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

Saturday 19 September 2015

Cwm Dwr II - Echo Beach - Far Away in Time

We had had an encouraging days progress on the previous digging trip with a tantalising glimpse of open passage through the airspace above the partly drained sump.
We returned with a little more knowledge of the site, digging gear, a second fire hose, video gear, photo gear and a set of surveying equipment all in anticipation of entering new or at least unsurveyed passage. We arrived on a fine Saturday morning and took a little persuading to break off tea drinking in the sunshine and head underground.
Faffing over we went underground taking in a second fire hose to halve the time it would take to drain the sump. With a little video taken on the way we were soon set up and spent an hour clearing out rubbish and old digging gear from the cave. With the sump open, we bailed the last bit of water with buckets and then spent and hour clearing out the bottom of the sump. Eventually with a "Mark" sized bit of passage we could stick our heads through and take a glimpse of the passage ahead. Keith went through first and reached a large pool at the top of the slope. He gingerley dug a trench to drain the water back to the sump pool, where we bucketed out the water as it filled up. With the top pool drained as much as he could he popped up through a hole in a calcite floor. He then excitedly called us up to have a look.

Setting up the syphon in Sand Sump

The passage above was larger and started with a sand beach and a booming echo. This soon gave way to a calcite floor. We took off muddy oversuits and headed along the passage until we saw some tape around a small nest of cave pearls at the end of the passage. It was clear that someone had been here before and we had a look at two low side passages. Both were pushed a few body lengths to get too tight for even Keith to make progress. We then decided to call it a day and return to the cottages for hot food a tea.

A section of passage at the end of Sand Sump

We were joined by Mark and Chloe for an evening meal and then on the Sunday we entered the cave with some hand tools, photo gear, video gear and survey kit. We found that the sump pool had not refilled overnight - and encouraging sign. Jess and Brendan undertook a survey of the passage while the others looked at the digging possibilities. After a few hours video had been taken, and idea of a digging strategy had been formulated and a survey had been undertaken to the end of the main passage until Brendan ran out of lead in his pencil. At this point everyone was quite cold and so we exited the cave taking out kit as we went.

Rough survey of the Sand Sump extensions

Caves of the Cwm Dwr Quarry - based on survey © South Wales Caving Club 2015

As we left the cave we did a clean-up operation removing old digging tools, rotting wood cables and fertiliser sacks to leave the cave litter and tool free apart from a small amount of current equipment at the sump.

Clear out of old digging gear after the weekend

Some history of digging in Cwm Dwr II - courtesy of Tony Donovan

In around 1990 Malcolm Herbert, Hywel Jopling and Owain Harvey siphoned the sump at the top of the sand slope in Cwm Dwr 2 and it takes between 3 and 4 hours to drain. Owain was small enough to get through the siphoned sump which was tight and beyond there is some leads heading up dip which he thought looked interesting which could be enlarged.
In 1994 Tony Donovan, Mike Booth, John Hale and Paul Roberts dug the trench in the floor with the intention of draining the sump completely which would allow digging without the need for siphoning the sump every trip, during one of the trips Paul Roberts from the Isca Caving Club wanted to have a look for himself as he was small enough to get through the tight bit in the siphoned sump being roughly the same size as Owain. On the first digging trip when the sump was siphoned John Hale was with Tony Donovan and he failed to get through the tight bit in the sump section, on the 2nd occasion Paul Roberts struggled and just got through and he looked at the leads, but detected no draught.

Present: Chloe Burney, Mark Burgess, Jess Burkey, Mark Burkey, Keith Edwards and Brendan Marris

Sunday 13 September 2015

Walking On Air In Ogof Ffynnon Ddu III

Having had a gentle warm up in the Mendips with Mel on the Saturday,  Sundays trip would be a little more challenging.
Mark Burgess arrived at mine at 7am and together we headed for the SWCC and our objective Smith's Armoury at the end of OFD III.

We changed swiftly and lost no time heading up the hill to the OFD II, top entrance.
We kept up a good pace through the entrance series, snowman passage and across poached egg climb. Having both worked up a sweat we were glad of a short respite whilst rigging the pitch down the Crevasse before continuing on over the Shambles to the infamous traverses. 
Fortunately for me Mark was feeling confident and I took the opportunity to take a couple of photographs before continuing on through the awkward boulder choke. 

We were soon making our way across the maypole and down to the OFD III stream way. Again we paused for a quick photograph, then stomped on down the stream way until finally arriving at Smith's Armoury. 
Mark had a quick poke around whilst I set up flashguns around the chamber and after a few shots we were packing up the camera for the last time ready for the return journey.
Without me taking snaps to slow us we were out of the cave in an impressive two and a half hours and had clocked up a full trip time of just 6 hours with photographs! Not bad considering with my camera I've been known to take that long in a single chamber ;)

