WHERE THE CAVES ARE - The Caving Regions > Cheddar Caving Club
Cheddar Caving Club: 2018 Logbook
New Year, New Thread.
This thread is for members of the Cheddar Caving Club (who wish to do so) to post trip reports during the year 2018!
What better than a trip down Swildon's to start the New Year?
It's been pretty wet lately, so various trips I'd been planning were put on the back-burner and I opted for a deliberately aquatic alternative, straight down the streamway, to the end...
An hour of fiddling and cursing the previous day, saw the zip of a tatty old wetsuit repaired and ready for it's first outing since I was given it over a year ago. Batteries charged, cylinders full, regulators tinkered, all set for a good day out!
Underground for just after 10am and a slow steady slog down to sump 2, taking care not to get washed off all the climbs! It's obviously been very wet recently, with foam on the roof through large sections of the cave, but today, though a little lively, all was ok so far.
A short break at sump 2 to kit up before immersing myself in the dirty water. Visibility was no more than a foot, but at least the wetsuit seemed pretty warm :)
Nearly lost my footing a couple of times in the white water of Swildon's 4 as the smell of Cowsh Aven got stronger.
The foam marks were about a foot above the water at Sump 4, despite it already being considerably above its usual level.
Beyond, to my amazement, there was no sign of foam or increased water level in the low sections leading to Sump 5 and right through to Sump 6.
Visibility was less than 6" in Sump 6, but at least the high water levels did seem to have cleared up the air beyond, which is often a bit thin, but nice and fresh today!
Up and down the boulders, up and down again and along to Sump 7, which is usually bypassed via a slot to the left, a right hand corner and scrabble up a gravel slope to a window back into the streamway beyond.
Today though, the water was a good 18" up on its usual level and the bypass was well under water. I followed the dive line in 6"viz to the left hand turn into the slot which seemed pretty snug with a pair of cylinders on. I thought for a moment, I could hardly see my hand in from of my face, I've never demounted a cylinder underwater before, was now the time to try?
Sense prevailed, I'd had a good trip so far, so carefully, I backed out against the flow of water. Better to quit while you're ahead!
The return upstream was a battle in places and a slog elsewhere; I was more than relieved to see the sun shining outside as I dragged my knackered body out of the blockhouse and back across the fields after 5 hours underground.
A good start to the year and here's to plenty more as the year goes on :beer2:
Mike Boons story of his first dive through sump 7 is enough to put me off from ever trying it !
Thanks to Max, Judi, and Peter for a good trip down GB. As a GB novice it was great to have some experienced guides. We started early, a few having pottered around the West Country waiting for the 7pm start. The trip started with a traverse of a very waterlogged field to the entrance hut, which led to a few discussions regarding sumps being passable and descriptions of the cave when in full flood.
Having deposited car keys in various places, being careful not to knock them off their perch, we descended into the fairly scruffy and unremarkable passage that led to the junction which determined our route into the gorge. Described as "easy" or "hard" we chose easy, which, after a pinch led to mud passage and a decent via a few drops into the gorge.
It is quite a moment to step out from the small passage into that enormous space, the sound immediately changes and the black void seems to absorb the head torch. The gorge is topped off with the remains of an "alleged" Ford Anglia, not magicked by the Weasleys, but part of the farmers attempt to plug the rather large hole in his field.
We descended the gorge a short way but soon climbed up to a vantage point overlooking the bridge and the right had sweep of the stream. The advice for GB was to take your time and keep looking up because there is so much to take in, wise words. A few careful steps over some slippery parts (not looking up) led us to the gallery along the edge of the main chamber. Tantalising glimpses of formations and what was to come. We continued to edge around the main chamber about 20' up and dropped right into a hall picking our way to avoid formations into a passage, possibly the oxbow. This led us back out into the base of the main chamber which was spouting various water features into the main stream. Whilst Max made ready the ladder, I explored the muddy end of the stream way, which is really a rather unimpressive end to such an impressive underground feature. I missed the acrobatics required to set the ladder but Peter and Judi had been setting up for photos and comparing camera notes whilst they waited. A short climb led into ladder dig passage with a reasonable crawl under some amazingly delicate helictites and intricate formations.
The initial disappointment by the lack of water in the dig was relieved with our arrival at the real sump, not the pale imitations at the start of the crawl. After some digging and bailing we all squeezed through with various advice about orientation, angle and boot wetness. Up into a complex boulder chamber following the well-polished rocks we arrived at a sketchy climb up to the great chamber. After careful hugging and kissing of the rock and a few exclamations regarding balance, hand and foot holds we traversed the climb and wriggled up and out into the impressive and well decorated girt chamber. Accompanied by a few bats, we explored the many and varied pristine formations of straws, pillars, flows, pausing for photos and to take in the view. A retrace of the wriggle and traverse this time with more knowledge of what was in store, but no way of seeing the foot holds.
All safely down, we opted for an excursion to bat passage. Which did not disappoint, except perhaps on the bat front. More great formations to see, which were duly photographed after a comparison of camera settings and a lesson in multiple exposure light painting.
We returned to the ladder, enjoying a short the bath a second time and started up the stream-way following the water. A brief shower ensued as we scaled the waterfall enjoying the security of the coarse rock as we ascended. At the top of the gorge we parted with Max who was keen to try the difficult way out. At the top of mud passage following two climbs we paused to wait for Max. On hearing noises we were surprised to find him arrive behind us. The crawl, squeeze, sketchy climb and muddy swim seems to have put Max off the route. However, from the descriptions of the various features passed Judi was fairly sure he was not far off completing it. A short walk to the entrance shaft had us emerge in to a cold, crisp and clear night, perfect for changing out of soggy kit.
Thanks to all and a good night out, we missed the pub but it was worth it.
OK, so it wasn't 2018, but nearly :). Took a while to review where we got to and still can't quite correlate where I think we went with the bits of survey I've found, but it went something like this:
Cookie, Russell and Peter set out on Saturday morning in reasonable weather, although it looked a bit murky over the Bristol Channel. Sure enough, by the time we reached Cardiff the rain was slatting down. It had stopped when we reached Penwyllt, but the stream at the bottom of the hill was a bit lively, and looking at the recent rainfall history and cave water levels in the SWCC HQ, the plan for a trip from the bottom entrance, up the streamway and out through the flood escape route was abandoned and we went for a gentle stroll via the top entrance instead.
Heading down towards Big Chamber, we veered off right and eventually came out in Gnome Passage. Loitering whilst another party came up (not that there was any shortage of room), we found the passage past the Wedding Cake and dropped down into Salubrious Passage and along the streamway. Turning off to the left we found the Trident stalactite(s) and the Judge stalagmite boss. Returning to the Salubrious streamway, we continued down to the Crossroads, over President's Leap and investigated the ensuing passages, including the top of the Maypole Inlet, but missed the Selenite Tunnel and Shatter Pillar, which, we discovered upon our return to the SWCC wall-sized survey of the system, had been within spitting distance (another trip maybe). We then retraced our steps back up the Salubrious Streamway, took a passage to the left at a crossroads which felt the right direction but looked unfamiliar, before returning to the crossroads and taking the (correct) right turn up a bouldery slope. This took us back past the Wedding Cake into Gnome Passage, which we briefly entered left downhill but turned back upwards entering the Brickyard, turning into the entrance chamber via the passage which had been to our left on entry. Snow angel outside the entrance to clean off a bit, then slither down the hillside (on backside at one point :-[) back to SWCC HQ
Thanks for the trip lads. An excellent ramble around huge caverns in this vast system.
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