ChCC members Brendan, Andy Hebden, Ellie; non-cavers Jo Stallard, Lisa Tozer, Paul Jefferson
This trip had been arranged for Brendan’s colleagues Jo, Lisa and Paul. Jo is a non-caver; Lisa had visited Goatchurch Cavern as a child, and had done the Drainpipe; Paul used to be a caver and had also done the Drainpipe, several years before.
We met at the car park in Burrington Coombe, where several groups were getting ready for the same destination, got into our gear, and hiked off to the cave via the wooden-edged steps. We made slow and cautious progress through the entrance gallery, held back because of the un-caverish footwear of some of the group. We descended the Giant Steps, then the key-hole passage, then the inclined gallery, and then turned left and made our way towards the approach to the Tradesman’s Entrance. As Jo, Lisa and Paul were clearly enjoying themselves, we pressed on down the Pixie Steps, past that confusing bit with no name, and into the Boulder Chamber.
At the far end of the Boulder Chamber, Jo, Lisa and Paul were invited to peer down the climb-out from the Coffin Lid, and as they were happy to return this way, we made ready to descend Jacob’s Ladder, with Andy tying the rope for us. While we queued to go down, Chris Binding arrived leading a group of children, and was heard explaining that cavers give obvious names to paces, such as “Boulder Chamber” where there are lots of boulders. Fortunately, he didn’t have to explain to the little innocents some of the more colourful examples of speleological nomenclature nearby such as “Bloody Tight” and “F***ing Tight”.
In the Water Chamber we moved swiftly to the Drainpipe, which Brendan, Paul and Ellie passed through, with Andy staying behind to keep company with Jo and Lisa, who will give it go another day. There was a puddle about half way along, presumably filled with water carried there in cavers’ wellies.
Back in the Water Chamber, Ellie, Brendan, Lisa and Paul had a look at the little waterfall underneath, then we all went up to the Grotto to admire the formations there, and waited a while to let Rachel and her group of children descend the Coffin Lid. Rachel was having her final assessment for her leader’s certificate, and assessor Andy Sparrow was there looking suitably stern, with genial Sissel to demonstrate his complete impartiality.
We made our way back up the Pixie Steps and turned right for the Tradesman’s Entrance. While Andy went up first to tie on a rope, the non-cavers, emboldened by their experience, followed on right behind him and free-climbed out into the fresh air.
We rounded off the adventure with a pub lunch.
Many thanks to Andy for leading and doing the rope, and to Ellie for being there.
Brendan, you just beat me to it! I was hoping to get the first report of the year in.
We were to be joined by Sissell and
Alice but Sissell reported in sick and Alice decided to go clubbing. She does not know what she missed. I think Chris was a bit disappointed in the lack of female company but I was not prepared to dress up for him.
As I had some new SRT kit to christen I practiced some upping and a bit of downing,plus some changeovers from prusiking to absailing in black cats. Then Chris wanted to go to Lloyd Hall to fit a new bolt somewhere. So after getting our kit off (no the SRT kit) we made our way there. I don't know the names of the places we went through to get there but we passed through the horizontal rift gradually grinding our kneecaps away as we both forgot our pads. Once at Lloyd Hall I then completed my first big absail down and an equally big prusik back up. It was I must admit thrilling but a bit unnerving to say the least! The bolt had already been put in by someone else so no work to do.We sat at the lake putting the world to rights for a little while before making our way back. Chris then decided not to go for a pint. Were you ill Chris? I meanwhile went home dreaming of bigger pitches to go down in the future. A thoroughly enjoyable evening. Thanks Chris.
22nd February 2007 Gough's Cave.
Chris Castle, Steve W., Sissel B.
Another abseil down to Lloyd Hall to show it to Steve and Sis, and to take my rope back. The divers' new platform aids getting on the rope, but you have to take care not to hang yourself with their hauling rope on the way down.
