by the water as I ascended.

 The pole only just reached the sloping muddy ledge and getting off at the top was one of the scarier experiences of my caving career. The water and slippery mud offered no assistance at all, I lunged on to the slope and as I did so the pole began to slide. With all the grace of an elephant I managed to pull myself to safety and heave a sigh of relief.

 After looking around the rather splendid passage it was obvious there was nothing to belay from and so as Loz and Jess made their way up I held the top of the Maypole to steady it. Neither of them was able to get off the ladder under their own steam and required me to drag them up the slope to safety.

 We switched the belay to the top of the pitch and Brendan climbed through the water to the top. Unfortunately at over 6ft I couldn’t man handle him off the maypole the way I had with the girls and after a couple of attempts he unfortunately lost strength and had to concede defeat.

 With the climb down playing on our minds we took some of photographs of the short passageway before attempting our descent.

A nervous and uncharacteristically quiet Loz went first. It took all my strength to keep the top of the maypole steady as she swung on to the ladder, but as soon as she did the pole steadied.
A rather tearful Jess repeated the procedure and again it was quite strenuous to ensure the maypole stayed in position.
For my descent I attached a guide rope to the pole so Brendan and Jess could hold it steady whilst Loz belayed me.
The whole thing went swimmingly and I didn’t die or Naffing!

With much relief we spent a little time photographing the waterfall using flash bulbs before going off to explore some of the lesser visited passage behind the skyhook pitch before heading out for a well earned meal.

 A Fantastic finish to 2015 and already I’m looking forward to the adventures 2016 has in store!

Piccadilly Inlet (Photo Mark Burkey)

Passage near 'The Smithy' (Photo Mark Burkey)

Passage near 'The Smithy' (Photo Brendan Marris)

Piccadilly Waterfall, lit with flash bulb (Photo Brendan Marris)



Present: Brendan, Loz, Mark & Jess

Saturday, 12 December 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas......Pot

Having led an SWCC trip in to Daren Cilau last month, a few of us were invited to Yorkshire for the weekend for a little SRT adventure.

Waking to find a good deal of snowfall Saturday morning we headed off toward Clapham full of Christmas Cheer. Derek led us straight to the entrance where Duncan elected to practice his rigging. As Duncan hasn’t had a lot of experience with rigging this took a little time. Jess, then Brendan, then myself sat waiting patiently as Derek oversaw Duncan’s rigging, but progress was slow. To take our minds off the icy dripping water Jess and I sang Christmas Carols,…..though not the same ones and not at the same time…much to Brendan’s chagrin (he said it was like being stuck in a horrific shopping centre at Christmas with no way out)

 After a while we heard Duncan on the bottom of the pitch shout up to say he had reached the end of the rope. We then heard Derek shout back ‘that was great.’ To which Duncan replied,” No, I’ve reached the knot in the end of the rope but I’m still 2 meters from the floor!” After prussiking back up and re-arranging the rigging we were finally able to join the other two at the bottom of the pitch.

We then reached an interesting array of obstacles, crawling over, under, and through boulders with SRT kit snagging everywhere to the head of the 2nd pitch which proved to be a snug and awkward take off.

After going to take a look at the 3rd pitch down to meet the stream from Grange Rigg we decided that water levels weren’t looking good and so retreated to take a couple of photos of the formations before heading back out.

We had only been photographing about half an hour, but the water cascading in had changed dramatically, and what had been only damp pitches on the way in were now in full flow. Quickly we retreated up the rope with Derek de-rigging as we went. We finally emerged to find that a lot of the snow had melted and a stream was now entering.

On the walk back down to the car park we were amazed at how Clapham Beck had turned in to a full on white water torrent in the time we had been underground.

A most excellent Christmas adventure with Snow, Carol Singing and laughs, what more could you ask for!

A Wintery Start To The Weekend
Duncan admiring formations below the 2nd pitch
Derek at the formations below the 2nd pitch


Present: Mark, Jess, Brendan & our hosts Duncan and Derek

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Dudley ate all the pie's! Christmas at the pie factory.

This year our annual Christmas meal was held at The Pie Factory with 16 members in attendance.




