Online Logbook 2008

Chris Lank

New member
Rhino Rift
Sunday 14th September 2008
Judy, Rachel & Chris L

Having yesterday attended the 10th Anniversary Birthday Bash for the Cheddar Caving Club, the three of us decided to further celebrate by paying a visit to Rhino Rift.  This would also be an excellent opportunity to hone our SRT skills.

We were fortunate that the pitches had already been rigged by the kind people at Wessex Caving Club (many thanks).

After the usual crawl to the head of the 1st pitch we commenced our descent into the bowels of the earth.  In other words, we started abseiling down.

Progress was good and before long we passed the 2nd pitch and found ourselves at the foot of the 3rd pitch having negotiated a number of deviations and re-belays on the way ? all of which were well rigged and easy to pass.

After the obligatory group photograph at the bottom, we prussiked back up the pitches.  Needless to say we put our Pantin?s to good use.  Again, as the various deviations and re-belays were well rigged, they were easy to pass.

Judy at the bottom of the 1st pitch:

Team photo at the base of the 3rd pitch:

Rachel escapes:

Chris Lank

New member
GB Cave
Sunday 7th September 2008
Barry, Mark, Steve W, Chris H & Chris L

This was just a quick tourist trip to look at some of the pretties in the cave.  We took the Devil?s Elbow route towards the Gorge.  After First Grotto, and at the Upper Grotto, we were fortunate to see some small Helictites.  As we crawled further we passed Devil?s Elbow itself, which was wet but not too wet.

At the Gorge, we passed under the Bridge and then at the Waterfall rigged a handline for our return later.  We then retraced our steps and headed over the Bridge before taking the easy Traverse towards White Passage.  At the Traverse there were larger Helictites, which were duly photographed.

After ascending up White Passage we investigated the West Extension before coming back to Rift Chamber and the Loop.  This led us to the climb down into Main Chamber.  It was then obligatory to have a look at the Terminal Sump just past Ladder Dig, which we did.

After climbing back up the Waterfall, we made our egress via Mud Passage, which it had to be said was lacking a certain amount of mud.

Helictites in Upper Grotto:

Devil?s Elbow:

Helictites at the Traverse:

Small Waterfall at White Passage:

Chris Lank

New member
Hunter?s Hole
Sunday 21st September 2008
Andy P, Mark, Ken & Chris L

Not a lot to report.  Andy P kindly rigged up several routes on Ledge Pitch/Sago Pot/Main Pitch and we practised SRT - happily abseiling down and prussiking up for a couple of hours.

Andy Hebden

New member
Banwell Caves
24th September

A cast of many met at 7 to pay a visit to this interesting site.  First we went to the bone cave.  After taking in the bone stacks of the main chamber we wriggled on down into the Baker extension, taking in the Ruby Chamber and on down into the Galleries with a general poke around all permitted areas.

After the bone cave we took a torch lit walk up to the stalactite cave. We went down, and down, and down into this impressive cave stopping for a photo opportunity at the bishops chair.  With some huffing and puffing we squeezed on into the Great chamber, again the scale was impressive.  A rocky (and loose!) clamber down to the bottom this chamber was followed by another pause for breath before the ascent.

All retired to the Whistling Duck in Banwell (not quite the Hunters)  for a well urned pint.

Photos to follow.

Chris Lank

New member
Banwell Caves (photos)

Drippy stuff in Banwell Bone Cavern:


Knobbly stuff in Banwell Bone Cavern:


General Whitby in the Bishop's Chair, Banwell Stalactite Cavern:


Boulder Slope in Banwell Stalactite Cavern:

An easy-ish trip not far into the cave but a good grovel around. From Big Chamber we took the passage over the Mini Traverses to Ar?te Chamber, then exited on the left to a passage supposedly leading to the Chasm. This seemed correct as there was a traverse over a pool, as described to me by Andy S, then came a bit of an awkward climb up where some needed a rope, followed by a very slippery descent which we thought we would not be able to ascend if we were wrong, so we returned to Ar?te Chamber. Later we found that we were in the right passage, but never mind.


We traversed around the gurt hole in the floor, which at least one member of the party did not like at all, then on down to Salubrious Passage. I know the way here OK, but can never make head or tail out of it on the survey.
After a look at the Trident and Judge it was down the interesting Selenite Tunnel to Shatter Pillar and back via Cross Rift and the step over Maypole Inlet and back up Salubrious and up to the start of Gnome Passage where a spontaneous and temporary reversal of the Earth's magnetic field caused me to go in the wrong direction in a part of the cave I know well, much to my embarrassment.

