Online logbook 2013

Friday 25th October 2013 Sludge Pit Hole

Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Emma Blair (Guest).
Emma got down the pitch ladder OK; Nicky and I abseiled.

Down Fault Passage, then left to The Maze where after a traverse we found ourselves (somehow) at the start of Skeleton Passage. Nicky and Emma insisted on going to the end, I didn't. Back to the Maze and the girls went into Four Pots Rift, going around a few bends back to the Maze. I took an easy short-cut and waited but they were ages as Emma had trouble but kept completely calm. We then took a wrong turn in the Maze but eventually found the climb up the boulders to the ladder.
Nicky climbed up the rocks of the pitch, with a lifeline, and said it's very pleasant.

This seems a very short trip to take two hours over, but we did a lot of poking around and there were two women together.

There's still a lot of Sludge Pit to see.


cap n chris

Well-known member
chriscastle46 said:
A bit of a strange thing happened on this trip. The rope access supervisor had lent me 60m of semi-static rope to try, Beal I think, but it's still in the cave. I rigged it a week before the trip and on the night it was very difficult, or impossible for the lighter people, to abseil, as it had swollen.

If it was for rope access chances are it was on the chunky side, say 11mm, or perhaps even 11.5mm? If so then it would hardly be surprising that abseiling for a featherweight would be a bit of a struggle!
You're probably right. A few years ago you would have zoomed down, but now - stuck at the top making silly noises. I know it doesn't have the size on the label. I'll ask Nige for the spec if he has it, not that it matters but it's interesting. 
Wednesday 13th November 13 Old Ham Forest of Dean
Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, John Crowsley, Guest (sorry I didn't get the young lady's name) me, Heather & 10 Forest Boys

Well there was 3 from Cheddar club in one place so it could have been a Cheddar trip.  I don't know where we went so Peter Spayne wrote this for me  ;)

Stop Press... Wednesday 13th November 2013 - Record Breaking Trip in old roman Iron mines set to change the face of renegade caving.

16 hearty souls (and two or three not so hearty ones) met for a fun filled evening in Old Ham last night. Car parking was at a premium as many more than usual attended this mid November gathering. Once inside the cave it was decided to do a counter revolutionary pincer movement on the white cross route. We all slid noiselessly and smoothly through Rabbit Run and gathered at Railway Churn to split into two platoons for the contra rotating assault on the nether regions of the upper levels. 8 went round  clockwise with Greg in the lead, eyes peeled for Slicken Slides and ochre. The other 8 went anti clockwise in a backwards / forwards style sweat inducing route finding exercise past the Great Pillar and into the other end of the White Cross Route.

Some went up the climb, others went down the climb, and we all met again at the junction just before Railway Churn again. On the way out we went through one of the bypasses to Rabbit Run and then out.

The achievement of the night was to get  all 16 hearty souls in the Lamb for a post speleological chin wag.  :clap:

I did think we only had 15 going in and 17 coming out though !!  or was it the other way round?  Didn't see any blue lights this time.


New member
Friday 6th December                      Stoke Lane Slocker

Today Sean and myself decided to explore the joys of Stoke Lane Slocker.... Some apprehension was felt whilst talking about what might lay ahead as the cave does seem to have a bit of a reputation for being dirty and containing a tricky to pass sump.

Some muddy water was flowing down the entrance (nothing to compare this to as i have never been before) so without too much thought we dropped into the hole and slid down to the passages below. We both commented about how nice it actually was, really good looking phreatic passages seem to make up most of the entrance series of this cave.

We took the oxbow bypass route and then continued on crawling and wriggling until we came to the nutmeg grinder.... we both took the route to the side which still does involve quite a bit of contortion as neither of us are small. 

On-wards to the sump !

We reach the little chamber before the duck through to the actual sump, and not sure of the way on so after a bit of survey consultation we end up having a quick look at the muddy chambers in that area before deciding the correct way is to follow the water.

Helmets off we both slid through to the sump chamber, pleased to find a bit of rope guiding us to the right bit.

After a quick shall we/ shan't we we got on with it, an easy dive saw me through first with Sean not far behind.

We continued down following the water and admiring the formations, both boulder chokes were passed with ease. Sump 2 was quickly reached and inspected, it was smelly, muddy and had some bad odours coming off of it... not very inviting for any future dives !

The hand line led us up to the formations near the roof, we had a brief look around before deciding to head back out.

The journey out was uneventful and was quite short compared to the journey in as we knew where we were going.

Overall I thought it was a great little trip especially as we got to sump 2 on our first trips here, i'm sure there are some side passages etc which we missed but that's a good excuse to come back.

Well worth the effort and dirty water !


