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Day trip to Restaurant, Daren Cilau

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CandnPearce:
A little over 4 weeks late..

07/03/2020

Daren day trip to Restaurant at the end of the universe.

Cavers: Dave Lossl , Chris Pearce

Due to Dave’s reluctance to camp we decided to attempt the end as a day trip, after reading the many accounts detailing a day trip to the end as suicide/ reserved for masochists it was with a certain apprehension that we set off to the Chelsea hut. After the usual 20min faff trying to find our way in we went to bed at roughly midnight for a few hours fitful sleep. At the absurd time of 4:30am we woke up for essential food and caffeine. By far the greatest difficulty of the trip was how to carrying the necessary equipment of food, water, cows tails, spare lights, space blanket, description without a bag, so we resorted with some desperation to attempting to shove the stuff into our over suit pockets. Some how I managed it, with the side effect of my chest now half a foot wider, perfect for the vice, Dave on the other hand set off wearing his space blanket as a belt, he had also decided to forgo kneepads… which he would regret later.

Stepping outside, a biting wind and inky blackness greeted us so we hurried up to the entrance grovel, the icy water that welcomed us was far more effective than any caffeine. The long boring slog continued… taking its toll upon my kneepads as 2 were destroyed by the crawl. Once we had extracted ourselves we set off down the comfortable tunnels of Jigsaw passage. Soon the void of Big Chamber Nowhere Near The Entrance arrived with the usual dolls and logbook. Beyond we rambled through the varied crawls and squeezes of Eglwys passage before arriving at the 22m ladder to higher things. From an practical point of view this ladder is excellent- designed so individual sections can be replaced, however it’s our least favourite part of the cave due to it being a strenuous pig to climb as the interlocking pieces mean you have to climb it like an overhang. The remainder of the trip to Hard rock Café(HRC) was an uneventful scramble over boulders through vast passages. Reaching the end of Bonsai the water level looked highish but definitely not flooding, good indications for not drowning in ankle grinder later. The camp itself had obviously had some flood damage judging by the empty daren drums and reduced cocktail bar but already it looked like people had began repair work. A short rest to refuel where Dave was all for going to sleep in the mound of mats he was lying in, after badgering him going again we set off for the next leg of our journey into the bowls of the mountain.

The next passage was Rock Steady Cruise, land of the gods for battered knees as it has lovely soft sand for crawling, which alternates between walking and crawling to a horrific tight right angled bend which is a breeze for anyone of average height, 6foot 3 it is a “memorable experience”. This then leads to prolonged crawling to pop out in a brief bit of standing. In true Daren fashion this lasts about 10m before the turn off to Acupuncture (passing a call the Samaritans sign saying you are not alone, apt considering the 5 hours of pain to get to this point). Acupuncture is the second Daren entrance crawl, it takes about 15mins alternating from flat out to hands and knees on shattered sharp rock with a “flexing” roof of shattered rock which collapsed 7 yrs ago! Just the thing to make you question your life choices. After the monotony ended we popped out in the sandy chamber before the Micron where a welcome break was had, below the Micron we set off up Ankle Grinder Bypass. In contrast to last time the foam on the roof was white and much fresher, a pleasant thought in a passage seemingly designed to ensnare your ankle (hence the name). Mainly stooping it did also contain some jagged crawling, so Dave was definitely regretting having no kneepads, it also went on and on … nearly an hour later we arrived at the duck at the top of Ankle Grinder. It was certainly an intimidating sight, the roof and the walls plastered in foam, oh well at least welsh weather is known for being sunny and dry … after a quick look at the icing on the cake we continued to Restaurant. I was keen to continue further however Dave was lacking surplus energy so we set off to find the Blue Greenies.

The Blue Greenies. Unique. Exquisite. Breath-taking. No single word does them justice, when you see the first patch you are amazed but then there are countless more. Shot through with an astounding colours of blue, purple, green. Bizarre and intricate shapes crafted into a lattice of glistening calcite. Suffice to say they’re without question the finest formations I’ve seen and even managed to make Dave admit they were better then Neverland.

After a few minutes of admiring it was time to set off, back along the never ending trail to the promised heaven of a hot shower. The return through ankle grinder and acupuncture was uneventful, however the return through the bend in Rock Steady Cruise was “character building” . as one the way back every dimension of my body was wrong for the squeeze; too long legs, too wide hips, too long a back. After help from Dave I managed to fight my way through in about 15min, an exhausting struggle with plentiful cramp. I found it far harder than anything I have done in Priddy Green Sink or the Technical Masterpiece . After this slight delay rapid progress to HRC and then the long plod out. There was little conversation as we headed through the tedious passages of Bonsai and Time Machine, both of us having reached a zombie state of exhaustion where walking was the limit of our mental capabilities. By the time we reached the ladder dave was severely slower from exhaustion but we managed to teeter down the ladder, the home straight now!

All to soon we were at the start of the crawl, a few minutes break to prepare ourselves for the ordeal, and then I started off into the crawl. The next hour passed in a haze of bruises, exhaustion and misery before at last the grey light of evening! Bliss at last. A quick jog/ collapse down the hill to the Chelsea hut and the essential hot shower! After I had showered and boiled the kettle half an hour later Dave arrived, a shivering wreck of a human, still after 20min he was ready to set off. Fish in Chips in Abergavenny completed the experience of a lifetime.

All in all a unforgettable trip (though maybe not for the right reasons) that showcases the splendour of Llangattock mountain. A talent of Daren is that it contains such varied passages but by use of distance makes them all drag on for ever. Though the trip to the end remains, maybe a goal for next year as by then the lockdown will have ended and I can book a knee replacement afterwards. Wonder if I am the youngest to do day trip to restaurant at 15?

My trip time; 12.5hrs

Dave 13hrs

Huge:
It's a great trip, not that I've done it for donkey's years! Interesting that you decided to pad yourself out with stuff, rather than take a small bag?

I assume that the 90° bend you mention is the Peace Pipe. It's more of a double 90° bend really, first to the left, then to the right. I'm 6ft and the first time I did it, I was told the best way to get through was to be on your knees, fold your arms across your chest, fall forwards through the middle bit and then bring yours legs through! Seemed to work! I'm sure I found a better way of doing though, one that didn't involve falling onto your face!!

CandnPearce:
if it is Peace pipe that technique is great for getting through on the way in.. on the way back however the passage is too narrow for my hips so I can't bring my legs forward.

maxf:
Sounds like a good trip ! I find going in through that bend fine but harder when heading out.

Chip shop in Brynmwr also very good !

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