Present:
Mark, Jess, Mike, Lucy, Brendan, Graham, John, Emma, Mike, Paulina, Bartek, Ian, Rich, Sharon, Amy, Andy, Chloe and Mark B..U..R..G

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Sunday, 29 November 2015

An Ace Adventure In Agen Allwedd From Any Perspective

Our original plan for Sunday was to do an inner circle trip in Aggy, but as there had been heavy rain for the preceding couple of days, and the fact that Chloe turned up after having had only 2 hours sleep the night before, a rather more gentle trip was planned.

The wind and rain buffeted us as we walked the track to the entrance, almost blowing Jess and Chloe off the path at one point!
Glad to be out of the elements we were soon warmed up as we made our way though the entrance series with Jess leading the way through to Barons Chamber.
We continued on with me taking full advantage of the easy passage to play with some different angles photographing Main Passage before dumping the camera gear and heading past the Music Room, Cliffs of Dover and in to the Ace of Spades Stream and Aven Series.

The area is a real 3D maze and the avens had an impressive volume of water cascading from them. At one point Jess led us around a sharp dog leg and in to a very muddy phreatic tube. The tube had an awkward spike of calcite protruding from the ceiling followed be an equally awkward squeeze to emerge head first 8ft above the floor. Past the spike Jess called back for me to grab a welly to stop her from slipping too fast.
I looked through the oppressive bit of passage not looking forward to following her.

Jess was the only one of us who had been in this area of the cave before and eventually coaxed me through with the knowledge that it linked back with the rest of the maze.
Chloe and Mark didn't find the awkward manoeuvre any easier, but managed to join us in the small chamber.
With everyone grouped we pushed through another impressively aqueous aven to find a small chamber blocked with boulders. I had a good hunt around but couldn't find a way on......At this point Jess admitted she hadn't been in this part before and just hadn't wanted to try and climb up to the squeeze by herself!
This proved to be as interesting as she feared and Jess, Chloe and Mark required assistance to get back in the tube and through. This left me flapping like a fish out of water trying to get in a position to get back. Fortunately ,once in the muddy tube, it was heading down dip and the squeeze proved easier in reverse.
We continued investigating every passage until I found a flat out crawl to a particularly loose and uninviting dig. As I backed up a sizeable chunk of rock displaced pinning me. Too heavy to lift I managed to roll it off and was very happy to get back in to more stable passage with nothing more than bruising.
Chloe was looking pretty tired and my adventures with the loose choke made us decide to quit whilst we were ahead.
The exit proved happily uneventful and we were soon hurriedly changing in the damp night air before saying our good byes and heading home.

Gypsum crystals in the floor of Main Passage



Jess leading the children (Playing with perspective shots)


Present: Mark Burgess, Jess Burkey, Chloe Burney & Mark Burkey

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Light Work in Lancaster Hole

The misfortune of the weekend continued into Sunday with Mike finding that his brand new Scurion light mounted on a shiny red helmet had disappeared from the changing room overnight. The next two hours were spent searching every possible corner of Brackenbottom, even making contact with some divers who had left early in the morning, all to no avail. Finally a late riser at the club was asked if he had seen it, and then the penny dropped. He had an identical set up, and on seeing it late the previous evening thought he had left his out and put it into his car. Reunited with all our kit and after finishing off a wonderful breakfast provided by Mark and Jess we had a feeling that the air was a little warmer than on the previous day. With the possibility of the road to Bullpot Farm having thawed out we headed off to Easegill. The road was clear and soon we were at the empty farm, ready to get changed. At this point Mike realised he had now left his Scurion battery at Brackenbottom on charge. With a good drive back to the cottage and no guarantee anyone would be there when we got back we decided to try and make phone contact. We knew of one point where a faint signal could be obtained, and after a couple of phone calls were made we had arranged with Josh Bratchley to pick up the kit so we could pick up from him later. Mark provided Mike with a spare battery for the day and so we changed and then headed over a desolate and cold moor the the warm welcoming entrance to Lancaster Hole.

Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole
Loz on the Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

Photos of the entrance pitch were taken by Mark, before a quick visit to Slug World was made by those who hadn't been there before while Mark and Brendan packed up the photo gear. We then headed into the cave, stopping off for all to have a look at the Colonnades as we passed nearby. We headed down to Fall Pot and dropping through the boulders to the streamway and found that the floods of the start of the week had receded well, making a journey up the Main Drain quite safe. We dropped off our gear and then headed the short distance downstream to reach the main sump. Impressed with the lovely shaped passage on the approach for the sump, the photographers hot-footed back to Fall Pot for the cameras and a couple of photos were taken.

Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole
Jess near the sump - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

The Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Mike near the sump - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

We then headed upstream along the magnificent section of streamway taking photos in a couple of the locations that we had scouted on a previous visit.

The Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Loz in the Main Drain - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Mike and Loz in the Main Drain - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

The Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Jess in the Main Drain - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

After a good session of photographs and with the camera gear being a little too moist to take any more, we made the final approach to the boulder choke at Oxbow Corner. Here a tricky climb up, assisted by a muddy rope saw us climb up to the high level fossil passages. Our route was now to head back to Lancaster Hole via the upper series and soon we were stomping along the fossil passages, traversing along muddy ledges high above the streamway that we could hear below. We passed the beautiful Painter's Pallet and Bob's Boss before we reached Stake Pot which had marked the end of our trip on our last visit. We kitted up with our SRT gear so we had protection of the slippy roped climbs down and then climbed up assisted by hand jammers of the far side. We were now in familiar territory for Brendan and Mark and made good time back to the bottom of the entrance pitch. Now dark and with clear skies the temperature outside had plummeted and we quickly exited and then stomped back to Red Rose, heading off at about 8pm.

A great trip into this fantastic system, a pity we only had one day there. The weekend was saved by the hospitality of Scoff and the Bradford members. Next time a Lancaster - County through trip.

Present: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, Loz Appleby, Mike Bonner and Brendan Marris

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Dudley do Yorkshire: On a slippery slope to nowhere

November's caving meet in Yorkshire attracted 5 of the usual suspects, all agreeing to meet at Inglesports for breakfast on the Saturday morning. After breakfast there was the compulsory fondling of kit in the shop, with Mike kitting himself out completely with shiny SRT kit and Jess insisting on matching cowstails for her caving outfit.

After yet more shopping in the local Co-op, with Brendan panic buying food to replace the delicious lasagne he had left on his coffee table at home, we finally set off to the Red Rose hut, to sign in and actually do some caving.

Unfortunately the Yorkshire weather and road conditions had other plans. As we headed uphill the road became icy and slippery, until all 3 vehicles became stranded at the side of the road, unable to continue. After some pushing and panting to avoid sliding back down the road sideways, we had no option but to abandon our trip.

Luckily we were able to find the Bradford hut open and welcoming, so accommodation was sorted, but where to go caving? Mike, of course, was desperate to try out his new SRT kit, and the options boiled down to a dry, but boring, Sell Gill trip, or a prettier but decidedly wetter Long Churn trip.

Having only brought one rope with us, as that was all we needed for the original plan, we had to cobble together enough ropes from kit we carry in the van. This made for an interesting set of pitches but in the end Mark managed to rig Long Churn right down to the bottom of Alum Pot. With 5 of us in the group it was quite slow going so Brendan opted to stay at the Window, and Loz and I decided to forego the last pitch with only Mark and Mike going right down to the sump.
Mike dealt well with all the SRT challenges including rebelays, but by the time we were on the way back up we were all freezing, especially in the more exposed Alum Pot. Getting back underground through the Window into proper cave felt almost tropical in comparison!

We exited the cave in good time to get back to the Bradford where Brendan produced a great impromptu dinner.

