UK Caving

WHERE THE CAVES ARE - The Caving Regions => Mendip => Cheddar Caving Club => Topic started by: Chris Lank on January 03, 2009, 10:16:21 pm

Title: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on January 03, 2009, 10:16:21 pm
Pierre’s Pot – Upper Series
Saturday 3rd January 2009
Martin, Chris L, Anna (guest), Keith (guest), Jack (guest), David (guest), Matt (guest), Cheryl (guest)

It was another freezing cold day as we changed into our caving gear.  As a warm-up, we had a bit of a play in Pierre’s Pot.  We took the various circuitous routes around the Upper Series and had a look at the Vertical Squeeze down to the Lower Series (which we all agreed looked very tight).  Something tells me that we will be coming back to this in the future.  Great fun was head sliding down the chimney at the top of climb.  It was noticeable that a cold draft was blowing through the cave and it was this that contributed to the icy-covering on some of the exposed rocks.

Cheryl climbing down the entrance:

Matt climbing up towards the top of the Chimney:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on January 03, 2009, 10:17:35 pm
East Twin Swallet – Spar Pot Series
Saturday 3rd January 2009
Martin, Chris L, Anna (guest), Keith (guest), Jack (guest), David (guest), Matt (guest), Cheryl (guest)

After entering the cave, we quickly made our way down to the dig face for a quick look before heading off into Spar Pot Series.  We had a good look at the myriad of fossils around the boulder ruckle before crawling along the tight tube.  All of our guests successfully made it through the tight bits and into the terminal rift.  After a quick poke around, we retraced our steps back into the main part of East Twin Swallet and headed back towards the surface.

As we exited the cave, Keith proved that he can’t walk on water by humorously sinking into the smelly swamp outside of the cave.  The local Robin thought we were friendly enough and hung around us for ages but sadly none of us had any worms for him.

Example fossil:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on January 03, 2009, 10:19:01 pm
Goon’s Hole
Saturday 3rd January 2009
Keith (guest), David (guest), Chris L

Burrington Combe looked very picturesque as we walked down towards the car park.  As we looked back up the valley, we could see that the entrance to Lionel’s Hole was steaming as the warm moist air of the cave exited and met the cold dry air outside.

After passing Goon’s Cave on the way up the valley earlier in the day, Keith and David could not help their curiosity and had to have a closer inspection.

David and Keith headed down the tube with me bringing up the rear.  We passed some attractive mini-Icicles a few metres into the cave.  Being a bit tired after our earlier exertions, we chose not to go too far into the tight stuff and headed back out after a few minutes of exploring.

Keith at the entrance:

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on January 20, 2009, 06:43:08 am
Ogof Draenen
Sunday 18th January 2009
Martin, Neil, Mark and Chris L

Not much to report.  As usual, we made our way through the Entrance Series to Cairn Junction.  After a quick hop across the treacherous muddy rocks we passed the entrance to Wonderbra Bypass before entering Carpet Crawl.  After a short climb down, we were in White Arch Passage.  From there we headed left under White Arch (still not very White) and into Lamb and Fox Chamber.  At the top of the chamber we entered the rift, which became Indiana Highway.  After some fun traversing, we reached the junction of Megadrive North and Megadrive.  We made a short trip up Megadrive for a few hundred yards before stopping for some nourishment.

The return route was similar except that for a bit of variety, most of the group headed down to Tea Junction and then through Wonderbra Bypass instead of Carpet Crawl.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on January 27, 2009, 07:27:53 pm
GB Cavern
Wednesday 21st January

Ellie, Sim, Sumpy, Karen, Frank, Dani, Tricia, Martin, Anna, Keith, Jack and David

Greeted in the layby with lashing rain and a rather biting wind we all quickly got changed and headed into the cave for some relative warmth.  The party split into two, one going on the usual trip down to the main chamber, over the bridge, along the gallery and down to the ladder dig and back up via the waterfall, whilst the other group had fun playing around with the devils elbow.  I think our GB virgins were quite impressed with the sheer size of the cave and the fantastic formations, so much so that I now think it might be one of their favourite Mendip caves.  The recent rain meant that we all had a good bracing wash in the waterfall on the way back up, where we were met by a different party on their way down (we wondered why they weren't waving back at us).  We got a slightly better response when we bumped into the others as they were crossing over the bridge and they had a further look around whilst we headed out.

A relatively short, but no less enjoyable trip, thanks to all for the company and Ellie and Sumpy for organising
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on January 27, 2009, 07:33:48 pm
Goatchurch Cavern
Sunday 25th January 2009

Brendan, Chloe (guest), Bev, Dani, Martin

A nice beginners trip around Goatchurch for Chloe who hadn't been there before.  The usual forray around going down via the pixie steps to the water chamber and then through the drainpipe.  Various bits of side passage were explored before heading back up over the coffin lid and out the main entrance with a slight detour via the Tradesmans entrance.  I think both Bev and Chloe enjoyed it, tackling bits they hadn't done before and it was good to see the drainpipe open again (nice work - thanks to all who helped with that!).  I think there were sufficiently few spiders to tempt Chloe for another visit!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Bana on January 29, 2009, 10:05:39 pm
Rod's Pot
Friday 23rd January 2009


How all Cavers should spend there Friday nights; This trip started off just going to be a nice stroll down to the Main Chamber. We quickly worked are way through the entrance, then slowly started to work our way over the top of the 12m pitches. David at the front, myself just behind, Mat, Cher and Jack following. This was the point when we all heard something metal falling from where we were and hitting the bottom of the pitches, then all we heard was David saying OOPS! He had dropped some of his equipment. We decided to drop a rope down one of the pitches. I made my way down to see if i could find what he had dropped. When i got to the bottom i found his equipment and decided to have a quick look around- yet another part to explore, but not having much time headed back and embraced the climb back up the pitch with Mat and David pulling me up from above. Finally we got on with are trip to the main chamber. When we got there we stopped for a rest and had a look around, we headed down to the Bear's pit for everyone to see. We then started to make our way into Bath Swallet, through the wet passage and up the very wet climb (nice stone work bye the way). Once up the top we had a brief look around and then started to make our way back. We dropped a rope down where we just climbed up, there was quite a bit of water going down there, and after this we quickly made are way back to the climb in Rod's and out the cave.

Overall very enjoyable trip with plenty of places to explore.

Oh one more thing keep an eye out next time your down Rod's and your working your way through the mud at the bottom of the drop on your way to the main chamber you might see the family of mud people and there pet sheep ;D made by me and Jack whilst waiting to do the climb .


written by keith.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on January 29, 2009, 10:33:35 pm
Good to see our new members logging their trips.
Good stuff.
Title: Swildon's practice evacuation 28th Jan
Post by: Andy Sparrow on January 30, 2009, 10:38:55 am
Swildon's Practice Evacuation Wednesday 28th Jan

Andy S, Rachel, Barry, Danny B, Chris C, Nikki, Trisha, Judi, Matt, Cheryl, Keith, Anna

A good turn out for this session - well done folks.  We began by going through a briefing and short training session in the Old Grotto where we talked about hypothermia, exhaustion, and then demonstrated some simple hauling methods.  We split into two teams and went down to the Twenty where we hauled our 'victim' up the pitch.  The first team then continued evacuating to the Water Chamber where we swapped over and let the second team continue to the surface via the steep climb up into the Old Grotto.  It all seemed to go pretty well and now, hopefully, those present will feel more confident in a real-life situation.  All safely in the pub by 10.00pm.

Andy Sparrow
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Bana on January 31, 2009, 11:51:32 pm
Sunday 25th January 2009

Keith, Anna, Jack, David, Cher and Matt

A bit of a random trip, where we all met up at the barn to get ready to hit the cold depths of Swildons. After a week of miserable damp weather, Swildons seemed to be roaring with the sound of water. After taking the plunge we were soaked through after minutes of entering the cave so being careful not to get wet wasn't on our agenda! So this is where we decided to follow the wet way to sump 1, with full intentions of going through. We made our way to the 20ft waterfall and rigged up our ladder and safety line and all got the chance to have a shower! (Anna nicely got her head held under the waterfall, whilst going down the ladder!) After we were down we then practically ran to the twin pots to jump in (as it was very flooded). We paused for a bit to take some photos and then headed down to sump one. As previously stated, we all had the intentions of going through sump 1 again, we decided that it was far to flooded and we were so wet through, that the climb back to civilization was the best option for us. Once back at the barn, we all agreed the best thing to do was to get changed and head home with the car heaters on full blast.

Yet another great trip to Swildons, i don't think this cave could ever get boring. Next time i think we'll hit the mud sumps.

Written by Anna
Title: 25th January 2009: Goatchurch Cavern
Post by: Brendan H on February 08, 2009, 06:49:09 pm
Brendan (leading), Bev, Dani, Martin, Chloé (guest); callout: Sam

I see Dani has already done a write up for this trip, but I wanted to add my penny-worth -- sorry it's a bit late.

We met in the car park in Burrington Coombe, the one next to the cattle grid, and got changed in the wind and cold. There was a group of hikers there all togged out in their cosy winter gear, a reminder that caving gear is meant for the moderate temperatures encountered underground, and is not really warm enough for hanging around in a wintry wind-swept car park.

As there was a bat survey being conducted in the area that day, the conversation naturally moved onto the subject of spiders, creatures viewed with a certain lack of warm feelings by one member of the group. Reassurances were given that cave spiders, while indeed large, are not aggressive, and do not inhabit areas devoid of food and hence totally devoid of light, and that because of the shape of the entrance of Goatchurch cavern there was in any case a negligible risk of encountering any arachnid chums.

The familiar pleasant stroll took us across the strongly-flowing West Twin Brook, then up the side of the coombe to the entrance. We paused for a few moments, then ventured in, disappointed at the lack of spiders, but keeping our un-adjusted eyes peeled for the photophobic little chaps and chapesses, just in case.

The entrance series was not as slippery as it sometimes is, which was nice.

We made a cautious and descent of the Giant’s Staircase, and through the lovely Keyhole Passage into Drunkards Gallery, then there was a pause for there-and-back-again trips along Bloody Tight, the name of which is now misleadingly alarmist, as it is neither tight not bloody, having been dug out years ago, and wiped clean.

The subject of spiders seemed to have been forgotten by then, or perhaps it was just well suppressed. Brendan is training to be a counsellor, and was itching to ask “And how do you feel?” every few minutes, just like with a client, but managed to resist the urge.

We negotiated the Pixie Steps, and slithered elegantly on our botties down to the Leap of Faith. Personally, I think the Leap of Faith has an over-dramatic name, and should be called the Bit Which One Does Not Want to Fall Through Possibly to One's Death but Which is Not That Difficult to Cross Unless One is Particularly Nervous or Clumsy. However, I accept that this alternate name would take up too much space on the printed survey, so for the sake of harmony in the caving community I am prepared to stick with calling it the Leap of Faith.

The sloping rift took us past the other end of Bloody Tight into the Boulder Chamber, where Brendan showed Beverley and Chloé the seemingly impossible slit through which, on an earlier trip, a partly déshabillée Dani had squeezed into the Water Chamber below. If, dear reader, you have seen this minute crevice in the rocks, you will know that it looks too small even for cat, let alone a woman. Chloé and Beverley were suitably impressed, and Dani basked in the adulation.

As we did not have a rope, the group temporarily split in two, with Martin and Dani free-climbing down Jacob’s Ladder, and Brendan, Beverley and Chloé going via the Coffin-Lid Bypass, down to the Water Chamber; Dani came back the up to assist. There we had a good pong round. Beverley and Chloé went to locate the points at which some of the waters of West Twin Brook enter and leave the chamber. Then in preparation for the Drainpipe, we had a go at a short tube which is slightly tighter than the Drainpipe but much shorter (about 8 feet if entered via side hole), as an aperitival sample of the real thing.

After that we ventured down the new approach to the Drainpipe, those who had been there before in wonder at the new masonry, and the skill and effort which it must have taken to produce it. A couple of previously useful hand-holds have been rendered redundant, and the Nutcracker promontory seems to have been removed or covered over.

After Brendan’s lurid pep talk for the benefit of the two who had not been through the Drainpipe, Dani went first, slowly, to reassure the person behind her. Chloé went next, and Beverley after her. There was quite a lot of giggling, which is better the demented screams with which most of the adult population would greet the prospect of such an ordeal. Brendan was vividly reminded on his first attempt at the Drainpipe, which he flunked, and his second attempt, which required an extraordinary amount of support from the ever-patient Andy Hebden. The two first-timers on this trip just wriggled their way through with panache, so well done, Beverley and Chloé. Brendan went next, and Martin solidly took the rear position, his supportive rôle for most of the trip.

We recovered our breath, then returned to the Water Chamber. Brendan took Beverley and Chloé to the secret waterfall under the Water Chamber (not so secret, now), then we made our way back. There was quite a lot of assisted fun on the ever-tricky Coffin Lid, while Martin free-climbed Jacob’s Ladder and waited for the rest of us at the top. After the Pixie Steps there was a false sighting of our befanged eight-legged friend Meta menardi, but it turned out to be a trick of the light (or was it??).

We attempted to free climb the Tradesman’s Entrance by using the less exposed route on the left. Martin went ahead via the route on the right to lend a hand from above, but as we lacked a rope it proved necessary for the rest of the group to return to the surface via the Drunkard’s Gallery and the Giant’s Staircase.

As it was now time for our callout to alert the Old Bill and summon the lycra-suited superheroes of the MRO, Martin called him to say we were OK.

We were re-united at the main entrance.

As for spiders, nobody got chased, bitten, or cocooned for later, by any examples of Meta menardi, Brachypelma smithii, or Theraphosa blondi, but for a juicy video of what can happen, check out ( Poor mouse!

Thanks to Sam for being the callout.

Thanks to Dani and Martin, without whose assistance underground the trip would not have been possible.

