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Online logbook 2011

Our educational trip down Rhino Rift
Thursday 23rd June 11

Andy P, PJ (Paul James), Steve White, Nick (Guest) & Me.​

If you get out of work early enough you can beat the 5 o?clock bulge down the motorway and surprise everyone by arriving early.

It doesn?t matter how early you start organising a trip finding the right number & lengths of rope will thwart your start time.

Just because you have been to the entrance before doesn?t mean it will be in the same place when you go again. (I could have sworn it was directly above Longwood.)

Don?t ignore the arrows on the ground guiding you to the entrance (left by your wonderful leader) thinking there is a scout group in the area.

It might be a big hole you are going to but the entrance will always entail a crawl. (The bit my mind had blanked.)(Due to a picture of the big hole you have to dangle over that is seared on my brain.)

Doesn?t matter how many people you have hunting for spits you won?t find them if you are looking in the wrong place.

The leader might have started rigging an hour before you arrived but he won?t get far without the next bit of rope which is on your back.

You might look fab & cool straddling the rift but my legs are just NOT going to reach.

Don?t re-order the equipment on your harness just before a big trip (without prior trying it out) as jamming one bit against another can happen.

If you need to use up energy & like re-jigging foot jammer & cowstails rig your descenders a long way from the knots.

Chest ascenders like creeping up rope to kiss the knot when you are not looking.

You only find the nice ledges to stand on on the way up having missed them all on the way down.

The route might be shorter & prettier but it won?t be used if there are mid rope knots to get round.

I don?t like hanging off rope in big open spaces (although it is easier to work in the middle of a big open pot than to be bumping against the sides.) even if it is pretty.

You find the spits when de-rigging (there?re obvious, why didn?t we see them before)

Nick takes better (and more (now that takes some doing)) photo?s than me and Andy has endless patience.

Thank you for a great trip  ;)


New member
Star Mine, 27 May

Ed & Hayley W, Neil R, Me, Sparrow spectators

I have left posting this until now due to the extremely fragile nature of the archaeological remnants in the mine. These are normally under water but due to the very dry weather we had prior to the visit, we gambled ? and what a pay-off!

After assembling at the village hall with 2 sets of kit we shambled off to the mine where Ed got busy rigging up. Easy belay but a very bad rub over an edge, sorted with a bit of carpet and a rubber tube.

Once we were all down the main 90? pitch, we trundled along the adit to the second pitch, usually only about 25? until the water level is reached. However today there was no water so I took the lead and abed off into the unknown. Part way down it was noticed a rub had developed so I stopped on a ledge with Ed and Hayley, while Neil got a scaff pipe from the pile at the bottom of the main shaft. I managed to jam this in a hole and create a rebelay to avoid the rub.
Onwards past normally flooded stemples, ladders and (weirdly) past a dive line until I bottomed out in what would normally have been about 25? under water. WOW! Within 10? there was a stack of drill bits, spades, mallets and an old water billy. Carefully passing them (and listening for the others who had got in a bit of a tangle up top, but it was sorted in the end :-\) there was a wheelbarrow, more drill bits and chisels, just left there as if the workers were to start another shift. All the wooden stuff was very spongy and the metal stuff very rusty.

Ed, Hayley and Neil soon sorted out the knitting and joined me. We took a pile of pics then headed in the other direction. More drills, spades and another rotting ladder, then a collapsed section. Carefully pushing through this there were 2 other wheelbarrows, and Neil realised that all 3 had different wheels ? one solid wood, one wood spoked and metal rimmed, and one all metal.

After plenty of pics had been taken the long haul back up started, to find Andy & Rachel at the surface come to have a look (and a romantic hour or two under the stars :-[).

Awesome trip, one of the best Mendip mines. If you go PLEASE PRESERVE the artefacts, they are looking very fragile! (hopefully they will be back under water by now.) Thanks to Ed for the pictures and Ed / Neil for rigging.


Ed W


Twas rigged as in the diagram on the CSCC Page, the rub protection was placed for the "rigger protection" line down to the Y hang.


cap n chris

Well-known member
:) Fairynuff, but it looks from the photos like the line isn't going to a y-hang rigged from the top bracing on the ladder - presumably, then, a y-hang was rigged from the bottom of the ladder which is OK but means you can't use the ladder for its purpose, namely getting on and off the y-hang easily!

Ed W

Indeed, exactly right Mr Chris.  However hanging from the bottom of the ladder means that the rope is hanging free and not rubbing against the rusty ladder uprights. To make it a little easier, I made sure that the loop of rope leading to the Y hang was just the right length to stand on.

