Monday 31 August 2015

A 'Wet & Wild' Adventure

To complete the Bank Holiday weekend of activities we booked a 'Wet & Wild' Wildlife Adventure on a water-jet RIB. The trip took us around Ramsey Island (just off St. David's) and into a couple of sea caves. The highlight of the day for me was seeing one of the female members of the party being told off - not once but twice.
Ready to board
Looking at the wildlife
In a sea cave
Someone got a little wet


A sign passed on the drive to St Davids

The Team: Mark Burgess, Jess Burkey, Mark Burkey, Chloe Burney, Keith Edwards & Brendan Marris.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Costal walking in Pembrokeshire

This was planned to be a relaxing weekend with only a touch of caving and so for the rest of the Bank Holiday we were to be above ground.
After a bit of a fracas on the campsite with an unsociable neighbour we headed off late morning to meet the Edwards at Ye Olde Worlde Cafe in Bosherston.
After a quick seance we ordered food and drinks before we went to the car park above St Gofan's Chapel. We walked along the coastal path through Broadhaven beach to Barafundle Bay, down to Stackpole Quay for cake and icecream before heading inland and following the path through the national trust gardens at Stackpole. We Passed the lakes and lily ponds to head back down to Broadhaven beach and then back to the carpark. The day was finished with a quick trip into St Gofan's Chapel.

Barafundle Bay

Stackpole lilly ponds

Present: Keith Edwards, Jean Edwards, Mark Burkey, Jessica Burkey, Chole Burney, Mark Burney and Brendan Marris

Saturday 29 August 2015

Riding off into the sunset at Ogof Gofan

We had an idea that we might capture a great sunset through the large window in the cliff face and so we made a reasonably late start heading off to the cave after lunch time.
The entrance was rigged and Chloe and Mark Burgess headed down into the cave to go and have an explore as they had not visited the cave before. The four remaining cavers then worked on taking some video and photos in the entrance window. Mark had taken a photo of a reflection of a cave scene in someone's eye in Hillier's Cave some weeks back and wanted to try and get a classic shot of the entrance window and also a reflection of it in a caver's eye.
The entrance photos, the reflection photos and a section of video was shot in the entrance, the photos of which can be viewed below.

The Entrance - Ogof Gofan
The Entrance - Ogof Gofan - Photo Mark Burkey

Reflection in a caver's eye - Ogof Gofan
Reflection in a caver's eye - Ogof Gofan - Photo Mark Burkey

Reflection in a caver's eye - Ogof Gofan
Reflection in a caver's eye - Ogof Gofan - Photo Mark Burkey

With entrance shots and the reflections complete we took a photo in the main chamber as we still had a little time to kill before the sun would begin to set.

The Main Chamber - Ogof Gofan
The Main Chamber - Ogof Gofan - Photo Brendan Marris

Brendan Mark and Jess were now the only people in the cave and we moved to the window overlooking Hollow Caves Bay. Brendan practiced some shots while Jess changed into a clean oversuits and Mark took the opportunity to shoot some spiders with his macro lens.

An eight legged friend - Ogof Gofan
An eight legged friend - Ogof Gofan - Photo Mark Burkey

Finally the sky cleared a little and the sun began to set. We took some photos over the next 50 minutes as the sun dropped, culminating with the impressive red sky about 10 minutes after the sun had gone over the horizon.

Sunset at Ogof Gofan
Sunset at Ogof Gofan - Photo Brendan Marris

Present:- Caving Group 1: Mark Burgess and Chloe Burney

Present:- Photography Group 2: Mark Burkey, Jessica Burkey, Keith Edwards and Brendan Marris

Sunday 23 August 2015

Wet Wet Wet, An Introduction to Caving In Llygad Llwchwr

Wayne turned up to the club a couple of weeks ago fancying a trip and I suggested taking him on something whilst we were in South Wales over the weekend. My original plan was to do something gentle in OFD, but as we chatted around the tea pot another plan was formed.