Well done Chloé and Beverley for braving the Drainpipe.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Nix on February 17, 2009, 09:46:00 am
Swildon's Hole
Sunday 1st Februry 2009

Chris C, Nicky & Bev

On a cold & rainy Februay morning the only sensible thing seemed to be to go down Swildon's for a quick play. We decided that we'd warm up down the Long Dry Pretty Way, a quick look around the Old Grotto so Bev could familiarise herself and then onto the Twenty. Bev showed off her new found confidence and flew down (and back up later) the Eight Foot Pitch and was pleased she recognised the way to the ladder pitch :) . It was here we turned back and went back the Short Dry Way and headed to the Hunter's to initiate Bev into the traditional apres cave activity.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Nix on February 17, 2009, 10:40:21 am
St Cuthbert's Swallet
Thursday 12th February 2009

Chris C & Nicky

This was a trip to Rabbit Warren Extension. After wading through inches of snow we descended down the drainpipes and down the Entrance Rift, which was a little cold and wet. From there we went down the1st ladder into Arete Chamber and along the Wire Rift to the final fixed ladder into Lower Mud Hall and up into Pillar Chamber. We then climbed down to the top of the Boulder Chamber to Kanjanjunga (?), turned left and down to Upper Traverse Chamber. We then climbed up the boulders passing some pretty formations, to High Chamber and made our way to September Squeeze and down the hole into Catgut Rift which eventually led to Crossed Leg Squeeze which Chris says has 'shrunk' hmmmm. Now in T-Junction Chamber I was fascinated by the dissolving stalagtites, which I thought were amazing, they look spikey!! More pretties to come with an awesome stal flow. We then had a look at Continuation Chamber but decided it looked too wet so carried on to The Vice (surprisingly Chris managed to get through no probs). From here wemade our way to Chain Chamber where there was a 'phalactite' to be careful of...we had a little explore in Helectite Passage at the pretties then continued to two flat out squeezes and found ourselves in the Rabbit Warren. This was the point we made our way back to the entrance via the standard way, down the Second Stal Bank and down to the Streamway. I climbed Everest (if only the real one) to Boulder Chamber and then retraced our steps out. The Entrance Rift seemed even wetter and colder on the way back up which seemed a good incentive to get up fast! The Dam was overflowing on the snow when we got out so Chris waded into icy waters to open the gate valve (and fell in hahahaha). Cries of 'F*****g b*****ks' were heard :)  :lol: .       
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Keith on February 22, 2009, 07:34:57 pm
FishMonger's Swallet
Sunday 22nd February 2009

Keith & Mat

Today me and Mat decided we would do a spot of metal detecting Around some fields in Alveston.
We didn't get far into the field before being stopped and asked what we were up to from a young lad who works on the land. We soon got on to the conversation of the cave which we new was close to where we were. It so happened that He new where it was and had a key to get in as he is a member of a local caving club, and he soon offered us to go and have a look around with him. So we arranged to meet back up in 20 mins and left to get are caving gear.
When we got back we all walked across the field to a small stream and followed it along and soon got to the cave entrance, so once unlocked we started are way down the wet and tight drop. Once down this tight tube Passed the rusty scaffolding tubes holding back some boulders, we entered quite a big chamber.
We paused for a bit and admired all the pretty's above us , which was nice to see undamaged , and had a chat about the time team discovering human bones here, after this we continued down a very very wet and muddy passage which split , one way going to a stream passage and the other entering a boulder choke which was covered completely with mud  which had a large pool of water at the bottom, this is where they have continued to dig but it keeps getting more mud washed in,so we decided to start clearing the clay where the water runs down to try and stopped it getting choked up.
Once covered head to toe in wet mud we decided to work are way back up to the norm. We have now arrange to go back and check it out when it drys up a bit more and see if we can continue this awesome cave.

Overall a very muddy cave but very interesting and pretty.

Written by Keith.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on February 22, 2009, 10:24:25 pm
Goatchurch Cavern – Dexion Series
Sunday 22nd February 2009
Chris L

After an enforced absence of 5-weeks, I decided to ease myself back into caving by making a solo trip to an old favourite; Dexion Series.

I sped straight in via the Tradesman’s Entrance and very nearly slid all the way into Water Chamber (whoops!).  After regaining my footing, I gingerly made my way along the Pixie Steps, down the Coffin Lid and up the Drainpipe.

After various contortions and much sweating, I got through Dexion Series and into the Terminal Chamber.  I think the tight bits must have got smaller since I last visited because I found it quite hard work.  Both the digs were quickly examined before exiting by the same route.  Getting out was somewhat less energetic though.

Me in Terminal Chamber:

Pretties in Terminal Chamber

More Pretties in Terminal Chamber

Mystery Cave Pig:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on February 26, 2009, 09:10:25 pm
Tyning's Barrows Swallet
Wednesday 25th February 2009

Chris L, Chris C, Nicky, Keith, Jack, Tricia, Martin, Dani

Having read the description for this cave, I was prepared for a rather miserable trip round a grotty sharp cave, one of the 'done once never to be repeated' type visits.  However, once inside, I was pleasantly surprised.  Entrance pitches negotiated, the cave wasn't as sharp or crawly as I was expecting and Chris C and I set off to catch up the rest of the party that had carried on down the cave (absolutely nothing to do with our advancing age).  We finally met up at Pyramid Pot and deciding that we didn't really fancy the crawly bits further on, and having take rather longer than expected to actually get down the cave, we decided to return back up the cave.  This left us exploring Paton Place, White Dog Passage and Dragon Chamber coming back round to Sheep's Jaw and meeting up with the way out.  On this circuitous route out, we found that the cave had been struck by that rather annoying phenomenon of shrinking since certain members of the party last were there.  Slight attire adjustments allowed further progress to be made and we all headed back out of the cave.  Swifter progress was made on the way out and we were soon all coiling up kit to head back to the car.  I actually quite liked this cave and am looking forward to a repeat trip, so if you're thinking about going, don't be put off by the bad press, there are certainly worse places to spend a few hours on Mendip!

Thanks to Chris x 2 for rigging, life-lining and generally sorting the trip out and to everyone else for the great company.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on February 26, 2009, 09:42:13 pm
I'd agree with that.   It is an interesting place that I will go to again.  Some photos:

The remains of a previous visitor (possibly):

Crystals in the main streamway:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on February 28, 2009, 10:23:48 pm
St Cuthbert’s Swallet
Saturday 28th February 2009

Chris C, Andy S, Ken, Chris L, Dani

It was with some trepidation that I joined the boys on this trip, knowing their reputation for machismo and the occasional ‘scenic detour’.  The whole trip began well, when Andy said he’d like to go ‘to some holes in the roof’, followed by enthusiastic discussion as to where these holes might be and where they went to.  Having agreed on a vague route, we headed off and made fairly quick progress down the old route to the main chambers.  Once in the Main Chamber, Andy found the hole in the roof he had previously been to about 10 years ago (somewhere near Kanjanjunga), which with his long legs he managed to get up, whilst the rest of us gazed up, wondering where the footholds might be.  My footholds turned out to be Ken and Chris, with a good hoik up from above by Andy.  The others managed to form some sort of human pyramid and clambered up and joined us in the muddy squalor.  It was about this time I started muttering under my breath and repeating ‘there’s no place like home’, unfortunately I didn’t have my ruby slippers with me, so there was no option but to carry on.  We continued along the muddy passage taking care not to fall down the holes in the floor, ending up in a small chamber.  No trip would be complete without those immortal words, ‘I’d forgotten about this bit’ a scrabble around found the route on and we ended up in Upper Long Chamber.  Finally, something pretty to look at, which began to make the trip a bit more worthwhile.  From here we headed down to Lower Long Chamber and then across the Slabs to have a quick look at Upper Curtain Chamber (lots more pretties) and then back to Long Chamber Extension, returning to the Main Chamber via Quarry Corner.  Here we were able to admire the holes we avoided falling down earlier in the trip, which I'm glad I Hadn't noticed on the way in.  Finally we headed back out, with a brief respite to put the world to rights and a shower in the streamway to wash our suits off.

Depsite my grumblings, ok, outright moaning, I had a very enjoyable trip.  Thanks to Chris C for leading and to the others for looking out for me, as ever.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on March 01, 2009, 08:19:20 am
Some photos from the trip to St Cuthbert's Swallet.

Upper Long Chamber:

Andy being muddy:

Dani emerging from a hole in the floor:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on March 01, 2009, 10:57:29 am
A few additions. The holes in the roof bares bears little resemblence to the published survey and we emerged in Chandelier Chamber by mistake; Andy intended to come out in Quarry Passage.
We left Long Chamber Extension via Fracture Rift and Annex Chamber.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on March 01, 2009, 08:49:10 pm
Swildon’s Hole – Short Round Trip
Sunday 1st March 2009
Rachel, Andy P, Chris L

This was one of those trips where all the indicators (e.g. lack of fitness, sore knee, missing knee pads, hangover, etc) promised an epic but the reality was a trip without incident.

There was not much to report.  Swildon’s Hole was busy, as you would expect for a Sunday.

Mud Sump was sumped.  The first person made it through but as it was a bit uncomfortable, it was slightly bailed for subsequent people.  Both of the Double Troubles were low, which was a relief and made for swift progress.

Thanks for Andy P and Rachel for a good trip.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on March 01, 2009, 09:22:33 pm
Did I really write such illiterate nonsense (bares!)? Such things have no place on this forum!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on March 08, 2009, 08:23:53 am
Swildon’s Hole – St Paul’s Series
Saturday 7th March 2009
Ken, Dani, Chris L, Tim B (guest), Adam (guest) & Dave M (guest)

We took a gentle stroll down the Short Dry Way to the top of the 20’ Waterfall.  Dani made an excellent job of rigging the lifeline and got everyone down safely.  Nimble footwork ensured that no one got baptised at the Double Pots.  At Tratman’s Temple, we climbed out of the streamway and continued up St Paul’s Series.  Shortly after passing Blasted Boss, we stopped and turned around.  ‘Twas a good trip.  Well done to the guests.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on March 08, 2009, 06:39:33 pm
Wigpool Iron Mine
Wed 4th March 2009
Chris Castle, Nix D., The Sparrows, Chris L, Dani G, Trisha D-K., Judi D., Chloe J., John C. (MCG), Greg (Shipbadger - RFDCCCC), Tim, Malcolm (RFDCCCCCCCC) + one more, who was that?

After a fairly long drive after work and a wait for a few latecomers we climbed down a rope into one of the many entrances to the mine and came out of another. There was a bit in the middle, with something called the "It's Around Here Somewhere" Series and another called "Back Up, It's A Dead End" Passage. There were a lot of surprisingly fine formations and we were met towards the end by two caving dogs. A fine and muddy trip, although none of us really know where we went and I'll ask Greg to put a brief description on our Forum.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on March 08, 2009, 06:53:39 pm
Chris has just beaten me to it, but thought I would add my two peneth worth and a few photos

Wigpool Mine
Wednesday 4th March 2009

Andy S, Rachel S, Chris C, Chris L, Nicky, Tricia, Judy, Chloe, Dani + Greg, John, Tim, Malcolm and I’m afraid I can’t remember either

I thought finding this cave was going to be fairly straightforward.  I mean, how you can go wrong with directions ‘we’re meeting at a gate by a t-junction’ is anybody’s guess.  I also hadn’t taken account of the Bermuda Triangle effect of the Forest of Dean.  Eventually after some intervention with mobile phone technology and a kindly passing stranger, we did manage to find our meeting point, being told on arrival that the blurry map provided was spot on.

As Chloe and I were rather late, the others had already made their way to the entrance, so we quickly changed and walked up to meet them.  Once there, we each took our turn to abseil down the entrance, under the critical eye of the ‘Forest Boys’.  Having all passed muster, we met up in a chamber near the entrance.  A short familiarisation and navigational foray from here soon took us on the right track for the through trip.  Friendly banter and exchanging of stories was the soundtrack to the trip, my personal highlight being Nicky’s Wookiee (as in Chewbacca from Star Wars) impression (it’s very good)

Steady, sludgy progress was made until we came to the short climb down.  With some encouragement and assistance, this obstacle was soon overcome by all and we continued on our way.

A slight detour took us to the ‘pretty bits’ we had been promised – very impressive


Drips on stal

Muddy Chris

From here we continued our way out, guided by two black Labradors, who, whilst not bad cavers, weren’t entirely helpful when we asked them which was the way out.  We finally emerged on the surface, a little later than planned, but all in one piece with very muddy smiles on our faces.

Thanks to the Forest Boys for making it such an enjoyable trip and showing us round your stomping ground – hopefully we’ll be back soon for another trip.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009 - Wigpool Iron Mine
Post by: Greg Jones on March 08, 2009, 10:40:36 pm
We entered through Sway Hole, and followed the "high level" through-trip to Fox Hole. En-route we visited the Wigpool formations, including the beautiful pompoms. The route was not our first choice; we would have preferred to exit through Steam Hole, but were prevented from doing so by a buggered padlock.

We Foresters thoroughly enjoyed playing host to Cheddar for the evening, and hope we can repeat it sometime.

The man with the dogs was Spade; and the one nobody remembered the name of was Steve, though he is not a RFDCC member, and so doesn't count anyway!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on March 12, 2009, 10:24:25 pm
Goatchurch Cavern
Wednesday 11th March 2009

Dani + her mate Billy

I'm not entirely sure this counts as a club trip as I couldn't find any friends to play with, so went on my own :weep:.  The reason I don't normally go caving on my own, I've discovered, is my overactive imagination.  Especially on a dark night in the Combe, when owls (or it could have been werewolves, flesh eating zombies or worse) were calling out to each other (or looking for fresh meat) :o.  Once I'd pulled myself together and given myself a stern talking to and ignored my thumping heart beat bounding in my ears, I got changed and set off for the cave.  I'd decided to practice my photographic technique after some recent disappointing results.  I can't say that these efforts were much better (so much so that I'm not going to share them with you), but at least I wasn't holding anyone up and I had a bit of a play with different lighting techniques.  After about an hour and without any suitable models to pose, I'd decided that I ought to brave the wilds outside and headed back to the car.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on March 12, 2009, 10:39:26 pm
Goatchurch Cavern
Wednesday 11th March 2009

Dani + her mate Billy

 when owls were calling out to each other (or looking for fresh meat) :o.  

