Saturday 14 December 2019

A DCC Christmas Adventure.....Nothing but Coal in the stockings for those on the naughty list!

After much debate it was decided that The Dudley Christmas trip would be in Agen Allwedd this year. As we had all been such good boys and girls we were fortunate to have none other than Santa himself lead our trip.....or at least that's what we thought!

On the adventure were: Chris Arnold, Mark Burkey, Loz Appleby, Keith Edwards, our latest recruit Daniel Ball and of course Santa himself.

Keith, Daniel and Mark started the day with our usual breakfast at Luigi's cafe, before heading over to meet up with the others at White Walls.

As the rain mizzled down we were fortunate to find the hut open and a few of us took advantage of this to change in the dry before the walk across the escarpment to the cave entrance.

As we entered the cave we could hear the sound of jingling bells and familiar echo of Santa's bellowing laugh as he came down the passage to meet us and let us know that as a special treat he would be leading the days fun and frolics.

The group made good time through the entrance series and paused for a quick photo of Santa in Barons chamber before heading onward.

We dropped to meet the stream way and happily plodded down the passage singing carols and telling Santa what we hoped would be awaiting us on Christmas morning. Our original plan had been to do the inner circle, but Santa eyes glazed over and took on an evil, somewhat manic look as he declared we had all been naughty boys and girls this year and it was in to the Coal Cellar passage for us!

Keith took the lead and it wasn't long before Mark, having partaken of one or two too many mince pies this season, was finding the rifts a little snug and dropped in to the water below to make his way forward. Even this eventually proved too small and he opted for the high level passage above the stream on muddy traverses.
Meanwhile the others continued onward slithering, sliding, climbing and squeezing their way along.
Surprisingly Santa seemed to have little trouble, although his suit wasn't quite fairing as well.
Mark had dropped back to the stream level to join Keith and was looking for the familiar squeeze out of the passage. Onward the group went for what felt like forever before Keith declared he'd had enough.
Santa, Mark and Loz continued onward and to their glee found the squeeze just 5 minutes further on. Loz went back to collect the others whilst Mark stripped to his under suit to try and enter the squeeze. On tiptoes he exhaled and pushed and squirmed and just as he was sure he would pop through, the boulders he had built up to stand upon toppled and he was left hanging in mid air with legs waving for five minutes before the others arrived to pull him back out!

Keith was next to try and squished and squirmed and with a well positioned shoulder or two popped up to the horizontal section of the squeeze. He was pretty knackered though and his legs fell down the rift and he lost momentum so slithered back down to the passage below.

Loz, not one to be beaten, climbed and kicked and thrutched and again with a little help from a shoulder, a knee and a foot in Santa's groin, managed to haul herself upward whilst Keith captured the moment for posterity on his moving pictures box.

Chris had more sense than the rest of us and didn't even bother with the obstacle and, as Daniel was resting up 50m further back down the passage, it was decided we'd all had as much fun as we could handle for one day and headed back to re-group.

Loz, Chris, Santa and Mark headed out and after a while Mark realised Keith and Daniel were no longer behind them so hung back to wait for them to catch up. Keith's angelic tones came floating down the stream, but it was quickly obvious that he wasn't singing Christmas tunes and was in fact calling for help. Daniel had managed to get a bit stuck at one of the snugger parts of the passage. Mark and Keith raced back, but fortunately after a few moments of festive reflection Daniel had managed to think small and wriggle through.

The rest of the exit was slow but uneventful, we even managed to grab a couple more shots of a slightly shredded Santa en route.

After 10hrs spent underground and feeling pretty weary we made our way back to the cars to change and head home.

I know I for one will be trying to get on that nice list next year, I certainly don't want coal again in my stocking!!!

Saturday 30 November 2019

Croesor Rhosydd through trip

After a Saturday spend climbing Snowdon via Crib Goch, members headed underground for the Croesor Rhosydd through trip.

Present: Mike Bonner, Jess Burkey, Chris Arnold & Mark Burkey

Saturday 23 November 2019

Pendulum Passage OFD

A dudley caving club trip to see the Helictites in Pendulum Passage Ogof Ffynnon Ddu.

Keith Edwards, Joe Watkiss & Mark Burkey

Sunday 17 November 2019

I entered this short video in the Art Salon at Hidden Earth this year and to my complete amazement I got a prize for the best work produced digitally.

And here's my prize, a hand-crafted statue of a caver made by Ceris Jones.

It's now proudly displayed in the CK film studio.