New member
Sunday 15th October

We had a trip planned to visit Swynne Puke area in Swildons in the afternoon so to kill some time in the morning Pete Hall and myself decided to have a look at some of the caves we both hadn't been in on top of Burrington Combe.

We intended to visit Reads Cavern but got side tracked along the walk up by BOS Swallet, as neither of us had visited it before we thought we would take a quick look. The entrance was fairly well blocked with leaves and sticks and we got the general impression it had not been visited for a while. After clearing the worst of the debris out Pete led the way downwards, we both noticed a strong draught as we got further inside which seemed to me to be breathing inwards for a few seconds before reversing and breathing outwards nice cold fresh air. We got as far as the first pitch head before deciding to head out as we didn't have any gear with us.

As one of the current Cheddar Club digs involves trying to connect Rods pot with Drunkards (and in the future maybe BOS ????) we thought it would be prudent to scrap the visit to Reads and check the other caves to see if they were draughting as well as BOS had been given the weather conditions outside.

We stuck our heads into Drunkards (well just inside the entrance really) but no draught was apparent.

Next up was Rod's Pot, a cave very familiar to us both. We decided to do the Rods - Bath trip and see again if significant draughting could be felt in a cave that has a clear link though to its next door neighbour.

The usual steady draught was felt in the purple pot area of the cave, dis-similar to what had been happening in BOS Swallet.

I had never visited the bottom of the dig in Bath Swallet before so we quickly headed down there to take a look at the impressive enlarging and stone walling that had been done by another digging team. Well worth a visit i think if anybody is doing the through trip as an extra 'excursion'.

With our window for lunch getting smaller we decided to head out of Bath Swallet and fill up on some food in the Burrington Inn ready for the afternoons activities.

Slightly recovered, wet, muddy and full of food we met Steve White on a very foggy, grey, wet Priddy Green for the trip to Swynne Puke, an area of Swildons new to all three of us. It wasn't long before we met the usual Sunday afternoon queue of people waiting at the top of the 20ft pitch, despite the wet weather the previous day and the persistant drizzle throughout the day the water levels seemed pretty normal.

Luckily the group in front of us let us overtake them once we were down the 20ft pitch and we were soon heading up into Tratmans temple away from the noise of the main stream way and into the quiet muddy St Pauls series. We had a quick breather just before shatter pot whilst we identified the least dangerous climb up the wall and into the South East Inlets area.

As we hadn't brought a a survey we were relying on finding the correct route from memory, this gave a good exploration buzz to my trip as although the route is quite simple now i know it at the time we couldn't be sure we were in the right places until we had hit the Sidcot-u-tube as i had this bit of the survey best in my memory.

The Sidcot-u-tube was sumped but not by very much as far as well could tell, some of us were almost tempted to dive through but decided against it  as we had planned the Swynne Puke trip rather than a Renaissance trip.

On heading back to the 42ft rift (and much more confident that we were where we should have been) Steve climbed up Maypole Aven for a quick look around, I followed him up the second climb, through the two puddles but stopped there. Steve went a bit further up into the next chamber bit before deciding to come back though first head first before deciding better of it and reversing the awkward section of passage feet first.

We were fairly certain that this section of passage was the new Swynne Puke round trip route but couldn't be sure so we descended and wormed our way back to the 42ft where luckily we had left our tackle bags.

By now we were getting slightly tired but decided to carry on with what we had set out to do, the Swynne puke pull through.

Not quite sure exactly where i was supposed to be going i started tentatively up the flow stone in the nook of the 42ft rift. After a bit of brute force over style i found myself next to an old climbing anchor tied to a wall and could see where I was supposed to be heading as a handline was hanging down from above.

At this point i thought it prudent to put on my harness and got the others to throw up the end of one of our ropes so they could use it as a hand line once i had secured it at the top.

The hardest bit of the rift was the topping out manourve i thought as i had climbed out wide to try and use the foot holds of the crack which resides there. once i had very ungracefully got out of the rift and into the passage i secured the hand line for the other two to use.

It wasn't long before Pete had reached the awkward topping out manouvre and then joined me in the passage, i was conscious that we were taking longer than we planned with all of our diversions so headed down Swynne Puke passage to rig the 11m pitch to save time.

I cant be sure as i was waiting at the top of the 11m pitch but i'm told Steve made it 41ft up the 42ft rift before deciding enough was enough, descending and agreeing to meet us in Shatter pot.

Pete and myself completed the trip through to Shatter and it was actually a great help having Steve waiting at the new bolts to pull us in from the descent from Swynne Puke to save a descent and re ascent of shatter pot at this stage of the trip.

We hastily packed the gear away, heading out the way we had came in all slightly worse for wear but buzzing from having explored some new bits of Swildons to us all.

We were late to the Cheddar Club meeting that night but we had a good excuse...!



