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Northern CHECC Fresher Trip Report Competition 2019


Post your entries for the Trip Report Competition here!

Entrants must have started caving as of this academic year (September 2019)

Closing Date Midnight 9th of March


Active member
I shall enter 2  trip reports. 1/2

Carlswalk January 2019

"We are doing Dynamite series in Carlswalk, you said you like tight caves didn't you?!"

I have recently joined my university caving club (Nottingham) and had wanted to organise a trip to get to know people, get caving and try out my new gear that I got for Christmas. One of the guys who is very experienced uttered the starting sentence of this post.

indeed I do like tight caves, so naturally I did some googling and searching on here. it appeared that it isn't an overly loved series of caves and had been writing about on here since 2008. a youtube video of the trip only made me want to explore even more rather than putting me off.

so, sunday 20th, I am stood in a roadside car park with 4 new friends in the worlds newest, shiniest, more "all the gear no idea" kit. everyone else had oversuits that had holes in, or were just stitched back together with hope (Direct quote) hmmmm, I need to get mucky quickly I hide my newbie status.

We walk up to the crag, and at the base there was a beautiful descending rift with tree roots surrounding the top. dropping quickly into the gin entrance we are met with a crouched T junction and take a left along the eyam passage. This is a long straight section of crouched walking and crawling through puddles, we move pretty quickly through here until a junction where we head left and explore upto the eyam dale shaft.

back tracking slightly and then taking a junction to the left we enter the north west passage, a long crawl with a small section you could stand up in halfwaly along which was called cockle passage due to the strage shapes in the rock. all going well it seemed. we crawled out of a tube to a T junction. Here some survey checking began as we werent entirely sure where we were because there didnt seem like anything that was T junctiony enough on the survey. some of the group explored on passage, whilst another explored the other passage. after much discussing which went "yeah this looks like that bit" *pointing vaguely within a 300m area* we decided to follow the route that had a trowel and a bucket on the floor, which we decided was the big dig area.

i round a corner "this looks like some acme wiley coyote stuff" i state as im greeted with a small wooden braced tunnel. it didnt look especially safe and i am sure elma fudd was waiting with dynamite or something, so i slide carefully through. we are still none the wiser on our route until i notice a small squeeze up and left past a boulder. i recognised this from the youtube video. sure enough, a squeeze later and we entered the dynamite chamber.

even now, i look at the survey and im not entirely sure which bit was which, but we can to a squeeze at floor level with some wooden running boards on the floor. there was so much water that i couldnt go through with my helmet on as my face was being pushed into it. i took my helmet off, turned my head side ways to try and avoid drowning and slide in and around a corner to a really tight side ways squeeze. sliding my helmet out in front of me, 1 arm out in front and one down by my side i slide like a worm to get through.

this is where the trip got interesting and would love readers input as to where we went. we got to a chamber where the dynamite series route is actually a climb up into a very smooth floored wall. we however, didnt spot that at first and took the small right slot at floor level at the end of the chamber. we went through feet first, which was awkward and uncomfortable with a rock pressing into my back, shortly my feet dropped over the edge to a small pot about 6ft deep. this had 2 small openings at floor level that you could crawl into, but not far. it was just big enough to fit 3 people as long as one was lying in the crawl. now was a good time for a mars bar as 2 of the group ad taken the slot above the pot that takes a 90 degree left into a sideways squeeze rift.

i could hear lots of shouting and panicked voices. they were stuck. bloody hell, if these experienced guys were getting stuck, how would i cope? I was also suddenly unsure how i felt about being in something that tight that i could get stuck. it all sudden felt serious.

eventually they freed themselves and made progress, another had gotten stuck but eventually got through. It was my turn, i climbed out of the pot and slid sideways, helmet off and out in front as there was no way it would have fit whilst on my head. i went bottom arm out in front pushing the helmet and top arm down my side. as i commited i realised i was loving it and totally happy in the confines. i got momentarily stuck, but i just took a breathe, then exhaled fully and slid through like a slippery eel. we probed a tight chimney climb, but after discovering the survey had gone missing and not entirely sure this was correct we reversed the squeeze of doom. personally one of my fave bits. the same cant be said for the others.