Long Churn Entrance
Looking out in to Alum Pot

Loz at the window to Alum Pot


Present: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, Brendan Marris, Loz Appleby, Mike Bonner

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A wet days play in Cwm Dwr

Loz joined Brendan and I Sunday for a trip in to Cwm Dwr.
We had planned to visit a part of the cave we hadn't visited before but once we arrived at the foot of the divers pitch the torrent of water made it almost impassable.
Plan B was devised and instead we took a couple of photo's of the wet cascade and headed off to show Loz some of the rest of the cave.
First we headed up Heol Eira and then on past the pull through to Upper Piccadilly and in to a maze of interesting crawls. These emerged near to the 'Tapioca' formations area of the cave. Loz and I went off to take a look whilst Brendan continued poking around the passages near by. Re-grouped we headed out via a loop route which brought us back in to Big Shacks and from here Loz led the way out. An interesting trip which has opened up a few more area's that we shall have to go back and explore on a slightly drier day :)


Brendan and Loz in Big Shacks after the choke

Loz checks out a rather wet divers pitch (Photo Brendan Marris)

Present Mark Burkey, Loz Appleby & Brendan Marris


Saturday, 7 November 2015

Ogof Yr Ardd / Pen Blwydd yr Ogof

For the SWCC fireworks weekend we planned on the little visited 'Birthday' cave behind the Rhongyr Isaf outdoor centre.
We arrived to a packed out SWCC on Friday evening and after a very wet and windy night kitted up and drove down to the lay-by near the outdoor centre.
We stopped off to ask permission at the house and were led straight to a thick patch of brambles. It was quite obvious that no-one had been in this cave for a while. We were advised that after all the rain we should be very careful as the lower passage can back up becoming hazardous and promised we would keep to the higher passage.
After only 20ft I arrived at a tight slot in the phreatic shelving and quickly found myself dangling in mid air with my ribs unable to pass the constriction. Brendan slid through and said that it was indeed rather snug and went off to find the other entrance for me.
I headed back up and waited for a while till I saw Brendan's helmet and went to meet him. The second entrance is a cascade over very loose boulders which had given way as Brendan had ascended.
Carefully we made our way down the slope and on through the fragile limestone till we reached the head of the 13M pitch. Water was belting down this and so we used an alternative higher window to rig from.
At the base of the impressive pitch we found the way on blocked by a thunderous waterfall. We soon realised this wasn't really the place to be after a few days of heavy rain. We had planned to take a shot of the ladder pitch, but with the spray and misting it would be near impossible.
On the way out I had another go at the first entrance and found that it was an easier task to scrape my ribs through on the way up than down.
Back at the hut Brendan found that his ankle had bruised quite badly, so changed and warm we partook in a few medicinal beers before curry and fireworks ensued :)

Present: Mark Burkey & Brendan Marris

Sunday, 25 October 2015

What It Takes To Get The Shot Two - Llygad Llwchr

This is about the 10th edit of this video and although it’s far from perfect, I do sort of like the 'fly on the wall/behind the scenes look at cave photographers at work’ nature of it, so have at long last decided to upload it.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Knocking at Cwm Dwr, but did we get through...

Finalising our plans at the Mill Thursday evening for an Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2 to Cwm Dwr through trip, Rich G and I made an early start Saturday for SWCC.

With a quick bacon butty stop to fuel two finely tuned cavers for the day, we arrived in good time to fill out route cards and check weather conditions with the DO. Once inside top entrance we moved swiftly to the far side of the chamber and headed left over a number of boulders into a rift, this quickly emerged into the top end of Gnome Passage.
With Rich feeling confident from previous trips we headed down to our left, passing the Wedding Cake to arrive at a large drop leading down to Salubrious Streamway. We worked our way through the boulders, and resisting temptation to keep progressing downwards we took a diversion through Sand Passage to visit the Judge and the Trident formations.
 Rejoining our route, but now leaving the Salubrious Stream we entered a tight rift with white mud on the floor. Continuing to make good progress through the many twists and turns we eventually arrived at an awkward down climb that needed negotiating before we could rejoin the stream below. With a few committing moves we both made easy work of the drop, and once safely down the rift continued until reaching the ladder climb that would lead us to the main stream at Maypole Inlet.

After negotiating another awkward climb into the stream the real fun of the day began as we watched each other fall neck deep into several of the rock pools! With adrenaline and spirits running high we made good progress downstream, up and over into the Great Oxbow to bypass the sump, passing Marble Showers, continuing through to River Chamber one, and finally a low arch at the end of which was the Confluence. A short distance ahead from this we entered the flood Bypass and continued up into Piccadilly, at this junction we turned right to continue the route to Cwm Dwr, and after an awkward step and a climb over boulders we entered the Smithy, with the noise of the Cwm Dwr stream below. On slightly more familiar ground we negotiated the route finding through passages, traverses and boulder climbs easily to Big Shacks.