New member
Monday 16th December

Pete Hall and myself had originally planned a trip to Regent Street in Eastwater but the call of what lay beyond the Sidcot-u-tube was too strong to ignore after the previous days trip. Clad in my wetsuit rather than undersuit and oversuit (I don't like being cold) we headed back down the stream way and once again up into Tratmans Temple. I was able to introduce Pete to the best thing about mid week caving.... the lack of other cavers !

Minus our SRT kits and pull through ropes from the day before progress was much faster and easier through the cave and we were soon looking down into the gloomy sump pool of the Sidcot-u-tube.

We agreed that i should dive through first and see what it was like then come back and report on conditions. About a body length dive saw me through and after a quick turn around i popped back through to tell Pete it was basically fine and nothing to worry about.

Our rough plan was to head up through the Stoopes to see the black stal then maybe New Renaisance depending on what the awkward bit over the sump looked like.

Route finding once through the Sidcot-u-tube was straightforward and plenty of flat out wriggling and sliding saw us through the stoopes. After a quick rest we headed back through and located the way to New Rennaisance, a downwards slide to a rift with a pool in the bottom with a passage disappearing over the top.

After a few tentative tries each both feet and head first (as recommended by the books) we decided we didn't fancy it today and were satisfied with heading out via the short round trip to prolong the visit.

We bailed the first trouble a bit and the rest of the ducks were very wide open helmet on jobs, maybe from the weekend short round trippers.

After heading back out we retired to the pub happy with our progress into new areas of the cave to us both

I'm fairly certain New Rennaisance will be calling us back soon !

Friday 27th December 2013. Sludge Pit Hole
Chris Castle, Andy Morgan

Bit of a spur of the moment trip.
The start was not auspicious as my CSCC key would not open the lock. A quick trip to the Belfry solved the problem.
I rigged the pitch properly, that is, using a traverse rope and both bolts of the Y- hang for both the ladder and the lifeline.

Our route was straight down Fault passage and Main Rift to the sump where we met four members of the Devon SS, then back up intending to go into the Maze. I managed to completely miss the obvious turn to the right and got into the start of the Shale series before coming back and taking the correct route, where we met the Devon lot again. We took the narrow rift passage which I'd taken on a previous trip in the opposite direction; it is more difficult going out being uphill. This brought us back to the Shale series where a climb up over a hole brought us back to Fault Passage and the ladder.
For some reason this short cave is very easy to take wrong turnings in which adds to the fun.


New member
Friday 27Th December 2013 Box Freestone Mine. (Southern Area).​

Darren and 4 others.

Little 2.5hr bimble around Box mine with another group to walk off the Xmas Pud.
Entered through backdoor and headed for Cathedral, disappeared through a hole in the back and basically roamed around for 2 hours. Went to lots of places, Tuckers rest, Rems crawl, the old Westgate entrance etc.
Found a quarryman's pencil ;) and exited through Jacks. 


New member
Thursday 2nd January 2014

With a trip planned in the evening to Mangle Hole, Pete Hall and myself decided to visit a few more caves during the day which we were not familiar with. First on the agenda was Lionel's Hole, I had visited before but around 2 years ago and we did the mini version of the round trip in there whilst Pete hadn't been in the cave.

I vaguely remembered where we should be heading once we were down the entrance section but it didn't take long before we resorted to looking at every obvious turning for the 'way on'. There was the sound of running water in most parts of the cave and after a bit of looking around we found a little climb down to a small section of streamway.

If this was the route to the rest of the stream way today was not the day to attempt it as the water was filling up much of the stream passage. After climbing back out of this little pot continued searching around more boulders/ chambers and found another route down to the stream way, again it didn't look like much progress could be made along if this was to be followed today. We again climbed out of this area and decided we should head back the way we came in, about a minute later we had lost the way we had come in so began searching for parts of the cave we recognized.

After a bit of searching we started to recognize areas and Pete had his Lionel's Epithany (i'm still waiting for mine). He traced a route back his way and i traced my route another way to the long narrow rift chamber. Along the way I found another climb down with the loud noise of water emanating from it so quickly climbed down to see what was down there. This was the 3rd bit of stream way we had found and again seemed impassible in today's conditions.

Instead of heading out the way we had come in 'we' felt confident we could close the loop of the mini round trip and head back to the entrance straight from the chamber above our 3rd visit to the stream way. My Lionel's epithany still hadn't arrive at this point so I have to give full credit to Pete for getting us out of the cave.

We left the cave after about 2 hours happy with what we had achieved and vowed to go back soon to see more of this fun maze.

East Twin Swallet was next on the list and as it was on the way back to the cars (mostly) we popped in for a quick visit. The amount of water pooling around the entrance was impressive, as was the first section of the cave climbing down amongst the maelstrom of white water.

