• Hello From Descent

    The publication date for issue 289 is the 10th of December, meaning subscribers should receive their copies during the week leading up to that date. It is also available from caving suppliers such as Inglesport and Starless River, or from our new website

    New Descent board here:

CHECC 'WORST CAVE YOU'VE EVER DONE' COMP 2022

caving_fox

Member
I'd offer DoonyVarden (spelling?) in County Claire. But I'm not CHECC and don't want to spoil their fun. But really don't bother going just for the purpose of joining this thread, it's not even worth that. Maybe we should have a general UKC don't bother trip thread?
 
With no claim to originality I nominate North Hill,

Only the bravest of the brave
Would venture into North Hill cave
And disregard horrific tales
That circulate through Mendip and Wales.

Only the daftest of the daft
Would wriggle down the concrete shaft
And navigate the fearful drop
That lies below the scaffold prop.

Only the maddest of the mad
Would risk what litlle life they had
And gives their spines a limestone massage
Whilst squirming through the squalid passage

Only the weidest of the weird
Would lie face down to wash his beard
And let the falling sweat mingle
With the gravel and shingle

Only the craziest of the crazed
With knees and elbows bruise and grazed
Would force their muscles, bone and fat
Through apertures designed for a bat

Only the boldest of the bold
Ignoring pain and cramping cold,
Would force his fingers, stiff as ice,
To operate the abseil device

After the winding passage tight
What a joy to stand upright
But the nicest part, I should explain
Is getting safely out again

Yet, on reflection, times the cure
The cave exerts a powerful lure
When asked again, if I would go,
I'm far to stupid to say "no"!!
 
When I’m in Wigmore there’s no place I’d rather be…

Myself, Ben Wynn and Nicholas Stylianou recently took a trip to Wigmore swallet, on eastern Mendip. After having done most of the ‘big trips’ on Mendip, I had found myself scouring Mendip Underground for ideas for my next trip, and to start exploring some of the lesser visited caves. Wigmore seemed like a good place to start. The promise of an ‘impressive’ streamway, and ‘the long-term potential to become one of the longest and deepest caves in England’ were key lines that whetted my appetite to see what this little mentioned hole might have to offer.

Mendip Underground does not give the upper series much space, it seems that most of the description of this cave is reserved for the sumped passages passable only by divers. There is, after all, less than 50m of the streamway accessible before diving is required. However, after completing this trip, we felt that the description could do with some more detail, and perhaps a little more honesty when describing ‘roomy’ and ‘impressive’ features. I shall below offer our experience of each section, alongside the MU version (in red):

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
WARNING: The initial passages are liable to spoil run-ins and may require re-excavation.

The 10m entrance shaft (10m ladder and 25m lifeline) leads via a short crawl into Hesitation Chamber, at the far end of which are two consecutive 3m free climbs. From the base of the second, the 25m Christmas Crawl enters Santa’s Grotto, a spoil filled 6m diameter chamber with a small grotto on the right hand side.

We located the entrance without difficulty, and the farmer kindly let us park our cars on the farm track, so we had only a two-minute walk to the entrance. Thankfully there was no re-excavation required, though the entrance grill (see photo) was rather heavy and precariously balanced over the very exposed shaft. Some tentative faffing ensued to remove the grille and Ben set up our first ladder and lifeline while avoiding a premature descent by stepping carefully around the shaft.

Side note 1:

I don’t know why, and I suspect that it is another symptom of ‘Mendip Syndrome’ (see below), but there does seem to be a belief among some cavers that using a ladder and lifeline is less faff than SRT.

The amount of tackle required is immense, a ladder for starters, a rope twice the length of the pitch, a hundred slings, and more crabs than for SRT.

This is before we begin with the faff of belaying down a ladder, and the tangle you always end up in with the ladder and your lifeline.

🎶 ‘Bring back, bring back, oh bring back my ladders to me, to me’ 🎶 – What utter nonsense.

Bring back my SRT kit to me!


We descended the pitch (more like 7m with a small climb at the bottom) and started crawling. On the way in we missed the grotto, but this section of cave provided no real surprises.

To the left a scramble down over spoil bags reaches Pinks and Posies, a crawl dropping into the low Blitz Passage which after 10m enlarges at a 2m climb down into a tiny chamber, Baghdad. Beyond is the awkward Sheep Dig, the start of more crawls and short drops which thankfully emerge after 15m at the head of the roomy Blackbird Pot.

Blackbird Pot is an easy 6m free climb (in dry weather!), and is followed by a roomy rift which quickly leads to the 12m deep Vindication Pot (15m ladder and 35m lifeline). This is usually bypassed by an awkward rift climb immediately before the shaft (20m handline required).


Ahh yes, Mendip syndrome. To those unfamiliar with this disorder, that seems to affect cavers from the south of England most severely, symptoms include (but are not limited to):

  • An need to dig further in tiny tiny holes, simply because one ‘could’, without stopping to think for even a second as to whether one really ‘should’ continue to push a lead.
  • The need to describe and name every single meter of dug out passage in excruciating detail, even if it is not worthy of such note.
  • The belief that by excavating body size tubes in the ground they are somehow contributing to the greater good of the caving community by opening up new trips, when in reality they are simply increasing Warmbac’s revenue by virtue of extra kneepad and Tackle Sack sales.
  • A need to grossly exaggerate the size of any small passage as a ‘chamber’ when one can fully extend even a single limb, let alone actually stand up.
A more realistic description here would be ‘follow the crawl until you reach Blackbird Pot’.

This, incidentally, is not a ‘pot’, but merely a slight verticalization of a small passage. Is it not a pot, or a pitch, or anything remarkable at all in fact and should not be described as such.
Well done for winning this. I especially loved the description of 'Mendip syndrome'. MNRC, who kindly sponsored this competition, have been informed that you won so UBSS can claim their free weekend whenever they like and encourage the spread of mendip syndrome
 
Top