Friday 8 November 2019

Rhino Rift

Members this weekend headed south for a day of SRT in Mendips fabulous Rhino Rift.

Present: Laura Appleby, Jess Burkey & Mark Burkey

Friday 1 November 2019

Northern Canyon OFD

Due to the poor weather we again visited one of our favourites, Ogof ffynnon Ddu. This time re-visiting a route we hadn't done in a while, Northern Canyon. Even found a beautiful helictite arch we hadn't come across before.

Present: Joe Watkiss,  Jess Burkey & Mark Burkey

Saturday 12 October 2019

Northern Lights, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

A trip to Northern Lights in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu has got to be one of the best caving trips in South Wales. The caving is varied and adventurous with a few navigational issues and just the right degree of challenge, and the reward for those who undertake the trip is to get to see some amazing cave decorations.

Filmed on 6th July 2019.

Thursday 3 October 2019

Wild Wookey Adventure Caving 2019 - It's not just walking around a bit!

Wild Wookey is a three hour ‘adrenaline-fuelled, high-octane, exhilarating Adventure Caving Experience’ in the largest and most spectacular cave complex in the UK. Hidden deep below the surface of the rolling Mendip Hills, Wild Wookey at Wookey Hole Caves is a haven for explorers, thrill seekers and anyone wishing to sample a taste of true caving.

Venturing into the darkest recesses of this World famous cave, guided by highly experienced instructors, Wild Wookey will have you immersed in a secret subterranean universe. Rich in history, shrouded in mystery, with vast expanses of unexplored passageways and caverns – this caving adventure is the ultimate adult’s underground playground… Well that's what the Wild Wookey website says! Back in August I was invited to video the adventure caving route and I have to say in my opinion it's ace, but have a look at the video and judge for yourself.

Wild Wookey can be booked online at

Saturday 6 July 2019

The Joy of Caving

I’m often asked why I go caving and the answer is, “Where else could one have as much fun as this?”
Filmed during a trip to Northern Lights in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, South Wales on Saturday 6th July 2019.
It's of Mark in yet another tight space and this one, for extra comfort of the participant and added viewing pleasure, is also a little damp. For even more more spectator enjoyment Mark gets his camera case wedged. What the viewer will not be aware of is that I had to go through first to set up my video camera and my box (which is identical to Mark's) got jammed in exactly the same place and there was no one to help me, but also no one to record the incident.

The complete video of the trip will be uploaded in a few weeks.

Saturday 8 June 2019

Tight Cave - Large Caver IV

Filmed in GB Cave, Somerest on Saturday 8th June 2019 en route to Bat Passage in the Ladder Dig Extensions. This time it wasn't Mark who needed encouragement. Kay, it seems, may have consumed one too many large breakfasts at the Priddy Good Farm Cafe.

Thursday 4 April 2019

Caving with the Scouts

At Hidden Earth last year I was honoured to be asked by Idris Williams if I would consider making a documentary video for the Shropshire Scouts Caving Team. The purpose of the video would be to show exactly what young people need to do to achieve their Caver Activity Badge.

Filming took place on Sunday 3rd February in Llanymynech Ogof, on Saturday 9th February in Porth Yr Ogof & Bridge Cave and on Sunday 10th February 2019 in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu. I knew that editing together the footage would be a major piece of work but when I looked at it on my computer I  knew that a video of brave young people undertaking their first adventures underground could be really special. I felt that I needed to get something published as quickly as possible so on 13th February I uploaded a short teaser video.

After many hours in the studio the final video was uploaded to YouTube on 1st April. It runs for almost 22 minutes making it the longest video I've ever made. Initial feedback has been very positive. I hope the youngsters feel I've captured the the true essence of four very memorable caving trips.

