Sunday, 22 May 2016

Chamber of Horrors 50th Weekend Celebrations. A Giants Round Trip

As Jess was off cycling in Yorkshire I decided to pop to Castleton for the presentations for the 50th anniversary of the Giants/Oxlow connection. This started with a great talk by Clive Westlake as he read from his journals of the original digging project. I have to say although I have always been fascinated by the thought of this trip I am not altogether disappointed that it is too tight for me to ever attempt!
Clive's presentation was followed by one on the hydrology link between Giants and Peak Cavern by John Gunn, & although I wasn't sure I would either enjoy or be able to follow this, I found I did both and surprised myself at just how much I enjoyed this part of the day.
This was finished by Rob Eavis doing a round up of previous extensions as well as tying in with John's presentation and putting forward possibilities for future digging of the areas as well as some video of the connection itself at high water levels, again I wasn't all together upset to be sipping tea and watching the trip rather than participating!

In the spirit of the weekend Jess and I arranged a trip for Rob, Mike and Lucy in to Giants. Rob hasn't been caving with us for a few months and had approached with a request for a nice easy, dry walkabout. Well if he's caving with us he should have known really ;)
We started the day with a breakfast at Morissons before heading to a busy car park at Peakshill Farm.

We followed a large group to the head of Garlands and allowed two whippet like cavers in wetsuits, who were attempting the chamber of horrors connection, to skip ahead of us.

We made our way down the pitch and set off down the crab walk at a leisurely pace. Lucy didn't even notice The Vice as she walked through it, but the rest of us had drop under to negotiate the obstacle.

At the rope climb up we again met the other group so I took Mike, Lucy and Rob off down the crawls to show them the way on to Geology and the East Canal. Here we found the 2 cavers (Tommy and Molly) it turned out that Tommy had only been in Giants once before and Molly not at all. After pointing them in the right direction they were off like racing snakes.
We continued on with our potter, making our way up the first rope climb, trying to waste time so as not to sit in a queue, but again found Tommy and Molly popping in and out of every hole they could find. Jess knew her way to guide the others so I went on ahead to take them to the linking passage to the chamber of horrors. I went in with them until it got very wet, muddy and snug and then wished them luck as I returned to my group.
The other group were lowering back down to the crab walk so this left the traverses free for us. We had anticipated losing quite a bit of time on this part of the trip, but everyone shot across and we were soon queueing to get back out of Garlands.
On our way home we stopped off at the Wanted Inn and enjoyed some warm drinks whilst Rob wiped  out the deli buying his supper.

Mike at the Vice
Rob in Poached Egg Passage
Lucy in The Giants Windpipe
Jess admires formations in the upper traverse
An awkward calcite eyelet in the upper traverse....don't look down!

Present: Mark, Jess, Rob, Mike & Lucy

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Fairy Quarry .......The Return

After a short tip in OFD Keith felt ready to return to the scene of his unfortunate accident 6 months before.
This time Keith went fully harnessed and belayed down in to Fernhill accompanied by Ian and John to take in the splendid curtain formations whilst Kermit, Brendan and I waited at surface.

With this demon put to rest we headed in two groups in to Withyhill for an afternoon of pleasant caving and pretty formations, pausing often for photo opportunities.
At Green Lake chamber Kermit saw me struggle in through the awkward squeeze and muttered under his breath words to the effect of.....if that larger fellow can do it then so can I!......perhaps not the exact words he used ;)
With a little puffing and panting he emerged victorious in to a chamber he hadn't visited in 40years! After some smiles and photos we continued on to the end of our trip, Column Chamber, before making our way out again.
Keith was feeling a little sore by the time we exited and little dehydrated and so this was used as a good excuse to stop off for a drink in the pub before heading off our separate ways.

Ian admires a magnificent curtain just before Pearl Chamber (Photo Mark Burkey)
Keith and John in Column Chamber (Photo Mark Burkey)
Kermit admires the formations in the entrance series (Photo Mark Burkey)
The Baobab Tree (Photo Brendan Marris)
Jack at Elephant Trunk Chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)
Jack admires a curtain in Elephant Trunk Chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)
Kermit back in Green Lake Chamber (Photo Brendan Marris)

Present: (Party 1: Brendan, Kermit & Jack) (Party 2: John, Mark, Kieth & Ian)

Saturday, 7 May 2016

A coffee break in Ogof Marros

It had been a long wet winter and as the entrance series can flood to the roof we had been hampered from visiting the newly discovered Ogof Marros.

 I had first met Phil Knight a few years ago when he joined the SWCC where on one of our regular jaunts in to OFD he decided to join us and not long after this Brendan had enlisted his help locating and exploring the caves of Carmarthenshire.

It was during one of these visits to that Phil first mentioned about his passion for a particular dig area near Greenbridge and 2 years later we were back with him to take photo's of his pride and joy.

I should mention a few other names at this point as over the summer of 2015 Phil was joined by a full team of dedicated diggers including: Fred Cook, Emily Ivens, Storm Morris, Ashley Pursglove, Antonia Freem, Andy Freem, Claire Vivian, Duncan Hornby and Michael Perryman.