How would you like that then eh? Stuck in the hole in the ground in the middle of the night in the fog, with an owl!!! (
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on March 17, 2009, 09:46:19 pm
See, it wasn't just my imagination!  There was even someone filming!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Nix on March 25, 2009, 10:01:14 pm
Brownes' Hole
Wednesday 25th March

Chris C & Nicky

We were shocked to find the cave after a previous mission failed, but happy in our success we made our way through the large entrance passage. From here we climbed up some mud to Coronation Chamber and then back to the main route to the Pulpit where we had a look a the start of the Upstream Series. We didn't venture any further as I saw a dead bat almost a skeleton with fury bits on, right in our way (plus i's another cave that Chris seems to think has shrunk) so we headed back towards Tommy's Dig. Chris ventured out the Second Entrance (or rather disappeared while I was admiring some wildlife) and called me back to the main entrance. There were a few pretties to admire and I enjoyed the trip!

Brownes' Grotto

Since this little cave was only 20m away we had to have a little explore. A narrow entrance leads to a big drop, which we climbed down and went through a squeeze. Chris tried one passage and decided it was too narrow so we looked at the only other passage there which again seemed to get quite narrow...and so we headed back towards a pub, via a quick paddle in Stoke Lane Slocker entrance.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Marty on March 26, 2009, 08:45:38 am
Swildon's Hole - Upper Series

Wednesday 25th  March

Martin L and Mark W

After an irresistible invite from Mark to go caving on a Wednesday, followed by a pint at the Hunters how could I refuse!

We had a quick look at the members keys at the Wessex (Mark is a member) and decided that OFD was a bit of a trek, so we made our way across the fields towards the cave entrance. As we were approaching from the Wessex Hut it took a little longer than normal but made a nice change.

Once in the cave we made our way around the Short Dry Way, then from the Old Grotto we went via Water Chamber to the Eight Foot Drop. A quick look up Rolling Thunder was abandoned due to false advertising! (should be called slight drizzle). A quick peek over the 20 Foot Pot and it was time to start heading back. At the Water Chamber we headed right towards the Oxbows and explored various high and low passages before finally finding our way to the surface.

I am sure we found parts of the cave not mentioned above but without a map it is hard to recall exactly where they were and what they were called!

With Chris Lank away we were forced to rely on our own navigational skills, which was a real test and much enjoyed. A previous route finding exercise with him really paid off.

As promised we got back to the Hunters in plenty of time for Chilli and beer.


Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on March 26, 2009, 11:36:16 pm
Yes, a great time I had, even though the onset of a B**tard of a cold was coming on!
Route finding exercise complete and back to the centre of the universe in time for beer and medals!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Aubrey on March 27, 2009, 10:08:02 am
Swildon's Hole - Upper Series

 A quick look up Rolling Thunder was abandoned due to false advertising! (should be called slight drizzle).

Rolling Thunder is very aptly named from the sound effects when we are digging there!
    "false advertising" is just a novel excuse for not getting to the end. :lol:

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on March 27, 2009, 11:24:10 am
Swildon's Hole - Upper Series

 A quick look up Rolling Thunder was abandoned due to false advertising! (should be called slight drizzle).

Rolling Thunder is very aptly named from the sound effects when we are digging there!
    "false advertising" is just a novel excuse for not getting to the end. :lol:


Cheers Aubrey. We will have to take another look soon. Does it open up a bit then?
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Aubrey on March 27, 2009, 11:55:28 am

Cheers Aubrey. We will have to take another look soon. Does it open up a bit then?

There is a small chamber at the end where some people have been able to turn around!

Please drag some rocks out if you make it to the end, there is a pile on the right just as you enter the chamber.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Andy Sparrow on April 04, 2009, 07:52:54 am
late entry

18th March
Speleo-Sparrows, Neil R, Castle, Nicky, Trisha
A quick circuit round the upper series. In via Traverse and down the Canyon.  Andy and Neil back via Hallelujah Hole to see if I could still fit - answer is yes with Neil giving me a shove!  Others through Woggle Press and a quick exit.

Andy S
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Andy Sparrow on April 04, 2009, 08:01:45 am
Wednesday 1st April
Singing River Mine
Speleo-Sparrows, Dani, Martin, Neil, Trisha, Steve, and the welcome return of Mr Gary Amos
Had a nice chat with the old girl who owns the cave - very friendly and pleasant lady who seems to quite like having her garden invaded.  Very straightforward trip to see the best bits.  Nobody could be persuaded to free-dive the optional sump for some strange reason - where are you when you are needed Mr Lank?  Set up the patent Sparrow ladder climbing accelerator to ensure that we were in the Kings Head by 10.00. 

Andy S
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: mrodoc on April 04, 2009, 11:44:37 am
late entry

18th March
Speleo-Sparrows, Neil R, Castle, Nicky, Trisha
A quick circuit round the upper series. In via Traverse and down the Canyon.  Andy and Neil back via Hallelujah Hole to see if I could still fit - answer is yes with Neil giving me a shove!  Others through Woggle Press and a quick exit.

Andy S

I did a similar trip with Ken Passant about 5 years ago and tried to descend through the Hallelujah Hole - concluded I had gone  the wrong way but then did the round trip and came back up through it.  I needed more than a shove to get through but made it. I then read a log I wrote when I was 18 where I had described the squeeze as 'quite tight' - which made me feel a whole lot better. Mind you Ken then did the Traverse bypass beyond Kentish Cairn and I wimped out after feeling like the meat in a rock sandwich.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Andy Sparrow on April 09, 2009, 06:16:21 pm
Extract from the Salisbury Caving Group log:

September 14th 1973
Stoke Lane Slocker
Andy Sparrow, Neil Rigiani, Rich Websell
Sparrow got stuck in the sump.

Yes, Sparrow got stuck in the sump.  The underwater archway was silted and quite small and when I came back through my collar was caught on a projection which stopped me surfacing.  Websell saw my light underwater and tried to pull me up while I was trying to go back the other way.  I eventually surfaced back on the Stoke 2 side, very scared and very lonely.  On my second attempt I got snagged again but managed to get free and surface.  I did not hurry back to Stoke Lane Slocker.  Eventually, after more than 35 years the time seemed right and the scene was set for...

8th April
Andy and Rachel Sparrow, Neil, Judi, Dani, Martin, Gary, Trisha, and the welcome return of Alun Williams

The club must have been afflicted by some sort of mass insanity or perhaps blissful ignorance for so many eager recruits to assemble at short notice for this trip.   There are some things I remembered about the cave - like the route.  There are things I had forgotten - like just how much wet crawling is required.  There was flood debris jammed up in the roof near the entrance which is sobering.  The cave always was prone to pollution but was never as bad as it is today.  Every pollutant and item of rubbish from the quarry and the village ends up in the cave.  There is decaying detritus everywhere and the disturbed sediments release the odour of diesel as you crawl over them. 

The floating crap ends up in the sump pool which is far from inviting.  I plunged through and found the archway to be more spacious than my last visit.  Neil popped up after me, then Trisha, Dani and Rachel coughing up some of the horrible water.  We made our way downstream to the Main Chamber where the girls were amazed at the sudden change in character - from low grotty streamway to very big and highly decorated.  The rest of the group turned up everybody having successfully come through the sump.  We had a quick look at the adjacent CB Chamber but decided to leave a proper exploration of Stoke 2 to another day.  I led back to the sump quite anxious to get it over with.  I used a hood and mask which seemed to help and surfaced easily back in Stoke 1.  Neil, Dani and Judi came through next, all without wetsuits, and set off out as briskly as they could.  Meanwhile Trisha and her helmet were making independent journeys through the sump. 

Eventually everyone was through and we started out.  Gary amused us by approaching the Nutmeg Grater feet first, an act which required longer and more awkward reverse caving than he had anticipated.  By 10 o'clock we were out and shortly after could be found in a giant huddle in the Knatchbull Arms as we attempted to re-warm ourselves.   I am not sure when I will return to Stoke.  The demons of the sump have been exorcised but the crawls and pollution are not an enticement to return for a while.  But it would be nice to see the Throne Room again....

Andy Sparrow

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on April 10, 2009, 12:05:26 pm
Great trip, thanks to Andy for organising and facing his demons and others for encouragement to get through that disgusting sump and warming me up afterwards.  It was great to see Alun back caving with us (hopefully we haven't put him off for life) and Gary for the second time in two weeks. 

My knees are still sore, so it might be a little while before I make the return trip (with wetsuit next time), just need to watch out for signs of Weil's disease now!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on April 10, 2009, 07:04:17 pm
Great trip, thanks to Andy for organising and facing his demons and others for encouragement to get through that disgusting sump and warming me up afterwards. 

He's tried to do that to me too Dani but I didn't fancy how he wanted to do it.  :yucky:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on April 17, 2009, 10:03:08 pm
Thrupe Lane Swallet
Wednesday 15th April 2009

Andy, Rachel, Neil, Steve, Danny, Mark, Martin, Dani, Alun

After last week’s rather chilly trip, we were hoping for something a bit warmer and possibly a bit less physical, so when Andy suggested Thrupe Lane I wasn’t entirely convinced, especially after reading the description and looking out of the window to observe rain trickling down the panes.  However, the day cheered up and we arrived at the cave entrance to a lovely sunny spring evening, not even a trickle of water down the entrance.  Kitted up and ready to go, Andy, Rachel, Neil, Danny and Mark were going to SRT to the bottom of Atlas Pot whilst the rest of us were using ladders to get to the top of the pot.

The SRTers set off first, rigging as they went and we ‘inferior’ cavers followed behind.  This was the first trip to Thrupe for several of us and we made steady progress down through the cave to Perseverance pot to the chamber and then along Marble Passage to the top of Atlas Pot.  As the SRT team headed down into the waterfall, we watched their lights disappearing from the top, keeping nice and warm out of the trickling streamway.  Here we turned round and headed back out, following the streamway and back up the ladders.  The SRTers had fun shivering under the waterfall as they made their way back out, but soon caught us up at the ladder pitch on Perseverance Pot.  Time was now pressing, as we were all keen to head to the pub for a pint, so whilst Steve and I coiled ladders, the final three using SRT ascended the rope.

All finally back on the surface, we quickly de-rigged the rest of the gear, speedily changed and raced back to the Hunters, with time to spare to order a pint or two.  Not a bad evening at all, five of the team down to the bottom of Atlas Pot and nine in total down the cave and back in time for last orders.

Thanks to Neil and Andy for rigging and life-lining and all for excellent company, as ever.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on April 18, 2009, 08:41:31 pm
Here, here! Brilliant suggestion for a trip. Really enjoyed it. What's on for next week then?
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on April 19, 2009, 05:45:51 pm
Swildon’s Hole – Sump 1
Sunday 19th April 2009
Martin, Alun, Chris L

This was a quick bimble down to Sump 1 to stretch our legs.  We took the quickest route (Short Dry Way) and streamed straight down without stopping for much.  A few bugs were found swimming in the low sump pool (see photo).  Martin felt compelled to take a quick dunk but Alun and I elected to stay dry and comfortable.  On the way back we took Alun up to Tratman’s Temple for a quick reconnoitre before heading back up the way we came.

Bug in Sump 1:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on April 22, 2009, 12:11:57 am
Shatter Cave
Tuesday 21st April

Martin, Tricia, Andy P, Chris H, Dani with Phil Hendy leading

A pleasant evening spent ooh-ing and ahh-ing at all the prolific pretties in this fantastic cave, with a great deal of time spent behaving like snap-happy tourists.  Well worth a visit if you haven't been before and those of you that have will appreciate it's loveliness.  A quick stop at the pub afterwards for a spot of refreshment and to marvel in the mysteries of cave digging engineering.

Thanks to Phil for showing us the sights
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on April 26, 2009, 08:08:43 pm
Manor Farm Swallet
Wednesday 22nd April 2009

Neil, Steve P, Judy, Mark, Andy S, Rachel S and Chris L back from his travels

Parked up in the lay-by, I thought I was on for an early night in front of the TV when only Mark appeared at the agreed time, just as we were about to head off we heard a clanking of SRT kit coming down the lane.  Chris, Steve, Neil and Judy appeared, kitted up and raring to go.  Fees agreed with the farmer, we set off to rig the entrance pitch.  Steve and I had opted for the ladder, whilst the others were SRT'ing, and as a 'willing' volunteer, I headed on down first under the floodlit scrutiny of Chris' new Scurion.

Once down the entrance pitch, we headed down September Rift, with the assistance of a ladder and lifeline, then on to Curtain Chamber.  Opting for the bypass, we carried on down the cave and with the water level fairly low, through Albert's Eye and on down the streamway.  A slight detour at Stream Junction to The Aven (amply lit by the mobile lighthouse) and then on to the rift, where the shrimps were big enough to take your finger off.  Deterred by the worms and the cow sh** we decided to head back on out.  The brisk pace and steep incline caused a slight 'glow' on the way back up, although the huffing and puffing was definitely due to bad air and nothing at all to do with me being unfit :-[

A slight breather before climbing September Rift and then back to the ladder pitch for the energetic climb out.  A slight SRT refresher might be needed for a certain someone who started climbing the rope before it was free, which might have hindered the previous caver from getting off the pitch  ;)

Thanks once again to all for the company, Neil for rigging and lifelining and Andy for caving up my .....! ;D
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on April 27, 2009, 07:12:09 am
Ogof Draenen
Sunday 26th April 2009
Rachel S, Andy S, David M (guest), Chris L

After a power breakfast in Shipham we made our way over to South Wales and into the cave.  Having negotiated relatively dry Entrance Series, we arrived at Cairn Junction.  The gentle Carpet Crawl took us into White Arch Passage from where we yomped up to Lamb and Fox Chamber, Indiana Highway and Megadrive.

From The Nunnery we selected Perseverance II, which eventually led into Perseverance I.  A quick drink was taken at the trough before continuing into Elliptic Passage.  After passing around the choke, we arrived at Big Beauty Junction and the pleasure of a sandy floor.

A quick shuffle up Gone with the Wind and we were in the Midwinter Chambers admiring the Gypsum Crystals, which were quite impressive and looked incredibly delicate.  Just before the end of Midwinter Chambers we took Going Somewhere before entering Snowball Passage.

We quickly found the Snowball (see photograph) and noticed that it had a small area of mud damage, which was a shame.  After an eagerly enjoyed lunch, we headed back the way we came.

Many thanks to Andy, Rachel and David for a hard but rewarding 8-hour trip.

Rachel in Indiana Highway:

Rachel looking at the roof in Perseverance II:

Gypsum Crystals in Midwinter Chambers:

More Gypsum Crystals in Midwinter Chambers:

The Snowball:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on April 28, 2009, 10:38:11 pm
Very nice. Lovely pictures Chris.
I'll be up for a visit next time.