We left the usual way via the Brickyard, but stopped to take some photos in the Entrance Passage, ignored by many cavers.
I tried to modify the post, but apparently you only get about 5 seconds to do this, not at all clear in the instructions.
It really seems an awful lot of flaffing about to post a report with pictures.
Sorry it is late and out of sequence.

Vercors  22nd August to  30th August 2008

The Scialet du Trisou Friday 21nd August 2008

Cookie (Dave Cooke), Neil Rigiani, Judi Durber, Alan & Will.

Friday morning woke with ice on the tents and a resolve to get some rope practice in before taking to the big rigged caves. This meant finding a cave with a few short pitches & rigging it ourselves. Which of course meant sitting round drinking beer, eating good food, telling stories while looking through the caving guide books.  Then more story telling while the tackle was sorted and bagged. So the 11 o?clock start became a late afternoon start.

We had chosen a cave that was on a single track road that wound itself round the side of the mountain.  The road had been closed while being resurfaced as it was going to be the alternative route for the Bourne Gorge while that was closed. So the debate was would it be open, how far down would we get before being stopped. We figured they would probably not be working overnight and it had to open Monday morning so we thought we should get through. We all pilled into Cookies truck and where probably the first vehicle along the road.  The surface was lovely and new but they had hardly widened it only filling in the edges with hardcore that although rolled looked a tad soft and could easily slip down the side of the mountain.

We parked up and then the hunt was on for the entrance.  There where some wonderful sink holes down through the woods but of course the entrance was where we had stated looking 20 minutes before.

Cookie, followed by Neil did the rigging. The first traverse was more of a hand line down the entrance slope from a tree. Then a scramble climb before going across to the first pitch.  A lovely straight 18 meter pitch but a bit close to the side in places, the rock being scalloped and ridged like a waterfall.  Next we went down into a lovely meander, quite steep in places.  The edges were sharp and the corners almost doubling back on themselves getting tighter and wrigglier.  As time was getting on Alan & Will decided to go back so there wasn?t a wait on the way out.  Cookie & Neil came to the head of the next pitch which was a bit exposed. Neil investigated down under a bit while Cookie traverse round a corner over the top before jamming himself in and deciding which of the spits to use from the wide variety shot into the rock, then when he chose one it wouldn?t work. They were everywhere even where it was completely unnecessary to have one (or several.) This was the longest pitch at 21 meters down to a ledge before the last 6 meters.

Cookie Neil & I got to the bottom wiggled through a slot before dropping down into a small stream-way.  Upstream soon got very narrow but down opened out into a huge tall passageway.  A great cascade of flow stone down one side before you clambered through to another great chamber where the side was black rock. We turned back, Cookie going up first showing me how smooth prusiking can be done. I followed adjusting and fine tuning my kit on the way. I will get a new chest harness, I will get a new chest harness ?
Cookie was on the last pitch when we heard loud bangs.  The chamber did echo but I thought Alan & Will must be banging the bags around a bit to make that much noise.  As Cookie got near the top though he suddenly heard rushing sounds, water, and as he discovered tree debris shot all over him and showered down on me.  What was a dry pitch suddenly turned into a waterfall. After the initial rush not to much thank goodness. I got up ok and went on out while Neil de-rigged.

Outside was a deluge and we quickly got soaked changing.  The loud bangs hadn?t been the bags but lightening almost overhead. With a very steamed up car, some rocks already over the road and running with water it made for an interesting journey home. It had been a fine trip, nice friendly cave & good bit of SRT practice.

The Gournier Sunday 23rd August 2008
Biff (John Biffin), Young Biff (George Biffin aged 4), Cookie, Neil, Judi, Andy Sparrow, Rachael Pane, Meg & Mark Whyte.

The Gournier is at the bottom of the Bourne Gorge (Gorges de la Bourne) next to the Chornache show cave ( 

Cookie, Neil & I had driven down the gorge 2 days earlier by Ian to visit THE ultimate cave supplies shop, Expe.  An empty warehouse with a counter where you have to look at a catalogue and ask for an item before you can stroke, try, purr, argue with all the other cavers there over its merit before buying and then decamping to the town for a relaxed coffee & beer watching the locals jumping into the river below us.