 Brendan, Myself, Jess and Mags arrived at the SWCC on the Friday night to ensure we would get a descent start the following day. The SWCC is about a 2 1/2hr journey for us and Pendine a further hour and half.

 We arrived in Greenbridge to a fine sunny day and met with Phil, Andy & a handful of others for a full tour of the surrounding area and before heading to the entrance.

 Above a rather gloopy sink we entered a hands and knees crawl and were soon making our way down a 4m climb. At this point Andy asked Phil if he was planning on going ahead 'just incase'........'Just incase' turned out to be for my benefit as our first obstacle would be a letterbox squeeze in to the cave named 'Freds Despair', fortunately this turned out to be more awkward than tight and didn't stop my journey in to the newly discovered 300m of cave.

We then made our way through stooping passage to '3 Man Chamber' and on through boulder choke to emerge over the top of the original way in to the cave to emerge at 'Wildest Dreams Stream Way.' Here I stuck my head in to the original crawl which looked pretty dire with bits of scaffold and wooden blocks holding the boulder choke above you at bay. Andy cheerfully pointed out that the grovel through hanging death was normally accompanied by a thorough soaking as you made your way through the flat out crawls and that more than once boulders had moved and only luck had intervened to stop more than one of the diggers being badly injured. I was grateful the alternative route had been found a couple of weeks earlier which now meant that the route in to the cave was accessible in all but the wettest conditions.
 After a brief look in to 'Crystal Carpet Chamber' , we made our way in to the Main Stream Way where Phil proudly showed us his Barista skills before heading off to dig with the others whilst Andy took us on a tour of the rest if cave. On we went through a loop route past Jimmy the trout, who was hiding in a static pool, to take in the rest of the passage way. Back in Stream Way we headed toward through a couple of crawls to start taking some photo's of the '3 Tier Rifts', whilst Andy re-joined the diggers.  Brendan and I snapped away happily whilst our models got colder and colder.
Mags has only been on a couple of trips with us and leaned over to Jess on the first shot of the day and asked her if Brendan and I aways took our cameras with us.... 'Oh yes', Jess smirked. As we continued to take snaps we heard what sounded like formations being broken and left our cameras to find out what had happened. As we emerged over boulders a strong smell of coffee rose from the stream and it turned out that one of the digging crew had had an unfortunate incident with the jar!

As there was no further coffee to be had our models both revolted and insisted we exit in time for ice-cream & cake at the nearby beaches in Pendine......Well who was I to argue!

Crystal Carpet Chamber
Phil before the unfortunate coffee incident (Photo Mark Burkey)
Back to work (Photo Brendan Marris)
Marros Stream Way (Photo Mark Burkey)
3 Tiers Rifts
Marros Main Stream Way (Photo Mark Burkey)

Present: Mark, Jess, Brendan & Magdalena

Monday, 2 May 2016

Bar Pot To Gaping Gill Main Chamber

For our last day's play in the Dales we headed up from Clapham village car park in sunshine for the walk up to Bar Pot. Jess had elected to do the rigging for this one and was soon at the head of the pitch trying to figure out the best/easiest way to rig an assist at the head of the awkward pitch head.

I was aware that it wouldn't be as tight as nettle pots entrance series, but as Jess's Stop made a screeching noise as she navigated through the tighter part of the rift I did pause to wonder just how difficult it was going to be to get back out...assuming I managed to get in!

As it turned out getting in wasn't a problem, there were even small ledges to assist. As Jess rigged her way in to GG she found there was certainly no lack of bolts to choose from, it was almost a hinderance trying to work out which were in play for the rope lengths.

Flood was quite impressive as we made our way across the traverse and in to the passageway. Jess had a description but it wasn't needed as we just followed the obvious draft until we heard the roar of the main chamber.

Here we took the obligatory main chamber shot before making our way back out. The entrance pitch was made easy with the use of my new shiny Pantin purchased the day before and I even got time to snap a couple of shots of Jess as she struggled back up cursing me as she went ;)

Our walk back down was still in sunshine and the pretty walk provided a great finish to the weekend.

Gaping Gill Main Chamber
Jess at the awkward head of Bar Pot 1st pitch
Loz Ascends Bar Pot Main Pitch
Present: Mark, Jess & Loz

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A County Round Trip via The Battle Of Britain Series

Saturday we took the day off and just had a quick photographic play in Yordas Cave, and were met later in the day by Loz. As the weather was forecast a little grim and wet we changed plans for the Sunday from Gaping Gill to County Pot.

Our original plan was to head to 'The Palace' but as we made our way through county we decided on a slightly more sedate but no less interesting route.
The girls had some fun at Poetic Justice and Loz practiced her rigging at the head of the final pitch. After this we backtracked to Spout Hall and made our way in to Battle of Britain Hall and the upper Trident Series for a good explore. Eventually we found our way on under a slab and to a 6m climb down to the Lower Trident Stream way. After a quick look upstream at the twin avens in White Line Chamber we returned via the oxbow. We took a quick look at water levels at Eureka Junction before completing our short round trip back up the pitch Loz had earlier rigged.

Jess admires formations in the oxbow above the stream way
Loz at Eureka Junction
Present: Mark, Jess & Loz