Saturday, 19 March 2016

Fairy Quarry Wriggles and Giggles

Saturday saw a good number of Dudley Caving Club enjoying a breakfast at the Priddy Good Farm Shop. As Keith often says, “No refunds once the breakfast is consumed” , so despite it being really chilly, off we went to Fairy Quarry to go caving.

Our first destination was the Fairy Cave to Hilliers through trip. Mike and Richard were keen to route find, so they went ahead of the group and we did our best to send them down all the tight horrible bits that weren’t the way on. 

The tight squeeze on the way to Hilliers was as wet and nasty as ever but posed no problems to the group (once Mark had rearranged his ribs) and soon we were at the connection with Hilliers. Pointing out that we were not far from the entrance to Hilliers, we nonetheless headed away from it and into the cave to explore it fully.

With the boys trying to remember what they had read in the survey (which they’d left in the car) Mike got sidetracked down a tight rift that went nowhere, much to the amusement of Lucy, Mark and Brendan, while Marc carried on with Rich to route find, with me following.

Marc has done a few trips with Dudley but perhaps Hilliers has not turned out to be his favourite… it could be described as “ a couple of hundred metres of boulder choke, with one or two places that you can stand up in”, and quite a few times he was heard to say “are you sure this is the way on?”

The Red Room at the end, though, is really quite spectacular, and there are some very pretty sections en route too.  Once Marc and Rich had had a good look round, we set off back towards the entrance, meeting the others on the way. When Rich heard how Mike had struggled to get back out of the rift, he was determined to have a go himself but found it easy compared to some of the contortions we have already been through.

With Rich leading the way we headed out. At one point I looked up to the left at a familiar-looking climb, but ignored it and followed Rich instead through ever more flat-out crawls, until he realized that we were heading towards the sump that links Hilliers Cave to Hillwithy Cave – oops! Turning back and looking again at the climb up, I remembered that it was indeed the entrance to Hilliers, so up we went.

After a short wait in freezing conditions, Kermit arrived to take the group into Shatter Cave, where they were very impressed by the lovely formations. Mark and I went off to take a couple of pictures back in Hilliers while we waited, but we soon got far too cold and were dressed and sitting in a warm van by the time the others got back. A very good day!

Hillier's Entrance Rift

Present: Mark, Marc, Jess, Rich, Brendan, Mike, Lucy & Brendan

Trip Report Jess

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