Steve took a long time passing the deviation - I feared for a while he was treating it as a rebelay, but it was all right, just a case of lamp pox - a Headlight of course.
The water was quite high but not up to the platforms. It's always a source of sadisdic fun not to warn novices at SRT to pull as much rope through their jammers as possible prior to swinging off the platform, so that the rope stetch dumps them in the lake, but not today! Total submergence would have been likely!
25th February 2007 Swildons Hole
Chris Castle, Gary A., Brendan H.
A straightforward trip to Sump 1 in quite high water conditions. We met the Warmbac dynasty near the entrance; good to see Dave W. underground. I hav'nt been here on a Sunday for years and had a nostalgic queue at the 20, fortunately with an efficient group ahead of us who were doing the Short Round Trip, so I expect they'll be bailing all this week! Very refreshing ascending the 20.
Andy h, Brendan H, Sam P, Gary A and two of Brendans friends from work.
A good trip taking in all of the usual goatchurch sites. We went in the main entrance and made our way down to Boulder Chamber via the Pixie Steps. On down to water chamber and the Drainpipe with all of the party going through the Drainpipe. We then ambled back and left via the Back door getting back to the cars just in time for the call out.
Late entry from mid Feb.
Andy S and Rachel
There has been some discussion about the proximity of this cave to Rods Pot so we decided to have a look at potential connection sites. Rachel enjoyed the abseil down the pitch - we turned left at the bottom, in the direction of Rods. Things have changed since the last visit - The Wessex diggers have sunk a 5 metre pot in the floor which leads into a crawl. This is followed through a bit of a chamber to an eventual choke. I was very excited by this section of new passage which goes significantly further West than the previous limit. On the return I estimated the distance as accurately as I could to be about 30-40 metres. The fascinating thing was pacing this same distance on the surface brought me to the entrance of Rods. It's not so much a case now of suspecting these caves will link but more of surprise that they don't already link.
Andy S and Rachel
We spent an hour in a very damp and drippy Rods Pot looking for likely digs that might link to the extension in Bath Swallet. The most likely places are at the bottom of the 40 foot pot and at another point off the Main Chamber. For the next trip we will have a party in both caves and see if we can get an oral connection.
A quick visit to this interesting little mine just outside Churchill. I was rather excited as we parked at the ski centre and I thought i was going to be treated to a button lift but Andy was having none of it. He was jumping with enthusiasm to show me some of the local secret army hide outs of WW2. The mine itself is mostly one long shaft with a one cross road along a natural rift. Lots of fun and some pretty cave pearls. We spent another hour on top of the ground doing lots of mini through trips on some of the many attempted mines on the hill. Overall, a nice Sunday trip after a night on the beers.
Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant, Diani Beach, Kenya
Sunday 18th March 2007
Dani + Mark (my other half)
Not sure if this really counts as a caving trip, but we were in a cave (albeit one with an all-weather sliding roof and plumbed in toilets). The trip was uneventful, climbing up and down the stairs was a bit hard going, but other than that a very pleasant trip to a coral sea cave. Food was yummy and made a change from a quick Mars bar and a glug of water, if you're out that way it's not a bad way to spend an evening .
We all arrived promptly at SWCC and we soon gathered at Top Entrance. We divided into two parties, the Sparrow master-plan being for each group to have a survey with a slightly different marked route but never being so far apart that I couldn't nip between them and make sure they were on course! It all worked pretty well and we arrived, only a couple of minutes apart, at The Crossroads. The idea from here was to complete a loop around The Maze, Cross Rift and Selenite Tunnel, one group proceeding clockwise, the other anti-clockwise. Not only did this work, but amazingly enough we met each other exactly half way round. Having completed our circuits, and all having had a good gape at Selenite Tunnel, we met up again at The Crossroads. We rearranged the groups here into those who wanted a simple self-navigated exit back up Salubrious and those seeking a bit more excitement by way of Edwards Shortcut. The only person who did succeed in getting lost was, as if you couldn't guess, me when I confidently encouraged everyone to follow me and learn a shortcut. We emerged from the cave into a raging blizzard and caught up the other party half way back down the hill. Then off to the Copper Beech for refreshments and post-trip analysis.
