Online Logbook 2008

Chris Lank

New member
Swildon?s Hole ? Oxbows & Lowbow
Saturday 7th June 2008
Chris L (solo)

I decided that it would be a useful exercise to explore the Oxbows & Lowbow ? having previously only visited them in passing.

My odyssey started at the top of the Wet Way, where I took the key-hole shaped link to the top of Upper Oxbow.  From here I entered Butcombe Chamber.  There being no other people around, I took the opportunity to climb up in the ?hanging deaths? and had a good poke around.  I looked really hard but could not find any pints of Butcombe anywhere!  Upon reaching the floor again, I headed out towards Oxbow Junction.

At Oxbow Junction, there were signs of interesting things up high so I climbed up through more ?hanging deaths? but found the way on closed down.  I did see some nice looking fossils (see photo).  After descending, I followed the corrugated pipe down Lower Oxbow.  I didn?t want to be the clumsy so-and-so that broke it, so I only went a short distance to a pinch point before deciding that I was putting the pipe at risk.  (The remainder of the passage can be accessed later from the downstream end.)

Back at Oxbow Junction, I walked a short distance downstream and located Upper Oxbow.  This also contained a pipe but I decided that I could pass through the passage without risking the pipe ? so I did.  Much heaving and grunting later I was back at the top of Upper Oxbow.  I then headed back up the key-hole shaped link to the Wet Way.

After a quick trundle downstream through the Well and the Lavatory Pan, I located the passage to Lower Oxbow/Lowbow.  The climb up to the passage from the Wet Way was technical and quite fun.  Crawling up Lower Oxbow, I completed my exploration of the missing passage and reached the pinch point where my earlier exploration had stopped.  Satisfied, I reversed and went back to the junction with Upper and Lower Lowbow.

I tackled Upper Lowbow first.  This required me to climb upwards into another rather unstable looking area.  There were plenty of signs that mammalian flying critters had spent some time here.  I was rewarded at the top by some unexpected pretties (see photo).  The way on was via a tight passage, which I attempted to take.  I reached a squeeze that annoyingly looked like it opened out into a small rift.  Unfortunately, I could not get my shoulders through the squeeze and being Billy-no-mates, I decided not to risk being stuck there for the rest of my life ? so I retreated.

That left me only Lower Lowbow to explore.  I crawled a short distance up the passage and came to a muddy, rotten-looking puddle.  It contained some crustacean life, so I tried my best to minimise my impact on their puddle.  Just after the puddle, the passage options looked a bit dismal and squalid, so I decided that with my call-out time fast approaching, it was time to get back.

On the way out, I had a cold but exhilarating shower in the Wet Way and got my suit thoroughly cleaned up, ready to get dirty again on my next trip.

Fossils at top of Oxbow Junction:

Pretties at top of Upper Lowbow:


New member
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (OFD) II
Sunday 15th June 2008
Dani & Chris L

After being fleeced for an extortionate breakfast at the services on the way to OFD, we arrived bright and early at the SWCC cottage, finding several people out and about already.  A quick conflab as we picked up the keys to decide on our route for the day ? OFD II and a route finding bimble round some of the upper series.

I?m not sure it?s a good sign for a caving trip if you?re wondering if you?re going the right way on the walk up to the entrance, but, it turned out we were.  I was then a very big brave girl and battled the enormous arachnid at the entrance, without its deathly fangs sinking in to me.  A few moments for our eyes to adjust and we headed on it
towards Chasm Passage, making fairly quick progress towards the Shakehole.  We both had a nose over the edge of the pitch and admired the formations in the passage ahead before retracing our steps down to Salubrious Passage.

Wandering down Salubrious, we deviated to look at the Judge and the Trident and followed this passage along until we got to the head of another pitch.  Parts of the passage were very reminiscent of Selenite Tunnel and again some nice formations ahead of us at the pitch.

Heading back to the Trident, we thought we ought to remind ourselves of the way down to Maypole Inlet and after this was successfully located, we had to do the obligatory trip to Selenite Tunnel.  By this time I was completely parched and in need of a drink, so I made the sherpa stop for refreshments, before I keeled over completely.  Thirst
quenched, we moved on to Shatter Pillar towards Cross Rift and, after a slight navigational issue, on to Moonlight Chamber.  Despite having done this route before, I couldn?t remember any of the usual features and don?t even remember seeing the formations in the chamber before.  I think old age is definitely getting to me, or else I?ve selectively deleted the memory after last time I came here.