Mark on the OFD III Traverses

Mark on the OFD III Traverses

Mark oin the OFD III Stream Way

Mark in Smith's Armoury
Present: Mark Burgess & Mark Burkey

Saturday 12 September 2015

Saved by the Bell, Fairy Quarry Cave to Hilliers Through Trip

With Jess away and no response to my plea for someone to take me caving at the weekend it was looking like I'd have to do some studying and house work, but fortunately Ms Melissa Bell, back for a couple of weeks from Brazil, was at the club Thursday and itching to get underground before she returns next week.
We made plans for a trip in to Manor Farm Swallet, but upon checking the description in the Mendips guide I found an advisory that the farmer didn't allow access during the summer and autumn months. When Mel arrived I offered her alternatives in The Peaks, South Wales or Mendips and she chose the through trip.
We made good time to Priddy and arrived at the cafe for breakfast to find Duncan Simey awaiting his caving group and so joined him for a quick breakfast before heading to the Quarry.
Mel has been a little spoilt with her weather in Brazil and wasn't keen on changing in the light rain, but I cheered her up by letting her know she'd soon be soaked anyway!
We made good progress through to the flat out wet section before the connection squeeze. Mel made all kinds of sounds of joy as she crawled through the cold water. Shivering, but smirking she got her own back as I grunted my way through the squeeze. We stopped to take a couple of shots of Cambrige Grotto before leaving the camera and continuing on through Suicide choke to the Red Room.
Our return went smoothly with Mel taking the lead....until she went the wrong way through a boulder choke and found herself half in, half out and unable to move. Unfortunately I hadn't yet retrieved the camera and so squeezed in below her for her to push off instead.
The rest of the return went smoothly until the exit. Mel has something of a dislike of spiders and as she made her way up the climb out I advised her not to look up at the huge specimens above her.
It did the job and she had no trouble with the final awkward move and exit through the door all in one fluid motion! ;)

Present: Mel Bell & Mark Burkey

Sunday 6 September 2015

A Day At The Palace. Navigational Adventure Fit For A King In County Pot

For our second days caving we headed off to County Pot. I had joined Brendan on a previous trip in to Wretched Rabbit and up Stop Pot so was eager to 'join the dots' and link this entrance to Eureka Junction.
Although we had taken a line just in case, we found the pitches rigged and quickly made our way down them and the various climbs. We were soon in a chamber where Brendan challenged me to find the way on. Unfortunately for him I'd heard about the awkward Poetic Justice climb and soon found myself thrutching up the smooth calcite. Puffing and panting I awaited Brendan to join me, which after one attempt facing the wrong way he did. Whilst Brendan caught his breath I took a quick snap in the crawls before we continued on.
We were quickly in familiar passage and popping out at the foot of the boulder slope at Stop Pot. On our previous visit we had headed up the fixed ladder and on to Monster Cavern, so this time we headed in the opposite direction and we soon confronted by decorated passage in Gypsum Cavern. We continued on to The Palace where we spent a good time taking photo's before retracing our steps to Holbeck Junction. I stayed high and popped to take a quick look at Straw Chamber before rejoining Brendan. We headed up the boulders at Stop Pot looking for an alternative route Brendan recalled from his Uni days and soon found the low crawl that would exit at Four Ways Chamber. From here we followed the winding passage to the rope climbs to exit out of Wretched Rabbit.
As we walked back in the sunshine to Red Rose we planned our next navigational trips in to the system. We look forward to returning and possibly making it a club trip as it certainly has something for everyone.

Brendan in the crawl after Poetic Justice
Brendan in Gypsum Cavern
Mark in The Palace
Brendan in The Palace

Present: Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris

Saturday 5 September 2015

Lancashire Hot Pot - A weekend on Casterton Fell

Red Rose Caving Club were holding a social weekend and BBQ over the first weekend in September. SWCC were invited as they have a reciprocal arrangement with the two clubs. On hearing of the event we enquired if the Dudley could join in, to which they extended a warm welcome. Unfortunately straight after the Bank Holiday, it was only Mark and Brendan who could attend, but we planned to make it a recce weekend for future Club trips.
We arrived on Saturday night via a nice Italian Restaurant in Kirby Lonsdale. Beer had been laid on for the weekend so we had a quick nightcap before bed.

Saturday morning saw a hive of activity with most Red Rose members doing trips into Notts II via different entrances. Mark and Myself planned for a trip into Lancaster Hole and were kindly lent a rope suitable for the pitch. We headed off in blazing sunshine across the fell and were soon rigging the entrance. The 30 metre deep pitch is a fine free hang once through the cosy entrance section and looks amazing as you abseil down into the blackness.
Once off the rope we headed to Slug World, a short diversion off the normal routes recommended by members at the club. A short bit of crawling led past some fine formations and a couple of helictites to emerge in a taped off chamber. Here some magnificent stal bosses marked the end of this series.
We then headed to Bridge Chamber and the climb up on the left to Colonades Hall. The columns are impressive and it is only when you stand beside them that you really appreciate their size.
An hour or so was spent photographing them before we headed further into the cave.

The Colonades - Lancaster Hole
Brendan at the Colonades - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

Colonades Hall - Lancaster Hole
Brendan in Colonades Hall - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

The Colonades - Lancaster Hole
Mark at the Colonades - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

The Colonades - Lancaster Hole
Mark at the Colonades - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

We wanted to navigate around the cave, finding the main passages and routes to open up longer trips in the future and we were soon on our way to Fall Pot. We descended the 8m fixed rope climbs to arrive in the bottom and then headed off along Montague East to reach Stake Pot. Here a rope down and then back up on the other side really needed tackle. As we had left our gear we decided that this would be as far as we would go. We did think we could see a bypass on the survey and spent much time looking for this non existent route before heading back to Fall Pot. The sound of the streamway enticed us to climb down the choke at the bottom of the pot and soon we were in the Lancaster Main Drain. We headed upstream in the impressive streamway enjoying every inch of the passage. Rich peaty water flowed through deep pots and the brown scalloped walls reflected the lights beautifully. We went through a boulder area below stake pot and eventually reached a choked area which we believe to be on the approach to Oxbow Corner before time was running short and we had to go back.

We were up the pitch in no time and then enjoying the walk back to Bullpot Farm under a clear blue sky. The BBQ was already lit when we got back so after a wash down of kit we ate a sausage or two washed down with a pint or two of beer. Happy Days.

Present: Mark Burkey and Brendan Marris