Sunday 31 March 2019

The Pompom, OFD1 – Cwm Dwr

To make it a through trip was my idea to help my route finding, but would make the trip a bit longer, so planned to meet at 1000. I forgot they mess with the clocks this weekend and went for my customary run thinking I have loads of time, oops!
Tony Seddon happened to be at SWCC so we both went on a shopping spree, Mark buying undersuits and yes you guessed it I bought over suit! Plus, a new helmet, having spent a lot of Sat hitting my head due to wearing a helmet 2” bigger than my actually head.
Wearing our new attire, we eventually got underground around 1130. I managed to navigate most of the way to the confluence with only a few pointers from Mark, we reached the climb up by the scaffold bar in about 2hrs.
Mark did a super job of rigging the pull through for the ladder pitch and we retrieved the rope for the awkward climb up in to the passage way that leads to the pompom. The rope being 8mm dynamic made the climb all the more interesting, with mark literally picking me up by my belt and lifting me up and over the edge of the 2ndledge, at that point I was struggling to grab the next knot with all the stretch in the rope, so was glad for the assistance. ;)
The gypsum passage was stunning and as we continued to the crystal pools things got even prettier! We carefully climbed over the pools with camera gear and got a good routine sorted for packing up between shots. Surprise, surprise we did end up taking a bit longer than anticipated doing photographs but well worth the results!
We existed via Cwm Dwr as it was shortest route but not the easiest each with bags, I only had ladder and rope bag, poor Mark had heavy camera bag and ended up using his head to get the bag up the final chimney as he didn’t have a sling. All in all a good trip, plus I also got my new helmet presented back to me with my Scurion attached, thanks Tony. :) 

Present: Mark Burkey & Loz Appleby

Trip report: Loz Appleby

Saturday 30 March 2019

Aggy – Grand Circle

Not a great start on my part, I decided to use the van so I couldn’t drive my normal route up the hill to Whitewalls, so drove further up Heads of Valley road not away I have been for a while only to find someone had moved the roads about & I got a little lost, so needless to say I was late meeting Mark.
Aware grand circle is long trip, on arrival I hastily started getting changed in to caving gear to realise I’ve forgotten a key piece of kit, my suit! 
Fortunately, Mark has an extensive caving wardrobe and after he’d stopped laughing, he offered me his smallest spare. Yes, it was a bit roomy but by the time I’d added my array of protective gear it didn’t look that silly. 
We quickly got through the entrance series and down to the streamway taking the turn at the northwest inlet. It gets very slippy underfoot here and we re-enacted Bambi on ice, sliding our way along until we reached the narrows where the water gets chest deep. It was very cold and I’m glad Mark had talked me out of going without a suit, we traversed tiny ledges to keep from going neck deep!
Can’t remember next bit ????
We make good progress and get to the 4thBoulder choke??? Mark goes first, disappearing up and around in to the 1sttight section, I can hear lots of scuffling, puffing and panting. He doesn’t sound happy and asks if I can help find something for his feet to push off, I crawl in to the bottom of the choke to check, but there’s nothing! He reports he can’t get past the next squeeze, I ask if he can come back out but he reckons not as he’d pushed hard to get through the 1st squeeze thinking that was the tight bit, but the 2ndis worse.
I crawl back out to see if I can find a small boulder to wedge to give Mark something to push off, thinking it’s a long way back around to get out if Mark can’t get through! I find a suitable rock and use my weight training skills to heave it up in to the choke and sure it up as best I can, hoping is doesn’t move and fall back on to me. 
There was a lot of groaning and tiny increments of movement from Mark as he attempted to inch his ribs over the constriction, he’s through, both of us are very relieved! He reckons he might even get a tiny bruise 😊.
Onward, we reach the turning for the southern streamway and start along it, exclaiming how it’s not that bad and don’t know why people moan about it so much!
About an hour later we were both cursing, say it was worse than we remember, with what seems like endless switching between stooping and crawling passage. Very glad to exit in to the main passageway and headed out. Bumping in to Richard on the walk back to find we’d made it round in about 7.5hrs. 

Present: Loz Appleby & Mark Burkey

Trip report Loz Appleby

Sunday 24 February 2019

Navigating The Deepest Cave In Britain

Some Route Finding and Learning Surveys.

Having been with Dudley Caving Club for around 5 or 6 months, and getting plenty of trips under my belt, I recently decided its time for me start learning some of the main cave systems with the hope of starting to lead trips toward the end of this year.

The obvious place to start had to be Ogof Ffynnon Ddu. This system seems to be a regular retreat for DCC and for obvious reason, plenty of cave to go at and plenty of drinking opportunity! Having been only 3 times previously, two through trips and some poking around/route finding with Loz and Mike in top, I felt very vaguely familiar with OFD 3.

I put out the email and had one response, from Mark. If I was going to get us lost, Mark was certainly the right man to point me back in the correct direction! I arrived very early Saturday morning, deciding I couldn’t be bothered to get up early and make the meet time of 10am that I had decided on. After waking up to a beautifully sunny view across the mountains and making a brew amidst the eerie silence that was a sleeping, hungover uni society, Mark arrived. We had a short discussion and decided on a through trip from Cwm Dwr to Top Entrance. I’d never been in Cwm Dwr before, so this was a little bit of a drop in the deep end for my first navigation trip!