Once again we retraced our steps back to Shatter Pillar and made our way to Edward?s Shortcut.  The traverse was fairly quickly negotiated, although note to Chris ? take the bag off your back next time!  More ambling along took us to the climb up, which I, in my vertically challenged state, shot up like a monkey.  Feeling extremely chuffed with myself as I normally take an age and a leg up to climb out of there, we headed back into Gnome Passage.

We still had a bit of time before we were due out of the cave, so we thought we would cross the Big Chamber Near the Entrance and make our way to Cairn Chamber.  Our aim was slightly thwarted by a rather large drop down in the floor.  The getting down wouldn?t have been a problem (and was nearly very quick), but we couldn?t see any decent way to get back up again.  Deciding to leave this to another day, we headed back out into the sunshine.  Having spoken to someone back at the cottage, we should have gone towards the Labyrinth, but hindsight (or insight) is a wonderful thing.

A great trip, very satisfying and I think I have nearly learnt how to navigate my way out of the cave (until next time)!  Thanks to Chris for organising, being routefinder general, chauffeur and Sherpa!

Chris investigating small pool near entrance:

Roof features past Trident and Judge:

Taking a breather:

Crystals in a dried-up pool:

Dani in Selenite Tunnel:

Chris in Edward?s Shortcut:

More crystals in another dried-up pool:

On the way out:


Chris Lank

New member
Swildon?s Hole - Upper Series
Tuesday 17th June 2008
Dani, Emily (Guest), Steve (Guest) and Chris L

The purpose of this trip was to provide an evening?s entertainment to Emily and Steve.  Water levels were so low that we were able to have a good look at some of the various crustaceans living in the streamway, which I admit to not having noticed before.

Our tour of the Upper Series started along the Long Dry Pretty Way.  Upon reaching the Old Grotto we trundled down to Water Chamber, and on to the Old 40? Waterfall.  Emily and Steve made short work of the climb down so we decided to have a look at the head of the 20? Waterfall.

Our return route took us along the Wet Way, where we were able to show Emily and Steve the watery delights of the Lavatory Pan and the Well.

A fun trip was had by all.  Thanks to Sherpa Dani for lugging my bag around all evening.

Taking a breather:

Look into my light:


New member
Bowery Corner Swallet
Wednesday 25th June 2008
Steve P, Sumpy, Tricia, Chris L, Sam and Dani

Is it a cave or is it a drain?  :confused:

I think that pretty much sums up the trip, but for those who want a few more details, after about an hour of trying to find the entrance in the undergrowth (the grid ref in Mendip Underground isn't entirely accurate), Sam finally stumbled upon a promising sounding thud in the floor.  A machete would have been helpful to clear some of the brambles and nettles, but once cleared, we opened up the entrance to reveal the entrance shaft.  Sam headed down first to test out the ladder (the younger ones bounce better  ;)) followed by Tricia and myself with Steve, Chris and Sumpy bringing up the rear.  The initial passageway looked interesting, but this soon developed into a very long muddy crawl (not sure why I volunteered to investigate) which ended up at Jrat's dig, which has now silted up a bit.  Chris and Sam also came to have a look and poke around while Sumpy investigated the other branch (which turned out to be even muddier).  Very shortly after, we decided we'd had enough and crawled back out to the sunshine.

A quick wash in Swildons followed for some, while Steve and Sumpy went to be chased by farmers across a field (whatever floats your boat  ::)) in search of the lost cities of gold (or it might have been Bishop's Lot)

Chris Lank

New member
Lionel?s Hole
Sunday 29th June 2008
Chris L and Sam (Guest)

We decided to again try and find the route through the boulder ruckle from Boulder Chamber towards Junction Chamber.  Despite our best endeavours at route finding in this most pleasant of caves, we always seemed to end up back at the Traverse.

Within the boulder ruckle, I found several unpleasant squeezes that got me quite well jammed ? but fortunately I managed to extricate myself on each occasion.  There are also a number of loose boulders that add to the experience.