"F*&K, I threw me helmet and me lights gone out" came the voice as one of the group resumed his role of getting stuck.

back into the chamber I discovered the higher route whilst just having a nosey waiting for the others, luckily I recognised it from youtube and so we pushed one. the route to the end of the dynamite series was obvious from there.

fuelling up with mars bars and jelly, we made a retreat back to the depths of Nottingham. happy tired, and for one member of the group, wet, as he hadn't brought spare trousers, much to our delight.

for me, a brill cave, I will be back for sure, cant say the same for the others, but I definitely made some good friends underground that evening.


Active member
2nd trip report 2/2

Waterways Swallet Feb 2019

When you think about getting stuck whilst going caving, you probably rarely think it'll be your van that gets into trouble.

Well, as any typical NUCC trip, there was some hilarity pre caving. I pulled into the designated car park (read small mossy clearing) and as I went to turn around the van sunk her front wheels in. no amount of clever tactics worked and Jacob and Alex took a wander to the farm. Shortly  the farmer and son turned up in a pick up, hooked up to my van and pulled it so hard, the van spun 45 degrees and went flying backwards like it was as light as a feather. I had full brakes on and the pickup just kept pulling. luckily the farmer noticed the tree in time and crisis averted. we said our thanks and bid adieu, making no reference to the huge dead sheep in the back.

A short walk lead to the entrance that was completely covered in tree detritus. Jacob was extremely excited as this was the deepest cave in the county and not a single bit of SRT was required. I slid into the entrance tube first and was surprised that it was vertical for a long way down through boulder chokes and a really nice low ceiling bedding plane.

The boys were beside themselves as it was unlike any cave they had ever been in. In the first chamber we found a lot of rocks full of fossils and even a cute bat snuggling up for a nap. sliding down the rift we poked our heads into the various digs that were occurring along the way.

Jacob has a distinct squeak when he is excited and that came echoing up the rift towards me.
Jacob: "Theres a bloody frog"
Me: "A frog?!" 
Alex:"Yeah, or toad, maybe toad, its all warty."
Me: "What is this? the animals of farthing wood?!"

sure enough, a toad was just chilling on a rock. we carried on down another rift into another very cool and super sketchy section. It always makes me laugh at some of the things you see in a cave. There was a yellow sign saying "scaffolding incomplete" scaffolding???? i turn my head to the right and down. My torch illuminates a descending tube of scaffolding holding the route open. (Afterwards my wife looked at the photos.......concerned, she looked at me and said "and you thought this was ok?" I reply with a wide beaming smile and copious nods "it was mental"........."was it safe?" ..........."probably not")

Descending down i took great care where my feet went and what i pushed and pulled on. halfway down there is a loose section of scaffolding that you climb through and past. the clanking certainly makes you slow down and think very carefully. eventually at the bottom we had a really nice flat out crawl which led to a skinny yellow ladder. Descending this takes you to the base of another chamber. some more crawling leads to a pitch down with a knotted rope. descending this leaves you at the base of toad haul chamber. there is a tiny hole in the floor that we dropped through and made our way to the far end sump. The water was super clear and cave shrimp were mooching about, it was nice to just sit here and enjoy the view for a bit, we then followed the blue sphyon pipes through a wet crawl and made our way to the other sump.

we returned to toad haul and decided we would climb the pitch that had an unknotted rope which lead up high to a hole in the wall. this was a fun climb that was easy, but you definitely dont want to get it wrong. We were all a bit shocked at the state of the carabiners at the top and were thankful we hadnt needed to trust them.

we crawled through some tubes to an opening. jacob lead up the loose boulder choke climb first. i waited until he was a safe distance up, as i climbed up a microwave sized block moved and 3 big blocks came at me. i caught them and shouted to alex not to come this way yet. half trying not to fall (which wouldnt have ended well) and half trying not to let the rocks go and make things worse i managed to stabilise stuff enough to move on. suddenly some rocks moved up ahead and jacob had a large boulder coming at him. "we need to get out of here now" he said, we made a hasty retreat. (We think this was the tourist trap area)

the other way on had a huge unpassable hole in the floor. "we are going to have to go down the climb that we came up" Crawling back to the climb I sat at the edge, got my krab to the front of my belt, picked  up the rope and had a complete mind blank and forgot how to tie an italian hitch. i manipulated the rope making various cock and ball shapes until it all came back to me. i looked to the rusty krab to my left, and knowing the one at the top was broken i hoped that it would take my weight. i part climbed and part abseiled down, it was fun and i quite enjoyed the seriousness of it all. I tied my krab on to the rope so that alex could pull it up and use it.