On the Saturday we descended half way down the gorge to see the spectacle of people whizzing across the valley on the world record longest SRT traverse: The "Tyrolienne Pierrot Rias" (TPR) of 1150m long and 250m gradient. Speeds of 70 kph were reached and I was rather concerned as to how they were going to stop. I need not have worried as they came to a gentle halt some way before the end and had to be pulled in to get off. Cookie, Neil & I had climbed up the side of the cliff, teetering along ledges, climbing vines to gain height beating off the eagles circling round. (We sweated up a nice wooded path stopping occasionally to admire the view.)
We were rewarded with the excitement of the people waiting, one guy used gaffer tape to hold a dodgy helmet on his head, and another taped a camera to his helmet.  There weren?t many females doing it. The places had been booked previously but a Russian waited all afternoon and was rewarded with the last place of the day. Yards & yards of rope lay coiled on the floor before it threaded back & forth through, we were told a Petzle stop and several pulleys and I am sure it was finally all just hooked onto a tree. Looking at the rope I lined up the camera to take a photo only to have it dip out of view as the person started across the valley, whooping and disappearing to a tiny dot.

The road down the Bourne Gorge was due to be closed for maintenance (it was slipping into the valley) on the Monday which would mean a very tortuous detour, so Sunday we decided to do the cave instead of trying and get a place on the Tyrolienne.

So several cars drew up in the car park of the Chornache. We spotted other cavers straight away and from the accent found a friendly pair from Yorkshire. A boat is needed for this trip which they didn?t have so we agreed to share.  Being midday it was baking hot and not wanting to strip off and frighten the tourists we carried boat, ropes, wet-suites to the cave entrance only to discover a gaggle of tourists watching several parties of cavers change and cross the lake on a flotilla of boats I?m sure we were the most efficient crossing.

From the climb out of the ?dingy? you where straight onto a 2 meter climb where there was a couple of rungs and a hand line to a shelf that led to a traverse round the edge of the lake.  Half way across the traverse Biff & Biff junior sat waiting for the ?big uns? to teeter along the slack line, round a lovely curtain and then up a slippery slope mumbling nervously. So a great opportunity for a sea shanty, well a little ditty about a pirate ship to try and encourage everyone along. My singing was so bad Biff junior decided to go back so we left them and swung up into the first great chamber. I was so engrossed in the size of the place it took a while to realise that I was in the middle of Gower Pools.  One after the other several meters across. I was treading all round the edge, ahhgg, no. I stopped suddenly looking for the tape. Where was I supposed to tread? Where was the bit that had been sacrificed to save the rest? Nothing, not a sign. There was no obvious damage either. (I didn?t inspect too close) The edges taking our weight and I was told to keep tramping on.  There was so many, you had no choice but keep going round the edges and then we were on into the next section and into the next.  Huge, huge caverns, bolder floors, some small then great big hunks that took some climbing dodging the holes in-between.  Then suddenly a chamber full of Stalagmites.  Not your slim columns or dumpy forms choosing to look like male anatomy but fantastic great big majestic columns, one after the other, glistening white, reaching high over our heads.  Then walls of calcite running from floor to ceiling. 

On we tromped and tromped and tromped. Then, a huge hunk of rock had fallen from the ceiling (well all the boulders had at one time or another) but this one was different, several tongs of calcite had run down the rock to form columns over 2 meters long.  When the rock had broken off it had rolled so the columns where now horizontal, nose height.  Was this the origin of a photo I had seen often displayed in one of the huts? Photo, photo.  Andy got out the camera but as with the stalls they are so huge we did not have enough light to illuminate it all in one go as a tabloid.  So a movie had to be made with direction from Andy, start at my feet, the lights were ran first up me then over the stall. Amazing. On again, through a bolder ruckle, down through holes and eventually into the stream way.

Small, very similar to Upper Long Churn we moved up stream.  We immediately met another group trying to straddle the stream & keep their feet dry, but this is why we were wearing the wet suites. After sweating through all the caverns to get there we could finally cool down. Not a lot of water to start with but it soon got deeper & wider, one pool falling into another, meandering bends and deep, cavities.  The passages where beautiful, pristine with crystal clear water that changed from a milky to royal blue. No mud, no leaf debris, but with quite a strong current, cold and unknown depth in places.  The passage then widened with steep sides with a waterfall dropping into the pool. All along the wall to the top of the fall large steel staples had been inserted like on a via ferrata. The stretch between some was a tad large (I think I only ever saw tall long legged Frenchmen caving) and Meg slipped but was saved by her cows tails. After recovering she decided she had gone far enough & would wait for our return. On we went the next obstacle was a bigger traverse up a wall and round over the next fall. More stream way, more swimming, climbing and then a traverse with just a hand line over an exposed slippery slope.  I called it a day at this point while Rachael, Andy, Mark, Neil & Cookie went on. 

