Sunday 9 June 2024

OFD 2 Again By George!

The old pensioner got dragged out of retirement again to take new member George on his first caving trip. 

We visited the Bedding Chambers first,

The Mini Columns

and then headed for Salubrious streamway

At the bottom of the streamway

to visit The Trident and The Judge.

The Trident

The Judge

After a short excursion to see Swamp Creek and The Nave, we then headed for the Crossroads.

The Crossroads

Our next destination was Maypole Inlet to show George the climb down to the Main Streamway. This was followed by Cross Rift, Shatter Pillar and then Selenite Tunnel.

Selenite Tunnel

Our final destination was President's Leap before the Old Git decided that he'd run out of steam. We headed out but the Old Git couldn't resist a quiet visit to the Club Dig on the way back to the hut. The water level was surprisingly low so we were able to get almost to the dig face.

Cavers: Keith Edwards & George Tolley

Monday 27 May 2024

Fairy - Hillier's Through Trip

After finding myself with a spare bank holiday, I put the call out to Dudley members to see whether anyone wanted to join me for a quick caving trip. A lot of folk seemed to be helping with a project in Yorkshire, but Jonny was free, so the two of us toddled off for some Mendipian fun. I'd been wanting to do Longwood Swallet for some time, having been enticed by the streamway. Unfortunately, predicted thunderstorms put paid to that idea, so we opted for the Fairy / Hilliers through trip instead.
This trip started very pleasantly, with simple clambering over boulders and a short flat out squeeze into a small chamber. Easy caving led to a diversion off the main route, up through a loose choke to Disappointment Chamber. Here Jonny's time in the gym scuppered him from getting his chest through one of the squeezes, so I continued alone through the slightly unnerving choke (it was loose and poorly travelled), so that - as Jonny put it - I wouldn't be disappointed at avoiding disappointment. On reaching Disappointment chamber, I could see why it was given this name: a couple of uninspiring decorations make negotiating the choke not very worthwhile.
Next on the list was the wet crawl connecting Fairy and Hilliers. This was quite unpleasant, and involved getting a rather wet ear when ducking through the lowest point. A tight-ish squeeze followed, and having popped through this, we started down a descending tube. This lead to a narrow crawl which looked very tight to me. Jonny reassured me that it wasn't that bad, so off I went, not entirely convinced that it was the way on. To make matters worse, Mark and Jess had warned me of bad air in this part of the cave. After a few metres of crawling, I was a bit spooked; I was breathing hard, but told myself this wasn't due to bad air, but physical exertion. In any case, it was obvious it wasn't the way on as I turned a corner and it closed down.
Back out of the crawl, we retraced our steps and found the way on. Once in Hilliers, the different character of the two caves became obvious. Hilliers had a lot more boulder chokes with tight contortions and squeezes to complete. Following the polish was easy, though, and before long we were in Cambridge Grotto which was beautifully decorated. Shortly after this we turned around, and retraced our steps, before passing the connection and heading out to the exit rift where we’d rigged a handline before going into Fairy. This was a really fun, sporting trip, and I've that I'm glad I've finally got round to completing it.

Trip Report: Dave B
Cavers: Dave & Jonny
Photos: Jonny B

Monday 20 May 2024

Mendips - Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink

Being in Bristol on Saturday for Rope Rescue Event with work team, we though that it would be a shame not visit Mendips once we are so close.

Our option was an easy-ish Sunday trip and we decided to visit Hunters' Lodge Inn Sink. The cave entrance is very conveniently positioned in a car ark of Hunters' Lodge. As we arrived the night before we though it would be sensible to arrange the key straight away since the pub doesn't open until mid day next day. Having arranged the key we also tasted the produce of a local brewery.  

Paulina in the entrance crawl

On Sunday morning, after a drive from Priddy to Hunters' Lodge via Wookey Hole (due to the road closure) we were ready to cave at about 9.30am and we opted for a photo trip. The idea was to explore it all the way to the end and take pictures on the return. Not knowing the way we managed to poke into all the dead ends and eventually found the correct way on. We decided to go full SRT as we were planning to get to the bottom of 18m pitch - Pewter Pot. Even though the cave is grabby in places we managed to keep our gear on throughout most the of it, but left the rope and harnesses by the pitch head and went on to see the end with the camera. The cave surprised us pleasantly with few decorated chambers and water features. 