We gradually made our return back up the cave. climbing the vertical scaffold "shaft" seemed to go on for alot long that i remembered. I had long left the boys behind and so i stopped to listen. it sounded like they were in a parallel shaft. "oh man, did i miss a turn?" i thought. no, there was only one way im sure. gradually the echoey voices got closer and closer and i felt happier.

I waved good bye to Barry the bat and continued to the surface. we were all buzzing and will be back again as there were plenty of other places to poke out heads. we noticed a red knotted rope descend off down a hole in the floor below and climb which looks like it needs an explore.

Quick change and back to Nottingham, i unwrap a cold mcds cheeseburger. Jacob looks at me in shock, "i dont know if my respect for you has gone up or down"


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Well-known member
Great report, I have looked at waterways swallet and always fancied giving it a visit, so deep but no SRT.

However, I am not certain, but you might want to remove the bat photo as I think it is an offence to take photos of bats in this country.


Well-known member
Alex said:
However, I am not certain, but you might want to remove the bat photo as I think it is an offence to take photos of bats in this country.

Only if taking the photograph involved "intentionally or recklessly disturb(ing) a bat in its roost", in which case the miscreant is liable to up to six months in prison and an unlimited fine.


Well-known member
Alex said:
Not certain you are corrrect...


Photographing roosting bats, looking with a torch for pond life, newts in particular, photographing nests, all need licences so although you will have seen it done many times on TV, you can?t legally do it.

I think that we are both right! Natural England, who are responsible for providing guidance on the legislation, say "You don?t need a licence to survey, film or take photographs of protected birds or animals if you don?t disturb them.

The question then is whether flashing a strong light at a roosting bat would be likely to disturb it, and hence be "intentionally or recklessly disturb(ing) a bat in its roost". I suspect that it would be reasonable to assume that it may well do, in which case if it was disturbed, then an offence occurred.


Active member
Hi Guys,

I am really sorry, i was not aware of the rule for taking pics of bats. I did not disturb it other than shine my torch on to it, it was in exactly the same position on our way out. how do i edit a post to delete the photo?

Waterways swallet is an incredible trip and id love to go back for poking around a bit more.

Edit: Turns out you cannot edit after a certain period of time. :( please forgive my faux pas


Well-known member
No need to apologise to us, just making you aware of the law, I don't want you to get into any trouble.


Active member
The bat police have been called and are already on their way.

Are you any good at evading sonar?  :tease:

Good trip report.


New member
OFD1 to Cwm Dwr through trip, NUCC, Benedict Claxton Stevens

Now gather round the fire children and let me tell you a story: It was the first shiny weekend of February 2019, my 3rd weekend away and 1st trip to Wales, and the stunningly beautiful, and well appointed SWCC. We had snow, a very reasonable amount of it and I was very comforted in knowing it would be blissfully warmer underground. It seems the warmth of OFD was somewhat legendary. This would come back to bite me in the arse incredibly hard later??.
On the Saturday morning, only slightly hungover and after a brilliant NUCC classic breakfast of full English I found that as usual I somehow dodged the freshers trip and would be spending the day on a through trip from OFD1 through to Cwm Dwr jointly with one member of OUCC . After casting my eye over the quite insane wall sized cave survey in SWCC I quickly realised why Ogof Ffynnon Dhu had been shortened to OFD.



