Sunday 3 May 2015

No Fairies on this trip! Fairy cave to Hillier's Through Trip.

On the Saturday we had been into Wetsink in the Forest of Dean but, after spending a night in a field in heavy rain, we decided we fancied a change of scenery and headed over the Severn for a day in the Mendips. We arrived in time for a Priddy Good breakfast and trundled off to Fairy Caves Quarry to get changed. I had liked the sound of the Fairy Cave to Hillier’s through trip since reading about it a number of months ago, and the Burkey’s had popped into Hillier’s recently and decided it was a ‘Chloe kind of cave’ and so a plan was hatched. We jumped into the cave entrance and went squirreling off in various directions to find the way on. Mark checked high and Jess and I checked low. After poking our heads into various muddy slippery holes, we admitted defeat and quickly ran back to the van to have a quick read of the description. The way on turned out to be a flat out crawl under a slab up in one of the higher level chambers we had looked in originally. We stopped for a ‘quick’ photo before I took the lead and carried on through the cave. I took much delight in scrambling over boulders and crawling through the puddles until we came to the connection squeeze. On their previous visit to these caves, Mark had politely declined to go through the eyelet squeeze from the Hillier’s side (Wussed out!) scaring himself by following Jess the wrong way through drop out rift and watching a YouTube video of another caver getting a little stuck! It turned out there was no reason at all for Mark to be such a fairy as he flew through it as fast as Jess and me. I carried on in front of the group through Hillier’s with a huge grin on my face as they had been very right when they thought it was a ‘Chloe cave’. After a short time the smile was temporarily wiped from my face as I had to cross a small traverse to the right to explore the rest of the cave, left went to the entrance series. Mark told me it was a very linear cave and couldn’t go wrong so I shot off ahead. I perhaps took him a little literally when he said ‘linear’ as at a junction I opted for the tight smooth rift in front of me rather than going up over the boulders to our left. Lay on my side, half way through the awkward 8ft rift section I turned back to Mark to ask if I was going the correct way. His reply was ‘well it looks like the way on’. Of course they didn’t follow me as it was only the way on to some small straws and some more flat out crawling over slippery mud. On the way back through the tight rift, I lost my wellie, at which point Mark said ‘oh it’s all coming back to me now’ and recalled that it wasn’t the way on and he had also lost his wellie coming back through the same section. Helpful! After showing that given 2 choices of direction in a cave I always seem to pick the wrong one, Mark took the lead and took us though the remainder of Hillier’s, through the Suicide Choke to the Red Room. On the way back through the choke, I lost sight of Jess ahead of me and once again dived a little too enthusiastically down the wrong hole. Jess retraced her steps after my shouts for assistance, to find just my toes poking out of a hole and me facing at a 45 degree angle into the floor without sufficient room to turn around. I found lying on my chest suffocating so rolled onto my back, only to scare myself as the huge boulder above me appeared to be defying the laws of gravity! After several careful minutes of bottom wiggling and Jess pulling on my feet, I was back on the right track. The remainder of the trip was thankfully uneventful and before I knew it we were out at the cars, eating cakes!
The last undamaged grotto in Fairy cave.

Trip Report Chloe Burney

Present: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey & Chloe Burney

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