Returning from Barmaid's Bedrooms

Happy Hour Highway

Cavers: Bartek & Paulina

Saturday 18 May 2024

OFD 1: Round Trip

Fairly mellow, quick & easy enough trip, is the best way I’d describe this one. However, is that because I’ve already experienced so much? Who knows! One thing I couldn’t have probably done sooner is the rigged traverse. As frightening as it was, I knew there was a drop but it was confusing because I knew I couldn’t fall. Think i need to do this one again. I did enjoy it, very good beginners trip I’d say and thoroughly enjoyed being the only ones in there (thanks to the weather 🤓). Loz is a great leader and i will look forward to her trips again!
Trip Report: Rebecca Guy
Cavers: Loz, Rebecca
Photos: Rebecca

Monday 6 May 2024

Jingling Pot

The final trip of the Yorkshire club weekend was Jingling Pot. On the team this time were Paulina, Bartek, Dino, Roo, Dave and myself. After two days of caving the steep slog up to the pot seemed excessive, but it was interesting, as we quickly detoured to see Rowten and also had a quick look at the entrance shaft to Aquamole.

Dave was trainee rigger (under Bartek’s watchful supervision). While he was rigging the traverse to the Lateral Cleft Route, Dino sorted the Direct Descent, providing a nice round trip. This was great SRT practice, providing ample opportunity to have a go at a traverse, as well as some rebelays, deviations, and a good long prussik back up the main shaft.

Bartek choose to poke his nose into the dig after descending the rift at the bottom of main shaft. After going for a little way, he found himself under a very large block held up by very rotten timbers, and therefore beat a very sensible retreat.
I also had the opportunity to take part in my first cave rescue. The casualty was a very skinny frog who I hope appreciated the lift he was given up the main shaft to a nice pool; what's more, he was even brought dinner in the shape of a nice fat slug. After this rescue, we attempted to rescue Bartek and Paulina’s Volvo after it slid down a muddy bank when Bartek reversed onto the road. While our little Panda valiantly stopped it sliding any further, there was no way Bartek could reverse off, necessitating a call to a caver friend with a large 4x4. Overall, this was the end to a fantastic weekend, and I'm looking forward to another Yorkshire adventure soon.

Cavers: Paulina, Bartek, Dino, Roo, Dave & Anne
Trip Report: Anne Bell
Photo: Bartek

Sunday 5 May 2024

Lancaster Hole & Cow Pot

We had decided the night before that we will be splitting into 2 teams to do a transfer trip between Cow pot and Lancaster hole. We have looked at the rigging maps for both and realised that there is difference between the rigging maps we had for Cow pot. A 20m extra pitch appears on one of the maps. We decided to take a 20m rope in case we needed it. I have not been personally there before, nor have I seen the description of the cave. Last minute that morning we decided to switch teams so team 1 Bartek, Ann and Dave will go to Lancaster hole, while team 2 Dino, Paulina and I will rig the cow pot. Which means the 2 people who have properly looked at the 2 caves were now in one team. Paulina has been before long time ago at Eurospealeo where everything was pre rigged.

We started our trip with all off us walking for the Red Rose hut. All dressed up ready to go down. Aggi and Zeina were not caving that day, so they walked with us, a bit behind, until the track started going a bit inclined and muddy. Said our goodbyes and carried on till the stile. After the stile, Bartek had to call the three ahead to come back as we are going left beside the wall. Following the wall took us to cows pot first. Team 2 opened a gate on the wall to heading to Cow Pot. Team 1 went right at this point and heading to Lancaster hole which was few hundred meters away. As part of team 2, we followed the path around the bushes and trees where we suspected the pot would be. We reached the top of a big rock, clearly there was a long way down at the edge.

We could see the anchor points at the surface of the rock where we stood, which matched the rigging map we had. Dino and I started rigging. Then I took the rope and start the decent. there was a reply just few inches from the edge of the rock. Rigging this, i carried down looking for the deviation point which was on the opposite side of the big rock i was on. Threading a sling in the steel anchor and putting the deviation on the rope, after that it was a 20+ meters vertical drop in the middle of the shaft. I reached the bottom where it was properly lit with day light. Dino followed and when arrived, he directly followed the natural passage trying to find the way forward from there.