As I know the first half of the Round Trip route (from the Traverse to Suicide Rift), the plan for next time is to try and find a way through the boulder ruckle in the reverse direction and thus complete the Round Trip.  Can?t wait!

Chris Lank

New member
Lionel?s Hole ? Round Trip
Saturday 5th July 2008
Chris L (solo)

At last the day had arrived!  I decided to have a crack at the Round Trip in the anti-clockwise direction.  As no one wanted to come out and play with me, I decided that I would have to do it on my own.

I passed through Boulder Chamber and along the Traverse.  From the top of the Traverse I dropped down into stream way.  At this point, I lay down and watched the stream for some time before deciding that it was safe to continue.  There was a lot of percolation water finding its way into the cave and the first duck was deeper and longer than I had previously seen it.

After passing the first duck I got to the nasty second duck.  This was tighter than I remembered it but I successfully got through, although I did get a proper soaking.  Note for the future ? do not let large pointy rocks get rolled into and trapped against the sternum as it hurts!

After much ?fun? crawling along the tight streamway I popped up Bishop?s Bypass and headed for Suicide Rift.  From there I headed back on the second leg of my Round Trip.

After a short trundle, I reached a high rift and climbed up it to investigate the way on into the dreaded boulder area.  Someone had left a usefully positioned handline that gave me a hint that I was on the right track.

After a few wrong turns in the dreaded boulders I found a likely looking way on through some fairly tight squeezes and dropped into Junction Chamber.  It looked extremely familiar to me and indeed it turned out that I had visited it on a previous occasion.

I was now almost certain that I had this route cracked and sure enough, as I slid down the muddy phreatic tube out of Junction Chamber I realised that I knew the way out.  This cheered me up no end as it meant that I would not have to re-trace my steps and exit via the tight streamway and even tighter ducks.

A few minutes later, I reappeared in Boulder Chamber and headed out of the cave with my mission completed.

Sorry there are no pictures but my shockproof and waterproof camera is no longer shockproof, waterproof or functional.

Thanks to Sam P, Martin, and Sam D-K for their previous assistance.

Chris Lank

New member
Aveline?s Hole
Sunday 6th July 2008
Chris L, Chris H (guest) & Oscar (guest)

As we were in the area, we decided to pop into this cave for a quick look around.  There was not much to report.  We admired the fine steel gate and the even finer worm-type markings on the ceiling before walking out and onto our next cave.

Goatchurch Cavern
Sunday 6th July 2008
Chris L, Chris H (guest) & Oscar (guest)

After a pleasant stroll up the valley, we reached the cave.  Our route took us into the Old Entrance, down Giant?s Staircase, along Bloody Tight and into Boulder Chamber.  From here were dropped down into Water Chamber.  We were in no particular hurry, so took our trip at a leisurely pace.

Chris H and Oscar had a good look at the pretty waterfall in the floor.  As I still had some tender bits from yesterday?s efforts, I decided not to squeeze through with them.

Our route out of the cave took us up the Coffin Lid into Boulder Chamber and out via the Tradesmen?s Entrance.


New member
Baredine Cave, Istria, Croatia

Sunday 6th July 2008
Dani + various other tourists

I'm not sure whether this really counts as a caving trip, as it was more of a tourist trundle, but I was underground, albeit for too short a time.  This is one of the few caves of the 1500 in the Istria region open to tourists, so I dragged my friends round as I was getting itchy wellies, not having been caving for a good few days.  The cave itself was pretty much vertical, descent and ascent being made infinitesimally easier by the installation of steps, something that I could definitely get used to.  The cave is decorated by numerous formations and terminates at a pool surrounded by stalactites, stalagmites, straws and curtains.

An added bonus was the sight of a Proteus anguinus, which are native in the caves of this region.

Chatting to the guide (who ran a commentary in Croatian, English, French, German and Russian, impressive) I found out he was a member of the local caving club and was invited to help out at their dig.  Unfortunately, I had to turn this down as we had other plans, but I did find out that digs the world over are quite similar - muddy!