As an aside, Burt's memory is getting a little dodgy - it happens at his age you know!  The scaffold bar placed on the second pitch provided a deviation, not a rebelay.  The sling needs to be tied to the lower end of the bar with something like a prussik not to prevent the deviation sliding back across the shaft and putting the rub point back.  25m of rope allowed us to reach the bottom of the shaft, with the stopper not at the end "floating" about 6 inches (150mm) off the floor.

Well worth a visit!


New member
Saturday 2nd July 2011 GB Cave

Martin, Tricia, Bill, Jamie, Bev.

Great trip to GB as usual. This was my first caving trip with CCC several years ago. Nice to lead new members this time in a cave other than Goatchurch! (No novices of course)

We went the normal tourist route around the cave checking out the Bridge and Gallery etc enroute.

As ever we promised ourselves to return with a ladder to explore the cave towards Bat Passage...

Maybe next time.

Many thanks to Chris Castle and Elaine for help with permits and Key.


A few of my recent short trips:
4th July 2011 Gough?s CaveSolo​
Up to Damocles and finally brought out the remaining scaffolding and shotfiring cable ready for the survey.

16th July 2011 Swildons Hole
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis​
What was intended to be some of the Short Round Trip ended up, due to extreme flaffing, became an Upper Series Round Trip, via the Ox-Bow.
The Cave was extremely dry, hot and we were breathless making us suspect that the air was a bit bad.

18th July 2011 Swildons Hole again.
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Rich Hobbs (WCC), his mate John, once a ChCC member.​
A photo trip to Sump 1. What a difference! The recent heavy showers had brought the cave back to life; it was pretty wet. Rich and John dived the sump to photograph each other, but as it looked like a badly-poured pint of Guinness I didn?t bother.

20th July  2011 Brownes? Hole
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Kay Chambers, Neil Turner​
There?s not much to say about the sporting aspects of this small cave, but it?s worth saying that it is a prime example of a cave trashed by cavers. Coronation Chamber is covered in rusting steel mesh and has a heap of rotting stakes, Tommy?s Dig has a rotting wooden railway, and  there is other digging crap everywhere. Once fine stal up the rifts is covered in mud caused by people climbing up in muddy overalls, despite the fact the rifts obviously don?t go anywhere.
We did not attempt the lower series.
On the way we passed Stoke Lane Slocker ? it was completely dry! Odd after the recent rain, I wonder if there?s been a change.
The walk across the wildflower meadow was worth the trip alone.



New member
19th August, Caveclimb emporium SRT rescue playtime

Quite a few of us (about 9) descended on the Sparrow's nest to play with string, abuse each other and have a right laugh. Those of us happy with SRT did some mid rope rescue and double cutaway rescues, which resulted in various folk's legs wrapped around other folk's heads, and landing in heaps on the floor, all clipped together. Those of us new to SRT had a go with the club kit and did some basic but worthy ascending / descending, and learnt a few cunning rope tricks with Italian hitches, alpine clutches and "off the record" abseil techniques.

A very interesting and worthwhile evening; Thanks to Andy & Rachel for hosting and Chris Castle for organising.
Wednesday 17th August 2011.  Swildons Hole
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Bev Ford, Bill Moore, Sam and Trish D-K, Jason  - sorry, Jason, I?ve forgotten your surname!

A standard club trip to Sump 1, messed up a bit by a long traffic jam at the 20 which delayed us. I think I offended the party coming out by declining to use their rig ? I wanted it to become more user-friendly.
The journey to the Sump was without serious incident, but on the way back Bill got left behind and  Nicky went to look for him, went too fast and fell over, sustaining a nasty bruise to her arm. At the 20 some people struggled, but all was OK and this was a useful improving trip. Jason has made a splendid recovery from his back problems; it was good to see him underground again.

Wednesday 24th August 2011.  Little Neath River Cave
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis
The awful weather recently and a heavy shower on the way made us anxious about the water level but the sun came out and the Nedd Afon was low.
I managed to walk past the small entrance in the river bed, but we soon found it and followed the many right angled bends of the entrance crawl to the duck and the junction to the long inlet of Blaen Nedd Isaf Passage, beloved of Andy Pollard. A larger passage with much breakdown, Tributary Passage, came next with an oxbow to pass a low section which emerged almost opposite the stal flow which is the entrance to The Canal By-Pass, our route back. We kept straight on to Sand Chamber on the right which has an emergency dump and telephone for anyone getting sumped in. A bit further in is Sump 1 to Bridge Cave where we saw a fish, a Brown Trout I think.
Back in Sand Chamber we entered The Canal, a wide bedding plane crawl in water 200 metres long with enough headroom to be easy and enough water in parts to give some buoyancy, great fun. This brought us to Main Stream Passage, very large for the most part but with huge blockfall to contend with, and a dodgy-looking section by-passed by a canal. The roof gradually became lower until a flat-out section which easily sumps, but I knew had a high-level by-pass. A big loop right and left until the roof lowered again to meet the very low Sump 2. I crawled in fair way but could not see the actual sump; the dive line has gone.
After a sit-down we headed back taking the small high-level phreatic tube to avoid the low section. The climbs up and down look difficult but aren?t. It was somewhere around here that we saw two fish, the larger being about 12 cms long. They certainly were not trout, being quite ugly with eyes on top of their heads and I remembered seeing them in my youth but had forgotten their name. We later found out from Phil Hendy that they were Millers Thumbs or Bullheads, a threatened species so it was a good job we didn?t eat them.
Back at the start of The Canal we found Junction Chamber, and, after some fluffing, the start of The Canal By-Pass. Initially walking-size it abruptly lowers to a crawl of about 150 metres to emerge in Tributary Passage. We were soon back at the duck which I found much more difficult on the return and had to take my helmet off. Nicky zoomed out to get past the spiders while I got left behind, my shredded oversuit getting snagged.
We should have another club trip here as it is fairly easy and tremendous fun with several side passages to look at which we did not do this time.