A grand day out! About 3.5 hours?
Wednesday 28th March
RODS POT – BATH SWALLET ORAL CONNECTION TEST
Andy S, Rachel, Dani, Andy H, Zoe, Brendan and Lisa gather by the UBSS hut in preparation for this eagerly anticipated trip. The air-horns are tested and emit ear-bending honks comparable to an approaching super-tanker. Ear plugs are issued and then Mission Commander Sparrow briefs on the plan: Rachel, Andy and Brendan will descend Bath Swallet by a quick simple abseil of the pitch and be in position, at the end of the cave by zero-hour, 2030hrs. Andy S, Zoe, Dani and Lisa are to descend Rods and be waiting in the Main Chamber to listen for the horn at zero hour. The test will run for half an hour, with a blast every minute, until 2100hrs.
Meanwhile in Bath Swallet….
Barry and Mark, who have driven up and parked by the cave entrances (and missed the briefing), enter the cave with their own rigging kit.
Andy S, Dani, Zoe and Lisa enter Rods Pot and begin to make their way, uneventfully, towards the Main Chamber.
Meanwhile in Bath Swallet….
Rachel and party meet Barry and Mark at the head of the pitch. Some discussion of pitch rigging options follows. Rachel descends by abseil but the others decide to descend the pitch in two sections while lifelined.
Zero hour. The Rods Pot party sit in expectant silence with ears pricked.
Meanwhile in Bath Swallet….
Rachel who has been waiting, alone, at the bottom of the pitch for sometime is finally joined by Brendan and Mark. Andy, who has the air-horn is nowhere in sight. She shouts up directions to Barry and Andy advising them to turn left at the bottom of the pitch and then moves on to the end of the cave.
Silence in Rods Pot. Andy S decides to try listening at various points around the cave and descends to the bottom of ‘The Bear Pit’ but still there is only silence.
Meanwhile in Bath Swallet…
Rachel, Brendan and Mark are at the end of the cave shouting and banging the wall with rocks. Andy H and Barry turn left, as instructed, at the pitch bottom and find themselves confronted with the 5 metre free-climb. They decide that this is too hairy and can’t be the way on. The set off in the other direction.
A hot, sweaty and panting Andy S has now climbed to the bottom of the 40 foot pitch in Rods but nothing can be heard there either.
Meanwhile in Bath Swallet…
Andy H and Barry finally arrive at the end of the cave – at last, with only minutes to go before the 2100hrs deadline.
Andy S thrutches his way up from the bottom of the pitch and, while recovering, takes the last opportunity to listen for the faint sound of an air-horn…
Meanwhile in Bath Swallet….
The party ready themselves by putting in their earplugs and brace themselves for the sonic shockwave. Andy H presses the button….. and the horn emits a pathetic farting hiss. The air cylinder is empty.
Well – you have to laugh, don’t you? If you’re going to have a cock-up it might as well be a good one. So did we learn anything from this debacle? When we were sat in Rods at about 2025hrs we all thought we heard voices. This would relate to the time the other party was on the pitch. A future test (and there will be one soon) should probably focus on other areas in Bath rather than just the bottom. In the meantime we may do a simple survey of the passage from the pitch bottom to the end of Bath Swallet. We should be out playing again next Wednesday if anyone wants to join us.
Chris Castle, Mark W (Anfieldman, whatever that means), Matt B (Wallop - poor ale), Gary A., Barry H.
It has been many years since I was last here. Gary had obtained the key from the landowner the day before so we did not need a Plan B. Just as we were preparing to go a Mendip Woodshavings lorry dramatically blew a tyre by us, causing us to think we were under fire.