Can we use the second entrance though.  ;)
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on May 04, 2009, 11:49:32 am
Read's Cavern
Wednesday 29th April 2009

Andy, Rachel, Aggie, Alun, Dani, Robin, Barry, Steve

A trip to a new cave for some of the club, but for others a revisit, although previous experience didn't seem to help much with the route finding.  We entered via the stream, this being rather low, and into the main chamber.  Various routes off this were then investigated, although none seemed to lead to where we thought they ought.  Lots of crawling around through boulder ruckles was then endured before we decided to call it a day and head to the pub.  Not entirely sure where we made it to as none of the routes seemed to bear any relation to the survey and the rescued frog wasn't much help with directions either (must have been a girl  ;) )

Good to see Robin and Barry out caving again and nice to have Aggie joining us.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on May 07, 2009, 09:27:36 pm
Drunkards Hole
Wednesday 6th May 2009

Martin, Alun, Keith, Dani

I was aiming for a record-breaking fourth week of dry pants after a caving trip, but sadly it was not to be.  A trundle down Drunkards to the muddy squalor of the dig soon put paid to that.  The delights of the cave seen, we had a quick poke around some of the other offshoots on our way back out.  Much grunting and swearing ensued as we squeezed our way back up the rift and back out into daylight.  A gentle introductory trip to the cave for Alun and Keith and a reminder why I haven't been back there for a while.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: rach on May 07, 2009, 10:37:24 pm
Pierres Pot Thursday 7th May

Rach S & Karen P

Bit of a girlie bimble into Pierres - (well, beats a coffee morning dosn't it)! We had a good crawl round making sure we laughed heartily at the size of the squeeze down to lower series...I was a whole stone lighter when I did this (coincidently it is the I.D. picture).   We then headed up to look for "The Switchback" and failed to find it, as it turned out we failed to locate an entire chamber!

Then onto our traverse practice hindered somewhat by the prolific spider population.

Thanks Karen
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on May 15, 2009, 07:38:54 am
Gough's Cave
Chris Castle, Andy P., Alun W., Martin L., Karen P.

A very successful training evening for ladders and lifelines. Dani could not attend, due to woman flu, or a cold as she called it.
We used a simple rig with one rope and a large natural belay in the Black Cat, practised going up and down a longer ladder I'd pre-rigged from the Gallery and had a knot-tying session.
Thanks to Andy P for helping, it kept everybody busy and a lot was covered in two hours.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on May 16, 2009, 12:17:20 pm
Fairy Cave to Hilliers Cave Through Trip
Wednesday 13th May

Tricia, Kaz, Dani, Alun, Keith, David, Matt, Cher

Once poor directions had been interpreted, we all met up in the rather crowded car park ready to set off.  This was the first trip to the quarry caves for some and some time since I last did this trip, so I hoped I could remember the way.  After an initial hiatus, we were soon on track, wriggling through the inital squeezes.  There were several things I had forgotten about this cave; I don't remember the duck/squeeze being quite so wet, quite how horribly unstable 'Suicide' looks, how nice the Red Room is and how huge the spiders were by the Hilliers entrance (I was very brave!). 

Great trip, thanks to all for coming and I apologise for the Sparrowisms ("I'd forgotten about this bit") I appear to have picked up
Title: Beginners’ Trip to Goatchurch Cavern, Sunday 10th May 2009
Post by: Marty on May 17, 2009, 11:42:11 am

Martin (leading), Brendan, Chris H, Guests: Helen Mc, Connor ,Dave M, Ruth

We met in the car park in Burrington Coombe, the one next to the cattle grid and the loos. Brendan arrived very early and ate a large fry-up at the café, then Connor arrived in his well-cred van, then Chris on his Yamaha. Perhaps you were thinking it is a bit strange for a caver to travel on a piano, but this Yamaha was a motorbike. He arrived like a one-man biker gang, but without the noise, violence, or filthy beards. Just a man on a motorbike, really. Martin and Helen arrived, and so did Dave and Ruth, but it wasn’t as exciting as when Chris had arrived.

It was a beautiful warm sunny morning, almost too good to spend underground. Almost. The familiar stroll took us through the woods in their spring-time lushness, and across West Twin Brook, which was flowing gently, then up the side of the coombe to the entrance. There was a photo session at the entrance, then we went inside.

The Entrance Series was dry and sure underfoot.

We made a cautious descent of the Giant’s Staircase, but Ruth did not want to climb down, so Dave took her back to his car; Brendan waited for him at the top of the Giant’s Staircase, managing an underground snooze for a few minutes, and the others continued via the lovely Keyhole Passage into Drunkard’s Gallery, then down the Pixie Steps to the Boulder Chamber.

There Martin rigged a brand new yellow rope, all clean and lovely, down the Coffin Lid, and the main part of the group descended into the Water Chamber and had a look at where the stream enters the chamber and at the little waterfall. Meanwhile, Dave was making his way back, and Brendan was still in the land of nod at the top of the Giant’s Staircase.

When Dave rejoined Brendan, they made a very rapid descent to join the others in the Water Chamber (via Bloody Tight and the Coffin Lid), by which time Chris and Connor had already gone on to the Drainpipe. Martin, Helen, Dave and Brendan then made their way via the newly paved pedestrian area to the Drainpipe, and waited for Chris and Connor to emerge.

At this point Brendan took out his tape measure and said, “I’ve been wanting to measure it for some time.”, a remark which was immediately mis-understood, but which for the record referred to him measuring the major and minor diameters of the Drainpipe at its narrowest point: 20” and 16”.

Martin, Helen, Dave and Brendan shuffled along the Drainpipe to the end, and had a chat. Brendan talked about his hope one day of sleeping the night in the Drainpipe, and wondered if there was a risk of a dangerous build up of carbon dioxide, and who might accompany him (don’t all rush). Martin showed Dave the entrance to the Dexion Series while Helen made her brave way back through the Drainpipe alone.

We were all re-united in the Water Chamber, then we had a look at the little waterfall, and Brendan took Chris and Connor to the Smartie Tube. Chris shuffled gamely into this like a fearless veteran, so Brendan followed him in like a slightly less fearless veteran: they both got as far as the slight widening out about fifteen feet along, chatted for a bit, and then rejoined Connor, and then the three rejoined the others in the Water Chamber.

After the usual malarkey on the Coffin Lid we made our way back through Boulder Chamber and through the Terrace. While we were looking up the Coal Chute and regaling each other about a member of the club who had broken his ankle or knee or perhaps even a whole leg there, a bat flew over us, like a dark subterranean version of a white Whitsun dove, but two weeks early, and a bat, not a dove. Feeling blessed by this encounter, we had a poke about in some of the dead-ends around there.

We minced up the Pixie Steps and had another poke round, with Martin, Helen, Chris and Connor trying the Maze, and Brendan and Dave exploring the passages on the other side of the gallery.

We free climbed out of the Tradesman’s Entrance into the lovely afternoon sunshine, strolled back to the car-park, got changed, said our goodbyes (and for Dave and Ruth, their hellos), and went our merry ways, back in the world of the Surface.

Unusually for a Sunday trip, we had had the whole cave to ourselves the whole time, except for the brief company of the bat.

Written by Brendan, 13th May 2009 (
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on June 07, 2009, 01:37:39 pm
Hilliers - Beyond the Sump
Wednesday 3rd June 2009

Judy, Alun, Pete and Dani - Aggie, Andy and Rachel in spirit, whilst elsewhere in the quarry

Pete and Aggie had recently been to Hilliers and noticed that the streamway towards the sump was fairly dry, so managed to tempt a few of us to investigate further and have a look.

As elsewhere on Mendip, the water levels are fairly low at the moment, in fact so low, that the upstream sump in Hilliers is not only not a sump, but has no water in it whatsoever.  Luckily that made the wriggly squeeze a bit easier to negotiate.  Heading on through we continued crawling until we emerged in a small chamber where there was just enough room for us all to sit up.  Round the corner, there was a small area of formations under another low crawly passage, which gave way to yes, you guessed it, more crawly passage, this time choked up with mud.  Pete did a sterling job of clearing the mud, so that we could all squeeze through into another chamber.  Another choked up crawly passage led off this chamber as well as an aven with lots of rather large loose chunks of rock, which made the climb up an interesting game of 'try not to drop a rock on your mate behind you'.  A small tube leading off the aven led to another area with a few formations before it closed down.  By this point, time was ticking on and the pub was beckoning, so we renegotiated the aven and crawled our way back out to be met by the monster spider gatekeepers, Andy, Rachel and Aggie.

Thanks to Pete for his JCB services and tempting us down there in the first place and all for great company as usual
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Judi Durber on June 07, 2009, 09:51:54 pm

Hilliers - Beyond the Sump  Photo's
Wednesday 3rd June 2009

Judi, Alun, Pete and Dani - Aggie, Andy and Rachel in spirit, whilst elsewhere in the quarry

Some photo's

Alun emerging from the sump into the spacious passage.
(http://<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>)

The curtains beyond the 'dig'


mud splattered


The full set is here: (

The floor of the passage was quite sandy, digging caused quite a lot of dust and moving in it was like swimming through dusty water.
It wasn't muddy at all but one part smelt of diesel and the roof was very greasy which was just at a low point where I went through on my back to take a photo looking up into a curly curtain (if you wondered what it was.)
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on June 08, 2009, 05:48:04 pm
Matienzo (better late than never) Part 1

The jaunt to Espana

Spain. If you’ve never been there like me then you might be mistaken to think it is a barren desert landscape as dry as a caver’s mouth after 10 hours of digging. I had only heard about it a couple of times and each time the words ‘Matienzo’, ‘pissing rain’ and ‘great caving’ were close to each other. I thought that if we were lucky with the weather (which to be honest we generally are on our holidays) then it might be worth a go. So I set out to persuade Megan to go to Matienzo at Easter. I didn’t have to try too hard as we hadn’t had a break since Christmas and Megan was keen to visit her brother who part owns some land in the Pico’s De Europa. 
So after checking the Matienzo website and applying for the time off with the boss (as we both work for the same company) we thought we were set. Our boss, a lovely man who I will not hear a word said against him as the only star in our solar system is actually located in his back passage announced that we could not have the second week that we applied for due to other staff booking that week. Namely, him. So we then applied for the first week and the week before. This somewhat threw him, thinking that we would give up altogether. He then replied saying it was a very busy time for the company and that we would probably not be allowed to have any holiday together until June. See, I told you he was great.
We were then told about four weeks ago that we could have the holiday that we had applied for the second time. So with no waste of time we booked our ferry and started making the serious plans. We decided to start off at Aiden’s place in the Pico’s for five days then five days in sunny Matienzo.
After telling Aiden what crossing we were on it transpired that he and his two mates were on the same crossing. So it was obvious a good time was going to be had……………

Sunday 29th March
It was a quick trip to Plymouth for the ferry with no hold ups. Breezy weather but fairly sunny. We sat in the queue waiting to board and Ed, Aiden’s mate drew up behind us. Lots of chat then we drive in to the biggest ship I have ever been on. It was a really impressive piece of engineering. I hoped that it performed as well as it looked as the scenes from ‘’Titanic’’ were playing through my head. As you can imagine I haven’t travelled by sea much.
What can you say about an overnight crossing on a ferry? Everyone reading this will die laughing when I confess that I was actually looking forward to the ‘entertainment’.
Megan, Aidan, Ben, Ed and I all sat down to have a few jars at a very reasonable £2-90 a pint. Well most of us did. Ed continued to neck it whilst the rest of us went for a kip in our cabins. Visiting the bar later in the evening we could see that Ed was well past the ‘jolly’, had marched on through ‘quite drunk’ and was heading toward a Rowley Birkin ‘very, very drunk’. (

After the Guinness earlier I decided I wanted something a bit more refreshing but less volume. The cocktail bar was open so Long Island Iced Tea was in order. Five of these later and we were well away. Ed however was on another planet. We were treated to the delightful squeaky voiced duo which whistled and whined their way through all sorts of Cheese FM songs.
Then we had ‘Steve Storm’ as Elvis. He was actually quite good but why talk like Elvis between songs? I know he is dead. This was enough for Ed who proceeded to throw loads of F**ks and C**ts in the general direction of the stage. We hung our heads in shame. How could we get rid of him? I decided to keep him quiet with the promise of more drink to hopeful put him asleep. It eventually worked.

Monday 30th March
We got down to our car to depart the Pont Aven. Meg and I were very pleased with our luck. We were right at the front of the ship alongside a lorry so we would be first or second off the ship. Lots of noise and warning buzzers and the ramp started to lower down. About two foot then stopped. More bells and then lots of French engineers running about shouting.  Something was stuck and it took about an hour before the ramp seemed to be manually winched down and we were free.
From Santander we set the SatNav for Aiden’s village and headed west toward the Pico’s.

