Sunday 23 October 2022

''Back to caving'' weekend at White Walls for few members of Dudley Caving Club. Five of us booked the White Walls CC with the plan to do a trip to Aggy. After excellent breakfast at Luigi's in Abergavenny we set of for a steady trip. This was lead by Firas, suffering from a dodgy knee, accompanied by ever cheerful Grandad Graham, happy chappies Dave, Bartek and chapess Paulina. We made a quick progress through the entrance series with significant number of audible grunts by some members of the party. 

Graham in entrance series

The progress was even faster as we entered the wider passage of Baron Chamber and towards the Main Passage. After negotiating 2nd Boulder Choke we eventually got to the slippery part of the Main Stream Passage where the dancing started. 

Graham & Dave in the Main Stream Passage

Negotiating 2nd Boulder Choke

Our turn around point was the Northwest Junction, but we managed to go on for a bit towards the Turkey Junction. On the way out, after even more funky dances on the slippy streamway bed, we had enough time to visit Main Passage all the way to Music Hall. 

In the Main Passage

After all night of rain, next day we had a pleasant wet trip to Eglwys Faen where few pictures were taken. 

Monday 17 October 2022

In early October Emma, Paulina, Mike & Bartek visited Morocco for another session of cave rescue training with. About 30 cavers turned up from different parts of Morocco. Successful training weekend included theoretical session, workshops and a practical underground. Local cavers had a chance to improve their skills on incident management, communications, casualty care including stretcher packaging and some basic rigging techniques. 

Thursday 6 October 2022

A short video aimed at those who ask the question, "Why?"

Filmed in OFD 1 on Thursday 6th October 2022.


Saturday 17 September 2022

Return to Moss Chamber

On Saturday 17 th September Club members Laura aka “Loz“ Appleby (our most excellent trip Leader), Becca Kirkpatric, Dave Bell, Phil Lester and myself completed the classic trip to Moss Chamber. Anne Bell was intending to come but was unfortunately poorly, not to worry as I am sure there will be another opportunity in the not too distant future as this is such a ‘Bucket list’ trip.

We met at the TSG hut in the middle of Castleton for breakfast on the hoof as we changed into our gear. At this stage we were one short in that Phil had not yet arrived. A gentleman called Chris who would be our escort into the cave collected the appropriate fee of £4 part going to Peak Cavern itself and part for the use of the TSG hut. We were about to depart when Phil arrived at the door, having had trouble with his SAT Nav, (Can’t beat good old paper maps l say). After the fastest change l have ever seen we were on our way through the town with the usual admiring glances from the public.

We reached the pay desk and Chris completed the paperwork and reiterated Peak Cavern rules including not hugging paying visitor customers on the way out in our mud covered oversuits. Chris was going to work on his dig so would accompany us part of the way. Through the gate which marks the now end of the public tour (it did go beyond here, but no longer) and onwards to the “Mucky Ducks” Unlike the name suggests the water is anything but mucky, beautifully clear until the silt is stirred. Chris reckons the name comes from a Pub in Sheffield, but who knows how these names come about. They are not actual ducks either although pretty close if you stumble. The water is waste deep (and not too cold either) but the ceiling comes down low so you bend over with your chest in the water, a goodly amount of your body stays dry unless you stumble, result, a full soaking.

We continue along the stream way until we find our junction on the right. At this point Chris leaves us to return to his dig. Up over the slippery shoulder to enter the mostly hands and knees Pilkington’s crawl, not sure of its exact length but it felt like about 80 m. At a sharp left hand bend nature has deposited a large rock over which you slide to enter an ascending tight hole on your right. One’s instinct is continue ahead which we did only to find it should have been a sharp left.

Backtracking we continue the climb in what feels like a boulder choke to emerge at the muddy slope. Depending on how much water your cloths have carried this polished mud can be demanding physically, feeling like one stride forward and a long slither backwards. Eventually we reach to top and come face to face with “The Eye” the notorious vertical oval shaped hole which is about shoulder height. The trick our glorious leader tells us is to try and get your whole body horizontally aligned with the hole and she is quite right, doing that is another thing! But with help from the youngsters, supporting, pushing and pulling l made it and l think Phil had some help too. The tight squeeze just beyond was completed and we moved onwards to the climb down and up, fortunately there is a decent looped rope to assist on both down and up. One more tight crawl followed by a thigh deep wade and we have arrived in the infamous Moss Chamber. Just time for a brief explore, view the impressive flowstone wall and a couple of photographs before starting our return as some of us were definitely feeling the cold.

The climb down and up felt more difficult probably due to tiredness and being cold although the strenuous work in getting up did improve the heating considerably. In my opinion the Eye is easier to approach from this side but assistance was still welcome and despite landing in a heap like a new born animal all was well. The muddy descent is a breeze so long as you break carefully. Head first down the narrow passage bring us to the small hole adjacent to that rock to be slithered over again.

Probably due to tiredness the crawl seemed longer on the way back despite it being ‘downhill’. We emerged into the streamway to be met by Chris who had heard us coming. Back along the streamway through the Mucky Ducks to the holding pool where hand brushes are available to have a good scrub down and remove as much mud as possible. On entering the public part of the show cave we await the call of the guides to call us past the public and at the pay kiosk complete the exit paperwork. Back to the TSG Hut where glorious HOT showers are taken, the only difficulty here is deciding when to reach out and turn it off. Tea and cake at Morrison’s in Buxton on the way back rounded off a successful day and trip.

Ian Millward.

Monday 29 August 2022

Back in mid August we (Bartek & Paulina) set of on 21hrs journey to northern Spain. After uneventful drive, quick shopping we were ready for a hike to the Ario Refugio to join the second part of Ario Caves Project Expedition 2022. First part of the expedition, which Mark Burkey can spell some detail about, was focused on the rebolting and rigging of Cabeza Muxa cave with the purpose of dive in the terminal sump. Once we arrived the derigging of Muxa already started however we had a chance to experience the 600m deep ''entrance'' series of it. The cave drops down immediately from it's entrance via a series of abseils to about -300m level, where the pitch called Gran Abisu starts - a mere 250m of abseiling, followed by another 100m pitch. This almost all vertical section of the cave lands a happy cavers at the -600m level where we stayed overnight in a cosy camp set up just by the main streamway level. 

Lisa Wootton almost on the bottom of Gran Abisu
Lisa Wootton & Paulina half way down Gran Abisu
Lisa Wootton & Paulina on the approach to Gran Abisu
Phil Baker, Tony Seddon & Paulina in the camp

During the rest of the expedition we visited few more local caves with the purpose of preparation for the next season and further explorations.

27/9 cave

We also spend many nights stargazing, many evenings admiring the sunsets and majestic summits poking through the clouds. All this was spiced with a bit of a wild life and some mad-tent-eating cows. 


Friday 25 February 2022

ogof craig a ffynnon - the cave's hidden secret

This cave hides a secret, something that the original explorers went to extraordinary efforts to keep hidden. These efforts extended as far as to completely erase from the cave survey the passage where it is hidden.

A team from Dudley Caving Club set off to discover the passage and find out what it contains.