Elsewhere in Dorset

tim.rose2

Active member
Thought I'd start a thread titled 'elsewhere in Dorset' to post info about underground sites in other parts of the county (i.e. not Portland).  Please feel free to add to this...

So the obvious question why start this?  Well today I finally got around to something I've been meaning to do for about 15 years.  Sas was out with her band marching up and down the square and blowing her trumpet in Bridport.  With nothing better to do I thought I'd go with her and do a walk in the area which just happened to pass the location of Walditch cave.  The Portland book mentions the cave but until today I'd simply not got around to going and having a look.  With no idea whether the cave was still accessible and nothing other than a grid reference to locate it I didn't know whether I'd even find the entrance.  Turns out it's fairly easy to find, sufficiently discrete, however the entrance is a little overgrown and I'm guessing nobody's been in there for some time.  You also need to be nettle proof.

I might have had a head torch and helmet in my bag just in case, however was otherwise not dressed for caving so today was just a quick glance inside.  The entrance is a narrow slot.  The cave then opens a little before a squeeze into a respectable sized bit of passage - unlike the Portland caves, this is something water worn which you can stand in.  After about 20 m I would have had to grovel around on the muddy floor, possibly do a bit of clearing and then shove myself through to progress so called it quits at that rather than get filthy.  I believe I got as far as the choke reported, roughly halfway through the cave, which according to the Portland book is 46 m long.  A return trip with proper kit, a Richard and a couple of tools is in order to get to the end.

With regards to the end.  Is there anyone out there who's seen it?  The Portland book states it's a choke - is it worth a discrete poke & prod?  The cave goes the right way into the hill so in my mind there's certainly potential for more than 46 m.

A couple of photos:
The entrance
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Looking back towards the entrance
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The bit you can stand up in
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Where I retreated today
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I'll add some more to this after I get around to the return trip.

I'll also try to post some bits about a couple of the sea caves along the Purbeck coast when I get a chance.
 

mrodoc

Well-known member
I have a  large selection of Walditch photos. There is a Descent article on it somewhere probably dating back the 80's when I did it with Nick Poole a local caver from Bridport. Chris Proctor surveyed it.  I have seen the choke. Might well be worth a prod. The cave is surprisingly well developed isn't it! clearly phreatic.
 

tim.rose2

Active member
I was very surprised by the cave - was expecting some god awful wet & dirty crack I could just about fit in until my humour ran out.  Not the case at all.

I'm betting there be something else in that hill!  I emailed Richard last night to warn him there's now another site on the ever increasing list. 

Could you post some of your photos mrodoc?  I tried to find your website last night as I thought you had some on there but I could only get to the contacts page - the others seemed broken.

 

mikem

Well-known member
Yep, the links just take you to the code for the other pages:
http://www.darkanddeep.co.uk/contact.htm

It has had a previous mention (but link does the same):
https://ukcaving.com/board/index.php?topic=6856.0

This issue:
https://www.wildplaces.co.uk/descent-82
 

tim.rose2

Active member
The promised sea caves...
There's loads of sea caves along the Purbeck coast line (Weymouth to Swanage), many I've not been too and probably never will as it's not really my thing.  However, when out for a gentle paddle on a nice summers day and happen to stumble across one, naturally curiosity takes over.

The first is found on the edge of Pondfield Cove, accessed by walking down to the sea from Tyneham.  I first took a look at this by swimming out to it (only a few metres) several years ago, but didn't have a camera at the time.  Earlier this summer we passed on our kayaks so popped in again:

We met another group of kayaker heading to Lulworth - this was as far into the cave as they got!

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However, if you land on the boulders at the back of the cave, climb up over them and down the other side you find yourself in darkness in a reasonable sized chamber:

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The second is found just before rounding the headland into Arish Mell.  Here you'll find a fine little through trip to complete on a kayak

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As per normal in sea caves a little beach is found at the back

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Finally my third offering is just round the headland into Arish Mell.  Basically found in the other side of the same bit of cliff.  A lovely big sea entrance to paddle into and good beach to land on. 