I purchased the necessary parts of laminated survey, and after mark pointed our intended route out on the full survey in the common room, we got changed and made our way over the the Cwm Dwr entrance. The first warm sunny day I have ever walked to a cave, and it was only 2 and a half minutes away!

After dropping down the concrete chute, I basically managed to go the wrong way before getting into the entrance series. I missed the right turn following the water and climbed straight up into the choke. As I realised it didn’t go, I turned to see that Mark had followed me, but he didn’t have his camera box with him. This confirmed to me that I had already gone wrong! A bit red faced, I made my way back down and pulled out the Cwm Dwr survey, only to find that the entrance series wasn’t on the sheet I had with me. Mark led on through the entrance series until we hit the choke, when I took over. Taking it slowly, picking my way through, we emerged into Big Shacks. I was already finding it difficult to match specific features in the cave to the survey, as the Cwm Dwr sheet I had was not coloured. Or this was my excuse. Mark pointed out the way forward on the survey, and we moved forward.

Passing through Big Shack 1, turn off the right between two left turns which head to Big Shack 2, we were on the main route. The cave itself was easy going at this point. We pressed through to the traverse which cuts out the 100 meters or so of walking passage. Here I had a bit of a wobble trying to pass the very exposed deep hole, but eventually managed the quick couple of long steps over and we carried on through to take the shortcut through to Piccadilly, converging with another small group who seemed a bit lost!

We stopped to take some photographs at the waterfall approaching Piccadilly. Thankfully I wasn’t too wet so didn’t get cold for these ones! Stopping every so often to check the survey and orientate myself, we cracked on through Piccadilly and round into Flood Bypass. No real dramas here until I went the wrong way at The Confluence. Mark gave me a few seconds and then, not wanting to turn to add an extra half an hour onto the trip, decided to let me know that actually it was Right, not Left!
Picadilly Waterfall
From here continued upstream, stopping to get cold and take more photos at the Marble Showers.
Then it was the pots, 15 or so. All deep enough to get very wet and some wide enough to have no choice, but I did manage to not fall into any of them! I’m not sure about Mark, although I’m sure might not have mentioned it if he had...

Marble Showers

Missing the exit off to Great Oxbow, but quickly realising that I didn’t fancy going underwater, I turned around and saw mark waiting at the climb out of the streamway. After some more photos at a traverse over some white water, we made it to Maypole Inlet, which I have only done twice, once up, once down. Mark was struggling/swearing a bit with his camera box through here as it was a little bit too large to be comfortable in the narrow passage. Passing another lone caver going in the other direction, we both made it up the 35-foot climb without too much bother.

Main Stream Way

I was fairly confident from this point, having been through a couple of times - and the coloured survey helped! An uneventful march up to the Crossroads followed by mark getting a bit excited about finding a small passage into the maze which he hadn’t done or didn’t remember. He did an excited loop and we carried on up Salubrious passage, through the corkscrew and onto pass the wedding cake. Some boulder scrambling through Brickyard later we emerged into the low sunlight at about 4pm.

All in all I a successful trip for me, I went wrong a couple or more times, but Mark was there to set me straight!

Sunday morning saw a rapid round trip in OFD 1, as I had never done it before. As a self-proclaimed non-fan of traverses, Mark lent me some Cows Tails for them. Turns out they were not as bad as I thought they would be and so didn’t bother with them. Out, back and changed for 11am, we managed to make a brew and get that down us before the students awoke, then off home.

Present: Mark Burkey, Joe Watkiss

Trip report: Joe Watkiss

Friday 1 February 2019

50K Subscribers

Earlier today I gained the 50,000th subscriber to my YouTube channel at Channels with more than 100,000 subscribers are awarded a silver wall plaque.

In January my subscribers went up by 2,448 - my largest monthly rise, if you exclude July 2018 - the Thai Rescue month. If this trend continues then I should be able to claim my award by the end of 2020. I've already reserved a space on the wall.

Wednesday 9 January 2019

A Year in the Life of a Cave Videographer 2018

The traditional annual roundup video from Caver Keith Studios. 2018 was an eventful year in which I celebrated the 10th anniversary of my first upload and had many more views than any other year, but amongst the highs there was one slight disappointment.
Filmed in Porth Yr Ogof, Agen Allwedd, Cwmorthin Slate Mine, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu, Wookey Hole, Wild Wookey, Dudley, Calf Holes, Bromsgrove and Craig A Ffynnon.