So Rosa, Louise, Alex, Ryan and I packed our lives up only interrupted by a few snow ball fights and got stomping out through the amazing white. The walk down to the entrance was slightly interrupted by Alex deciding he desperately needed to climb a cliff to inspect an opening which apparently turned into a reasonable drop though one with bolts, a target for a latter exploration! We arrived at the entrance and in short order climbed down the ladders while I feared greatly for my fingers after seeing the big heavy gently propped hatch I had to put my fingers under. I immediately noticed the cosy temperature which was glorious after the snow above. From this point the group made a cracking pace along the streamway, over the scaffolding bars of the pots. I found this bit of streamway utterly stunning, likely my favourite bit of cave I?ve done. We quickly made our way to the Boulder Chamber and here we hit our first snag. Our intention was to find The Connection into OFD1 ? and the team scrambled about the bolder choke and settled on an entrance directly onwards, in the middle of the choke near the top. This led into a feet first squeeze that got gradually tighter into a quite horrendous squeeze which was conquered valiantly though with a lot of difficulty by the first three of the party of five. I however, being 6? 3?, of broad shoulder and chest and?. well all round, did not. After 10 minutes of chest compression and wriggling I finally gave up and explored the upper muddy passages over the boulder choke trying to find a bypass, then almost dropped a boulder from an unstable pile onto a head that was following me. Oops, freshers lessons to be learned. This could have been the end of my foray except the team realised this wasn?t the entrance to the connection anyway?.

After extricating themselves back into the Boulder Chamber another scramble around and we found a more friendly route to the lower right, having lost an hour in total. We proceeded straight of towards the fabled letterbox, a slot high up in a sizeable chamber on a steep face with a chain above it. Thankfully I fit with no issues at all making a smooth slide off the overhanging chain feeling very ninja and going straight into an EXCELLENT bit of bum sliding and crawl to the 12m Divers Pitch. We used a life line for the climb down which was pretty slow to set up, eating almost another hour part of which I was stuck sitting in a waterfall, oh the joy. Divers Pitch turned out to be a pleasure to climb down with bountiful hand and foot holds like the easiest of routes on a climbing wall.
Quick progress down some big sandy stomping tunnels latter and we hit The Smithy and promptly got lost. For a very long time. After a lot more stomping we settled into eliminating all possible routes which means I have now seen a lot of the lovely mid level passages and chambers but am also not entirely sure which was the correct one in the end?.  1-2 hours of taking every possible route was just getting a bit tiresome when we got the way out into the Cwn Dwr Choke which was a really grand bit of squeeze and twist, I think the big tunnels of the Smithy had given me agoraphobia. This quickly led onto the final Dim Dwr crawl, the longest I?ve done at which point I was getting pretty shattered and got JUST a bit tight flat out squeezing over loose rocks but then suddenly I was free! Past a helpful sign telling me to use caution in this ?category 2 confined space?.... Into the bottom of the Cwm Dwr entrance.

And it?s here our glorious leader bless his cotton socks thought to mention I might have some issues getting out the exit?.. Up some rotten logs less than 6m below the surface the exit turns into two sections of concrete, smooth drain pipe with single hand / foot holds up one side. Due to laws of angles it was too tight for me to get a leg up to the next ledge, or reach to the hand hold above so, half way up, 3m from the surface I could get no further even with some loving advice from my team members. Now here is where the snow above ground came into play, where below ground it was a lovely 12-14 C, here it was below freezing and I was stuck hopping one leg to another wedged in a tube, rapidly losing feeling in my hands, then limbs for what felt like forever and was probably a pretty long time. Although my spirits stayed high, thankfully help was quickly retrieved from the SWCC and a large portion of the rest of NUCC came to rescue me / laugh. Although easier solutions were likely possible Jacob got to use his brand new rescue gear and a team effort hauled me up enough to grab the last few hand holds and collapse into the dark snowy stunningly beautiful star cast hills of Wales.

Poor Louise who was stuck behind me got to exit then a quick huge hug, team photo and we hightailed back to the hut where I started to realise quite how cold I was. I took a good 4 hours in the hut before I was back to normal and felt warm again. But thankfully I was happily never in any real danger. A range of rope set ups or SRT kit would have got me out.


So what have I learned from this?
1. An SRT kit, or at least a belt and rope are always indispensable.
2. Don?t sit in a hole getting hypothermia if you?re just waiting, back up and move around you pillock.
3. I have a lot to gain in technical caving skills, particularly in chimneys
4. Be a good victim and let your friends use their shiny new rescue kit, it makes them happy.

I want to go back and conquer Cwm Dwr properly unaided one day, I?m fully aware that being tall is no excuse and bigger people than me can manage it with some wedging. Though I must confess while stuck in that god forsaken tube I did fantasise about all the things I could do with a jackhammer or some Iron rungs?..

Overall a stunning trip. Had all the great features: lost, stuck, pretties, songs and squeezes. NUCC Love.