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Looking back out to sea (I just like this photo!)
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There is a second entrance to this cave.  A flat out fishy crawl (didn't bother myself) which gains the chamber direct from Arish Mell beach.
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mrodoc

Well-known member
A word of warning. Arish Mell beach is out of bounds officially. The authroities don't advertise the reason but I say that Winfrith nuclear power station is quite near the coast you will get the idea. It is also within the Lulworth firing range which may be another reason. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arish_Mell
 

mikem

Well-known member
Both that it hasn't been cleared of ammunition & the effluent pipes from Winfrith (now decommissioned) feeding into the sea:
http://eastlulworth.org.uk/old/arish_mell.html
https://thedorsetrambler.com/2019/01/05/home-home-on-the-range/

Pete, your website still ain't working...
 

mrodoc

Well-known member
I know I know. I will have to take it down and reconstruct i unless I can find somebody who uses Dreamweaver and knows their way around the intricaciies of FTP etc.. Another job to do!
 

tim.rose2

Active member
Yes, good point about access.  If anybody is thinking of paddling this section of coastline (Kimmeridge to Lulworth) it's essential to check the Lulworth ranges firing times.  Generally open weekends (though there are a few each year where access is prohibited) and 6 weeks over the school summer holidays.  Similar if walking the coast path.  Obviously if the ranges are open there's nothing stopping you paddling along the coast.  Good stopping points at Worbarrow bay and Pondfield Cove which have public access when ranges are open.  As with any military range best not to touch anything though.
Should you accidentally set off on a day where firing is taking place you'd not get far before the patrol boats appeared to have a chat.
 

tim.rose2

Active member
Today myself and Richard returned to Walditch cave for a proper look.  The point I turned back previously needed a bit of clearing, nothing more than 10 mins effort.  Not sure if the lumps of rock obscuring the way ahead had dropped from above or have been strategically placed to discourage visits beyond.  Either way they're not there now!  The route through the choke is a little awkward but all seemed stable.  Beyond, the passage is rather impressively sized for anything in Dorset.  It's followed for 20 to 30 m to a choke.  We did cart a load of tools up the hill but following 20 mins of debating whether there was anything we could move without the entire choke landing on our heads we decided to leave it be.  We couldn't even convince ourselves a poke with the long poking pole was a good idea!  Unfortunately the cave ends in extremely loose rubble filling the passage.  It looks like a promising place to find more cave, however will need more expertise and commitment than either of us can be bothered with.  I'd imagine the starting point would be a lot of scaffolding and mesh to hold the ceiling up.  It looked very similar to our abandoned dig in Kiddies Rift on Portland - we don't like caves which throw stones at us.

Back from the end of the cave, just before the halfway choke, we did notice a potential blocked side passage to the left.  We've had a bit of a go at this, dislodging a hell of a lot of loose rock, however other than finding more loose rock nothing has been gained.  Realising there was no quick win here we headed for the entrance.

Although short, the cave is well worth a visit if you're in the area.  Furthermore there's a definite project in there for anyone who could offer some commitment to the place.

Unfortunately I left to camera in the car.  I'll return at some point to get some shots and include it on the Portland website.  Although clearly not a Portland cave, it's too interesting to remain completely un-loved.  Richard has decided he'll be taking quite a few dog walks in the area to see if anything else turns up.

 

mrodoc

Well-known member
You are welcome to use the photos I took with Nick Poole some years back. Got quite a selection.
 

tim.rose2

Active member
Thanks for the kind offer.  I'll almost certainly take you up on that one as your photo's will be better than my efforts for sure.  Once I've had my return trip I'll see about putting a page together.
 

alexdig

New member
I found it and ended up going 200 m took me 5 hours got to a blockage from land slide but throw a hole gets much bigger going back
 

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mrodoc

Well-known member
Spacious cave is Walditch - relatively.
 

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