This was a short drive through what was some of the most stunning scenery I have ever seen in my life. Massive mountains capped with snow, gorgeous waterfalls and above all, lots and lots of caves. I was like a kid in a sweetshop. CAVE! CAVE! CAVE! CAVE!................... After about an hour of this it was beginning to tire on Meg. Ok, ok! Yet another cave! But I couldn’t stop. All sorts of dreams of discovering something special went through my head. I was in heaven.
The original plan was to camp on Aidan’s land. Aidan informed us that they would be hiring a house in the next village and that Chloe would not be arriving until the Wednesday so would we like to stay there? Of course we would! We stopped at ‘Granny Ding Dongs’ for some food to cook. This tiny hairy faced but quite sweet Spanish woman sold everything under the sun in her shop. The back room contained the most enormous casserole pots I’ve ever seen. You could boil a small cow in them. These were alongside the washing powder, clothes lines, dustbins and more. The main counter sold (from the left) cheese, dried beans, electrical sockets and earth sheathing, plastic plumbing fittings then vegetables! It was like no shop I’ve seen before. Clogs hanging from the ceiling and really good walking boots near the door. Very strange but bloody good value for money.
The rest of the evening was spent eating a spaghetti Bolognese with a mountain of garlic in it. Oh, and also starting to demolish the litre bottle of Aberlour whisky I purchased.
Tuesday 31st April
Ed wanted to show me his ‘cave’ near their land and of course we wanted to see the barns that they had been working so hard on.
After 10 minutes looking at the barns I was itching for Ed to show me the cave. We had been told about it years ago so I was quite excited. Pedro is their next door neighbour. One of his cows had fallen into the cave last year and he tried in vain to haul it out. He eventually had to shoot it. I was hoping that the cave was shallow enough for the flies to get in there so that it was fully devoured by now. We started a steep hard slog up the mountain through sharp gorse plants. It was however quite beautiful. The mountain range on the other side of the valley was huge. This was where the National Park territory started. Really deep snow covered the top 600 foot or so. The sun came out and revealed the whole valley in all its glory. Our boots crushed wild mint which filled the air with an amazing scent.
Ed remembered almost falling into the cave himself whilst coming back from the local bar and I was amazed that he actually found it extremely quickly considering it was overgrown with brambles. It was a hole about 2 feet in diameter. I peered into the black void. There was the poor cow about 15 feet below me. It was stripped clean to the bone so it didn’t smell. Unfortunately there was nowhere what so ever to set up a rope.
No trees, no boulders, no natural belays at all. Ed informed me that he had a wrecking bar that he used on the barn and a sledgehammer. We could drive this into the ground to loop the rope around. Ed decided to go back to the barn and start work again. Meg and I decided to walk further up the mountain to the exposed Karst rock to search for other caves and also to try and get closer to the Egyptian and Griffin vultures that were perched at the top. It was hard going climbing over rock that had been carved into sharp slices by thousands of years of rain. Sharp gorse grew in between this but it was exciting as it looked as if there was a cave around every corner. We found three or four dolines that looked as if they had good potential for digging but nothing open and ready. We spent ages up there looking and it was tiring.
I thought we ought to make our way back so we clambered across the rocks trying to pick the best route back to where we thought we had come. It was then that I heard Meg shouting ‘Echo, echo, echo!!’ Having found nothing so far I thought it was a wind-up. She had stumbled across something that looked like a proper cave. The chamber had collapsed in a couple of places so it had two windows in its roof on the Pico’s sky. We climbed in and I had butterflies in my stomach. Aiden and Ed had not mentioned a cave of this size on the mountain above their land.

The chamber was crescent shape of a length of about 50 or 60 feet. The ceiling was about 15 feet high. All we had was some spare headlights so we donned these and walked to the back of the chamber. About 8 feet up to the right was a ledge leading to another chamber. Without the right
gear on and no ropes we decided to return the next day to look further. It seemed much more exciting than the small hole we had peered into earlier.
So we headed back to the barn to meet the others and prepare for dinner. The caves would have to wait until the morning.
We did not want to try and ‘big up’ our other find too much just in case it led to nothing so we casually asked if they knew of any other caves on the mountain. The quick reply was no and none of the locals had ever told them of one either. This news really got me wondering what Meg had stumbled on. Ed seemed very eager to look at our new find too.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on June 08, 2009, 06:03:03 pm
Matienzo (better late than never) Part 2

Wednesday 1st April.
The day started sunny and quite warm. I started slow and sleepy. Different beds, different times (England put their clocks forward one hour and the Spanish were one hour forward from this) and too much booze again.
We slogged up the mountain again, this time in very hot sunshine but I was eager as I knew from Ed and Aiden’s information that nobody had ever been down this cave. Ed drove in the wrecking bar and I was glad to descend into the coolness. Meg waited for me to let her know if it was worth her getting changed. It did not take long for me to let her know that it was not. I had entered into a chamber that was about 15 feet deep and bellowed out to about 10 feet in diameter. The bones of the cow and also what appeared to be a calf lay stripped and white on the floor. I started to look about and found a couple of ways on that looked full of mud and rubble. Digging this out would take a winch and a lot of work. I made my way out slightly disappointed with the cave I had looked forward to seeing for so long.

Gearing up for the descent into the cow’s grave.


My disappointment didn’t last long when I thought of looking at Megan’s find. The three of us trudged up the slope in the ever increasing heat and it did not take long before we were sweating like fat girls in a chip shop with no money. (No offence to any fat girls reading this)
Ed was astounded that they had not spotted this cave before but I think that they had probably just been working hard here and not playing hard. I got into full gear quicker than I had ever before. Ed only had a headtorch and clambered up into the second chamber before I could get there. I followed up fairly quickly and waited at the top to help Meg if needed.
Ed said that he couldn’t see much and would wait for us to join him in the next chamber. We stepped down into it and looked around. It was about 15 feet long by 10 feet wide. At one end was what looked like a couple of low ways on but these closed down. There was also a small climb which Megan went to and found some bones which we could not recognise. At the other end of the chamber was a large beehive shaped formation that ended in a stalagmite formation.
Meg’s cave.


Me looking over the stal into the void with Ed in the foreground.


The drop into the void.

 I was really disappointed now. The previous night images of caverns measureless to man ran through my head. Meg and Ed were busy looking at the bones. I thought I would climb up the side of the beehive to see what the chamber looked like from there. When I got to the top I could see that there was a gap behind it. I could not believe what I saw when I looked in the gap. Behind the stall was a pitch that my Petzl Duo could only just see the bottom of. I chucked a rock down it. It took about 4 or 5 seconds to reach the bottom. The pitch also seemed to bellow out to at least 9 or 10 feet wide. There seemed to be no natural belay to fix a rope to and no bolts or drill marks either. I concluded that this must be an unknown cave. I certainly hoped so. I did not have enough rope on me to go down the pitch and with Meg and myself as the only ‘cavers’ there it would have been foolish to try and carry on.
Evening = more good food and lots of Ed’s Spanish cider. Bloody good too!

Thursday 2nd April

Meg wanted a break from the excitement of caving and wanted to go for a good walk. We had been recommended to try the Cares Gorge. It was the best suggestion for a walk that I had been given. I won’t go on any further about it. The pictures can tell you far more than that but even these do not give it justice. A memory I will never forget.

Cares Gorge

The viaduct for the hydroelectric station. Amazing engineering.

Huge resurgence in the gorge. Dave Ryall told me what system it came from but I have forgotten.

An external chamber! Cool.

A sign that has been badly translated and should read ‘Will all cavers please feel free to wander in and out of any hole that takes your interest’.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: anfieldman on June 08, 2009, 06:19:38 pm
Matienzo (better late than never) Part 3

Friday 3rd April
After a long lie in we made our way to the barns to say goodbye. After admiring the progress of the work over the last few days we sat back and enjoyed some food in the sun. The weather was gorgeous and Ed decided to clear some of the gorse that surrounded the top barn…………….by setting fire to it. He had seen some of the local farmers doing this over the years and thought it would be a good idea. It was not a good idea. It was a very bad idea. He had taken his eyes off it.  Ben had been mentioning only minutes earlier that there was a 6000 euro charge for the fire brigade helicopter to be called out. The fire spread and everyone started to try and put it out. It was no use as there was no hose. Buckets were not enough. Meg and I helped with the fire fighting but we all decided to hope that it would burn out. Meg and I decided that it would be good time to set off for Matienzo.
A drive of about an hour and 45 minutes took us down through the mountains and back past Santander through some more wonderful scenery.
The clouds grew the closer we got to Matienzo.
Once in Matienzo we checked at one of the bars where all the cavers were in our broken Spanish as we could see no sign of a huge campsite. We eventually found Pablo’s and pitched our tent. In the evening we met up with Juan who proceeded to show us the ropes in Matienzo. We also met up with a certain Mr Pringle who suggested a trip to Torca La Vaca (Cow Pot) the next day. The promise was of a lovely decorated cave and a fairly easy going trip. Just the kind of thing to start off our caving in Matienzo. Oh and a late start too. Fabbo.

Saturday 4th April
We awoke fairly early as we had actually been quite good and gone to bed at a reasonable midnight. Lots of luvverly porridge and honey from the Asturias was just the ticket for caving. I also had a good sleep due to remembering earplugs. Those who do not bring them when camping in Matienzo do so at their peril.
In no time at all Andy Pringle, Jim Davis, Terry Whittaker, Jane (sorry Jane but I cannot remember you surname), Megan and myself were on our way. It was a short drive of about 20 minutes. The walk to the entrance was only 5 minutes. And what an entrance it was!
This was a fantastic trip in a cave that like Dublin has more than it’s fair share of pretties. It also has massive shafts of frightening depth. The photos will show you what I mean.

Cow Pot entrance

Loads of pretties in Cow Pot


The traverse.

Gorgeous pure white formations.

The anorexic pr0n star – Cow Pot (Torca la Vaca)

After exiting Cow Pot we decided to do a bit of cave hunting further up the hill. We all went different ways in pairs. Jim and I went further up the hill to look at a bramble infested doline. There was no way into it unless the US airforce Napalmed the thing. So we walked on further. After looking at some more depressions in the hill we started to walk back to the cars. Jim suggested a limestone outcrop would be a good place to look so I then turned to walk there across a field. After about 20 feet I spotted a hole in the side of the hill. Not having any kit on me after having changed I thought I would get my caving suit on again and have a look. Jim seemed unimpressed and said he would go back and wait for the others. His last words were ‘’Take your time, it looks as though the others are’’. So I walked back to the hole. I soon realised why Jim was unimpressed. It was no more than a Badger’s hole really. So I then continued onward toward the limestone outcrop. More brambles, more large boulders and likely looking holes until I looked in them. It was hard work but I was really enjoying myself. Unlike Mendip where discovering caves is very difficult, I found this place full of possibilities. After quite a while (I had no watch on) I thought that I ought to start making my way back to the others but just like an obsessive fisherman I thought I would just take a quick look in the huge doline that I could see. The brambles and weeds were clawing at me, not wanting me to get any further. I spotted some enormous boulders at the top of where the depression started. I looked at the dark holes under each one. They all seemed to lead nowhere. Then I spotted one that seemed very promising. I crawled under the boulder into the hole that lay beneath it. The boulder had fallen over the edge of the rockface and at the bottom of this was an entrance hole. I had actually found something worth investigating further!
I started to make my way back and once out of the woods and into the field I spotted the others waiting for me. It seems that they had spent quite a while waiting for me to come out of the ‘Badgers’ hole. Jim had actually got changed back into his kit to go in and find me. I think that I found it funnier than the others!
So it was back to Pablo’s for yet more beer and fun. Dave and Sue Ryall arrived later and the drinking then got more serious. San Miguel was not enough and the top shelf started to be hit hard. I was on Cardhu whiskies whilst most others were drinking Pablo’s Smeg. It is a drink, honest! I think Meg and I bowed out at about 3-30am. Other nameless people carried on until 5am or so!

Sunday 5th April
A late start was in order after the night before.
Andy P suggested more cave hunting with a trip to the Langdale depression and to look at what I had discovered. Andy P, Sue & Dave Ryall, Jane, Meg and myself all set off. We went to my little cave first. After a bit of a struggle through the creepers and brambles we made it to the entrance. Sue, Andy and I went in armed with a crowbar and other implements of war. Andy and Sue waited whilst I made my way in. The entrance into the first chamber was a bit of a squeeze so Andy and Sue waited in the covered space provided by the fallen boulder. The first chamber was small, about 6 feet in diameter and only about 2 foot high. There was a hole of about 8 inches in diameter in the floor which I had to crawl over. Looking down this I could see that there was a pitch of about 30 feet below. Thrutching on through to the next chamber which was a bit larger I could see a rift ahead of me. It was more than adequate to get into. I decided to press on ahead into the much larger third chamber. This was about 10 foot across and it sloped upward toward the left which only led back toward the surface. To the right the chamber sank down to what looked like a chocked shaft. I turned back and went to the rift in the second chamber. As I positioned myself to descend into it some of the ‘rock’ I was grasping crumbled in my hand. It seemed like mud coated in a thin layer of calcite. I must admit to being a bit nervous about this as the rift I was lowering myself into had some substantial sized boulders perched over it seemingly glued together by this ‘mud’. It was only a drop of about 5 foot into the rift. Moving forward I could then see the top of the 30 foot pitch properly. It opened into a slightly larger than body sized hole. It would be easy to get down it but coming back up might have been a problem. Andy was quizzing me about what I could see and my conclusion in my state of wimpishness was that the 30 pitch was the only way on and it was too tight at present. In truth I just did not fancy looking around what I thought was a bloody unstable little cave. I did encourage Andy and Sue to take a look though for back up of my opinions. Andy then started to enlarge the small opening to enable himself to get in. at this point he exposed a further hole beneath him. He declared that this was the most promising lead as it seemed to be blowing a draught. It was also obvious that it would take quite a bit of manpower, sorry, personpower to shift what were some quite large bits of rock. A decision was made to come back with a bigger team so we headed out. I was even more encouraged by this.
We then went to look at the ‘Blackberry’ depression (I think that was the right name). This was a small doline that was looked at previously but not seriously dug. We went armed with crowbars, drills, caps and other destructive paraphernalia.

Me emerging from the ‘Blackberry’ depression lead.

Andy P, Dave R and I started moving the obvious obstructions to what looked like a boulder choke only being stopped by a substantial piece of limestone. After trying a cap to break it in two which did not work we decided to leave it where it was. I crawled into a very tight space and could see that there was a body sized rift ahead but a bit more gardening would be necessary to continue.
So back to sunny Matienzo again.
We had a nice invite to eat non meat products by Andy, Sue, Dave and Karen which we took up. They were staying at some rented accommodation opposite the bar down the road. They must have thought that the weather would be like last year. The veggie meal was very nice and they all helped to finish my bottle of Aberlour whisky before we headed off to the bar as suggested by Sue. Sue and Dave were sat opposite Meg and I with their backs to the huge flatscreen TV opposite. After a while Dave seemed to notice our 1000 yard stare and turned to look at what we were watching. Total hardcore pr0no being shown in a bar! With our intoxicated state we had a fit of the giggles which amused the Spanish family sat beneath the TV. They looked up and then looked at us very strangely.
The evening turned into another 3-30 / 5am finish. Will we ever learn??