Chris Lank

New member
Lionel?s Hole ? Round Trip
Sunday 20th July 2008
Chris L (solo)

After a short work-related break from caving, I decided to go and practise my new found knowledge of Lionel?s Hole.  This time I undertook the Round Trip in the clockwise direction.  As a special treat I took my new waterproof camera and new oversuit to be wrecked.

I am afraid there was nothing much to report.  Route finding was easy and everything was where I remembered it.

I came across a number of small but interesting looking holes that need further investigation.  As this cave looks a bit like I imagine a Croatian cave would look like then I am going to start looking around for a good compact caver with Croatian experience, who can explore the interesting looking holes for me.  It sounds like a difficult task.

Every time I go through Duck No 2, it seems to get tighter and is harder to pass.  Today was no exception - even though I dug it out before passing through it.  I can only conclude that the hole in the rock is shrinking.  It obviously has nothing to do with my shoulders, chest or backside increasing in girth.

If the photographs make the cave look grotty and horrible then that would be because the cave is grotty and horrible.  Nevertheless, it is good fun.

Letterbox leading to Boulder Chamber:


Sandwich Boulder (the way on is underneath the boulder!):


The way on towards Suicide Rift:


Taking a breather at Suicide Rift:


Duck No 2 in the streamway:


Andy Sparrow

Active member

Andy S, Rachel, Chris C, Nicki (Castle's lodger), Mark, Megan, Barry, Danny B, Tricia, Sam, Neil, Judi, Robin (Rigiani junior), and Tim E.

After an interminable drive Rachel, myself, Chris and Nicki finally arrived at gate of Rowter Farm campsite and proceeded to drive straight past despite the the fact that Neil and Judi were waiting, after a long vigil, headlights shining like beacons to show us the way.  We turned around eventually and finally reached the dark, bleak and boggy field.  When the tent was up we gravitated towards the sound of drunken merriment that drifted across the otherwise silent campsite to find the masses assembled with a dangerously diverse selection of alcoholic beverages.  It was then that the skies opened and a deluge of rain beat down upon the tent and did not abate for several hours.

On Saturday morning we gathered at the Woodbine Cafe in Hope to ruminate over the plan.  Giant's Hole was intended but after the heavy rain this seemed doubtful.  We proceeded to the H&H caving shop for a browse and to pick the resident caver's brain.  'No problem, mate,' he assured, 'you'll be alright down there today.'  Thus it was that we assembled optimistically in the Giant's parking area just in time to meet three soggy returning cavers.  'Don't go down there, mate, it's desperate.  Mind you, Phil Brown at Caving Supplies said it would be.'  Memo to self - go to Caving Supplies in future for local knowledge. 

'We're off to Carlswark', announced Steve, leader of the soggy cavers.  That sounded like a good idea to me.  So we all piled back into the vehicles and off we went to Stoney Middleton where we encountered Steve again.  Steve took us (me, Rach, Castle, Tim and Danny) up to find Eyam Shaft Entrance while the rest of the crew set off to Gin Entrance.

This was my first trip into Carlswark and I suspect it will be my last. It's quite an interesting place, being a complex of phreatic passages, but it's all very stoopy and crawly.  We went off to some climb that led down to a sump and then retraced our steps back to a junction where we met the Gin Entrance party.  It was easy enough to find our way through to the other entrance and we met a couple of novice groups en-route. Not sure, to be honest, if this is a cave that is going turn people on to caving - it wouldn't be my first choice of a novice cave. 

We emerged into what was by then a very pleasant sunny afternoon after less than two hours underground.  It had been quite a fun little through trip even if the cave was a bit uninspiring.  We headed back to Eyam Shaft, said our goodbyes to Steve and his crew and waited for the others to emerge, which they did in due course. 

A quick wash and brush up back at the camp and then off we went, by foot, down to Castleton.  It was a very pleasant walk which only took half an hour and we were soon tucking into the carvery at the Naggs Head.  From here we went on the George and got ourselves a bit tiddly.  The walk back up the Winnats was enlivened by Rachel and Nicki playing hide and seek (a sure sign that Rach is a bit squiffy).  Eventually we got back to the tents for a final night-cap.