The 2 Yorkshire lads where met returning at this point & as they would be out first agreed to collect Meg and go out with her.  The party was not long before they all returned.  The end had been not far up the passage after more climbing to a final traverse where they had turned back.  So it was back the way we had come.  A bit of a search to agree the point we left the stream (lots of cairns about to show you the way) and lots of walking back to the lake. The traverse round the lake was empty that was until a lone French man came, looked at the ropes, took all the knots out of the hand line & grumbled at me for not having the correct kit.  Apparently they have long slack lines so that they can abseil down using ?stops?. When he got to the lake he just jumped in swam round the edge and stomped off to the car park. I rowed majestically back across the lake.  It was a glorious evening with the blue sky turning pink as the last rays of sun set as we drove back up the gorge. Fantastic.

Tricky Soof to St Glass                  (Fond Du Trou Qui Souffle to Les Saints De Glace) (TQS)
Biff, Cookie, Neil, Judi, Pete Martin, Mark Whyte
Wednesday 27th August 2008

A couple of days before Menacer had regaled her tales of shooting through this cave in 5 hrs and that included going down a 50m pitch they weren?t supposed to do so had to come back up again !! So I was not going to go down there in a hurry, then we bumped into Cookie & Biff who had just booked the trip so Neil, Pete & I decided to try & get in on the same day. 

Wednesday morning dawned with the usual mist clearing to a glorious warm sunny morning.  We made sure we had plenty of sandwiches with us as unlike Andy & Rachael who were getting ready for THE BERGER, we didn?t go for the big cooked breakfast just several mugs of tea. (Big mistake on both parts)
TQS was within walking distance of the camp site so we drove to the entrance. Mark by now had also decided to join us so the party of 6 arrived to see a group before us disappearing down the gap in the tarmac where there is a short railing separating cars from the hole which is on a very sharp bend and was discovered when they where repairing the road.

We bimbled on in, the entrance reminding me of GB entrance, & very quickly coming to our first pitch which was not long & easy enough for the first go at getting on & off ropes.  Another bimble and then we found a few more ropes.  Now I would like to introduce you to our cave guide handed out to everyone who books the trips at the congress.  It is in English at least most of the words are but they have not always put them in the normal order to make a sentence.  So we had ?continues by a gallery slightly declive and drained by a small torrent?.  Small & torrent I don?t think should go together but as I hardly saw any stream-way in this system I did wonder if we were in the right place.  More traversing and some bold steps over deep gaps, we then found another rope or at least Biff, Pete & Neil had and gone down.  Was this the 50m pitch not to go down.  So back to the description, ? This gallery arrives on a very beautiful pit (30m) where is waterfalling the torrent?  or ?follow the banister to avoid the gutter? or ?follow the racking ... on the right ... where the wind is real?. It was windy, but if you followed the track on the right you came to the top of the same pitch.
The 3 boys by this time had all prusiked back up and we had been joined by a group of French cavers also coming up & an English contingent going down who all agreed that this was the correct rope so off down we all went ... again, no torrent to be seen.
So next was ?take a meandric look?, ok so we meandered to the next set of ropes that were a lot more interesting, they had rigged the pitches with pairs of rope.  I went down with only a deviation and Neil was on the other rope with a re-belay. A short traverse, they like slack ropes, then Neil & I race to the bottom of the next pitch before another with a deviation.  Mark traversed down to the deviation but couldn?t quite reach it as he had gone round the wrong side of the hole and had to climb back up to start from the top.

By now my lovely new stop was black as the ropes oozed gunk as you went down them. We had also gained a Frenchman, Giles (although all through the trip I thought we had gained some-one called Jill).  At six foot tall he had asked to join us as there was a squeeze further on and his fellow cavers could not get through or they were going too fast for him. Neil was not quite sure as he can?t speak French & Giles couldn?t speak English. Brill at least we have some-one who knows the way.