Monday 6th April
Meg felt totally caved out and wanted another walk. We scoured the info provided by her parents who had visited the region before and settled on a walk up to the source of the Ason river. This culminates in a waterfall of about 70 feet high coming straight out of a cave at the top of the mountain. The walk to this was superb. The river was tree lined and covered in huge boulders that had fallen off the mountain. Some were the size of small houses. There was a large tree broken completely in half by one of these monsters. It was awe inspiring. There was no breeze this day but standing at the bottom of the waterfall was amazing. The gale created by the falling water almost pushed you over. We then carried on past this until we met the main road, then walked back to where we parked along the other side of the valley for a different perspective. We also took lunch in a large cave entrance which we climbed up to. It was a fantastic walk. An early night was called for. We were knackered.

Ason waterfall.


Tuesday 7th April
I felt that I could not leave Matienzo until I had seen my little discovery investigated further. After getting up late and missing all the different parties going off elsewhere Meg and I decided to look again in the Langdale depression. We looked at a lead that Andy and Meg had found a couple of days earlier but these proved to be too tight to gain entry. We then went back to my find.
After getting in under the main boulder I then went into the cave by myself while Meg waited. After a quick scout about I decided to look at the 30’ pitch again. How I did not notice another way on behind me I will never know. The rift went straight on behind me and seemed to end in a choke, however it also went off at a right angle too. This then went on to a T-junction which was blocked to the left but carried on to the right. A small climb enabled me to bypass the fallen boulders blocking this rift. It left me with a 9’ pitch and I had no rope. I called for Meg to join me and we both realised that this had the potential of a being a good find. We decided to come back later with some more experienced cavers…………..and some rope!
Upon getting back to Pablo’s Dave Ryall was more than up for exploring a potential unexplored cave. So we gathered some surveying kit and rope and headed back. In addition to what Meg and I had seen the cave continued along the rift to another T-junction. The cave was very unstable in parts. Large pieces of flakes that you would expect to hold your weight peeled off the walls when you touched them. Never having been in a ‘virgin’ cave before this was a new and quite unsettling experience for me but also a very, very exciting one. Turning left at the junction we climbed up and fond ourselves at the bottom of a 50’ aven. There seemed to be a high level passage at the top of this so a maypole will be needed. There was also another short pitch of 9’ below the first 9’ pitch. Dave checked this out and confirmed there was no further way on. So, in conclusion the cave had two ways on. One a high level passage and the other is the 30’ pitch which is blowing a gale. Returning to Pablo’s and giving the GPS coordinates to Juan it confirmed that it was indeed a new find. Dave wanted to know what I would call the cave. What an honour! Most people reading this will think me a very sad man but those who know me are aware of my love for Liverpool football club. I named the cave El Nino which is Spanish for the child or kid. It is also the nickname for Fernando Torres, Liverpool’s exceptional new striker. I thought it quite appropriate. It was without a doubt the most exciting caving I have ever done. That feeling that you are the first human to see what you are looking at is very difficult to describe. It will spur me on to start digging again on Mendip to hopefully have that feeling again. I guess that is what made J-Rat addicted to digging.
Very sadly we left Matienzo the next day to catch our ferry.
We will definitely go back next year. Hopefully we will find more new passage or new caves and hopefully to find that El Nino has grown from a child into and adult of obese proportions :-)

Dave Ryall taking coordinates at the entrance to ‘El Nino’.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on July 03, 2009, 11:05:58 pm
Wednesday 1st July 2009.
Pant Mawr Pot
Chris Castle, Nicky D.

We had driven over the evening before and stayed at the SWCC cottages at Penwyllt. A bloke called John accompanied us on the walk, making it quicker to reach, although the weather was fine and it was not difficult to find. The walk is supposed to be 3 miles, but it seemed a lot more to me, but I was carying most of the gear. At the pot I rigged it for SRT, which to South Wales cavers seems a pointless exercise when ladders can be used! I researched it from the internet (the book is out of date) and found that the reccomended rope length is 30 metres, but this is not enough if you use a handline to the ledge at the edge of the pot - 40 metres is needed. However, in those dry conditions a handline was not necessary.

Once down we headed upstream for a short distance to see the fine rock ledges and waterfall, then started downstream, negotiating the three boulder chokes. I went the wrong way in the first, and did a sort of round trip among the boulders, but we were soon on the right track.

After the third choke we went as far as an inlet called the Fire Hydrant then returned to visit the Vestry and Organ Loft, but due to incompetance, did not find it. I'm sure we could have done, but Nicky was a bit worried with just the two of us there, so we quickly returned and prussiked out.

The walk back was endless. The temperature was in the 30s, the humidity high, the load heavy and it was one of those walks which was uphill in both directions. I was beginning to fear we'd left the correct path when thank goodness we passed Top Entrance.

The SWCC were very friendly and helpful, a pleasant couple of days.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Andy Sparrow on July 18, 2009, 09:49:01 pm
Wednesday 15th July

Lionel's Hole

Andy S, Rachel, Steve, Alun and Dave Morrow

Back in 1978 I had the honour of being the first person to pass the Second Duck of Lionel's Hole and then three years later to dig open the connection that created the Round Trip.  I have been in 'old' Lionel's many times since then but have not completed the 'full' Round Trip including the streamway for probably 25 years.  This is another of those trips which I never really expected to complete again but my younger and keener wife had other plans.  Thus it was I found myself leading this fine body of cavers through the Labyrinth.  Of course these days I am not the emaciated youngster of the original explorations and I am very wary of anything that I remember as being even a tad tight.  I seemed to remember that some of the squeezes in the boulder ruckle were snug and therefore decided to try these out first by doing the trip in reverse of the conventional direction.  Snug indeed, and bloody awkward, and fiendishly tortuous, but successfully passed even if a shove from behind was needed at one point. 

We emerged into the larger passages of the Extension and encountered a couple of Wessex chaps coming round from the other direction.  Now it has to be said that Steve is non too keen on tight stuff and watched in horror as we squirmed off into Bishop's Bypass.  He decided to defect to the Wessex at this point and he and Dave tagged onto the other chaps and headed out via the boulder ruckle again.  Meanwhile I found myself back in the very dry Streamway slightly haunted by recent graphic descriptions of how tight Duck 2 had become.  There was one squeeze en-route which I am sure never used to be there.  Having dug my way through this I squirmed my way along the keyhole passage to reach the duck.  Two attempts were required to get through with some frantic digging in between.  Eventually I got through.  Meanwhile Rachel missed the keyhole, tried to negotiate the streamway in the trench, and got herself in a right pickle.  Eventually we were all through and back in the relative comfort of 'old' Lionel's. 

We got out after a two hour trip with Steve, Dave and the Wessex hot on our tail.  Alun was grinning like a Cheshire cat the whole way round loving every squeeze and grovel - bloody insane masochist. Rachel was battered, bruised and a bit shook up by her epic in the streamway.  The next day I had one hell of a tender bruise on my chest from pushing through Duck 2, sore knees, elbows, and various other tender bits.  But it's nice to know I still fit!  It was actually almost fun. 

Andy Sparrow
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on July 18, 2009, 11:16:55 pm
St. Cuthberts Swallet
18th July 2009

Chris Castle, Nicky D.
A trip to September Series. Crawling through the September Boulder Ruckle Nicky banged her knee most painfully, which is now swollen but has not stopped her going to a party tonight. We managed most of the Series - Illusion and Cone Chambers, then Victory Passage and up to September Chamber to see the sights. On the way back Nicky had another incident, getting her helmet stuck at the start of the Wire Rift and partly strangled until I managed to undo the catch. Teach her to look where she's going.
We were a bit longer than expected due to photography, got a few good shots which I'd put on if it wasn't such a flaff. Maybe I'll get Nicky to do it.
She enjoyed the trip despite the trauma.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Ellie on July 27, 2009, 10:42:16 pm
Swildons Upper Series
26 July 2009

Ellie, Brendan

Just a chance to get underground really - and to make extra sure we knew all the upper series routes in both directions, as we had both observed that that the route it is not always so obvious when following it in an opposite direction to the usual route taken  This was a point swiftly proved when we dropped down into showerbath chamber and couldn't work out which was the way on.    :-[   So climb back out and a quick circut via Kenny's Dig to check.  We then did various routes - back round Kenny's dig, down the long dry way going very high across the traverse and got some good bridging practice before heading as far as the water chamber. Back up the long dry way, down the wet way, up the short dry way - by this time we we were starting to feel a bit dizzy so we exited the cave by going the lesser used route past the bottom of Jacobs ladder through Baptism Passage , back into showerbath chamber and out.  All in all a very useful and enjoyable route finding exercise.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Ellie on July 27, 2009, 11:05:11 pm
Pierre's Pot and Sidcot Swallet
27 July 2009

Ellie, Brendan

We had set off when we found our scheduled trip had been cancelled so, as we were all packed and ready to cave, we headed off for a quick nose around some of the Burrington caves.  Firstly Pierre's where we wandered around in circles as one does in Pierre's,  Brendan sliding down a rift looking around a corner and saying- hmm this looks familiar....  We looked for the route down to the lower series and think we found it after a couple of false alarms.  Not that either of us had any intention of going down there.  No sirree.  There are some places I have resigned myself to never seeing and Pierre's lower series is one of them.  I'll live with it.

After Pierre's we wandered up the lane to Sidcot Swallet.  Here I started to be concerned about my memory loss as I swear I could not remember the route in this cave at all.  I have been in it, I know, because I distinctly remember Andy Sparrow laughing at my pathetic attempts to get out of the lobster pot.  It was a while ago though.  Brendan led the way, past some enormous spiders.  Through the Tie Press, and into the boulder chamber where we had a nose at the avens on the left of the chamber.  I was not feeling very confident for some reason, maybe as I didn't know the cave at all, so we sat in the boulder chamber for a while enjoying the peace and then made our way out.   

Short but useful refresher trips.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Judi Durber on August 02, 2009, 10:24:35 pm
22nd July 2009
Alun Williams, Chris Henderson; Elaine (Mrs Hughie was Johnson), Judi Durber

It was a lovely sunny evening although the wind was a tad cold for July as I pulled into the lay-by to finish my dinner. I made a fuss of the Exmore ponies in the field before going down to the farm and was closely followed in by Alun, Chris & Elaine.  We signed the forms changed quickly & where soon on our way through the long grass to the entrance.  I had not realised that the entrance was so close to GB before.  The little square gate was soon opened and we all traversed our first obstacle, the obligatory puddle.  Elaine was very brave and fought her way past the huge tentacled ‘spider’. It was very hairy & did look like it was laying in wait for you like an underground triffid.
Elaine disappear quickly down the spiral & then down the rift before having to thread her way horizontally through the tight rift.  I had the luxury of watching how she did it and followed through fairly easily. The way through is all about narrow scratchy rock, the best way being low therefore having to scrabble through the inevitable puddle, get to end turn 90 degrees and you see ‘the gate’. The dinkyiest gate I have ever seen. 
Squeeze through the nice shiny slot into a stand up bit and the first of many formations.   The next sections are more upright and you are following the water.  It cannot be called a stream as it is hardly a trickle.  There is more crawling through puddles and sharp bends, then  the passage drops and although the shape of the passage resembles the pots in Swildon’s the rock is very spiky so easy to climb down.  We pass over a fault line easy to make out by the wide white band of calcite that completely encircles the passage. There is a gap where you get a glimpse of a lovely formation, tall and so white against the dark surround.  We climb up a small slot & into a chamber full of hellactites. Midsummer Chamber.  We sit, chat, admire the ‘sea horse’ and dripping flow stone that seems to cover all the walls to some degree. Fat and thin stals and then round the corner a whole grotto (Forbidden Passage).  This is a tapped off dead end so back down the slot and a long string of directions from Elaine, I remember the first 2 bits and hope for the best. We go round a bend ducking under and round to the stal we glimpsed earlier with its wiggly ends. We then climb up (by a white broken stal wrapped like a birthday present in orange tape) and it opens up into a chamber that is BIG.  The Citadel. This is more like what I was expecting with it being so close to GB.  More white stuff, this time running down the walls in sheets of wavy flowing calcite. On the floor big blobs of squat stalactites that are being eroded away again.
Chris dislodges a rock and we send it rolling down the slope for safety as we have to back track and pass under the floor we are standing on.
So back down the climb and on over the mud and rubble pile. I think this is where we have to go down a slot, best done head first, (almost standing on your head) over and through what looks like huge chunks of cheese curd wonderful white calcite.  And then we pop up next to the Singing Stal. A very poor specimen of a stalactite, dirty white, full of holes and very noisy. It pops and whistles and drips. This is the end of the cave for us. At the bottom of the back wall is a very unassuming, uninviting black hole that looks very awkward to get down.  The way on for the hard working few where if I am very lucky may get to go through one day to see the wonders beyond.
So sit, chat, more photo’s and then it is the return journey, standing on your head, climbing the spiky rock, over the mud bolder ruckle, crawl through puddle, lye on side in puddle, a couple of 90 degree bends and
 then climb out
avoiding the triffid spider
to darkened sky. 
Other than Chris who had arrived on his bike, we all headed for the ‘Centre of the Universe’, each going a different way. Although Elaine had a 5 min start we all arrived at the same time.  ;D
Apologies if I got things in the wrong order or named them incorrectly.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on August 14, 2009, 10:04:21 pm
Wed 12th August 2009

St Cuthberts Swallet
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Judi D.

This was a scheduled Club trip but there was a pretty poor response.

Our plan was to aim for the end of the cave. This was only Judi's second trip to Cuthberts, so we took it fairly slowly encouraged by a month's gap from the last trip for Nicky and I, caused by various ailments. There had been much rain lately but the last couple of the days had been fine and I expected the cave to be fairly dry, but it was wetter than expected.

We went straight down the Old Route to Everest Passage, climbed down Stalagmite Pitch to Sewer Passage and Gour Hall. We descended the Gours to Gour Hall Rift and went as far as the old Sump 1 before deciding to turn back. Our return route was Rabbit Warren, Railway Tunnel, Strike Passage and the usual route out.

A very enjoyable trip, a pity so few were interested.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Judi Durber on August 14, 2009, 11:33:21 pm
Wed 12th August 2009

St Cuthberts Swallet
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Judi D.

Here are a few photo's.  The atmosphere was really bad with lot of particles about being picked up by the camera. 

I only remember 3 parts from last time.  The entrance, the big curtains & the Gour pools but thought there was lots & lots of big formations about.  At first I was rather disappointed as there was nothing but ladders, big boulders and empty Gour Pools. 