Paulina got down next. When she arrived, we started looking around for the other passage which she has used long time ago. In my mind I was looking for that 20m up and down passage on the rigging map that i have seen the day before, which was not with us that day. We saw a narrow passage on the floor going up and away from where we landed. It seemed the wrong way as it was too tight and we could not see any landing at the end of it, also it looked tricky if you get stuck there as there is no way you can pull yourself up.

There was a small climb opposite to that hole, which a thought it was the 20 m passage on the map. Anyway, we decided to follow Dino to see what he has found. Walking down that passage following the natural way the cave goes, reach a low celling chamber with a natural duct over, i went in the chamber where dino was looking down a hole with scaffolding, trying to access it. Paulina went up into that duct and came back as there is nothing up there. At that stage, we said that didn’t looked like the right way, so we thought we go back and this time with Dino to see if we can find the other way especially as Paulina thought that’s not the way she previously used.

Back at the landing area, we started looking again around, not much there except the hole on the ground level and that climb. I went up the climb and look around, nothing there except a very tight squeeze. Dino tried going down that tight hole, after naturally fixing the rope and using his hand jammer to slide down and threw a rock, we could hear it went down quite a drop. Then Paulina gave a go. Also, they both agreed it would be a risk if we go in and it was not the right passage, we could easily get stuck. I tried to give it a final go but had a similar conclusion.

So at that point, we thought we have spent more than an hour so far and it is too late to carry on, as Bartek was expecting us at 2 on the main chamber in Lancaster hole on the 60m rope. He was hopping to capture this mid celling 60m drop. It was 20 to 2pm already, so we decided if we go back now, derigging and try to follow them in Lancaster hole, to let them know what happens as they will be worried by then. Dino went up first, saying that don’t take the bag as he will pull it from the top. He reminded us few times and up he went. I followed, then Paulina. Paulina reached the deviation; a thought came to mind whether the rope was attached to the bag as i have not seen dino doing it an also I didn’t.

Dino asked Paulina if she tied the rope to the bag, she replied confidently that she thought Dino did, reaching the belay at this stage, she was double checking with Dino who was on top of the pitch at the edge looking worried and annoyed. Paulina at this stage starter to switch onto her descender as we will have to go down again for the bag. Dino did have a bit if shock until Pauling switched back and went up. Dino then started pulling the bag and us laughing. The bag finally at the top, we packed and started heading to Lancaster hole.

We reached the top of the hole, where we could see three ropes going down, its a busy cave. Dino went first, and then Paulina. While Paulina was midway, we heard voices, it seems Bartek has come back to the entrance as he was worried. I followed Paulina on our rope, it was tricky to get on the correct rope with 2 rebelays, especially the ropes were twisted over each other. Mid way down, I checked if I needed to carry on if they are coming up. Bartek said to carry on.

Reached the bottom of the first 30-4 drop, Bartek was there, while Paulina and Dino have gone ahead. There were three other cavers faffing around, waiting for me to get off the pitch to go up. I followed Bartek quickly as you need to with Bartek. He vanished and i had to call him back as i was not sure on the way, it was my first time in this place.

Walked for 10 minutes going in a stream at one point and going up muddy slops, over boulders and under till we reached a huge chamber, where we were supposed to emerge from the ceiling (the 60m pitch). Dino and Paulina waiting for us in the chamber, Dave and Ann were at the bottom of the chamber. There were few ropes already rigged at different placed to get to the bottom. Our ropes were rigged at the right-hand side wall of that chamber with a traverse to start with then a straight drop down. Bartek tried to see if he can take a good photo from that spot but after decided not to, and wanted to get to the incline opposite you where that starts from the bottom of the chamber all the way to the top of the ceiling for the chamber. I decided to wait there while the three of them went down on the ropes that Dave had rigged.

They all went up the incline, Bartek looking for photo spots, but then canned the whole way idea. I was not feeling great, so i said i will wait for them in the chamber and they can carry on from the top of the incline. After an hour of the gone, another team of four showed up from the same spot they banished from. When they reached the bottom of the chamber, one of them came up a rope that was rigged in the middle and the other three scrambler their way under the boulder then up two small pitches with ropes to emerge behind me near the entrance to that big chamber. They did stay long and vanished as well heading back to surface.