Wednesday August 24th 2011.  Bridge Cave
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis
A quick look after LNRC. The entrance crawl of about 50 metres led to a bouldery section, the streamway and the large Main Passage. We did not go to the sump.



New member
August 30th, Shute Shelve cavern

Me, Sam & Trish DK; Bev Ford
Kindly led By Alan Gray from ACG

After a bit of the customary faff waiting for people, then a move of cars to get out of the theft-prone layby, Alan led us up the hill into Rose Wood to the entrance of the caves. There was fascinating miner's remnants here, many old quarries and tumbledown shacks from t'old man's quest for ochre.
Down the entrance crawl past lots of flies and into the mightily impressive main chamber, then down the climb

towards the dig

A brief scramble about with Sam getting all excited about geology stuff, then into the dug passage "Elm St." This contained some nice formation at the top (shown here) and a fab big blue crystal growing on a very old krab (Bev has a photo, I don't)

Back up the climb

to look at a giant geode, which my photography doesn't do justice so it is not here, but Bev found a cute "elephant's head" stal:

and into Pit prop passage, where pletiful fungus was growing on the old woodwork.

Alan was a fountain of knowledge and also kindly removed his boots to pose for a few shots; in doing so he discovered a new pretty part of an existing formation he'd never seen before and pointed it out

Also the big scalloping on the walls

We then exited shute shelve and as it was but a few metres away, popped into carcass cave for a look-see. Photo shows the monorail digging system.

We emerged into darkness and furtled back down the hill, only to surprise a car load of rather confused young ladies who "asked for directions". Make of that what you will......
Sunday 11th September 2011.
Miss Grace's Lane Cave.

Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Trish Denning-Kendall, Dani Gorman

After collecting the key from Jan Karvik's house in Chepstow we all met up at the neaby cave and descended the 100 foot-deep entrance shaft which has a fixed ladder, but we did use a lifeline.

This cave is a splendid complex of large chambers, narrow rifts and much engineering, the lack of formations being more than compensated for by the fascinating phreatic features, notably notches developed in the walls at different levels presumably formed by water table stillstands, as seen in Mulu.

I won't describe the trip in detail, but we did the Dog Chamber Short Round Trip where we saw splendid crystals, then through a series of large chambers, Dome Chamber and beyond, to see the finely-developed Phreatic Causeway and a climb down Phreatic Drop to some small rifts to emerge in Six Way Chamber, which was as far as we went. After a bit of flaffing to find the correct way on we left this area by an easier route and arrived back at the entrance shaft quicker than expected.

Nicky and I want to return soon for a dedicated photo trip: the cave proved to be unexpectedly photogenic. We also want a third trip to see the Canyon Series and the end of the cave

Wed 21st September 2011​
Agen Allwedd

Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Rich Hobbs (WCC).

This was a bit of a balls-up as I seriously misunderestimated the time to do the Inner Circle!
There were one or two minor route-finding errors as I'd not been here for many years, but that hardly excuses us getting only as far as Northwest Junction. We all found the endless climbing up and down slippery boulders very tiresome, but we really should return and do better before I get much older.
Wed 21st September 2011.​
Eglwys Faen

Feeling a bit sheepish (appropiate around here) after Aggy we nipped into Eglwys for a look round, just the big bits.
Thursday 22nd September 2011.​
Ogof Craig-a-Ffynnon

Nicky Dennis, Barry Hulatt, Bill Moore, Pete? (Barry's mate).

This trip went much better.