The rabbit warren is aptly named (lots fun) but then we came to the Railway Tunnel and I was not disappointed. 


Beautiful formations.  I really must learn how to take photo's in caves.


I had forgotten the size of the cave & how high the chambers are. I liked the variety of the cave, the different challenges it gives you. It was a very good trip made enjoyable by Chris being patient and bringing along a rope & Nicky showing me the best route over the obstacles.


And we managed to avoid getting commendeared into the BEC digging party

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on August 16, 2009, 06:34:24 pm
Well done, Judi, maybe your posting will inspire the club members a bit.
And I should learn how to upload pictures to the Newsgroup. (Yes, I know it's easy, blah, blah......)
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on August 16, 2009, 06:44:39 pm
Saturday 15th August 2009

Swildons Hole
Chris Castle, Nicky D.
This was partly a practice run for Nicky's LCLA assessment and partly a tourist trip to the Mud Sump, so we went to the 20 via the Long Dry Way. Once at the Second Mud Sump we found it almost completely dry so went through and carried on a short way to Shatter Pot then back and climbed up into the South East Inlets. I'd not been there for many years, probably over 20, and had mostly forgotten it. We didn't have enough time to extend the trip, and it wasn't on our call-out, so we returned and exited via the Wet Way.
I found out later that the Wessex, or at least Ali M, have diverted most of the water that feeds the mud sump and it should stay mostly open.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on August 28, 2009, 11:14:07 pm
Wednesday 19th August 2009
Great Oones Hole and Long Hole

Chris Castle, Nicky D, Rachel S, Zoe H, Martin L, Tricia D-K, Dani G, Alun W, Dave, Steve P and Phil H from the Wessex.

A good turn-out for these two minor but interesting caves in Cheddar Gorge which are situated above Gough's Cave and are two remnants of one earlier version of the system.
Firstly we scrambled up to Gt Oones Hole using Phil's easier way up which naturally took up a lot of time. This cave is a descending phreatic tube ending at a stalagmite choke where I bored everyone with my theory that the abandoned Damocles dig in Gough's should connect beyond this choke. Once out we traversed around the Gorge to Long Hole. This is another phreatic tube, mostly level with graffiti dated to the 17th century and possible Mesolithic engravings which are impossible to date. Near the end is a slippery climb up, which Rachel managed to scale, followed by me and I tied a handline for those who wanted to follow to do so. While this was going on I had a look at Reynold's Passage, an inlet going back towards the entrance at a higher level. It is reached by a short but exposed traverse which was much easier than I remembered, leading to the small awkward passage. I did not go far, knowing that it gets worse until it becomes impassible, so turned round as soon as I could.
There were no bats here today and the abundant moonmilk looked just the same to me. Andy Sparrow thought it was re-growing where it had been vandalised.
An enjoyable short couple of trips.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Top Cat on September 02, 2009, 09:05:20 pm
Goatchurch and Swildons Upper Series
Wednesday 2nd Sept - Tim and Steve (guest)

Only my second trip to Mendip-shire this year (poor show I appreciate). So with kids back to school today (hurray!), I took the opportunity to reintroduce a friend to the delights of holes in the ground. So, following a visit to Sparrow's Cave Hire Emporium, we headed to Burrington for a quick whizz around Goatchurch. Drainpipe done (but not the Dexion) and following a good play around the Water Chamber, we headed up and out.

Then to Swildon's for a wander around the Upper Series. Down the Long Dry Way, then the squeeze into the New Grottoes (which appeared to have new damage to the straws). Then back down through the Water Chamber and continued down to the top of the Twenty. Then back up via the Wet Way, with a short detour to The Oxbows for more squeezy bits.

On the drive home, Steve was talking about wanting to do the Short Round Trip next time out - think he enjoyed himself then...
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on September 04, 2009, 09:19:49 am
Wednesday 26th August 2009
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Chris Castle, Nicky D, Andy and Rachel Sparrow

This was originally going to be a streamway trip but the pleasant summer downpour put pay to that.

After spending the night at the SWCC cottages, which were full of motorcyclists, we walked across to Top Entrance, which I always used to think a bit of a slog until I went to Pant Mawr recently. Once there we discovered that due to a misunderstanding (or cock-up) we had left the surveys behind, but Andy was confident he knew our chosen route well enough, and so it proved.

First to Big Chamber, then the easterly passage to the Mini Traverse and the Labyrinth and a northerly-trending passage to Cairn Chamber, where the route to Column Hall leads off. Then we returned by another route (with a brief and mistaken visit to Arete Chamber) and found Northern Canyon. After a climb up a big collapse it was easier going until Shatter Pillar. A brief lunch break in Selenite Tunnel and it was back to Cross rift, over Maypole Inlet and the longer, northern, way to Salubrious Passage, which comes out about half way along it. Once out of Salubrious we turned left into Chasm Passage for a change, climbed up the left wall to the passage leading to Arete. This was very twisty, eventually coming to a muddy climb up, the point I reached some months ago from the other direction and thought was wrong. The climb is OK if you help each other, then comes a pool which is awkward to traverse over and not worth the trouble just to keep your feet wet. A climb down into Arete, across that chamber, and we were on the route to the Brickyard and out.

I think that's right, Andy will doubtless correct any errors. We were not too long, about three and a half hours, but covered a lot of cave and had a very interesting trip.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Andy Sparrow on September 04, 2009, 10:13:00 am
Andy will doubtless correct any errors.
Oh, OK, if you insist.
climbed up the left wall to the passage leading to Arete.
It was the right hand wall!

What a different cave it was on this very rainy day.  There were numerous waterfalls and inlets spraying, showering or (in lower Arete Chamber) thundering down.  Places like Selenite Tunnel, usually as quiet as the grave, had a constant background rumble of water.  Salubrious had a flow of water that would have been respectable in the main stream.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on September 04, 2009, 07:53:34 pm
Friday 4th September 2009
Chris Castle, Nicky D, Brett (Guest, from Sarth Efrica).

A completely standard tourist trip to the bottom of the Main Chamber. However, we were all hot and panting. This was a much easier trip than the OFD one so I'm not that decrepid. High CO2 in GB? It seems hard to believe in such a big void.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on September 05, 2009, 11:19:33 am
Wednesday 2nd September

Rod's Pot

Steve, Alun, Dani

Unable to tempt anyone else out, a small, select gathering for a quick tootle round Rod's Pot.  Usual route down to the main chamber, with a nose at some of the crawly side passages.  I tried to tempt Alun and Steve to climb up to Hanging Boulder Chamber, but they couldn't be persuaded past the initial shimmy up the tube.  Then back down to look at the Bear Pit (looking quite muddy at the bottom) and then to Purple Pot before heading out. 
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on September 17, 2009, 07:03:54 pm
Wednesday 16th September 2009.

St Cuthberts Swallet

Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Dani G, Rachel S, Trish D-K.

A short girly trip with me, suffering the talk of willies and periods.

It was mostly around the Boulder Chamber to give Trish a first look at the cave. Like many people she was nervous to begin with but soon found that Cuthberts does not deserve its fearsome reputation that some people give it.

After the terrors of the Entrance and Wire Rifts, which gave nobody any trouble, we went to The Cascade then down the left-hand side of Boulder Chamber, looking at some formations which are rarely viewed. A visit to Curtain Chamber, then back up to see the crystals near the top of Boulder Chamber and out via Rocky Boulder Central Passage to Lower Mud Hall.

At the Entrance Rift I climbed below Doc Trish and had a rope ready at the top but she zoomed up with minimal help.

I realise we didn't go far, but you have to allow for the nattering.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on September 27, 2009, 07:24:10 pm
Swildon's Hole

Tuesday 22nd September 2009

Chris Castle, Nicky D, Tricia D-K, Dave M, Steve (guest), Paul (guest).

A straightforward trip to Sump 1 for the prospective new members Steve and Paul, who proved to be strong and competent cavers. We didn't go through the sump, it was full of silt and none of us could be bothered to dig it.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Ellie on October 01, 2009, 01:02:42 am
Hunters Lodge Inn Sink

Wednesday 23rd September 2009

Ellie, Mark W

As no novices came forward for the advertised trip to Upper Swildons we decided to do something else and HLIS seemed a good option as I had not been down there before and it was handy for a beer.. on the way in I had an inconvenient claustrophobia attack (really must try hypnotherapy), but once out of the entrance tube we had a pleasant potter through the upper section of the cave.  Nice formations and nothing taxing.  On the way out I wondered why I had been fussing. 

Nice little trip -thanks Mark for being patient.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on October 01, 2009, 06:16:03 pm
East Twin Swallet

Wednesday 30th September
Barry and Dani (crossing path's with Matt and Simon)

We went, we saw, we marvelled at the engineering.  A potter round most of the cave, bumping into Matt and Simon on our way out as they were heading in.  A quick chat with the SBSS diggers on the way out and then back to the Hunters where we met up with Matt and Simon again.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Brendan H on October 04, 2009, 10:54:42 pm
Swildon's Hole Upper Series, Sunday 4th October 2009

leader and sole participant: Brendan; call-out: Andy Sparrow

I arrived at about twenty minutes before the appointed hour in eager anticipation of a jolly crowd waiting to go underground with me, but instead found a jolly crowd waiting to go underground with someone else. There were about fifteen children, their rugged but kindly cave leaders, their plump mothers, and dopey dog, milling around in the area next to the changing barn, part of some kind of subterranean jamboree. A pair of local lasses on shiny ponies completed the picture of rustic familiar wholesomeness.

I waited stoically until twenty minutes after the appointed hour for some familiar cavers to arrive, but none did, so after arranging my call-out, I ventured forth alone. Well, not quite alone, as there were members of the aforementioned jamboree already in the cave.

There was very little water running through the cave anywhere, and the entrance series was almost dry. I eased myself into the cave, wondering what it would be like to be on my own, as this was my first solo trip. I decided to stay on the beaten path and not go to anywhere like Kenny’s Dig, in case anything went wrong and I needed rescuing but couldn’t shout for it. I know this does not earn me the Chris Lank award for solo exploration, but it’s what felt right for me at the time.

I went forward into the Pretty Way and took advantage of being on my own to meditate in the total darkness, in last bit high enough to sit up in. This was a treat in so many ways: to be able to meditate in a natural environment instead of a man-made room, to be able to meditate underground, and to be able to meditate with my eyes open, as I usually have to close them because the sight of anything, even in a darkened room, is very distracting.

I meditated for about ten minutes until the sounds of an approaching group brought me out of it. At first I thought they were advancing along the Pretty Way towards me, but it gradually became clear that they were down in the Dry Way. It was curious that the sounds seemed to come from their actual positions in space as they moved along, at first far off to my right and a bit below, then quite distinctly below and behind me, quite close, then moving away to my left, as if I could hear them through the rock. I would have thought that all the positional information in the sound would have been lost as it bounced through the passages between them and me. If anyone with a good knowledge of acoustics –and phase coherency could shed some light (or even some phase-coherent sound) on the subject, I would be most interested to learn more about this phenomenon.

I then took the familiar route via the Old Grotto (where I meditated again) towards the Twenty Foot, but found it very hard going. My breathing was laboured and I felt weak, and I was strangely hot and sweaty. At first I thought that this was because of a lack of cave fitness, but laboured breathing suggests lack of aerobic fitness, not localised lack of muscular strength, and without wishing to blow my own trumpet (not that I had the breath to do so), can say that I do have good aerobic fitness, as anyone who saw me run the recent Bristol Half Marathon in my tutu will be aware. So I was a bit baffled by the heavy breathing, but pressed on.

I meditated again at the lovely chamber where back wall has a beautiful W in the rock strata where there are small back-to-back synclines and anticlines. I was distracted by thinking about how I would write the trip up and describe meditating in the dark, and I thought of making humorous references to the film the Descent, with its humanoid flesh-eating blind troglodytes who pick off the cavers when they are alone. (To those of you who do not practise meditation, I should point out that this is not what meditation is about, but such intrusive trains of thought do happen: Tibetan Buddhists refer to it as having a “monkey mind”.) Anyhoo, once I had got to thinking about the Descent, I could not shake off the fear that a humanoid flesh-eating blind troglodyte was observing me from the back of the chamber. I felt very silly for even entertaining such a thought, especially in Swildon’s Hole, but the thought grew stronger and stronger, and in the end I just had to switch my light on to make sure. I pondered this long and hard, I can tell you, hoping to link it to my work as a therapeutic counsellor. I came to the conclusion that my resistance to silly fears was lowered because this was my first solo trip, and resolved to press deeper into the cave before I worked myself into a jitter and became a hazard to myself and a nuisance to the MRO.

I reached the waterfall, paused briefly, then headed back. I meditated again at the same place as before, and was troubled by the same fears.  How I wished my imagination was generating the impression that it was the human characters of the film – beautiful athletic tomboys - rather than the horrid monsters, that were with me in the chamber, but it wasn’t.

I struggled out of the cave via the Dry Way, with a detour up the Wet Way as far as the Lavatory Pan, still puzzled at what hard work it had been, and how I entertained such silly fears. But I had enjoyed the trip, and I was glad I had had the change to have my first solo trip the familiar surroundings of my favourite cave.

Priddy Green was a bit quieter than when I had left, and the equestrian girls and their glossy ponies has been replaced by (or possibly transmogrified into) two old buffers in an immaculate cream 1930s MG. There were some more cavers in tatty oversuits getting ready to go underground, but for me it was time to go home.

Back in sunny Bristol, after a well-deserved lunch of pasta, a snooze, and stiff Rwandan coffee brewed in my new combined cafetière-and-mug, I logged on to the club’s Google group, and found a day-old message from Judi which explained my laboured breathing and weird anxieties: “CO2 levels bad in Swildons”. So I’m not weak or mad, just a temporary victim of the physical and psychotropic respiratory acidosis. Phew!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Brendan H on October 04, 2009, 11:00:36 pm
Sorry, that write-up is riddled with typos.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: mrodoc on October 05, 2009, 05:46:03 pm
And here was I half way through reading  this write up poised to tell you you'd had the dreaded carbon dioxide poisoning. It sneaks up on you like that as the moment dawns when you realise you can't be that unfit :)
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on October 05, 2009, 09:54:39 pm
Manor Farm Swallet
Tuesday 22nd September 2009
Ken, Chris L, Bruce (CSS)

After abseiling down the entrance shaft on Bruce’s “shoelace-of-a-rope”, we removed our SRT kit and headed down September Rift, through Curtain Chamber and past the Fluted Pots.  At Albert’s Eye we experimented with various techniques for getting through (head first/feet first), not realising that there was a multitude of mini-Leaches waiting for us in the puddle.  At Stream Junction, the apparent cleanliness deteriorated and we started come across signs of organic debris (polite term).  There were also lots of shrimps in evidence.  It was interesting to note that some shrimps were completely white, while other shrimps were grey in colour.

We took a short detour up to the Aven with Bruce and Ken plotting a climb up towards Boulder Fall Hall (for another day).  Conditions got worse as we headed back down stream.  The air was noticeably bad and the organic debris was literally rolling down the walls in the inclined rift near Sarum Inlet.  Our caving suits were covered in unmentionable brown stuff but we mostly managed to keep the grot off our faces.  The organic material was also home to millions of earth worms (at least they look like earth worms) – they even seemed to enjoy living on the near-vertical walls of the inclined rift.

We were given some respite from the bad air and disgusting conditions when we climbed up into NHASA Gallery.  The air was much sweeter and the going was much easier.  At the end of the airy gallery we dropped back into the foul streamway and found huge quantities of Tubifex Worms living in the shallow pools.  Lovely!  I had a poke around and was also able to find a few examples of Leeches, which I imagine would feed on the smaller Tubifex Worms.  After a short distance, we came across a small smelly waterfall, which dropped into a boulder ruckle.  Adjacent to it was a foul looking sump, containing more Tubifex Worms than I have ever seen in my life.  It did not look like a nice place for a swim, so I gave it a miss.

The way back was mostly uneventful as we huffed and puffed our way up nearly 140m of vertical ascent.  Thanks to Ken and Bruce for a brilliant day out, which despite the disgusting conditions was fascinating and definitely to be repeated again.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on October 05, 2009, 10:10:53 pm
Goon’s Hole & Lionel’s Hole
Sunday 4th October 2009
Chris L

On the way Lionel’s Hole, I passed by Goon’s Hole and decided to pop in to have a look around.  I learned a salutary lesson about not going head-first when crawling along downhill passages.  The crawl back uphill in a backwards direction was both "interesting" and rather tiring on my arms.

After catching my breath, I hopped into Lionel’s Hole and started to have a good poke around in lots of bits that I have often wondered about.  At the bottom of the entrance slope, I crawled up a good looking tube only to come face-to-face with the smelly remains of a poor dead rabbit complete with wriggling maggots.  I had just enough time to wonder about the strange smell before almost rubbing my face into the soggy remains.  Yuk!

The rest of the trip was spent crawling around Boulder Chamber looking at lots of interesting holes.  I climbed up into the roof boulder ruckle roof as far as I dared only to find it went nowhere (not surprisingly).  I found more interesting places in the floor to the left and had great fun squeezing into some of the holes, which I think were near the Pit.  There were some interesting leads which I decided to save for another day, when I have a companion with me.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on October 25, 2009, 09:09:54 pm
Ogof Draenen
Saturday 24th October 2009
Ken & Chris L

After a general lack of planning, we decided to take a magical mystery tour of Ogof Draenen.  After reaching Cairn Junction, we had a quick look at the nearby Waterfall to the left then dropped down Wonderbra Bypass before reaching Tea Junction.  Finally, a plan materialised and we decided to follow Gilwern Passage.

Initially, the walk up Gilwern Passage was pleasant and easy.  Then came the usual Draenen routine of climbing over muddy boulders for long periods of time (groan).  We actually did quite well with minimal damage to our shins and between us we only got our feet stuck between rocks on two occasions.

The walk/climb along Gilwern Passage was notable for the pretty decorations.  The walls were covered in Gypsum crystals, and every so often we came across some Calcite pretties, which were duly photographed.  There were also several interesting inlets, one of which tumbled through the roof from a great height and made for a pretty but chilly showerbath.

After strolling along for some time, the passage changed nature and climbed up a breakdown slope into the roof.  At this point, we had a poke around for a bit and found a few ways on.  As we had left the written description back in the entrance series and because we were not feeling overly energetic, we decided to head off back home.

What a fantastic cave!  I will be making lots more trips to investigate Gilwern Passage, Hearts of Olden Glory, Forever Changed and the rest.

Calcite pool:

Calcite flow:

Ken takes shower in the dark:

Pretty white drip pools:

Candyfloss on the walls (Gypsum):

Brown Crystals:

Ken takes a nap on a coffin:
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on October 29, 2009, 09:08:56 pm
Deer, Lang, Wind, Clearwater and Moonmilk Caves
Mulu National Park, Sarawak, Malaysia

16th-18th October


Holy guano, Batman!  :bow:


And there were ginormous spiders to match the proportions of the cave  :o

I'm still speechless
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on October 31, 2009, 03:10:21 pm
Attborough Swallet (a bit like a Mulu cave only different)
Wednesday 28th October 2009
Andy S, Rachel, Chris H, Steve White (guest), & Chris L

I had missed the previous trip to this cave so this was my first visit here.  Having carried bags of electron ladders into the cave, I was slightly disappointed to see that the fixed ladders in the cave made this a pointless task.  After climbing down the initial pair of ladders we entered Happy Mondays.  I took a “hit for the team” and volunteered to crawl up Nigel’s Dig just to confirm that it ended in a muddy hole – which indeed it did.  We then entered into the impressive Cotham Chamber and took the obvious way on down through the tight but interesting passages.  At the bottom I crawled on into a watery passage which contained some foul looking foaming water and a number of worms.  Lovely!  It was a bit like Manor Farm Swallet.  Reversing back I rejoined the others and we headed back towards Cotham Chamber.  On the way out, the others took another similarly tight passage at a higher level, which again ended in a watery termination.  While the others were enjoying this passage, I went back and investigated the hanging deaths at the head of Cotham Chamber.  After only a few minutes I decided that my continued good health was more important than looking at loose looking boulders and sat and waited for the others.  There was only so much mud and grot that we could enjoy on a Wednesday night, so after convening again in Cotham Chamber, we exited and headed off to the pub for a debrief.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on November 13, 2009, 07:16:06 am
Ogof Draenen
Sunday 8th November 2009
Tim, Keith, Jack, David, Mat, Cheryl, Nicky, Chris C, Chris L

With such a large contingent, we split ourselves into two separate groups.  As this was the first visit to this cave for most people, the plan was to have a gentle stroll along one of the key routes.

It was a fun but generally uneventful trip.  Our route took us through the Entrance Series, past Cairn Junction, down Wonderbra Bypass, through Tea Junction, White Arch Passage, Lamb & Fox Chamber, Indiana Highway, Megadrive, The Nunnery, Perseverence II, Arms Park, Players’ Tunnel and St David’s Chamber.

While some food was noshed at St David’s Chamber, I had a quick look at the Squirrel Rifts.  I can’t wait to get back and try and navigate through this area.

After getting back to a typically cold and miserable evening, we warmed-up again in front of the fire at the local pub.  Lovely!
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on November 13, 2009, 07:26:30 am
Eastwater Cavern
Wednesday 11th November 2009
Barry, Dani, Chris L

It was a disgusting night.  We got out of our cars in the cold rain and wondered why we were doing this strange pastime.  As we got into the cave and descended through the dark and horrible boulder ruckle, the thoughts continued.  Our route took us along the Upper Traverse, and things did not improve at all.  After much sweating and heaving we went up-slope and headed for an explore towards the Boulder Chamber.  Having found ourselves back near the entrance, we did not fancy another heave along a traverse so we went down-dip and had a quick look around at the bottom.  As no-one had their caving heads on their shoulders so we decided to call it a night and head off for the pub.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on November 15, 2009, 03:22:15 pm
Manor Farm Swallet – SRT Practice
Saturday 14th November 2009
Tim, Chris L

Rigged the entrance pitch and zoomed up and down on SRT kit.  Nothing to report except the weather was rotten and there was a distinctive Bovine aroma in the air.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: chriscastle46 on November 19, 2009, 02:55:36 pm
Box Stone Quarry
Wed 18th November 2009
Ian B.,  Chris Castle., Nicky D., Robin G.,  Danny B., Barry H.

This was Burt's trip to the northern area of the quarry.

After a very late start caused by me for reasons I won't go in to we were in the Backdoor and up AO Route to the tank, then made our way east along Cliftworks Passage and the Iron Door which is now a rusting heap. By the second fall, just before the shaft with a great heap of crap, there has been a recent and massive fall which we crossed with some trepidation. When did this happen? I've not been in the quarry for a few years.

We visited Crane Country, took many photographs, then to the Far North Series to take more. We returned via a route over deads to Saw Series and back the way we'd come. At the final fall by the Backdoor we paid a brief visit to OXO 1 Passage by mistake, but were soon at the exit and out but Woe! too late for the pub.

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Brains on November 19, 2009, 04:17:07 pm
The collapse appears to have been in Jan this year.
Details and photos here
http://www.darkp (http://www.darkp)

you will need to copy and paste the url AND delete the space...
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Chris Lank on November 19, 2009, 07:52:23 pm
Rod’s Pot
Wednesday 18th November 2009
Keith, Sam D-K, Rachel, Steve P, Chris L, Lynette, Ross (guest), Jason (guest)

This was an introductory trip for our guests.  After a gentle bimble down to Boulder Chamber, we had a look at the tube going up to Hanging Rock Chamber then the top of Purple Pot before being led out by our guests.
Title: Swildons Hole 25/11/2009
Post by: den0012 on November 26, 2009, 01:58:32 pm
Chris Lank, Rachel S, Trish, Sam, Dani, Jason(guest), Lynette and Ross(guest)

Well, where to start? Not only did everyone turn up on time, but upon arriving, we discovered that the entrance chamber has totally changed.  :o Previously, we used to slide down the slab, to where the hole has developed. But now you cannot slide down the slab, as boulders have been (intentionally?) brought down covering the top of it. So instead, we took a hard right, descending down a rift, bringing us out at the shower-bath. From there, Chris  and I decided what we were going to do. I was to take the novices around the Long Dry (Pretty Way), down through the Water Chamber, down the 8' (Old 40'), toddle down to look over the 20'. Then head back up the Short Dry Way. Chris was to take the others down as far as Sump One.

We ascended up the Shower-Bath, and then spilt at Jacobs Ladder. It ended up being myself, Trish and Jason being the only three to do the round loop. With the others going down as far as possible. As we went round the  Long Dry Way, looking at the pretties, we noticed that the pools of water that normally are only a couple of inches deep, were significantly higher! Even the 'Pretty Passage' before joining Boulder Chamber was wet!

I tried to do my best to impart some geology to Jason, and point out interesting things as we went. Whether I did this sufficiently I don't know. :-\ Anyway, we continued down into Water Chamber, after looking at the stals and curtains in Old Grotto. We went down the 8', without having to rig, thanks to Chris having been down before us, and continued to the 20'. Upon heading back, and getting up the 8' without difficulty, we got back to Water Chamber, to discover I had left the bag tied up at the 8'! Muppet! :wall: Dashed back to get it, then decided to investigate the Wet Way, up to The Well. All went well, and the Lavatory Pan was PUMPING! I managed to work my camera's self timer and got a fairly good photo of the three of us looking decidedly damp after getting back to the Water Chamber.

We headed back up the Short Dry Way, ascending Jacob's Ladder without difficulty. I wanted to look at an alternative way out, so headed to the slab that was, free climbed it, to the left of the hole, and rigged a rope for an assisted handline, making exiting much easier. Chris's group rejoined with us at this point, and we all exited safely, without any drama!

A good evening was had by all, we changed and went onto The Hunters' :beer2:

Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Dani on December 04, 2009, 09:29:22 pm
Sidcot Swallet
Wednesday 2nd December 2009

Tricia, Lynette, Ross (guest), Dani

A trip around the cave to introduce the newer members to the delights of the Lobster Pot.  Excellent leading by Ross, Lynette and Tricia - no getting lost, stuck or eaten by cave spiders and not too much thrashing around to get out of the Lobster Pot.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Keith on December 31, 2009, 12:13:53 pm
Rod's to Bath Swallet

Wednesday 30th December 2009

Steve P, Lynette, Steve, Tim, Martyn, Steve, and Keith (me).

Once we all met up at the top of Link Road and all got changed into our caving gear, myself and Martyn headed into Bath Swallet to rig up the rope and ladder's for exiting Bath Swallet.
It took a while to sink in that this was the right place because last time i was here there was a lot of water going down here, hence the name shower pot! Yet this time it seemed very dry and the stream had seemed to find it's way else where.
Once we had the rope and ladder's in place, i quickly made my way down to make sure the rope had dropped to the bottom and that i was definitely in the right place, whilst Martyn waited above just in case i needed pulling back up. Once we were happy that everything was good, we headed back to the surface and quickly caught up with the others who had made there way into Rod's and had a little look around.
Once all together we made our way to Purple Pot and one at a time made are way down through the low muddy crawl, taking our equipment with us, as we were not to return this way.
We all met up at the bottom of the Shower Pot and had a little rest and chat before attempting the long climb out to the surface.
One of the Steve's volunteered to make his way up to the top of the ladder's which were rigged earlier and with a safety line everyone went up, whilst Martyn guided them out to the surface.

I would like to say a big thanks to everyone for working together as a great team,and look forward to doing more exciting trips in the new year.

Happy new year to you all,
Cheer's Keith  :)
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Marty on December 31, 2009, 12:32:10 pm

Photos from Rods - Bath 30/12/2009

Keith Rigging the ladders in Bath

A misty Main Chamber in Rods Pot
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Burt on January 24, 2010, 05:42:02 pm
St Cuthberts, 21/1/2010
Chris Castle, Burt, Dave, Keith

I have no idea where we went but these should give you a clue:
( (
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( (
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( (
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( (
( (
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Cap'n Chris on January 24, 2010, 05:55:15 pm
BTLOT you did a nice circuit mostly around the Upper Traverse Chamber area, presumably in/out via Wire Rift and getting some good pics en route, especially of views of the cascade and curtains. What's not to like! A fine cave.
Title: Re: Online Logbook 2009
Post by: Elaine on January 24, 2010, 07:10:45 pm
Is picture number 2 of cat gut rift?
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