Still no sign of the team, I had couple of chocolate bars as i started feeling a bit cold, waited for another our, then thought they are late, they supposed to be back an hour ago. So, i decided to head out as if i stayed here i might be a liability. I was concerned if I will remember my way back, I started going back trying to trace my route, a lost my way once just for few meters and then found the way. When I reached the bottom of the entrance pitch i could see daylight. Wait a bit then stated prusiking up the rope. I reached the top, it was sunny and warm, I laid down on the grass and waited, at least now I’m warm and enjoying the sunshine. After 30 minutes, I heard some noise at the bottom of the pitch, it was Dino. When he reached the top, he suggested we go back to the hut and pass by the entrance of the Cow pot to collect the bag of ropes on the way.

We reached the hut and got changed, had a shower and sat down with Aggi and Zeina. The rest of the team then arrived. Waited for them to change then headed to the Kirkby village to get dinner.

Cavers: Paulina, Bartek, Dino, Firas, Dave & Anne
Trip Report by: Firas
Photo by: Bartek

Saturday 4 May 2024

Notts II

Our first trip of the Yorkshire weekend away, was to be Notts II. The seven of us lowered ourselves one by one into the entrance shaft, which really is an engineering marvel. The amount of effort, time, and sheer determination to shore it up with scaffold bars, wooden slats, bricks, breeze blocks, expanding foam and various other materials must have been huge. I'm glad the original diggers made this effort, though, as corkscrewing down (and later back up) the shaft was great fun.
Before long we joined the Notts II streamway, where a trip to the downstream sump was in order. This involved a couple of photos, with Zeina being the model par excellence. After that, it was up the streamway, with Bartek pointing out a few navigational markers en route. Before long we arrived at a junction, where we went left. This took us into a most beautifully decorated section of passage, where we met two cavers with clean suits that smelled of Febreeze (I don't know how either of those things is possible.) This passage quickly ended with a crawl and a sump, so it was back to the junction where we again went left (though it was right on the way in).

This passage led us to a canal section, where Anne didn't want to swim and get wet. She took up the offer of a shoulder lift, making it through the canal with her top half completely dry. This was quite lucky, really, as the water at the deepest part was between my mouth and nose; any deeper and she would have ended up experiencing a very cold bath. The canal quickly ended in another sump (a very attractive, clear, deep blue one), so it was time for Anne to have another shoulder lift back to the junction. After that, a quick stomp down the streamway (with a suitable photo opportunity, of course), led us to the main shaft and a climb up to daylight. Overall, a great start to the caving weekend.

Cavers: Bartek, Paulina, Zenia, Firas, Dino, Dave & Anne
Trip Report by: Dave B
Photos: Bartek Biela

Friday 5 April 2024

CRIMS - The Movie

An Electronic Cave Rescue Incident Management System (CRIMS)

Traditionally cave rescues have been managed using a T card board along with a hand written incident log. This system has stood the test of time. So why change anything?

To gain an overview of the electronic system and find out its capabilities, here's a link to a short film.

Version 5.3 has now been released. This follows hot on the heals of version 5.2.

The shiny new feature in 5.3 is the Personnel Deployment Record.

Saturday 30 March 2024

Boxhead Pot

Today's objective was Boxhead Pot, with it's 70m main pitch. Not having done such a large pitch before (and not having honed SRT to perfection yet) I was unsure how hard I’d find climbing back up from the bottom. A good challenge is always fun, however, so three of us (Bartek, Jon and myself) set off after meeting up with several other club members for a good breakfast.

Bartek was up first, being the designated rigger, followed by Jon and myself. This was a great trip from start to finish: a lovely first pitch to a large floor covered in cobbles with the most impressive rock architecture (fluted columns in the rock - very beautiful). From there, the main pitch plunged down 70m, passing through a fair bit of spray en route. Add in a couple of rebelays and deviations on the first pitch, and it all made for a really enjoyable trip.

Landing at the bottom of the main shaft, I recall thinking what fun dangling over 70m of void had been, until Jon reminded me of the stiff climb up and out! Bartek shot up the 70m in what must have been 7 or 8 minutes, Jon took slightly longer (maybe 15), however I think I took at least half an hour. A fast and efficient caver I will never be, but I can plod till I get there. After Bartek and Jon’s patience, it was my turn to be patient, as Bartek engaged in a spot of photography with Jon dangling from a rebelay on the first pitch. The end result was definitely worth it, though, and before long I was prussiking up the entrance (exit?) pitch and struggling up the narrow sewer pipe to daylight. Here Bartek choose to engage in some more photography, successfully capturing my struggle and incompetence for posterity. This was a fantastic trip, and I’m already looking forward to the club’s next Yorkshire weekend in August.
Cavers: Bartek, Dave B & Johnny B
Trip Report: Dave B
Photos: Bartek B

County Pot to Wretched Rabbit

3rd Trip for me, saw me venturing into a Yorkshire Cave for the County Pot to Wretched Rabbit trip. It makes me laugh because before I'd even entered the cave, I freaked out due to the entrance after the slate being a straight vertical drop, requiring me to use full body weight to lower myself into it.
Once I got in with Mark's help, it was fantastic, he had mentioned that it wasn't exactly a newbie trip, I don't mind it though, it's good for me to experience caving as it is and I would feel guilty if the trip wasn't fulfilling for everyone else involved.

New experiences - ladders and tight spaces, not too bothered by these, so wouldn't mind some more tries at these.
Not so good with crawling though, I wonder if there's anything I can buy to help with these, I have had problems with knees in the past. And then there's the drops.. the dreaded drops, few times I found myself on the edge, travelling over an edge, traversing only once or twice which i powered through. And then the end finale, a 1-2m2 square hole to pass over with only a small stalagmite for footing and meant having to lean over and into the drop to be able to secure hands.. most frightening moment of the trip.
Mark, Jess and Mel we're all so supportive and on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It's not going to defeat me, just making me more determined to up my fitness and confidence levels in any way I can, so I'm going to the gym and I'm going to take up rock/boulder climbing. I may still get scared, but if i can build external knowledge and confidence of how to deal with certain situations, it may help in the cave.
Cavers: Mark & Jess B, Mel B, Rebecca Guy
Trip Report & Photos: Rebecca Guy

Friday 29 March 2024

Rowten Pot

Having never been caving in Yorkshire before, I was keen to get stuck into some of the classic trips. Bartek and Paulina were my guides for the day, and opted for Rowten Pot. The choice was an excellent one! After a quick lesson in setting up y-hangs, Bartek slithered over the edge of the pot, and shortly after shouted up to let me know that the rope was free. I dropped down to the second rebelay, relishing the void beneath my feet and the water spraying down the shaft. It was a good thing that the position was spectacular, since I managed to get hung up for about half an hour or so at this point. Not judging the length of the rope in the rebelay, realising I'd attached my ascending gear incorrectly, and getting in a tangle was an impressive number of mistakes, however with time - and more importantly Paulina’s advice - I eventually passed the rebelay and dropped down to Bartek.
From here on, I'm pleased to say, things went a lot more smoothly. There was an interesting abseil into a tight (ish) rift with another rebelay, a good swing across to the opposite wall as the cave bellowed out, and then another couple of pitches down to the bottom of the cave. Here we had a quick look at the sump, which is one of three. Apparently they are committing but relatively easy; nonetheless, they definitely weren't on the agenda for today. After poking around for a few minutes, we started the climb up out of Rowten. Fortunately the way out was trouble free, and before too long I picked my head over the top of the pot. This was an excellent trip, made even better by poking our heads into Yordas and Valley Entrance.
Cavers: Bartek & Paulina, Dave B
Trip Report: Dave B
Photos: Bartek B

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Mostly Mudlust

The Dudley were back at OFD, with their sights set on the Northern Lights (the subterranean version). Through the entrance series we went, into Gnome Passage where we picked up the start of Edward's Shortcut. Here Jonny went first, slithering down the polished climb with ease and aplomb, before I followed somewhat less gracefully. We made quick progress over the traversy bit before taking a detour into Frozen River, which has some very impressive formations, including a copper pillar - very beautiful.
Having ooed and ahhed sufficiently, we made quick progress towards Cross Rift where we took Midnight Passage and followed it up to the Skyhook. Being new to this part of the cave (and having forgotten a copy of the survey), I guessed most of the key navigational decisions, and got them consistently wrong. I was consistently put right by Loz, however, and before long we had found the wet grovel followed by a vertical climb up through a boulder choke which leads to the start of Lavender Way.

Having squeezed and crawled through this, we arrived at the tight squeeze through into the Vault. This was a bit of a struggle, as it was stepped upwards and had to be entered on one's side. Getting my hips over the steps necessitated pushing my torso up vertically; of course the passage got thinner the higher it got, making this somewhat of a challenge. Nonetheless, after 5 minutes or so, it was challenge met and I was through. Jonny was next; he too found the same problem as me and decided he wouldn’t defeat the squeeze. No bother: he and Loz went to find the bypass while Anne and I pushed on.

The next obstacle was the chimney climb with handline. I had heard this was awkward, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was simply a case of easy (but thrutchy) chimneying, with a good sideways push off the wall to force my body weight over the top of the climb. We waited for a few minutes in Mudlust Hall for Loz and Jonny to catch us up, however we quickly began to feel cold and pushed on, figuring that they would catch us up sooner or later.

The second section of Mudlust Hall has the most impressive moonmilk tide mark; this was definitely the highlight of the trip for me! Next we followed a crawl at the end of the chamber over some amusing slippy mud, to arrive at a sump. Back we tracked, and found the wet crawl that's the way on into the rest of Northern Lights. However, not wanting to get too far ahead, we went back to Mudlust Hall to see if Loz and Jonny had arrived.

We found Loz, who said that Jonny was waiting for us back at the squeeze. They had found the bypass, but after some deft climbing had decided not to push on. I thought this wise: looking at the traverse from above the squeeze, it involved a big stretch over a big hole with a big drop but without big footholds! Not a great combination.

Having all met back up, it was time to reverse our route, but this time at the Cross Rift we went out via Shatter Pillar and navigated the standard “tourist route” to the entrance. Having learnt this route recently with Caver Keith ( aka the Wily Cave Wizard), I'm pleased to report that Anne and I were able to follow it without error, and we all emerged after several hours underground.
Overall, this was a great trip, and some of the best bits of Northern Lights still remain to be explored on a future trip!

Cavers: Loz, Jonny, Anne & Dave
Trip Report: Dave B
Photos: Jonny B

Saturday 17 February 2024

Peak Cavern Novice Trip

For February's Dudley Caving Club trip, our destination was set to be Peak Cavern. With regular check-ins on the weather and water levels, it wasn't always a given, but we got the green light Friday evening and assembled at the TSG at 9am Saturday.

There were four of us on the team today, Becky, Myself, Mike, and Mark Burkey - Super we might get some snazzy photos! 😃 This was Becky's second outing with the DCC, so the plan was to take it steady through Peak Cavern and see as many of the beautiful phreatic tubes as we could. Snapping some photos along the way.

After kitting up at the TSG, we took the short walk up to the Peak Cavern entrance - and what an entrance. Britain's biggest according to the survey chart! We'd managed to beat a gaggle of Uni Student cavers bound for the same cave and steadily made our way through the show cave entrance. The trip started on a high, with the theme-park-style slide down to a lower level of the cave. After a short walk following the streamway, the roof starts to lower and the trip officially becomes my wettest cave trip yet. We wade through waist-deep water (Mucky Duck Choke), as Mark explains this area had been dug out by past cavers to extend the passage. At the same time, divers were looking at other routes to continue the cave. Once we get through this watery walk, we arrive at Surprise View. Apparently, this is where both the divers and cave diggers breakthrough into the same "new" section on the same day.

If my memory recalls, the cave passage opens up a little more, into a mixture of winding paths, keyhole tunnels, and of course the awesome phreatic tubes. There were a few key areas Mark wanted to photograph, so we stopped and got a few shots. Not the first time I've been photographed in a cave, yet I still don't know what I'm meant to do with my face - 🥴. After trying my best to look "normal", photos are taken in this section, and we continue on through the passages.
Throughout the journey, Mark points out various offshoots, and potential sump dives. As a budding cave diver, I'm loving the insight into all these potential dive locations. Even more so, given how crystal clear the water is! We made our way down a ladder into a really cool whirlpool room. The water flowed in and around the beautifully cylindrical room and then exhausted the other side. It's surprising how forceful the water gets when it's funneled into such a small opening.