Anyway, the trip. We rigged the Entrance extremely badly, then headed on down to do the Dragon Chamber Round Trip. First of all we took the wrong passage to the right, which became very awkward and not as I remembered, so we tried the next one, Sheep's Jaw, as described clearly in the book. Two alternative climbs up led to a rift passage leading nowhere, but a way on across from the climbs led to a squeeze I decided was the wrong way and impassible to me, so we descended with a bit of difficulty and went to Paton Place. A look at Hare Chamber showed only one hare bone left, then up to White Dog Passage and after a bit of flaffing we found Dragon Chamber. Leaving it down dip we attempted to find Sheep's Jaw, immediately arriving at the top of the aforementioned squeeze, fairly easily passed by me after belt removal. The awkward climb down was much easier the second time. Despite it being many years since I was last here it was annoying to forget the route.
Having spent much time sorting that out we headed downstream to Pyramid pot where a bit of rope is rather dangerously looped over a flake near the Pot's edge. It used to be tied further back. It is OK if someone holds it in place with their foot, but the last down and first up had to take their chance.
We carried on, leaving Drunken horse inlet for another day, to the end where many years ago I spent many happy hours digging the end, A Day, with the BEC. I did not pay a nostalgic visit to the end; some of the others had a look but did not go far.
On the return Matt climbed up to Bertie's Paradise for a quick look, then we made our weary way back to have an awkward ascent of the entrance. We must really rig correctly next time.
A very enjoyable, though spun-out trip. It was gratifying to find that apart from forgetting the route, having trouble in squeezes and getting knackered my caving standard has not dropped in the last 30 years!
Ireby Fell Cavern 14th April
Andy S, Rachel, Neil and Judi
It all started off with Rachel and I deciding to have a spontaneous trip to the Dales and then on the day before departure an email from Neil arrived asking if we had any plans for the weekend. Thus it was that the four of us arrived in Ingleton for a Bernies breakfast following a 6.30am departure from Cheddar. It was early afternoon by the time we got ourselves organised and began the trudge towards Ireby Fell Cavern.
Neil and Judi stop for a couply moment while I trudge on remorselessly.
Having arrived at the cave I shot on down to rig the first pitches while Neil got the girls kitted and checked out. There was a delay while this trio decided to explore a dig en-route to the pitches of which we shall never speak again. Eventually we got underway and made steady progress down the entrance pitches.
Neil shows Judi the ropes.
We were pushed for time so declined to descend the Well Pitch, preferring the option of an exit during civilised hours without a mad rush to get to a pub before the 9 pm food cut-off deadline. So a fairly short trip but good SRT practice for the girls.
Swinsto Hole 15th April
A few days earlier I had seen Stuart Marshall who had expressed an interest in joining us for this trip. This, of course, could never happen because every time Stuart attempts to cave with us his car blows up or some other family crisis intervenes. On this occasion, despite setting his alarm clock an hour late and having a jippy tummy he finally manifested himself in Inglesport, only 40 minutes late! Thus it was that the five of us were soon getting changed in Kingsdale.
If you've got it, flaunt it! That's what I say!
It was a hot sweaty trudge in the unseasonably warm weather before we assembled at the entrance of Swinsto.
Note the forbidding vapours rising from the netherworld.
Stuart finally gets underground with ChCC!
I abseiled down the first pitch to discover a lizard marooned on a rock in the middle of the pool. I couldn't see any prospect of it surviving long in the cave so gallantly placed 'Lizzie' the lizard in my undersuit pocket. This required me to develop an entirely new lizard friendly caving technique for the entire trip. The question was would there be a live lizard in my pcket at the end or a squashed one? The consensus of my companions was that Lizzie didn't stand a chance....
Abseiling down the big pitch - a cold and drafty spot as always
Rachel prusiks up to the Roof Tunnel
Following the Roof Tunnel
So we finally squirmed out to daylight and it was time to cautiously peer into the pocket to see if it was full of crushed Lizzie....
Yes! Lizzie emerges intact - the first known reptile to complete the Swinsto through trip!