This progress continued through the boulder choke, using the scaffold pipes for guidance to soon emerge into the final big chamber. Working our way up the last few boulder climbs we finally reached the final crawl, with our energy levels flagging we slowly but surely made our way through to the base of the drain pipes. With Rich looking like he was ready to toast a successful trip with the Cubans he had bought from his recent holiday, and daylight only a few metres away I pulled myself up each section of pipe until I reached the door... Now I’m not sure whether it was the lack of a full English at Luigi's, but I didn’t seem to be able to open it! Had we forgotten something? Had somebody told us, and we had not been listening? How many hours left till our call out! All these thoughts went through our minds until I gave it one last push and the door flung open! Phew!!

Present: Rich Gibbons & Mike Bonner
Trip Report: Mike Bonner

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Ars'in about & Chillin in the Green Canal

For Sunday we planned on taking Mike in another first for him, Dan Yr Ogof.

Brendan wanted to grab a classic shot in Straw Chamber and I wanted to do the same at Crystal Pool, so our trip was set.

Water levels were low on the way in and the group made swift progress in through to the long crawl, even with me slowing the group to take a shot at Pot Sump.
Jess brushed up on her navigation leading us through to the Green Canal, but we found most of the buoyancy was at the other end, so decided to complete the round trip in the other direction, starting in the lower series.
At Mazeways we found the, usually sumped, entrance open and so popped in for a play before continuing on.
Jess made going through the Camels Arse look incredibly awkward, I went on to make it look all but impossible and Mike popped through no problem....Peace of P*ss, I believe was the phrase he used ;)
Continuing on we climbed out up the Abyss and on to take a look at The Rising  before backtracking to the Green Canal and out the way we'd come.

Brendan and Mike Near Pot Sump
Brendan, Mike & Jess at the Crystal Pool
Mike in Cloud Chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)
Mike in Cloud Chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)

Present: Mike Bonner, Brendan Marris, Jess Burkey & Mark Burkey

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Hanging around in Gnome Passage

For the October South Wales weekend Jess, in her new capacity as training officer, sent an email out offering some SRT training to go with a spot of caving in OFD.

We were joined by Brendan, Ian and Mike for Saturdays trip and met at Luigi's for a spot of breakfast before continuing on to the SWCC. We headed in via the Mini Columns and bedding planes to rig the head of the newly bolted 28M pitch in to Gnome passage. Here we took some time to show Ian and Mike some basics of rigging before descending the pitch. After dumping the kit we headed off down Edwards Short Cut to Frozen River before continuing on to Shatter Pillar.

Finding myself in need of a running stream, I headed off to Salubrious, but having taken a tumble the weekend before, found the bruising on my back to painful to contort through the restriction and had to leave this to Mike and Ian to pop down. Next we headed through Selenite passage and in to Salubrious with a quick divert to have a look at the Trident and Judge formations. With Mike suitably impressed we headed back to the pitch to take a couple of photo's of Jess Ascending.
Mike and Ian decided they'd had too much fun already and so Brendan took them out the standard route and left Jess and I to de-rig and bring the kit out via Speedy Caver and White Arch.

Jess ascends the pitch in to Gnome Passage
Mike in Frozen River

Brendan at the Trident
Ian and Jess in Selenite Passage

Present: Mike Bonner, Mark Burkey, Ian Millward, Brendan Marris & Mark Burkey

Thursday, 15 October 2015

What it takes to get the shot - Llygad Llwchwr promo

Dudley's dynamic duo, speleo snappers Brendan and Mark go questing again in search of the illusive perfect cave photograph. Watch to see how they fare, and why they needed to take a giant inflatable crab with them. Preparation is everything. Witness the skill and determination needed to stay at the top of their game.
The complete video will be available shortly, when the legal wrangling is over and hopefully an out of court settlement has been reached. Meanwhile here's a short teaser.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Unhinged in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu!

Having been unable to get underground for almost 2 weeks I was going a little stir crazy.

Fortunately Chloe, Mark Burgess and Brendan came to my rescue with a couple of days play in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu.