We took the phreatic tubes all the way along Lake Passage to Ink Sump. Once again, we were met with crystal waters and I felt an overwhelming urge to go diving. Although I'm sure I'd feel a little more exhausted if I'd had to carry all my dive gear in this far. We opted to take the dry muddy section to Ink Sump, versus the head-under-water shortcut, probably wise as some of the party were starting to get colder.

As we made our way back through the tunnels, we stopped again for a photo at a small junction. Thankfully I was instructed to look away from the camera (should I be offended?) and Mike had his modelling turn.
I've probably forgotten some details in this section, but eventually, we made it back to the ladder, and it was Becky's turn to model. Proving that the back of my head is more appealing than the front, I once again gave the background a sense of scale - desperately keen not to drop Mark's strobe in the flowing stream way.
After we all safely ascended the ladder, it was a case of retracing our steps up and out of the cave system. One final stop at the (weir?) to have a little scrub and de-mud ourselves to walk back through the show cave. Heaven forbid the cave tourists find out there's mud inside the caves! 😱

After a mixture of delight, shock, and bewilderment on the tour group's faces, we made our way back to the TSG. Everyone was safe, happy, and somewhat warm!
Trip Report: Jon B
Photos: Mark B
Cavers: Mark, Mike, Rebecca & Jon

Monday 12 February 2024

How Not to Get Lost in OFD 2

The ever-welcoming staff in Luigi’s were surprised to see Caver Keith back again on Monday 12th February - the very next day! He had spent Sunday 11th leading a series of exploits in OFD with a very proficient caving team. This time he was back with a couple of cavers who really do need some supervision. Dave and Anne had asked Keith to teach them the trade routes around OFD 2. They were keen to learn the first lesson of successful caving: make sure you have a decent breakfast.

The next lessons were much more complicated. After successfully locating Top Entrance, the pupils went exploring along the usual tourist trails, trying to remember which turn goes where and becoming thoroughly confused. They think they went through the Brickyard, into Gnome Passage, past the Wedding Cake, down the Corkscrew, along Salubrious to the Crossroads. They took a diversion down Maypole Inlet to see where the streamway connects for a possible future through trip. Back on the normal round trip, they went into Cross Rift and were dutifully shown the ways on into Moonlight and Midnight Chambers.

After going to Selenite Tunnel via Shatter Pillar and hopping over President’s Leap, the pupils were then left in charge of finding the way back out. After much head scratching, and one correction from the Master Caver we’re mostly pleased to report that all three made it successfully back to daylight.

The final lesson of the day was how to get the heavy metal door to shut – it turns out you need some brute force…

Cavers: Keith, Dave B, Anne B

Sunday 11 February 2024

OFD 2 to The Trident and Judge

Just inside the Labyrinth

The day started at Luigi’s cafe at 9:00 there was a big breakfast to fill me up for the cave ahead. After we finished up for breakfast we drove an hour to the caving club here is where we were greeted by Asha, our caving companion to help us for the trip ahead. We got changed and geared up. The hardest part was up climbing the hill -this would be easy if it was not for the massive warm fluffy suit I was wearing. As we unlocked the door to the cave, light filled the dark gloomy passage as moths flew from out of it.

We entered the passage with our head torches on, as we walked further into the cave system we spotted the Wedding Cake, this is a beautiful rock formation, the sight of the cake gleamed at me in my torch light and made me hungry! The pot hole was up next, we got helped down this hole to what looked like a 30 metre drop down next to it. This was not a trip for the faint-hearted as we traversed, crawled and climbed, but it was all worth it to see The Judge. My torch light brought out colours I had never seen before. This was not some dirty old rock, this was beautiful. Pinks, purples and reds had been illuminated by my light.  Next was The Trident, this was a huge stalactite with lots of pointy ends. Here is where we had are half way break.  

The way out must be the easiest, but in fact it was the hardest. After resting your body aches and you cannot be bothered to go on yet you still persevere, you go on and as soon as you see the exit your eyes light up brighter than any torch glad of the fact of you didn’t get lost as the sun light filled my face my heart began to play a tune of resting and tiredness.

PS. This was so much fun. Please can you take me again. Finn your favourite grandson.

The Trident
The Judge

A crystal pool in Salubrious Streamway

Traversing in Salubrious

Traversing in Salubrious

Glad to be out

Let me out!

The Team