Sunday the weather was much improved and we set off again for Giant's Hole.  We were minus Tim (gone to report back to base), Sam (bruised elbow), and Tricia (tempted by showcaves).  We did try to split into two parties by inevitably ended up in one group of 11.  The round trip went very smoothly and was thoroughly enjoyed by all.  Biggest trip so far for Robin (aged 13) and Nicki who both coped with all the diverse obstacles very competently - even the final traverse and descent back to the streamway.  All done and dusted in under 3 hours.  A great trip which was much enjoyed.

All in all a very successful weekend, despite the initially horrible weather.  Did anyone get any photos?

Chris Lank

New member
Hunter?s Lodge Inn Sink
Wednesday 30th July 2008
Barry (Leader), Mark, Martin, Dani and Chris L

Firstly, an apology.  I don?t have a survey for this cave so I don?t know the names of any of the features.

After climbing down the shaft in the car park, we had a quick crawl and descent along the entrance series into a bedding plane chamber.

From here, we took a diversion through a hole in the floor and down a hand-lined rift.  The way on was along a tight phreatic tube.

I got half way along the tube and noticed some earthworms, which I thought was very interesting.  As I got my face nice and tight alongside the earthworms I noticed with some interest that they were in fact Leeches.  My body heat seemed to quite excite them so I carefully reversed back up the tube to escape their attentions.  Upon getting back to my chums I was politely asked to go back and get a photograph.  Although this seemed a little unfair, I thought that in the interests of scientific exploration that I would go back and do my duty.

After taking a photograph or two, I again reversed and this time came face to face with a rather miserable looking little toad.  Not wanting to hog all the fun with the wildlife, I let Dani rescue the toad in her camera container.  Happily the little chap was later safely released back at the surface.

After climbing back up and out of the hole in the floor, we continued our way further into the cave.  We dumped our kit at the head of the main rift and continued onwards in an upwards direction.

A number of attractive crystal pools were passed and shortly afterwards we came across some old reindeer bones.  Many of these bones were calcited, which made them look all the more impressive.  As (pub) time was pressing, we did not proceed to the terminal choke but retreated back to our kit at the main rift.

At the main rift, the double-ladder and lifeline was rigged and we proceeded to climb down the main rift (mostly in a controlled manner).  The rift was over 15m deep and one wall was entirely covered in flowstone.  At the bottom there was a small pool/sump to one side and a low passage to the other side.  A short crawl up the low passage led to a larger pool/sump, which we traversed over to reach dry land on the other side.  As (pub) time was now even more pressing, we decided to commence our exit manoeuvres.  Humping the tackle out of the cave through the upwards trending crawls was found to be a slightly monotonous but great form of exercise.

Verdict - fantastic cave!

Barry crawling in the entrance series:


Strange Troglodyte:


Friendly Wildlife:


Fossilised something:


Crystal Pool:


Ceiling decorations:


Calcited Bone:



New member
Cuevas Negro, Montanejos.
Sunday 3rd August, 2008

My girlfriend mentioned a day out with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and my heart sank. The look on my face said it all, she then mentioned that there might be caves so if I wanted to take my pot I could take a look, if we found any. The journey was complicated by having to back track into Valencia to collect said in-laws.

But after an hour and half we had reached the mountain village of Montanejos, fighting for a parking space we were forced to walk a km in the increasing heat. Passing through a tunnel on route, an interesting hole appeared in which I promptly stuck my head in expressing that indeed it blows. I found myself then spending the next five minutes explaining what I meant by the term 'it blows, it goes'.


We spent most of the day by river, enjoying the sunshine before heading to km back to the car, only to find that my girlfriend had left her headlamps on resulting in a flat battery. After a half an hour debate we decided to push the car down the hill in order to start the car. After running it for half an hour while looking for a new parking place. We followed the well signposted trail to Cuevas Negro. 700m trek uphill, at 4pm in August with some heart stopping moments as we traversed a small gravel landslide, certain death on one side. Then last 100 metres were over very steep  loose material and then the entrance chamber opened up in front of us. Measuring an impressive 26m by 10 with a  cavity 2,200m2. We took a minute to catch our breath before I stuck my pot on and decided to take a look see.