A happy team after a great trip.
We retired to Inglesport for tea and cakes having thoroughly enjoyed one of the UK's best trips which had taken about three hours. Splendid. Must go north again soon.
Anyone mind if I post a trip report here? Yes? Tough shit.
Wed. 25th April 2007. St Cuthberts Swallet, Long Chamber Series.
Chris Castle, Zoe W., Andy H., Sissel B., Paul B. (guest), Cordell B. (guest).
All went well until we got to the Slabs in Long Chamber. I had arrived at the hole where you climb up from the first Slab to the second when I heard a scream and a grating noise. Looking around I saw Zoe tobogganing toward me on a slab of limestone which had detached when she knelt on it. Adrenaline permitted me to perform a Matrix-like maneuver upwards in the limited space, and the slab+Zoe halted where my feet had been. She was a bit shaken and had hurt her leg, but after a while said she was OK, so after making sure the detached slab was safe, we carried on.
We ascended into Long Chamber Extension, then right up to Straw Chamber, then along pearl Passage as far as the pearls, then down to the head of Fracture Rift. My intention was to find the passage to Upper Long Chamber, which I completely failed to do from either end a few years ago. This time Paul found it, further to the right of the Rift than I thought, but quite obvious. It came out at the top of Upper Long Chamber, and I don't know how I missed that end last time, either.
By now Zoe was having trouble with her leg and we slowed down to help her. She made it out OK, but needed a shove up the Entrance Rift. Medication was taken at the Hunters.
Brendan, Zoe, Robin, Danny, Barry, Ellie led by member of UBSS
A great trip in an urban environment! Changing into my fleecy suit on the edge of the Southmead estate in Bristol is not what I expected when I became a caver. However, once we had given the locals a good laugh over their Stella Artois we headed into the dog walking park on Pen park road for our adventure.
Once our guide from UBSS had finally managed to unlock the fortified entrance we made our descent into this hidden gem of Bristol. A bit wet and muddy to start which soon became forgotten when we saw the crystal formations which lined the entrance passage. After a short bit of caving we arrived at the pitch.
Upon sitting at the top I began to worry after I saw the 3rd ladder being joined and lowered into the abyss like chamber. Ellie was clearly feeling the same and already suffering from a previous nights caving in South Wales once she had bravely followed our leader over the edge she quickly returned unable to face 75 ft of strenuous ladder work. Undeterred the rest of us took the challenge and took it in turns to make the long descent to the lake below. Our leader from UBSS reliably informed us that it was the highest he had ever seen the water which was perplexing as April had just experienced its driest month on record.
Lots of exploring by the men into nooks and crannies before making the epic return journey back up stopping half way to explore the traverse.
Due to the rigging of the pitch and the number of people this short cave lasted a long time and we were out to entertain those enjoying last orders in the pub.
A fantastic trip and a must do for anyone who hasn't experienced the surrealism of caving under a housing estate in Bristol!!!
Chris Castle, Sissel B., Andy Sparrow, Rachel P., Colin (guest).
A straightforward trip to Sump 2.
We took the usual way to Gour Hall, down Everest Passage and Stalagmite Pitch, climbed down the Great Gour and arrived at the Duck, where Andy said he did'nt want to go through the wet bits and would wait or us, the poor old bugger. Sump 1 is not a sump, it was passed in a drought in 1968 and the natural dam beyond broken so it is a 5m long duck. It can be very unpleasant, but was OK today.
The Stalagmite Barrier, the only formation of any size in Cuthberts 2, starts off with another of those bits which have closed up over the years but gave me no trouble today. The pleasant climb down the 10ft Waterfall was followed by a crawl and a climb up and down to Sump 2, where in years gone by I spent many happy hours digging in the pumped-out sump. Now, sadly, many of the bags of spoil have broken, leaving the place in a mess.
We were soon back at the Duck and Andy and exited via Rabbit Warren, Railway Tunnel and Strike Passage. Rachel ran out of steam along the Wire Rift, but made it OK at a slower pace.
