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

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