Chloe wanted to have a go at leading a through trip from OFD 1 to top entrance and so the plans were made.

Water levels were low going in and we swiftly made our way up stream, pausing for a quick shot on the way to boulder chamber and through the connection. At the letterbox Chloe looked at me doubtfully as I showed her how to hold the chain and slip in to the slot feet first, but giving it a go, she agreed it was actually much easier than our usual head first lunge through.
After the flat out crawls and climb down the divers pitch it was time to enter the main stream.

The last time I tried to take some shots in this area of the cave I had lost a flash gun to the flowing water and so was keen to have another go at shooting the stunning black rock and calcite streaking.
After half an hour of photography I decided that everyone was looking chilly enough, so packed up my kit, only to find a hinge on my Peli case had snapped.
I would normally try to traverse all the wet pots in the stream, but didn't want to risk slipping and dunking the camera gear, so the next hour was spent chest deep in them with the camera box held high!
After climbing out at Maypole inlet it was a pleasant stomp along our familiar route out along Salubrious, up through the corkscrew climb, and out via Gnome Passage.

Monday was a very lazy day of playing with multiple exposure shots in Big Chamber and Gnome Passage.

Mark In Marble Showers
Chloe in the Main Stream Way
Mark in the Main Stream Way
Many Me's in Big Chamber Near The Entrance (Picture Brendan Marris)
Brendan in Gnome Passage

Present: Brendan Marris, Chloe Burney, Mark Burgess & Mark Burkey

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Underground - Overground in Porth Yr Ogof

Mike had fancied a day's exploring at Porth Yr Ogof and with some fine weather forecast for the weekend we made a trip there on the Saturday.
We had quite a bit of kit between the pair of us, with buoyancy aids, rubber inner tubes plus kit for the pitch entrances and also camera gear as well. We made a leisurely start and headed down, missing breakfast to arrive at about 10:30am. Loaded with gear we headed down to the main cave entrance to stash the buoyancy aids, as we would do the cold swims as the last part of the trip. We then headed out of the cave and over the road to the three vertical entrances - (G), (H), and (I) on the survey. A handline was dropped down the gated entrance (I) and Brendan descended to quickly check out where the two vertical entrances dropped in. The handline proved its worth on the climb back up and we then headed to the two other entrances, these being only a few metres apart and connect together underground after a short distance. It was clear entrance (H) was the one to use with ample natural belays to rig from. A rope was rigged down, to a ledge a short distance in, but no suitable belays could be found to rig a nice hang down the centre of the shaft. There would be a good amount of rope rub, so after a little deliberation we descended with the plan of not going back up the pitch. Once down we explored the area at the bottom and took photos of the Letterbox squeeze found close to the bottom of the vertical entrances. Brendan then headed back up the climb to surface, but Mike had difficulty with the climb, so the pitch was derigged and Brendan then returned down the climb.

The Letterbox - Porth Yr Ogof
Mike in the Letterbox - Porth Yr Ogof - Photo Brendan Marris

We then headed up towards the main entrance and explored all around the Maze area finding the two entrances in this part of the cave - (D1) and (D2). We exited entrance (D1) and then dropped down the tight entrance (D2) (it would be very hard to exit via D2). With all areas of the Maze explored we headed to the start of The Creek, where we first looked at the passage that leads to Hywel's Grotto. A flat out bedding crawl leads to a low crawl in a wet passage to reach Hywel's Grotto, a small chamber with calcite flows. Beyond this some more crawling took us over gours to reach the end of the passage. A couple of photos were taken before our return.