We stopped somewhere for a chocolate stop and the boys ALL WENT FOR A PEE. Hang on a minute that?s not fare, I am wrapped up like some bondage babe in a bad cave movie, full kit including chest harness and belay belt. It was going to take me some time to get out of it and if I do have to pee in a cave I want it to be in running water. One cavern ran into the next with no formations that I can remember but several large bolder floors.  We stopped several times to make sure we were together.  Giles had a problem with his light, a ?stinky? throwing out a feeble yellow flicker.  Neil pulled out one of his gadgets and pipes where cut, clips where screwed, containers banged, holes blown ... and it still didn?t work that well.  Another group of Frenchmen stomped on through. We thought we had lost Giles to that group as we were travelling rather slowly, but when we moved on again there he was waiting in the darkness in a chamber where a small water fall created a pool, oh for a pee, but everyone crowded round while Giles used it to clean out his container and pipes again. He carried a huge ruc-sack dedicated to the working of the stinky, but still no significant light.

We then entered a crawl which like all crawls starts with a puddle just to get you nicely damp, this led into a muddy tunnel low enough to ensure you had to belly crawled through, coating you and kit in thick mud. On & on over a sometimes smooth calcite floor, mainly low enough to stop you being on all fours, I was starting to think it could beat DYO?s ?Long Crawl? when we all suddenly stopped. Lying flat out wondering what was going on in front I realised we were at the squeeze. Biff, Giles & Neil seemed to skip through with no problems so I thought it would be a doddle.  Now when people talk of a squeeze you always have previous squeezes in mind.  A cave this size I was expecting something like the ?Cheese Press? in Long Churn not ?Tim?s Tunnel? in Pridhamsleigh.  Pete who was in front of me knew he was not going to get through with all his kit on so shuffle back, harness off, try again. No, so with me tugging, off comes over-suite and even with his furry rucking up over his bum got through. I was well impressed. So my turn AND I GOT STUCK.  It was my harness over my hips, couldn?t be me, I haven?t got a big bum! (wish I had had a pee though) So taking Pete?s example, slowly, slowly, left foot push an inch at a time I was through. Mark & Cookie seemed to have no problems.  So what next ?a small ventilated attic window gives access to ... wide, areal slippery and intersected by pits?.  Well they weren?t wrong. Long slack traverse lines, ?must remember to stay below them?, ?gosh I need to pee?. High over a meandering passage they went on and on and on, I need to pee. No stream & no ledges until it came to a point where I could not concentrate any longer. I think we were enough ahead of the following group to pull this off but at that point I didn?t really care. I had to pee. So Neil performed the ultimate task of unbuckling, de-robing and hanging onto me while I straddled the traverse and peeeeed. Bliss oh bliss. I could enjoy the trip so much better. (Someone told me after the ?heshee? is the thing to carry, so lookout boys, a novice aimer is about!). 

see below I have exceeded the number of words
Continuation of Vercors August 2008 Tricky Soof to St Glass                   

More traverse and more traverse until we get to a bolder strewn floor that should have been ?it end with a spectacular decent?. Mmm can?t remember that. On through large caverns ?sometimes necessary insurance? to Gallery of Marmite? (galerie des marmites) Cookie said it was a minefield of large round water filled holes intersected with gloopy mud. So we back tracked & took the left bypass where the holes where just big & sometimes deep. Lovely scalloped pools in a high passageway. We go on through large caverns, the boys in front are just small lights in the distance and you are left wondering , ?how do you get there?. Eventually a huge space where the precious cargo I have been carrying with lighter is used up by Biff. So we start the ?up? with a simple pitch to start with.  Then a hand line up a dry muddy slope.  At the top 2 dry passages.  We are looking for ?We shall set to the right at the top to find a brook which we are going to go back up?. So we turn right up a dry stream way.  Up & up. I am a bit suspicious as some of the climbs although do-able are not roped and if this is the way on they would have been.  A red & white tape in a passage then another dangling above a climb down to a stream.  I point to the  red & white tape and say to Giles oui or no.  He does not know, neither I discover, does he know the way. He has never been in the cave before.  He is an experienced caver & is part of the Burger de-rigging team but has not been to TQS before.  So Cookie goes off down-stream, Neil traverses over the top, Biff & Giles take a side passage off to the cellars. Cookies & Neil?s passages both  get too tight so they go back to the top of the last hand line and after  sometime, Neil sits down and suddenly discovers a reflective arrow and another and another, they all point to a passage up over his right shoulder.  We regroup and tromp on down a passage with ?real wind? that leads to a narrow meandering dry ?we find the torrent? stream-way with steep climbs. I for one are defiantly flagging at this point, energy sapped and are glad for dry passages.  It opens up into large bolder strewn caverns.  Mark leads up, having to do a re-belay mid air to a shelf.  Biff tries to help me but I almost pull him back down the pitch. The next rope leaves you hanging in mid air and I do an ungainly scramble onto a bolder. There is an ?abundant enlarged meander? with 2 more pitches then ?we get a foothold in a small room in which we find a small gallery giving onto the exit?.  The air changed and leaf debris increased and then we are walking out into warm air under a dark star filled sky.  The night forest almost deafening you with the sound of crickets we followed the narrow path back to the cars 200 METERS AWAY. 11 hours underground and we had only gone 200 meters, would I like to see the survey.  Giles produced a crate of beer, a wonderful end to a good workout on an extended assault course.