Rock hoping down into the chamber I noted a few possible ways on, glad I had decided to bring my helmet this time. Sadly my flip flops were not that suitable on the loose ground however it was the coldest I've been since arriving in Spain. The notion that I might be able to cave in just a t-shirt and long trousers disappeared. We retreated to do some further research in the hope of finding a survey in the near future.
The entrance chamber.
Rock hoping down.
Feeling the heat on exit. 

After a brief internet search very little information has been found. Turns out that it is an active dig site, the local castellon cavers were attempting to link to a master system with out success. If anybody has any information relating to this cave could they drop me a PM. All in all a good recce was carried out.



New member
Saturday 26th July.

Swildons Shatter Series by Barry Hulatt

A group  of five Cheddar members (Barry Hulatt, Chris Lank, Martin Lee, Mark and Megan Whyte) and one visitor (Pete martin from ISSA) met up.
After some confusion about whether we were going to Shatter Cave or Shatter Series in Swildon's, our party eventually converged on Priddy Green. We made a rapid descent via the short dry way to the mud sump, being the first party in Swildon's that day. Dispensing with baling, we used the commodious two inch airspace to get through the sump and progressed to the top of Shatter Pot. Pete Martin, our visitor, ably rigged the ladder pitch (though someone seemed to have left a ladder in place).  We were hoping to get through to the Damp Link through Shatter passage, but progress was slowed by the ducks being full due to recent rain. We were halted at the Gower Pool duck (or was it a sump?) which despite syphoning didn't seem to get any lower. Due to the cold (yet it was one of the hottest days of the year outside) and the effects of the previous night on two of our group, we decided to turn around. We made it back to Priddy Green in time to recuperate and give thanks for all day opening. The sumps did for most of our best photos, but here are a few.

Barry having fun in St Paul's Series:

Peter enjoying the thrills of the Mud Sump:

Meg descending the ladder at Shatter Pot:

Mark & Meg looking back at a rather dark Shatter Pot:

The Patented Handy Climbing Aid:

Chris Lank

New member
Ogof Draenen (Beyond A Choke Streamway)
Saturday 23rd August 2008
Andy M, Fumie (guest), Dani & Chris L

After a worrying few minutes dealing with the locked gate, we crawled through the gloopy mud puddle at the entrance.  Our route to Cairn Junction took us via the contortions of Spare Rib.  From there we made our way towards Tea Junction via WonderBra Bypass and headed downstream past White Arch Passage and Gilwern Passage.

The remainder of our journey took us along the Beyond a Choke streamway, through the cascades and through a number of chokes.  We eventually passed the Agent Blorenge inlet and carried on towards the Rifleman?s Chamber.  Wading through the deep water was both tiring and chilling, so someway short of Rifleman?s Chamber we made the decision to turnaround and head back.  I estimate that we were probably only halfway towards Rifleman?s Chamber when we turned back.

The return route was uneventful and we were greeted at the surface by a small Bank Holiday Weekend rain shower.  A return trip to Rifleman?s Chamber will be made at some time in the future.

Scaffolded Shaft in Entrance Series:

Andy started to wish that he had laminated the survey and directions:

Fumie passing through WonderBra bypass:

Dani yomping in the Beyond A Choke streamway:

Rhinoceros-shaped feature downstream from Agent Blorenge Inlet:

Chris Lank

New member
Read?s Cavern
Sunday 24th August 2008
Chris H, Tricia & Chris L

We entered the cave along the stream and proceeded in an East direction to the end of the main chamber.  After crawling through a small hole we reached an attractive small grotto containing lots of flowstone.  We had a bit of a crawl/climb and undertook a mini-round trip in the grotto.  From the main chamber we then dropped down an adjacent hole in the floor and explored further through the boulder ruckle.  Having exhausted a number of possible passages/crawls, we returned to the main chamber.

At the West end of the main chamber, we climbed down and into an interesting boulder chamber.  High at one end of the boulder chamber we found a way on and slid down a rock to enter a small low chamber containing some attractive gour pools and other decorations.  On our return to the boulder chamber we had a good look around and were impressed by an area of red ceiling and a collection of crystals inside a Geode.

A fun trip was had by all.