Wayne and Loz joined myself, Brendan and Jess at SWCC and together we travelled on to meet up with Chloe and Keith at the parking spot for Llygad Llwchwr.

We begun hauling bags of kit out of the van and gradually Wayne began to realise he hadn't just let himself in for a normal trip.
Kitted up with inflatable dingy, two boxes of camera gear, a bag of flash bulbs and kit for a ladder pitch, we made our way to the entrance where we formed a chain to take the kit up. I wanted to learn the cave so Chloe navigated from behind and we made our way in with Keith taking snippets of video as we went.
In the first river chamber we realised that the water levels were going to be a little higher than normal due to storms of the last week.
We took a quick look at the second river chamber before continuing on to river chamber number four, where we deployed a dingy and introduced wayne to the joys of standing in flowing frigid water whilst Brendan and I orchestrated lighting for an underwater flash bulb shot which created an eerie red glow from the sediments in the peaty water.
After 20 minutes we allowed Wayne a respite and continued caving on to the ladder pitch down to river chamber 4.
Whilst Brendan and I played with some shots in the dry passage below Jess took Wayne through the chest high waters to the end of the passage to see the formations before rejoining us. I had the daft idea of floating flashguns on a boat in the fast flowing passage and soon regretted the idea as water flooded over them. With batteries removed ready to dry them out later we packed our gear and headed out to play in the water slide outside the cave.
Back at the van I realised I'd gone and left my phone and wallet back at the SWCC so we said our goodbyes and a slightly embarrassed me headed off to collect them.

Keith and Wayne in the fourth river chamber (Picture Brendan Marris) 

Loz admires a crystal pool (Picture Brendan Marris)

Chloe in dry passage in the second river chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)

Sod Caving, this is much more fun! By Keith Edwards

Present: Jess Burkey, Mark Burkey, Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris, Loz Appleby, Chloe Burney & Wayne Holt-Morris

Saturday 22 August 2015

The Draenen Round Trip......Take 2

I'm not quite sure how, but for Saturday's trip I managed to talk Brendan in to having another crack at the Draenen round trip.

We had attempted this a few weeks before, but amusingly Brendan had been time keeper that day and nearing the half way point declared it 5pm and that we had spent too long route finding and would need to head back to be sure of making our call out time. It wasn't till back and changing at the car that we realised that Brendan's watch has a duel clock function and that we had actually been fine to have continued!

We had reached Haggis Basher Number 1, and I must say I hadn't been too gutted to turn around at this intimidating looking rift.
To calm my nerves I did a little research in to the trip and came across a trip report by Paul Fairman who is of similar chest size. Unfortunately this did little to ease my nerves, saying that the Haggis Basher was snug, but there was worse to come in the last boulder choke before Tea Junction. I put this to the back of my mind and figured I'd worry about it when I got there.

Brendan, Jess and I were travelling to South Wales together so there was no rush and after a leisurely start to the day we made our way in at around 11am. We paused for a quick photo in the phreatic entrance rift before continuing on to sign in at Cairn Junction. At the junction with Wonderbra  Bypass, Brendan and I dumped the camera gear.

We had no problem retracing the route we had picked a few weeks before and made our way to Lamb and Fox Chamber and up through Indiana Highway. Megadrive seemed to take less time than I remembered, but the next section through The Nunnery and Perserverance to Saint David's Hall seemed to take longer. We had no issues going through Squirrel Rifts and were soon dropping down to the tight passage to Haggis Basher Number One. I knew from previous experience that the only way to deal with these things is not to think about it and dived in first. It turned out that this crawl looks more intimidating than it really is and is only cozy at the very end and then not an actual squeeze.
Once all through we thought we'd have a look at an area described as having good formations and it did indeed (will have to take the camera all the way round next time!)
Next was Far Agent Blorenge, this large meandering stream passage is very impressive and again I wished I'd brought the camera all the way. At the connection to the Sewer we wasted a few minutes before Brendan spotted the climb up. The Sewer didn't disappoint and was both cold and very wet. The awkward climb again lived up to it's name. We missed the chimney up to bypass the 2nd sewer and were completely soaked making our way through.
As we made our way on to Tea junction we reached an awkward squeeze through boulders that I instantly recognised from Paul's trip report. There are a couple of boulders that dig in the ribs and no matter how you rotate there just doesn't seem to be a comfortable way through for the larger caver. Although tight and awkward it is only a pinch point and as long as you don't mind a light scrape of the ribs it's all over quickly.
At Tea Junction Jess waited whilst Brendan and I popped up Wonderbra to grab our camera gear.
Here we spent a little time grabbing a few shots before heading out for a good meal in Crickhowell before continuing on to the SWCC.