The finely-decorated first section led to the First Boulder Choke, easily passed with fixed ladders and scaffolding, then the Second Choke which involved an aven climb with much more flaffing than was strictly necessary. After the grovel through the boulders we entered a series of large passages and chambers with much mud in one place, to enter the magnificent Hall of the Mountain King. At the end of this is the Third Choke but just before is a low passage with a squeeze which stopped me last time when I had an injured shoulder, but I heaved my manly torso through this time and we crawled along the rather arduous Hurricane Alley, all 250 metres of it, until things became easy at a high rift passage called Severn Tunnel. At the end of this was Severn Junction where in the abscence of the survey, we took every possible wrong turning but eventually reached the Fourth Boulder Choke. We turned back here but beyond lie some splendid helectites and the long passage the Promised Land.

The journey back was straightforward, except that at the tight squeeze before the Hall of the Mountain King there was a much easier hole on the right!

We intend to return in the winter if it's not wet, armed with a survey of the Severn Junction area and more time.
Rowberry Cavern
Judi D, 15 children and 8 other 'staff' from FSC
25th Oct 11

As part of the caving camp I help with we always have a hike. This time we opted to do Blackdown, across Dolebury Warren to the fort then looping back through Rowberry Warren so that we could look for the cavern.  We had enough children to do a good sweep up the tree and bramble tangled bank, so found the entrance quite quickly.  There is an almost 2 meter high wall of rock that leads you up into the large opening where you are confronted by a big pit.


There has been some digging at the bottom & in the wall at the side. My guess is that it catches the water and drains out the bottom as the debris has collected there. We skimmed round the edge of the hole to two alcoves at the back, one of which had been dug. Someone plunged in keenly (don't know f it was the gloopy red mud or the prospect of finding something) and had to back out as it didn't go far. 


There has been some formations and it seemed odd to see them so exposed and close to the outside, where had the rest of the cavern disappear too?  :-\

Everyone was entertained for a short time and we then carried on up the Beacon in horizontal rain. (It said it was coming in at 4:00 pm and it came in at 4:00 pm HARD.)  I think this one can be said to have been ticked off the A to Z list.

It was thought that it had been read somewhere that an elderly lady (does that sound better than 'old woman') has lived in the cavern for a while but we now cannot find the reference, does anyone have any info please?  :confused:
Thurs 20th Oct. 2011 GB​
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis

A short trip to see some of the side passages where Nicky had not been before, and I had not for many years.
First, up the end of White Passage but not the Extensions; then Rhumber Alley and then down Bertie's Pot. The approach passage was much longer than I remembered, and there was an old dig at the bottom I cannot remember seeing before, but my last visit must have been around 30 years ago! I think I got to the end of the dig but had great difficulty backing out and I felt really rough, bad air I imagine, but not bad enough to feel panicky. Anyway, apparently there is another abandoned dig with a load of crap left.

We exited via Devil's Elbow and I think I was still affected by bad air or something. I had to make a huge effort to climb out of Boulder Chamber and the rest of the route seemed really long.
I think we enjoyed the trip!

Wed 26th Oct 2011 St Cuthbert's Swallet
Chris Castle, Trish Denning-Kendall, Barry Hulatt, Pete Martin (ISSA).

The usual tourist trip to Gour Hall.

It is worth mentioning the serious deposits of mould along Everest Passage, the Rabbit Warren and Gour Hall accompanied by a strong smell of oil. There's little to be done, we just hope it will clean itself up eventually. The source of the oil leak needs to be traced, easier said than done.

Anyway, we got to Gour Hall where Trish had never been before, I thought she had, and we returned via the Railway Tunnel and Strike Passage.


Andrew W

New member
chriscastle46 said:
Thurs 20th Oct. 2011 GB​
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis

A short trip to see some of the side passages where Nicky had not been before, and I had not for many years.
First, up the end of White Passage but not the Extensions; then Rhumber Alley and then down Bertie's Pot. The approach passage was much longer than I remembered, and there was an old dig at the bottom I cannot remember seeing before, but my last visit must have been around 30 years ago! I think I got to the end of the dig but had great difficulty backing out and I felt really rough, bad air I imagine, but not bad enough to feel panicky. Anyway, apparently there is another abandoned dig with a load of crap left.

We exited via Devil's Elbow and I think I was still affected by bad air or something. I had to make a huge effort to climb out of Boulder Chamber and the rest of the route seemed really long.
I think we enjoyed the trip!


The UBSS had a dig in Bertie's Pot about 11 years ago. I was heavily involved in this until late 2000 when I moved away from the area. We had got down several metres and the passage had swung round to the right of a narrow rift into a low crawl. When I left it, bad air was fairly common after disturbing the sediments but was usually ok when we started. The dig continued after I left the area but I think petered out with the foot and mouth scare.

When I left it there was a large boulder in the floor stopping us from enlarging the crawl into usable proportions. I gather that was moved after I left but I don't know how much further they got and haven't been back since.