Saturday 14 March 2015

Pork Pies For Lunch In The Mendips

Not strictly a Dudley trip as this was arranged be Claire Vivian for us as SWCC members. It was a trip I had been looking forward to for some time and when places were offered up through South Wales Caving Club I contacted claire asking to put our names down. 
We started the day with a Priddy good breakfast before Chloe and Jess headed off for a trip in to Reservoir Hole, whilst Myself Keith and Brendan went to Meet our leader for Upper Flood at the MCG hut. 
After a brief introduction to Tarn, our guide for the day, we changed and headed down the lane to the cave entrance. The entrance series consists of lots of crawling before reaching the rather moist lavatory trap, canal and puddle lake. After these you arrive at the Red room which spells the end of the crawls through water and spells the start of the infamous boulder choke. I was aware that there used to be a squeeze box test to see if you could fit through the tight contortions of the boulder choke and nervously followed the others in to the twists and turns. Fortunately nothing seemed too tight until........ We were chatting to Tarn about the squeeze box and she mentioned that there used to be a rather tight squeeze, but a bypass had been made to it. Keith wanted to do the old route through the boulders and followed as Tarn led through a tight letterbox. I stupidly said I wanted to give it a go and after huffing, puffing, turning this way and that decided that the bypass was the only way I was going to get to the end of the cave. From the other side I could manage to force myself up through the letterbox, but not without bruising a couple of ribs which would be tender for the rest of the weekend :/ 
Exiting the choke we were told to make sure we didn't follow the choke in to a passageway named 'Call The Samaritans' which judging by the name wasn't something we really wanted to encounter! From here the going became easier again and we were soon heading through Royal Icing Passage before having to strip off our over suits and clean our boots and gloves in stream way. From this point everything we climbed a brilliant white calcite flow in to Pork Pie Passage where the stunning formations are some of the most pristine white I have seen. 
We each took it in turns to flat out crawl under formations to take in the very unusual and beautiful Pork Pie Formations before I pulled out my camera to take a shot or two of the calcite flows. 
Unfortunately I had a flash gun fail after the first couple of shots which was probably just as well as Tarn announced that she had an appointment in Oxford so had only put 4pm on our callout (Still...a good excuse to re-visit some time)
It had taken 3 hours to get to this point and we now had just 2hrs to do the reverse. The exit from the cave was something of a blur as we all picked up the pace. Tarn was like a whippet back through the choke and even grabbed both Keith's bag and my Box to slow herself enough so the rest of us could keep up with her! We exited on time though in to a very chilled afternoon and were glad of the warm showers back at the MCG hut. 
We said our goodbye's to Tarn and thanked her for the trip before heading in to Priddy to meet up with the girls and grab a meal at the Queen Victoria.

Keith in Pork Pie Passage
The Pork Pie Formations

Present: Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris & Mark Burkey

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