Near Hywel's Grotto- Porth Yr Ogof
Mike near Hywel's Grotto - Porth Yr Ogof - Photo Brendan Marris

Near Hywel's Grotto- Porth Yr Ogof
Mike near Hywel's Grotto - Porth Yr Ogof - Photo Brendan Marris

From the Creek we headed down to the Great Bedding, explored around the shingle banks before heading upstream to find the passage up to Cwm Port Inlet on the right. We followed the passage upstream, passing the inlet to the sumps and then continued along the low and unpleasant passage until we finally reached a nasty looking duck. After much procrastination we flipped onto our backs and with noses to the ceiling and passed the long duck to emerge in the deep water of the main stream. We quickly swam against the current past the White Horse to reach the bouldery floor of the entrance chamber. From here we headed to the right and explored the passages that led from the Tradesman's Entrance, finally heading upstream to exit the cave via Tradesman's.
All that was left to do now was the final swim out of the resurgence. We picked up our buoyancy gear and went above ground to the shakehole entrances - (I) and (J) on the survey. We entered the cave here, taking a quick look at the passages around these entrances before we headed downstream to see a glimpse of enticing daylight ahead. Kitted up with our floatation aids we swam the final few metres to emerge into glorious sunshine. We then had a look at the other entrances near the resurgence, having a little explore in entrance (M) which has some nice passage ending in a low wet approach to a shingle and rotting wood filled bedding. We then returned picking up the last of our tackle, having explored virtually all the passage that can be accessed without diving.

Present: Mike Bonner and Brendan Marris

Saturday, 26 September 2015

The Dudley Do Hidden Earth 2015

It started with a poster....

Hidden Earth Poster features Lucy Collins and Mike Bonner 
Lighting Keith Edwards - Photo Brendan Marris

And then a lecture programme was compiled by Emma Porter.

A crack team of people descended on the Churchill Academy to set up the conference on Friday 25th September. This included a massive presence from the following Dudley Members:-

  • Emma Porter, Mike Clayton
  • Bartek Biela, Paulina Biela
  • Richard Amor-Wilkes, Monika Amor-Wilkes, 
  • Firas Fayad and Dea Wilkins.

Photos were entered in the Photo Salon by Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris
Videos were entered in the Video Salon by Keith Edwards
A digital artwork was entered by Keith Edwards
The Dudley T-shirt was entered into the T-Shirt competition
A lecture was given on the Club's trip to Mallorca pulled together by Jess Burkey

We were joined on Saturday by Mike Bonner, Lucy Collins, Ian Millward and Richard Gibbons.

The Club visited the UKcaving stand to collect a prize for cave conservation work.

The team visit Jane Allen at the UKcaving stand

After two days of drinking, visiting lectures, drinking, visiting the exhibits and stands, drinking ...
you get the picture! We came to the closing ceremony and the announcement of the winning entries.

Video Salon - Winning Entry


The best video at the Video Salon was judged to be "What It Takes To Get The Shot" by Keith Edwards

Photo Salon - Premier Trophy


The Premier Photographic prize for the best panel of five photos - Mark Burkey

Here is the set to marvel at

Garlands Pot - Photo Mark Burkey
Garlands Pot - Photo Mark Burkey

OFD III Traverses - Photo Mark Burkey

Hilliers Cave - Photo Mark Burkey
Hilliers Cave - Photo Mark Burkey

Ogof Draenen - Photo Mark Burkey
Ogof Draenen - Photo Mark Burkey

Twll Gwynt Oer - Photo Mark Burkey
Twll Gwynt Oer - Photo Mark Burkey

Photo Salon - Best Photo in Show


Winner - Judged by Delegate Ballot
Garlands Pot - Photo Mark Burkey
Garlands Pot - Photo Mark Burkey

Photo Salon - Best Colour Print


Winner - Judged by Panel
Straw Gallery - Photo Brendan Marris
Straw Gallery - Photo Brendan Marris

Distinction - Judged by Panel
Tooth Cave - Photo Brendan Marris
Tooth Cave - Photo Brendan Marris

Photo Salon - Fun Shot

Winner judged via audience laugh-o-meter
Loz pushing a squeeze in Giants - Photo Mark Burkey

Photo Salon - Best Digital Image


Distinction - Judged by Panel

Streaks Pot - Photo Brendan Marris

Distinction - Judged by Panel

Ogof Gofan- Photo Brendan Marris

T-Shirt Competition - Best in Show


Winner - Judged by Delegate Ballot


Present: Emma Porter, Mike Clayton, Bartek Biela, Paulina Biela, Richard Amor-Wilkes, Monika Amor-Wilkes, Dea Wilkins, Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, Ian Millward, Lucy Collins, Firas Fayad, Mike Bonner, Keith Edwards and Brendan Marris