Jess in the entrance series

Jess at Tea Junction

Present: Brendan Marris, Jess Burkey & Brendan Marris

Saturday 15 August 2015

A Giant Adventure In Derbyshire

Ian has for some time now wanted to complete the round trip into Giants Hole. 
His first experience was an SRT practice at Garlands Pot and it has long been on his mind to continue on through the infamous Crab Walk and deeper into the system.
Jess had also been contacted by a couple of friends who had experienced a couple of taster trips but never had a proper caving trip so we thought we would tie the two in together. We emailed out an open invitation and Mike also joined us.
The forecast for Thursday and Friday had been heavy rain with possible thunderstorms so we had been a little worried about the water levels and let everyone know that we may have to change plans if we arrived and deemed the conditions unsuitable.
After meeting up for breakfast in Buxton we headed off to Peakshill Farm where we found water levels actually quite low. We made swift progress to Garlands where we rigged the ladder pitch. Whilst Mike life lined the group down I took the opportunity to take a couple of photographs of Ian's return to the pitch.
Everyone down safely, we made our way through a fairly dry Crab Walk, through the Vice, and down Razors Edge. 
After the Eating House we expected to lose some time at the awkward climb, but again no one had any problem with it at all.
In The Giant's Windpipe the static water in the crawl was nice and chilly and a dip of your ear in the flat out crawl was required as you made your way through. Ed made a very vocal navigation of the passage before the others followed through the frigid water.
After the Calcite boss the group arrived at the traverses. Here we offered the alternative of returning to the Crab walk but everyone  committed to the high route. At this point Ed was really facing his demons. Taking our time we picked our way over the traverses to the point at which he would need to post himself head first through a calcite hole. Jess went ahead to spot people going through and Mike, who had taken the whole trip in his stride, brought up the rear. 
After this we paused for another photo whilst Ed's heartbeat calmed down and made our way back down the rift to the foot of Garlands.
No one had any problem ascending the pitch and after another couple of pictures we were back at the car park where unfortunately we said good bye to Ian and Mike who needed to run back to the Midlands.
A tough trip for novices, Ed and Dan certainly enjoyed reliving their adventure later at the pub!

Jess approaching Garlands Pot
Ian Descending Garlands Pot
Ed and Dan in Passage above The Crab Walk
Mike near Boss Aven

Present: Mike Bonner, Ian Millward, Jess Burkey, Ed Moss, Dan Howard & Mark Burkey

Saturday 8 August 2015

OFD2 - It wasn't like this on the sofa last night !!

This was a trip to introduce Sharon to caving and planned by Rich to give him some navigational practice in OFD Top Entrance. Unfortunately Mark could not make it so the three of us met as is the custom in Luigis for breakfast before heading to South Wales Caving Club. The club was surprisingly busy after a few quite weeks and full of familiar accents as a large party of the Birmingham Cave and Crag were in residence. We only faffed a little before changing and heading up the hill on a fabulously sunny morning. Rich led the was and took a route under the Brickyard on the way into the cave to reach Gnome Passage to have a look around there before heading off to Chasm Passage and the first test for Sharon - The Corkscrew climb, this was passed without any hesitation and so we now headed off to the sand crawls and the route to the Swamp Creek area of the cave. The long flat-out crawls proved to be the only thing that phased Sharon all day, and these were passed with no trouble, just disliked. We headed down to Swamp Creek to view the formations there and take a quick photo before we headed past the Judge and then Trident.

Swamp Creek Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2
Sharon viewing the formations in Swamp Creek

We then headed down Salubrious, headed straight across at the Crossroads and down to the top of Maypole Inlet. Sharon had no hesitation at the bold step and we took a look at the helictites in the area before taking a wrong turn on the way to Cross Rift. We ended up at a pretty crystal pool, so it was no loss and then we took the route to enter Cross Rift. At the point we could head to Shatter Pillar we had a discussion, Sharon was feeling fit and eager to do more, Richard also mentioned that Keith had taken him to the start of Lugubrious streamway on his last trip here. My suggestion was to head to Midnight Passage and then explore the whole of Lugubrious Passage, to reach Shatter Pillar via the longer route. This was agreed and so we headed the full length of Cross Rift. We had a look at Midnight Chamber before starting on the route to Lugubrious Passage. This was reached at a midway point, so we first headed downstream to view the fine formations in the oxbow that leads to the roof of the main streamway. This completed we were now making our way out as we headed upstream in Lugubrious, traversing and climbing as we went. After what felt like an age we emerged through the tight slot to the passage near Shatter Pillar. Once at the pillar we took a drinks break and had an explore of the passages that radiate off. We then headed down Selenite Tunnel to reach President's Leap. Rich led the way across and then Sharon followed, at which point she exclaimed

"It wasn't like this on the sofa last night !!"

Apparently Rich had her dressed up in the caving gear and practiced caving in the living room the evening before, the sofa pulled away from the wall, she practiced traversing across it, or so he says ;)

We now only faced the long slog uphill to the entrance, taking in Salubrious Passage to the Corkscrew and then from Gnome Passage we exited via the sand crawls that lead back to White Arch. We took a small detour through Big Chamber before emerging into brilliant sunshine.

A great tour of Top Entrance completed in under four hours, it looks like we have a new caver in the making.

Present: Rich Gibbons, Sharon Hussey and Brendan Marris

Saturday 1 August 2015

A Photographic foray in to St Cuthberts Swallet

Having requested a photographic trip in to St Cuthberts we were offered a trip by Martin Grass and told to bring some SRT gear.
I was joined by Keith, Brendan, Chloe and Mark B..U...R...G, or as Martin likes to call him....Hello Chole's boyfriend.
I went down the night before and was enjoying my second mug of tea when the others emerged 20 min's late because of traffic. Fortunately we had allowed enough time to still enjoy the delights of a Priddy good breakfast before heading off to the BEC.
After swiftly changing we headed off.
One by one we each made our way in and slid down the entrance rift and fixed ladder pitch to the head of Pulp Pitch. Here Brendan showered whilst holding flash guns for me whilst I tried to get a shot of Martin on the pitch. After everyone was down we continued on down a 15ft free climb to the water slide where again we paused for a picture. We took the route down to lower traverse chamber with the inlet from The Maypole series coming in and here Brendan and I again took a couple of shots before continuing on to Gour hall where............well it was a photographic trip after all ;)
Again a couple of shots were taken of The Railway Tunnel before we headed up to take in Curtains Chamber and make our way out past K2, Kanchenjunga, wire rift and the various ladders and climbs back to the entrance rift.
Back at the BEC we said our goodbyes to Martin who had to run off to Wookey Hole.
Changed and dry we made our way to Burrington for tea and cake before our journey home.

Pulpit Pitch (By Mark Burkey)

Gour Hall (By Mark Burkey)

The Water Slide (By Mark Burkey)

Chain Climb (By Brendan Marris)

Lower Traverse Chamber (By Brendan Marris)

The Railway Tunnel (By Brendan Marris)

Present: Keith Edwards, Brendan Marris, Mark Burkey, Chloe Burney & Chloe's Boyfriend (AKA Mark Burgess)