Tricia climbing up in the grotto:

Chris L squeezing through a boulder ruckle:

Chris H admiring the gour pools:

Red Ceiling:

Geode Crystals:

Chris Lank

New member
East Twin Swallet
Wednesday 27th August 2008
Chris H, Martin & Chris L

After quickly popping down to the dig face at the bottom of the main part of the cave we made our way into Spar Pot Series for a good look around.

It was immediately apparent that Spar Pot Series has a completely different nature to the rest of the cave.  The main part of the cave is spacious while Spar Pot Series is a series of relatively tight rifts/joints interlinked with phreatic tubes.  Towards the lower reaches it is also very maze-like and has several closely packed levels.

There are excellent examples of fossil shells and also a couple of honeycomb features that look a bit like coral.

Time was against us so we were unable to explore its full extents but this would be an excellent place to spend a day exploring.

Entrance to cave:

Fossils in Spar Pot Series:

Climbing down a small pitch in Spar Pot Series:

Honeycomb feature in Spar Pot Series:

Continuation of Phreatic Tube towards end of Spar Pot Series:

Chris Lank

New member
Ogof Draenen (Rifleman?s Chamber)
Sunday 31st August 2008
Chris L

Having nothing much to do today; I decided to close-out some unfinished business and visit Rifleman?s Chamber.

The standard route was taken (Entrance Series to Cairn Junction, down Wonderbra Bypass and along the Beyond A Choke streamway).  There was not much to note of interest, with the exception of an unhappy looking mini-Toad sitting on a bank of shingle someway past the Agent Blorenge Inlet.  I popped him into my e+LITE container and carried on.

Rifleman?s Chamber was quite impressive and had some gloopy sinking mud that made a really good attempt at stealing my boots off me.  The chamber is quite out of keeping with the rest of the cave and it will be interesting one day to see what lies beyond.  Toad and I had a quick look around followed by a bite to eat before heading back up the streamway and home.

For future reference, when caving on economy mode it takes 60 minutes to reach Agent Blorenge Inlet and a further 40 minutes to reach Rifleman?s Chamber.

Me in Rifleman?s Chamber:

Shiny Things in Rifleman?s Chamber:

The previous visitor to Rifleman?s Chamber:

Toad enjoys his freedom after the journey of a lifetime:

Chris Lank

New member
East Twin Swallet (Spar Pot Series)
Wednesday 3rd September 2008
Chris H, Barry, Dani & Chris L

After last week?s trip to this cave, we decided to re-visit it and have a really good look at the maze of passages, tubes and rifts towards the bottom of Spar Pot Series.

We had great fun getting ourselves through all manner of tight obstacles.  Again, it was interesting to see how much was happening in such a small area.

There was a good mix of phreatic tubes, small vadose canyons and areas of breakdown (that looked fairly unstable).  We found more good fossils, including some Coral and the more usual shells.

We also came across a small streamway that meandered its way around several of the passages before being swallowed up by the floor.  There was also evidence of a dry streamway that has recently run with a fair bit of water.

Crawling back up a tube:

Fossil Coral (possibly):

A tempting way on:

New Wellies:

Another interesting place:

Andy Sparrow

Active member
Gouffre Berger 
Andy S and Rachel.

Monday 25th August
10.00 am
Rachel and I are walking through the streets of Lans en Vercors musing on which caves, pre-rigged for the speleo-congress, we should do.  "I'm not doing the Berger," I tell her with certainty, "been there, done that, not going back.  It was hard work back in '95 when I was aged a mere 41.  Had my last trip down there.  And besides you've only ever done one biggish SRT pitch and there's over 600 feet of prusiking to get up the entrance series. That's it and all about it, my final word, and there's nothing you can do to make me change my mind.  And don't look at me like that.."
10.30 am
We book to go down the Berger.

Wednesday 27th August
We are booked to enter the cave at 1300 hrs.  We are aiming to reach the Hall of the Thirteen at -500 metres.  We spend the morning packing our bags - food, brew kit, spare sweaters, two lightweight survival bags and one heavy duty double.  We are equipped to bivi if we have to, with adequate food supplies for a long trip.  It is a glorious hot and sunny day as we walk from La Moliere enjoying the vista of Alpine peaks.  The wood is cooler and pleasant and delivers us, after 50 minutes, to the Gouffre Berger.  There is much activity at the entrance as cavers prepare to descend but we change quickly and get ahead of the queue.  The short entrance pitch takes us to the top of Puit Ruiz (27m) where Rachel sinks slowly towards the cluster of carbide lamps warmly illuminating the bottom of the shaft.  We meet a group returning from the bottom who have been on the go for over 24 hours are wearily anticipating their beds.  Shuffling past them we descend the short 'Holiday Slides' to the dark chasm of Cairn Shaft. All the big pitches are double rigged and we are able to descend together the 25 metres or so to the lofty hall below.

Then the Meanders begin, tall and winding with greasy scalloped ridges offering scant footholds as the rift below grows deeper and more sinuous.  The more threatening holes are well protected with traverse lines and we are soon in the solid passage leading to Garby's Shaft (38m).  We abseil together into this echoing void which is as fine a piece of vertical architecture as you will ever see.  More meanders follow to the head of Gontards Shaft, a narrower descent to begin with this time, but soon opening into an elegant oval.  The short relay pitches were easily passed and we found ourselves contemplating a traverse line above the dark gulf of Aldo's.  I took the far rope, reached by an aid traverse and left the easier access option to Rachel.  The still pool and clean rock that make a floor of this shaft testify to the flood waters that can crash down here to make the way impassable.

We emerged into the Great Gallery of the Starless River, a huge passage extending into expanses of drakness.  The water was low and murmured along busily across the floors of creamy moonmilk.  We stopped for lunch beside a large stalagmite and watched a group of cavers approach from the depths like a constellation of tiny stars.  We exchanged our 'bonjours' and continued our journey into a swamp of mud the explanation of which presented itself in the form of the beached inflatable dinghy that indicated we had traversed the bed of Lake Cadoux. 

The Bourgin Hall begins here with a path winding between disordered ranks of enormous stalagmites before emerging into the vastness of the Grand Eboulis - The Great Rubble Heap.  A trail of reflectors led us across this wilderness of chaos and then steeply down and down towards the rushing of distant water.  A 10 metre abseil returned us to the streamway and then two further short descents led us deeper and into another expanding chamber.      From here the path continued downwards until we reached a level terrace strewn with old detritus that has obviously been used as a camp in some time past.  We passed Greg Brock (BEC) and his companion returning from the depths and found ourselves at last looking out into a huge cavity with the natural architecture of a cathedral nave ? The Hall of the Thirteen. 

The path weaves between tall pillars leaning drunkenly to form an elegant portal which admits us to an expanse of huge gour pools.  We thread our way along the narrow rims across the great hall. Then, in the distance, the most renowned group of stalagmites in Europe reveal themselves.  They are finely proportioned, rising as perfect columns to tapering cones that stand several metres tall.  They stand in a cluster on the banks of the largest gourpool, like a forest set in stone. 


Admiring the magnificent Hall of the Thirteen (Salle des Trieze)

We look at the continuing passage wistfully but resist the temptation to continue deeper and our journey back begins.  It?s long slog back up the steep slopes and the boulder strewn ?eboulis?.  Eventually we clip our jammers onto the two ropes at Aldo?s and the real work begins.

One pitch follows another and after ten hours underground we arrive at the base of Cairn Shaft.  From here it?s vertical all the way, about 80 metres in total.  We climb the pitches together, cowstails connected, developing our routine.  I climb until the cowstails are tight, then rest, while Rachel takes her turn to prusik.  Her turn, my turn, her turn, my turn.  You do four, I do four.  She is very tired at the top of the last big pitch but manages her four prusiks and then an awkward rig at the top. 

Finally, after eleven and a half hours, we reach the mild fragrant air of the forest.  We only take a short rest before beginning the long trek, which takes us over an hour and half in our weary state.  I peel off my wetsuit socks (which were not needed in the dry conditions) to discover my feet weeping feet rubbed raw ? a small price to pay for such an incredible trip.

Rachel wants to go back and go deeper but I have said no!  But she can be very persuasive?

Andy Sparrow


New member
Bloody good write-up Andy. Thoroughly enjoyed that.
Can you email me the canyoning photo's so that I can write that up please?