The engineering works in this cave are seriously impressive, we were both in awe of the dam building and spoil transport systems in place. We climbed over various dams to the flooded dig at the end, the over head track visibly dispearing into the murk of the sump pool.

Having noted a passage on the way down we climbed back up to it and entered the Spar pot connection, some crawling and wriggling saw us at the point where a rift disapears down and to the right and a climb over some mud continues up into a narrow rift straight ahead (visible as a junction in the new MU survey). I stopped here as I was getting quite hungry at this point, Pete very keenly took his helmet off and pushed on in the rift for a bit further.

We were soon tucking into some hard earned lunch at the Burrington Inn pouring over a copy of Mendip Underground to see where we had been and what we had missed.

After our failed attempt at finding Read's Cavern a few weekends earlier we thought we better have another go. We had gone wrong in thinking Reads was the same side of the fence as the rest of the caves on the top of Burrington. Due to the amount of rain in the last few days there was no missing the stream and the entrance to Reads, a lively torrent was washing into the cave.

We climbed down the wet way and admired the size of the entrance chamber before swinging around to the right and finding the route down through some boulders. The rocks soon became very sharp and we adopted a very slow cautious approach to avoid damaging our oversuits. We were soon down the pitch and wriggling through the wind tunnel which was carrying a small stream. Meeting up with the main torrent of water again I followed it down a passage until it sumped in a little chamber. Quite wet by this point we decided to head out and get a cup of tea before the evening trip to Mangle Hole.

We met Sean & Steph at the Ski centre cafe, Steph sensibly left us to and after a bit more caving chat we headed back down to the car park and met PJ.

I very reluctantly put on wet gear (for the 2nd time of the day) and got ready to go back underground. None of us had visited the cave before and i think we all had the same impression of what to expect....

We had to spread out on the hillside to find the entrance as it was dark by this point. I was elected to rig the ropes through the cave, all of us opting for SRT over ladders.

I wriggled my way through the entrance rift which was full of horrible forest mud/ leafy stuff. I soon found myself on the rock bridge concious that the rope had been rubbing horribly the whole way through the entrance. At this point i was sure i had missed some bolts and the only one i could see was a single bolt along a traverse out over the next pitch/ slope.

Deciding that was the way I was going to head I traversed out to the single bolt, rope still rubbing horribly above me all the way up to the entrance. I rebelayed to this bolt and backed it up with a natural thread to the right of the bolt which seemed better than nothing as if this bolt failed the large amount of slack needed in the rope to reach this point would mean a massive fall for whoever happened to on it at the time.

I carried on down the slope to the next single bolt and rebelayed again concious of the not enough slack vs too much slack argument. One making passing the belay easy, the other meaning a large fall in the event of the single bolt failing.

After landing on the slope down to the next pitch i saw 2 bolts and thought a Y hang at last ! Traversing out to these bolts on the side of the 'Mangle Block' i rigged the last section and headed down to the muddy areas which make up the bottom of the section of the cave.

A small stream was flowing in the direction of the final chamber of the cave and we had a good look around the various muddy boulders in the area. Pj found the climb up which leads to the Aldermaston squeeze, it was quite full of water and mud and had a stream running into it...No one could be temped through today !

We started to exit the cave, Pete valiantly derigging and carrying 85 m of rope back through the entrance rift.

Sat 4th. Jan 2014        Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Chris Castle, Nicky Dennis, Max Fisher, Brendan Hanley,Trish Denning-Kendall, Steve White.

After a rendezvous at Asda, Merthyr Tydfil we went to the almost-deserted SWCC HQ at Penwyllt for a key and entered the cave at about 11.15. The plan was to make our way to Timo's Table and Bhowani Junction but naturally that didn't happen.

To start we had a look at Big Chamber, came out and blundered straight into White Arch Series which I'd done before, though naturally it wasn't my fault.

Once on the right path we took the usual route to Salubrious Passage and headed upstream, but after a while it was decided we were going too slowly and there would not be enough time for the OFD virgins to see the sights so we returned and visited the Trident and Judge, going on a bit, left up Swamp Creek where there is some more fine stal. Then up Selenite Tunnel where I suggested we took the Edward's Shortcut route as some people wanted a bit more of a challenge. This contains an exposed traverse and, near the end, a difficult climb, which Nicky and Max managed and I nearly did, but fell off,grabbing the rope I'd intended not to use which slowed me down and prevented any damage except to my dignity.
Back at the Brickyard it was decided that was enough for one day and we headed out, not before I slipped again, my fall luckily being broken by Trish who gave a girly shriek, not at all like her.

We didn't go far but had a good look around and Max took lots of photos. About 4.5 hours.