Friday 29th Aug  Cookie, Neil & Judi 
High Ropes adventure. 

See the photo?s for the trip report.  Neil was the main camera man until I ducked out on the second red run.

Chris Lank

New member
Swildon?s Hole
Sunday 5th October 2008
Chris L

My plan was to go to the 20? Waterfall and reconnoitre a safe solo route for descending and ascending without using a ladder and lifeline.  Due to the recent rains, the cave was quite wet and the water fair thundered down the waterfall.  I had special fun passing the Wet Way inlet just after Water Chamber.  Visibility was zero and I had to use my backside to feel the way.  If it sounds bizarre then that?s because it was.

I didn?t really achieve too much and was just thinking about heading out when Chris Jewell climbed up the waterfall on his way out.  While he rigged another party?s minimalist equipment (ladder, sans lifeline), significant damage was found on the ladder.  After a quick discussion we decided to charge down towards Mud Sump and Shatter Pot to find the other party and warn them that their ladder was kaput.  They were intercepted at St Paul?s Series.  Job done, we headed out and after a further bit of incidental excitement involving losing the other party?s ladder and a forty-five minute search, we exited the cave.

Special mention should be made of the Old 40? Waterfall, which was especially interesting on the way out due to the heavy water flow.

All in all, my afternoon was quite successful as Chris Jewell kindly took the time to point out the route for free-climbing up the 20? Waterfall.  Thanks Chris.

Chris Lank

New member
Swildon?s Hole
Wednesday 8th October 2008
Danny, Steve B (Guest), Dani & Chris L

Not much to report.  We took a leisurely stroll down to Sump 1 via the Short Dry Way, stopping off to look at Tratman?s Temple.  Water levels were much lower than at the weekend, which made for easy caving.  It was bit chilly changing in the Barn, though so winter must be coming along.

Chris Lank

New member
Ogof Draenen
Saturday 11th October 2008
Tim, Martin & Chris L

After making our way through the Entrance Series to Cairn Junction, we nipped down Wonderbra Bypass and came out under the rock bridge in Beyond a Choke Streamway.  I have never taken the longer route to this location so as an experiment we then walked back up the streamway to Cairn Junction, passing variously over and through a massive breakdown choke.

Back at Cairn Junction we headed left towards the sound of falling water.  We found a small but noisy waterfall inlet dropping into the passage.  Further on there were a couple of very large chokes and the bottom of Big Bang Pitch.  We also passed through a fantastic dried and cracked mud surface that would not have looked out of place on the set off Star Wars.  After a short while, we came upon a streamway entering from the left.  It looked quite interesting so we walked up it for a number of minutes until it got a bit low.  On the way we found some small white insects (a bit like Earwigs) living on a rock.  Unfortunately I had forgotten my camera so there are no photographs!  We turned around and retraced our steps down the streamway.  On returning to the main passage, we turned left and very quickly reached the end of this route.  But it was a fantastic end.  We unexpectedly came upon a tapped off grotto full of pretties.  I remembered that I had forgotten my camera and gave myself a good telling off.

We headed back to Cairn Junction again and onto one more exploration.  After dragging ourselves along Carpet Crawl we came out into White Passage.  I turned right and quickly headed off to Tea Junction at the Beyond a Choke Streamway, just so I was happy that I knew where it was located.  We then made our way up White Arch Passage passing under the fabled Arch (most definitely Brown not White) and eventually into the large Lamb and Fox Chamber.  We located the high-level exit to Indiana Highway before heading back to the surface via Cairn Junction and the Entrance Series.


