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Online Log Book: 2006

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New member
You know you're in for a good trip when Andy is leading and you hear an 'ahh, I'd forgotten about this bit' coming from ahead.

The trip was fantastic :D and thanks to Andy and Neil for guiding us safely around it and I'm glad Andy wrote the report as although I had a great trip, I'm not entirely sure where we went; it was mostly dark and there were lots of rocks with the occasional hole in the floor.

When I (eventually) arrived :oops: and the others were talking about sky hooks, I thought I had wandered into a Marvel comic 'Skyhook and the Warmbac Warriors' :D Maybe a title for the next book Andy?

I must say that I thought we were all very brave and there was relatively little swearing (bearing in mind that traverses aren't my favourite thing in the world, particularly those that drop off into complete darkness), although I'm a bit disappointed not to see the photo that bears some resemblance to a female anatomical feature (guess who had the camera!)

Anyway, fantastic trip (with a great warm-up), good company and relatively few bruises!

Melanie lloyd

Dani said:
I'm a bit disappointed not to see the photo that bears some resemblance to a female anatomical feature.

Anybody recognise this?


Melanie lloyd said:
More of an inducement re. our marriage plans ......Kiss kiss hug hug! :wink:

Start running now Andy!!! The ball and chain can be very difficult to remove!

P.S. if I saw a woman with an 'anatomical feature' looking like the one in the picture I would be a little worried.

Melanie lloyd

O.F.D 16th April. Columns Open Day.

Andy Sparrow, Melanie Lloyd, Steve Lodge, Liz Freeman, Aggie and Daisy Forster (Guests) And my new second hand Nova at last.

It was this size!

Had Andy rung the S.W.C.C by 10 A.M to confirm our intent to see the columns we would have seen them. Fortunately he didn't ring and so we had a much better, more involved and brighter (due to my Nova) trip exploring the incredible maze of tubes above and on either side of Maypole inlet.

Aggie in a small tube.

These made a really interesting and worthwhile excursion, and the fact that we didn't have a survey made it all the more fun. It was also more fun now that I could finally see where I was going (thanks to my Nova). The series consists of some lovely walking sized phreatic tubes and also a fair few mud floored, hands and knees crawl type stuff. Most of the tubes contain interesting formations and at times are reminiscent of mini selenite tunnels. ( they looked so beautiful when lit by my Nova.)

Shine on.

Just the three of us.

Now and again they dramatically intersect the roof of the main streamway which you could hear roaring away about a hundred feet below. Leaving this user friendly (and well lit ) playground we exited the cave via Cross Rift, Selenite Tunnel and back up Salubrious. It was just about then the battery on my Nova packed up!

Love me love my Nova.

still, can't complain. A lovely, interesting, non-strenuous three and a half hour trip, we left our fave cave and got back down to S.W.CC just in time to see everyone dressed up in their finery and about to leave in order to celebrate O.F.D's 60th Birthday. (Funny, I thought it was much older than that!)

Happy cavers.

cap n chris

Well-known member
Don't know that it really counts as a club trip but Hebden, Grass and me visited St. Cuthbert's Swallet yesterday and did Maypie* Series. There was more water here than I had encountered on previous trips.

Managed to get the rope (eventually) up through the first loop and then accidentally pulled it back down again!

Find the entrance easy nowadays - s`funny, I used to think it was really hard.

I think Mr. H rather enjoyed his trip. I did a quick bit of mental arithmetic and make it 8 abseils and a further 16 climbs/ladders**.

* Private joke; hi Ken!
** Counting everything remotely vertical. I expect there'll be a few comments about this observation.


New member
So Mel, have you got a new Nova or something? I've always thought you were perfectly happy with the lighting arrangements you've been using! :D Glad you had a good (and well lit) trip.

cap n chris

Well-known member
Swildon's Hole to Sump 2
Gary A, Brendan H, Danny B, Cap'n Chris.

A pre-committee meeting trip, including a pop through Sump 1 for two sumping-newbies, Gary and Brendan.

We met and kitted up at 2:30pm. At the cave entrance we met a group of three exiting, a big chunky chap wearing a dayglo oversuit and a young chap carrying a big tackle bag, accompanied by a quiet "leader" at the rear.

Since the water levels were low and we were wearing wetsuits/neofleeces it was decided to go down the Wet Way since no-one else had been down this way before and we needed to cool off a bit. No sooner did we arrive at Water Chamber we met a group of two bedraggled girls and a sheepish male saying "Do you know the way out?" - so the others waited while I quickly led this poor little huddle to Jacobs Ladder whereupon they bumped into their "leader" (whom I presume was the quiet bloke with the other two we had met at the surface). Anyho......

Rush back and join up with the boys and head off down to the twenty where we have a friendly chat with two ladies, one of whom reported that she had just had an epic trying to get back up the ladder (why don't people do an assisted haul with a loop of rope 2:1 rather than just a direct line?). The 20 was devoid of all other gear so it was safe to presume we had the rest of the cave to ourselves (true). Down we go and all good fun, B falling in to the 2nd pot for good measure. The gang were quiet so I guessed there was some apprehension about the sump, playing on the minds of G and B and suppressing their otherwise lively banter on normal trips. We take Barnes Loop as it is so pretty and use my dyneema sling to assist the flowstone climb/slide to rejoin the streamway, leaving it in situ for the return. We find the green glove dropped in the streamway by the lady who had the epic.

Soon we arrive at sump one and I quickly pop through, shine my light from the other side so it defines the size of the sump for the others, and then pop back to show how simple it is. This done, everyone goes through without any ado. Smiles and handshakes on the other side and we discard our hoods and continue downstream, taking in the sights, explaining paragenetic processes and taking a detour up the landing (for later route-finding and also for the joy of sliding back down) before completing the journey to sump 2, via the enjoyable ducks. A quick chat about more caving malarkey and then head back upstream.

An uneventful but enjoyable return to the surface with Gary and Brendan successfully route-finding up and out via the short dry way/Jacobs Ladder. 2 hours 45 minutes of underworld tourism and a gentle bimble in this fab cave.

cap n chris

Well-known member
Kindly guided by Graham who is usually safe behind a beer glass. Thank you, Graham!

Judi, Stephen, Liz, Andy H & me.

Wow! What an impressive hole. Wow! What impressive crystals. Shame they built a city over it.

Tues.25th April. Calf Holes/Browngill
Chris Castle, Ken P., Andy P.
A post-drive easy trip. A slight embarrassment when I led the way along the wrong track, but we were soon there, rigged a rope after waiting for a couple of blokes to emerge. They gave us directions which we all immediately forgot. There was only one wrong turning to take which we did, getting into a low crawl before locating the stream to the left and a fine waterfall which we by-passed to emerge from Browngill Cave. Andy went back through the cave; Ken and I paced ourselves.

Wed. 26th April.
Same people.
A bit of a cock-up owing to being out of practice and inexperience.
We had a look at GG, meeting some geezer who'd just soloed Lateral Shaft!
Rigging was very slow, and the rope on the Fourth Pitch was too short, don't know why, it was 40m long. Ken was going to tie our spare on when I realised the time was getting on and we came out, taking a long time to de-rig. Andy jammed all the bags at the top of the first pitch, making it extra awkward to add to the fun.

Thurs. 27th April.
Ireby Fell Cavern
Same personnel
We took the Traditional route, we wanted to get to Duke Street. Nothing went wrong, easy rigging. We wandered down the hundreds of metres of twisting canyon to Well Pitch, then trusted a bit of tat on Rope Pitch. From here there is a splendid keyhole passage which intersects Duke Street, down which we walked to the sump.

Fri. 28th April
Swinsto Hole
Same again.
The pull-through trip before driving home.
At the entrance I suffered from paranoia that we were at Simpson's, I could'nt remember it at all after about 12 years since I was last there.
Anyway, the First Pitch had a dubious-looking rope rigged, so we could get out again if we did'nt come to the Long Crawl. The Long Crawl could be said to be distinctive, and we definitely crawled along it.
The next short pitch had a decent-looking rope which must have been OK as we all used it and lived to tell the tale. From here we had to rig the pull-throughs, no problems, and the low water made life a bit easier, especially on the ledge on Main Pitch, which I remember as being bloody horrible. We were soon below Slit Pot and the final pitch/cascade to the Final Chamber below the Great Aven. I'd not seen the collapse before, very thought-provoking. We followed the obvious route down the boulders to the right with care and followed a low wet crawl which I suppose was Philosopher's Crawl to the Master Cave and the Valley Entrance Pitch. We were going to chuck a rope over the bridge, or make Andy free-climb it, but in the event we trusted the rope that was there.
On the final section Ken insisted the way was to the right; Andy and I waited until he realised that the Milky Way was the wrong way. Not much water in the duck.

cap n chris

Well-known member
A guided tour ably led by Alan Gray whose knowledge and research on this subject is extremely comprehensive.

The caves are an interconnecting series of what appear to be freestone voids with frequent pillars left which act to separate open spaces, chambers if you will; the rock is friable moist old red sandstone picked out for the glass industry with the spaces subsequently used for storage of a variety of imported products although there is evidence of utilitarian use by the city in the form of sewerage stratigraphy. Although originally dwelt in by a Hermit employed by Lord Berkely in C14th, there are few inscriptions within which predate C18th.

Quite an eerie place and certainly would make an excellent "scare the crap out of people" location for Halloween guided tours and/or conversion into something similar to the London Dungeon!

The caverns were used in the Second World War as an air raid shelter and more recently for filming a variety of underground scenes for TV.

Definitely an explorer's prime bit of real estate literally within the centre of Bristol.

The Badger

Arriving in Bristol at that time in the morning to be flagged down by a lady in hot pants and a chap in a skirt I guess set the tone for the rest of the day.

Having done the formalities Judi made me smile by skipping with glee at the thought of a ‘shopping trip' when I mentioned that I wanted to go to Dragon to meet someone before our trip into Dan yr Ogof.

Tea drunk we set off. On kitting up the question had to be asked, and it fell to me to ask it. “So Brendan do you have a Celtic background or are you an Eddy Izzard fan?” :wink:

On my last CCC trip Mel produced a pair of silicon boobs and taped them on as elbows pads. So why would trip be any different. Here was Judi with her forearms wrapped in compressed foam, Matt ‘fully charged' in his wetsuit, Dani bouncing around the car park and Brendan with his light on his head rather than on his helmet.

We crossed the lakes and the cascades to arrive at our first climb, where I was amazed at the grace in finesse displayed by two of the group – one minute they where there and the next minute they were still there! I wont mention the slope up into Flabagasm Oxbow, needless to say there was much sliding. :)

Each obstacle offered an entertaining few minutes as everyone was left to find their own way on, around, under, down or over.

Matt led us to The Camel and Judi led us out. A motley crew that worked well as a team – thanks guys, I enjoyed the trip!


Holy Cow I nearly forgot the belly dancing with MC Brendan on 'beat box' and Judi's religious pants!!


Thanks for showing us around Geoff. I think i can speak for everyone in
saying what a very enjoyable day we all had. :wink:
OFD 10th May 2006
Chris Castle, Sissel Balomatis, 2 guests.

This was a very easy stroll around the easy parts near Top Entrance. To Big Chamber, through a bit of White Arch Series, deliberately for once, at first anyway. A look at the Gnomes, then down to Salubrious Passage to the Trident and Judge and the easy bits in that area. One of the guests was'nt too confident, so no heroics. It was pleasant to dawdle in the bits usually rushed through. On the way out the cave resounded to Sissel's swearing, who was desperate for a fag. Sad.

cap n chris

Well-known member
Me and Andy H continue to discover big walking sized passages.

Visited the goatyness again this morning (Sat 13th May). Managed to take some quite nice pictures for possible publication....

Taking this pic in the Drainpipe was a bit of a fiddle `cos I had to crawl through with my tripod and bag of bits and then turn around at the end and crawl back along to set up the shot while Andy crawled through; gave him the flash so he could backlight himself and then tried out a few different angles, and picked this one as my favourite. The only thing I forgot was to take the water spray to make the walls damp and more reflective but that might not have helped (possibly gettting over-exposed) since the rock in the drainpipe is so smooth already that it's reflective enough. I'm quite chuffed with this pic and might use it as a cover picture for my noddy book about Goatchurch which I've written, proof read, done all the photos for and have a copy almost ready to go out (including a rough-and-ready survey) all done since the heated thread about the imminent arrival of the Swildon's Hole book - so, there you go; someone said "Why don't you try creating your own book" so I have. It was 120 pages but I've whittled it down to about 60. Just got to find a method of publishing it without it having to cost the earth.

cap n chris

Well-known member
Hey, that's weird! - if you edit a previous post, the "new post" feature of this forum doesn't notice it; therefore, this post (above) which I edited today (13th) remained listed as being entered on the 11th (which it was originally) and didn't list as being a new post for today. Just thought someone might be interested. On second thoughts, I doubt it.

Roger W

Well-known member
Great photos, Cap'n Chris! :D

I could smell the wet limestone!

A big thank you to all you guys for posting this stuff.

It makes me really homesick, though... :?
Wed 24th May 2006. Great Oone's Hole and Long Hole.

Chris Castle, Andy Hebden, Ellie from Bristol (prospective member), plus various Cheddar Caves staff - Kelly from the shop and Marta and Michal from Poland and the Cafe-Bar.

There's not much to say about these two simple caves, but the climb up the steep slope of the Gorge caused great hilarity as the recent rain had made it splendidly slippery.

To the end of Gt. Oones which I know is metres away from the Damocles dig in Goughs, according to my THEORY.

Then to the end of Long Hole, taking in the interesting graffiti along the way. I could not find the supposed Mesolithic engravings near the end; I could'nt remember exactly where Cap'n Chris said they were. Everyone got up to see the moonmilk and roots at the end, with the help of an assissted handline.

The trip down the Gorge slope was rapid, and the rockfall fence came in useful to prevent a too-precipitate arrival in the coach park.
Upper Swildon's
Neil Rigiani & Judi

The plan was to be down by 10:30, this was slightly delayed by breakfast in Salisbury, coffee in Frome, lunch at the Hunters where I was very impressed by the landlady looking at Neil who hadn't been there for a couple of years and then after peering at several rows of mugs hung above her plucked his out at her first attempt.

Well the water was low, very low and I managed the ‘Sparrow' entrance (it's great having a good climber with you who is prepared to stand underneath you to soften the fall, it gives you great confidence). The purpose of the trip was for Neil to learn the upper level, so it was over Jacobs's ladder then first left and left again back to the entrance, then back again but right and right. Next was a bigger circle to the Oxbows. Knowledge is evil sometimes, I sent Neil up the tight one while scooting round the next one to meet him at the end in Butcombe Chamber, no we didn't go up to the top! So then a bit further in, short dry way, back up the long dry way then back down the wet way at the upper level. Then paddling down to the pitch to be horrified to see thin blue string hanging down. This we had spotted earlier on a group of people, 2 first time females and a chap in jeans with one older ‘experienced' guy. I fully expected to hear a ‘call out' when we where changing back at the Wessex. We climbed back out taking in the top of the 40 ft then up the wet way. Neil now thinks he knows it well; I will be testing him at a later date.  :)
Geoff Ballard, Clive Westlake, Alison Moody, Jude & Adrian van de Plank, Neil Rigiani, Judi Durber

Meeting in a pub car park is not a bad beginning to a caving trip. I knew I was in the right place when I saw Geoff doing a half-decent demonstration of a Mel warm-up routine. (He denied it emphatically of course.) The day was scorching hot so getting underground was a relief. As normal it started by having to undo an awkward lock that opens a very small door.

Inside bits that I remember are the straws that are immediately in your face as you go in, lots of crawling, first through the stream then boulder ruckles, dodgy unfixed ladders, an exposed climb (“no we only might need a karabiner said Geoff beforehand when I asked about equipment”) with a fixed chain and a small frayed rope with a few loops. At the top it entailed getting into a squeeze and climbing up out of it. The crawls then turned to solid mud with 2 tram lines to follow before the chamber opened up again and the mud turned to the wet sticky slimy globby stuff that sucked at your wellies swallowing you to your knees. Along the way there where lots of straws and helictites which I oohed and aahhed at but was told “you ain't seen nothing yet” and yes when we got to the HUGE chamber called the Hall of the Mountain King it was spectacular. The roof was a huge hole that had all the edges dripping with flow stone, each riblet being separately defined starting high up in the roof. The ground was just a huge mound of stal and yes, no way could I do justice to it with my attempt at photography.

We then went on through more crawls, dry ‘Velcro' holding mud, flat bedding planes, opening up into high upright walking with walls glistening with crystal and finally the helictite passage. Fabulous, creeping in, 2 at a time, hardly breathing, so as not to do any damage. My camera does not cope with close up work so no, I can't show you any of the spectacular formations. And so off on the long haul back where I made a huge mistake of being near the back and Geoff being Geoff, and ably assisted by Adrian, they recognised an opportunity to play when they saw it. There is only one way out and it entails a large pool of very slimy mud. Needless to say I ended up carrying out a fair bit of it down my neck, in my ear, in my eye, in my hair … well I will remember that trip.

Good company, with lots of anecdotes and history snippets, varied terrain and fantastic formations, thank you all for an enjoyable time.
Little Neath River Cave. Saturday 29th July 2006

Andy Hebden, Robin Gray, Rachel Payne, Andy Pollard, Ken Passant, Chris Castle

It's always pleasant when Robin joins us; it's rare to cave with someone older than me. It was also good to have Rachel with us on her first ChCC trip as a member.

It was raining lightly, but the river was very low. We all took headers into the unlikely-looking Flood Entrance and followed the bends to the duck which was low enough to pass with helmets on.

After Tributary Passage we had a look at Sump 1, then crawled/floated along the 150 metres of the Canal where some of us had great fun throwing large rocks to splash each other, to the disgust of the younger members. Junction Chamber, then the big sandbank on the right where Genesis Gallery starts. As usual we took the wrong crawl at first, then found the right one. We admired the fine straws and other pretties along there and I got to the bitter end. Ken and Andy Pollard had a look at the 3D Maze, but didn't get far.

Back in the Main Stream we followed Bouncing Boulder Hall and on to Sump 2.

Return was via the Flood By-Pass and was incident-free until we got to near the end of Tributary Passage where there was a brief period of flaffing around to find the route, during which Andy P. went on ahead. The rest of us followed, finding the duck had risen slightly, despite the recent dry weather and light rainfall, neccessitating helmet removal. Round the bends to emerge and find - no Andy P! As he owed fuel money Ken and I went back in, puffing our way around the bends and climbed up to bouldery area where we'd last seen him, and there he was! He had paid an unplanned visit to the second entrance of Blaen Nedd Isaf Passage, not, I suspect, the first person to do so. We hurried back, growing paranoid about the rising water to find, of course, the duck exactly the same.

So no harm done, but perhaps a lesson about staying together could be learned?

This was a fine trip along this splendid river cave, much enjoyed by all, even Andy P.
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