This was instead of the advertised trip to Rod's Pot.
leader: Zoe Wilson; other ChCC members: Andy Hebden and Brendan Hanley; guests: Laura Mackenzie, Damon Murfitt and Amanda Clerk.
We met on a fine afternoon at Priddy Green, got kitted up in the Barn, and headed off to the cave via the usual financial transaction at the farmhouse. In fact, it such a fine afternoon that we should probably have been doing something outdoors in the fresh air on the surface instead of cutting ourselves off from the good rays of the sun. Anyhow…
The stream in the entrance was not particularly active, but there was enough water around to make the drop into the first chamber an exciting initiation to caving for two of the guests who had never been caving before (Laura and ?????). We paused to let out eyes adjust from the very bright sunshine outside, then continued via the Long Dry Pretty Way. Any hardened cavers out there who think doing the Upper Series is "caving lite" should cast their minds back to their first ever trip, and get in touch with how that felt, because really, the Long Dry Pretty Way is quite confined: in places the roof is low, necessitating on-the-belly crawling, and there are a couple of awkward turns as well. I thought it was jolly brave of the two who had never been caving before to go through with it.
We got to the Water Chamber, then carried on down the streamway to the Eight Foot waterfall, trying to keep our arses dry as we manoeuvred across the pool of chilly water at the top and contorted ourselves into a safe pose for descent. When it was Laura’s turn to go down I blocked the flow so she could see the handholds and footholds, but she gamely asked me to let the water flow again, and when I did, she was fair shoved in the back by the sudden surge.
At the Forty Foot waterfall we had a good peer over the edge into the abyss. I remembered looking over it on my first trip to Swildon’s and wondering when I would be able to go down and visit the enticing world beyond, and feeling rather in awe of my companions who had already been there, so when Laura asked me, “Have you been down there?”, it felt good to be able to say, “Loads of times!”.
On our way back to the Water Chamber, climbing the Eight Foot waterfall was splashy fun, then we took the Wet Way out. As with the Long Dry Pretty Way, this is a route with proper caving obstacles, including a tricky climb. The Lavatory Pan delivered its usual wonderful flushing sound as each of us went through it, and for me that alone was enough to justify the choice of route.
We returned to the surface wetter and happier then when we went in, and had a good natter about our adventures as we wended out way back to the changing barn.
Thanks to Zoe for leading and for her choice of routes in and out. Congratulations to the two novices on their first trip.
Swildons upper series 20.06.07
Ellie, Andy, Rachel, Dani, Chris C, Chris L, Brendan, Liz, Steve, Frank, and Young Luke. (Apologies if I have missed anybody!!)
Being a large group we decided after much dithering at the entrance, to split into two groups, with myself, Rachel, Liz, Chris L and Luke forming one group going down the long dry way and up the wet way, with the remainder doing to opposite route. Andy would do his usual flitting between the two and popping up in unexpected places. Luke was especially enthusiastic and his enthusiasm was catching. He insisted that the most enjoyable means of travelling through any smallish area was on one's belly in a puddle! From the LDPW we went on down the streamway to the waterfall where we passed pleasantries with the other party who were just coming up. We went and had the obligatory peep over the '20 before heading back up the streamway. Everyone was keen to go up the wet way. Although hardly a roaring torrent there was enough water to make it enjoyable experience. Andy very kindly gave people a shove up the Well where needed (I think that's what it's called - that bit on the wet way where there is a kind of bold step up over a drop). At the top of the wet way at the T-junction we turned right, having a quick look down the top entrance to the oxbow as we passed. I hauled myself up the climb into the entrance chamber and was just directing Liz up the way I had come when Andy pointed out there was a much easier route by going up further left and then across, which everyone else duly followed. We had gone at a leisurely pace and found the rest of the party waiting at the cars impatient to get to the pub. They had apparently had an enjoyable time going down the wet way and exploring the oxbows.