New member
Waterwheel Swallet 12th October 2008

It was a beautiful sunny day - so we went underground.

Got completely delayed by the traffic diversions, horse boxes and tractors, fog, and fell runners ? it was an expedition just in getting there. It turned out that today was the Mendip cross country run.  As the runners had only just started the race further down in Velvet Bottom it wasn?t so bad we thought.  We were only just able to get into the car park due to the numbers.  100?s had invaded our peaceful excursion.  Where did they come from? Why today? We asked, of course it had nothing to do with bad planning surely?  (But it was!) All hail to them they were as barmy as we are for getting up on a Sunday morning and putting themselves through torturous physical endurance.

Anyway we were here to do our bi-annual adopt a cave Waterwheel Swallet duties. To keep to restrictions we split into one group of 4 and one group of 3.  One group strictly did maintenance whilst the other group ladder and life lined down to the lower regions of the lake.  2 Mars Bar wrappers were found by Chris whilst looking for his newly invented knee pads. These are made from some denim patches sewed to his over suit and shin pads which are inserted between the two pieces of fabric. Unfortunately, due to a slight design flaw (that they float) and because they were open at the top which allowed the knee pads to escape, he found them some way further downstream. Some serious revisions to the design are required before he patents this idea but all hats off to him for trying.  We will also need to get some orange tape to replace a small section which was broken.  Anyway the maintenance team just did some routine checks and nothing of great mention worth noting.

Yvonne our newly adopted caver lass, adopted caving very well and impressing us all with her stead fast gritty determination to do her first ladder and get on with the cold and wet bits.  Big thanks to Chris L for rigging the ladder and life line and Danny for life lining the other team out.

As we exited we had a very serious discussion of the need to pee from the sound of running water. This discussion then turned to the likely hood of unsuspecting walkers/kids/runners thinking it would be a good place to pee down the gap for the lock at the manhole cover and what a surprise it would be to them to have a caver pop out. Or what a surprise it would be for the caver on the receiving end.  We also thought about what if some picnickers decided to set themselves up over the manhole.  We decided it was better to get out quick before this happened. We were lucky this time. 

We got out finding that our cars were parked at the finish line of the race for which the first of the runners were starting to cross. We changed with great difficulty as hundreds of runners came through the car park. We could not put them off with our pale white bodies.  We thought fondly about Chris Castle.  If only he was here to do his special towel trick???. At least then it might make them run the other way!  (Sorry Chris C but it?s not what you do, it?s how you do it)

Anyway thanks to Rachel P and Andy S who could not come caving today due to shop duties for supplying post caving cups of coffee and Danny G for making the most amazing chocolate cake with jam and icing.  It was a truly delicious end to the day.


Tuesday 30th September
Buckner Cave, Indiana, USA

We entered the cave via the large walk-in entrance into a big passage. In the wall of the passage there was a bit of a squeeze to a crawl-way that started as flat-out crawling in a low bedding plane. The roof gradually rose to allow crawling on hands on knees. The length of the crawl-way is about 200m, but easy as the floor is dry, smooth and sandy. However as I was wearing British caving kit ? fleece and cordura oversuit, I was really hot at the end of it. At the end of the crawl there is large passage, and the standard route is a loop through very large passage, with the occasional bit of crawling in between. That wasn?t our route today ? we were going to a less visited part of the cave. This seemed to involve mostly flat-out crawling, and hands and knees crawling. Unlike the entrance crawl this was wet and muddy with cobbles, and it was longer than the entrance crawl. There was a nice formation at the end of the crawl that made it worth it. Formations are rare in Indiana (at least from the caves I have seen), and this cave has been trashed. The local cavers have removed a lot of graffiti from the walls of this cave by sandblasting? before some bits were like the side of a railway line. Recently some people were caught in the act spraying new graffiti. They were successfully prosecuted, and received community service, including helping remove graffiti from the cave. Trip time, including waiting for pictures to be taken: 3.5 hours.
  I went earlier in the day for two and half hours, which I can?t write about online due to access restrictions. I can write it in the paper logbook wherever it is.


Thursday 9th Oct
Arachnid rift

Steve P, Tricia, Martin and Sumpy

After eventually finding the stupidly tight hole in cooks quarry in the dark, we rigged the ladder and Martin volunteered (by everyone else saying they did not want to go first) to descend into the gloom below. Well that's about where the trip finished Martin got in to shoulder depth and found it to tight to continue further. Then after 20 - 30mins of pulling we finally managed to help him out...



Wednesday 15th Oct
Coral Cave

Steve P, Kaz, Tricia, Martin, Dani, Chris L and Sumpy.

We found the cave easily and where surprised to find the lid unlocked! we rigged the ladder and life line and Dani proceeded to climb down into the cave first. At the bottom of the ladders we found a toad which was delighted to be rescued back to the surface where it will now be trying to find somewhere safe and warm to spend winter! Quite a lot of rubbish in there, everything from a bottle of Milk of Magnesia to an old rusted milk churn (notice the theme). From the entrance chamber we climbed up the very muddy slope to a small chamber at the end with the old abandoned dig at the bottom. Not a very big cave but worth the ladder and life line practice.
Toad looking for a new home.
Milk Churn
mmmmm how long shall i stand here???
Thats where they have gone.

Cheers Sumpy

Chris Lank

New member
Swildon?s Hole ? Short Round Trip
Saturday 1st November 2008
Steve P, Martin & Chris L

It was cold getting changed for this trip and by the time we got to the entrance we were even colder.  St Paul?s Series to Mud Sump was relatively hard going, which was due to bad air.  The Mud Sump itself was a bit too high for comfort but we passed through anyway.  On the other side, the air was noticeably better.  The Duck at the 1st of the Double Troubles was also high and it was with some difficulty that we found a way through.  It was not a pleasant experience.  The remaining Ducks were unpleasantly cold but easier to negotiate.  It was with some relief that we made our way down the Landing and headed back up the streamway.  We reached the surface, broke into our Yorkie rations (thanks Steve) and headed back to change into our warm clothes.

Chris Lank

New member
Daren Cilau
Sunday 2nd November 2008
Chris L

This was my first trip to Daren Cilau and all through the car journey I worried that I would not be able to locate the cave entrance.  After changing in the car park I headed off to where I thought the cave entrance might be located, and by good fortune I found it first time.  I took this as a good omen.

The entrance itself looked unfeasibly small and as I wriggled into the opening crawl it looked even worse inside, plus it was miserably wet (which was not very enticing at all).  I pushed on and started my grim 550m crawl pushing my tackle bag along in front of me.  After a short time, I got a rhythm going and stopped noticing the cold water.  Nevertheless, the crawl seemed to go on for absolutely ages.  There were some good technical bits where my own brand of ?brute force and ignorance? caving were of no use at all, and I had to think my way through.  Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime,I emerged into a larger passage.

A quick squint at the survey and I headed off in the direction of The Cascade.  On the way, I came to a large breakdown area.  While picking my through, I disturbed some rocks and they came sliding down on me, pinning my hand beneath.  I realised what was happening and threw my shoulder into the rocks and managed to bring things to a temporary standstill.  After retrieving my hand I rolled away and cleared the area in a bit of a hurry.  Afterwards, a bit more care was employed and I explored the Crystal Pool to the left and the start of Rift Passage to the right.  My chosen way on was straight ahead, behind the square boulder and down another crawl to The Cascade.

After dropping down between the calcited boulders, I emerged in Jigsaw Passage.  A pleasant stroll in and out of a small stream was enjoyed, punctuated only by The Wriggle (a minor squeeze).

Finally, I entered Big Chamber Nowhere Near the Entrance.  My hand was throbbing a bit so I decided to stop and eat lunch before heading back.  Unfortunately, the box containing my sandwiches had leaked water and I had to endure a thoroughly soggy sandwich, which it has to be said, was pretty awful.

Progress on the return route was tracked by counting down the 8 communication boxes along the entrance crawl.  By this time, my knees, elbows and forearms were already mighty sore from entering the cave.  The tackle bag seemed to develop a life of its own and took every opportunity to snag itself on sharp rocks, which got me extremely annoyed and hampered progress.  Eventually, I reached The Vice (another squeeze), near the entrance.  For some reason it seemed to take an age to get me through this obstacle but eventually I dragged my bruised carcass through.

Finally, the No 1 communication box was passed and I knew I was almost out.  As soon as I saw daylight filtering ahead of me, I shot through the last section of crawl like a man possessed and into the beautiful Welsh countryside.  Freedom at last!

I plan to go back and visit some of the pretties in the future, but it may be some time before my bruises heal and I forget just how much this trip hurt.

Typical section of passage in entrance crawl:


No 8 Communication Box at end of entrance crawl:


Helictites in Jigsaw Passage: