Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Mega Mendip!

Team: Andy Freem, Antonia Freem, Tim Lewingdon, Andrea Lewingdon, Brendan Hoare, Chloe Taylor, Collin Hoare, Duncan Hornby, Liz Bristow, Mark Lee, Tenzin Lee, Matthew Jones, Jill Brunsdon, Paul Meredith, Haley Meredith, Phill Thomas, Sanita Lustika, Simon Protheroe, Steve Johnson, Clive Westlake, Claire Vivian

Trip Date: February 9th - 10th 2019

With an astonishing 21 people meeting up on the Mendips there were trips for everyone. For a number in the group, it was their first away trip with the Club and it was great to see their enthusiasm! Most people turned up Friday with others arriving Saturday morning or Sunday for the Wookey Hole experience.

With so many people turning up we had a dilemma on how to assign people to appropriate trips. With some (beer powered) fast thinking on the Friday evening at the Hunters we worked out who should go with who balancing out experience alongside new trips for new people.

Curtain, back lit with lume cube, Upper Flood.


Team SWCC split into 3 teams: a group visiting GB Cave, a team visiting Swildons Hole and the remaining visiting Upper Flood Swallet.

The GB Cave team (6 people) had a dodgy start discovering the key that had been provided to them did not extend to Charthouse caves and they made a mad dash back to the Wessex Club to pick the correct key. With the correct key they entered GB and made it all the way to the ladder dig extension and Bat passage.

The Swildon’s team (4 people) walked to the cave from the Shepton and got as far as the main pitch but were deterred by the volume of water. It had been raining quite heavily the previous day, so a smart move. They took the opportunity to explore the upper reaches of Swildons, sections that people often pass through without a thought as they head for Sump 1.

The Upper Flood team (4 people) were guided by Mike and Mike reaching the famous Neverland and Pork Pies. Due to the high water levels, sections of the trip required laying flat out in 8°C water for what seemed unnecessarily long periods making for a very cold and arduous 5 hours return trip. As always the formations make up for the misery!

The Pork Pies, Upper Flood.
Mike and Claire, admiring the main pure white formations.
Freem Productions were busily filming in Fairy Quarry with local cavers.

Everyone met up early evening for a meal at the Queen Vic then eventually head back to the Shepton hut were Mr P. Meredith showed off his caving skills using the awesome caving table!

New Club members: Steve, Sanita, Chloe and Simon
Paul, squeezing one out...


Sunday was a bit unusual in that the organised caving trips were in Wookey Hole on the Wild Wookey experience. Again with so many members turning up we had to split into a morning and afternoon session. It was very entertaining, introducing people to abseiling, via ferrata, classic caving crawls, a short boat ride and even a zip wire! Whilst the more experienced cavers amongst us would have been familiar to many of these challenges there were members who had not done such things so for them it was blast!

With the trip integrated into the show cave there were classic crawls mixed in with show cave lighting which made for a surreal but entertaining experience.

Welcome to the underworld...
Traversing around a lake.
Andrea beginning her abseil.
Duncan climbing up ‘n’ out from the lake.
Stemple highway!
Formation in the part of the cave that was recently opened up to the public.

Our guides were Chris and Becca who were both professional and very knowledgeable about the cave, so many thanks to them!

Our newer members loved the trip and are now keen to try out SRT in caving as a result of it.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Black Hole's and Bear Pits

Mendips Meet, 17-18 Nov

Team: Bill Buxton, Celestine Crabbe, Andy Freem, Antonia Freem, Duncan Hornby, Stephen Johnson, George Linnane, Sanita Lustika, Phill Thomas, Claire Vivian, Clive Westlake. With Miri and Duncan Simey in support.

This was the last official club away meet of the year and with over 10 members taking part, it was well-attended. It also meant we needed to run caving trips side-by-side as there were too many people for one group. Friday saw the obligatory visit to the Hunters for a quick pint and catch-up.


The team getting ready to enter Swildon's Hole
George showing his love of caving ladders

Saturday saw all members pass through Sump 1 in Swildons. This was particularly exciting for Sanita and Stephen as it was the first time they had come across a free-divable sump. Both passed through with varying degrees of enjoyment.

Sanita and Stephen shortly before Sump 1

From there one party moved on to explore the Black Hole Series and the other went to Sump 2 and an explore of many side passages including Barne's Loop on the return.

The way up to Black Hole Series involved an acrobatic manoeuvre up a climb and then a bold step across, you guessed it, a black hole.

Antonia showing how the climb should be done.
Clive and George at the Black Hole.

Then very soon we were at the Black Hole itself. Clive went first across this and made it look easy. The rest of us were then ably belayed across from both sides by both Clive and Phill. It was an intimidating step, but everyone felt safe on the rope.

The bold step.
We reconvened on the far side of the Black Hole and set about some exploring. There were some lovely formations there. A trip is very much recommended to this area of Swildon's!

Antonia in a well decorated section.

Phill admiring the formations.
As ever, Sump 1 seemed pretty chilly on the way back out. But we made fast progress and exited before sunset. It had been a great energetic trip for all involved.

Trip time: 5 hours.

The team emerging successfully.
It was off to the Queen Vic for food that evening where we caught up with Miri and Duncan.

Enjoying a meal at the Vic.


Once again two different trips evolved today. Trip 1 was a visit to Sandford Levy and trip 2 was a Bath Swallet-Rod's Pot through trip.

The Sandford Levy team.
We explored the dig in Bath Swallet before heading off on the through-trip. The entrance abseil is a nice and friendly one. Apparently it's free-climbable, but I wouldn't fancy doing that. The rest of the trip is fun, sporty in places and muddy. Only downside is it is fairly short - but ideal for a Sunday, especially when you add in extra bits and pieces, such as the Bear Pit.

Duncan climbing out of the Bear Pit in Rod's Pot.
Trip time (Bath to Rod's Pot): 3 hours.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Provisionals'/Beginners' weekend November 2018

This was the biggest Provisionals' Weekend I have been involved with. We had 34 people come caving with us over the course of the two days and over 20 current club members helped out to make sure everyone had a great experience. Some were current SWCC provisional members, others had never been caving before, whilst yet more had some caving experience, but were new to SWCC itself. Well, they couldn't have asked for a better weekend to visit the club! It was a fantastic turnout with a great atmosphere and the age range was from 9 years old up to early 60s. The club was as busy as I have ever seen it, with people filling up the last available bunks on Saturday morning. But we all fitted and had a good time - despite the weather trying to upset matters!

Saturday dawned with the usual running around to get people in to groups and going underground. They all put up with me remarkably well as I ran around like a headless chicken trying to make sure all people had the kit they needed and were in a group suitable for their abilities. There were 9 groups going underground on Saturday (Sorry I missed grabbing a photo of Chris, and Phil's group). We all got underground by 11.30am and there were trips in OFD1, Cwm Dwr and OFD2 that day. Sunday saw slightly fewer people go caving, but we still sent 5 full groups underground.

The Long Common Room on Saturday morning.

 Brendan, Lee, Ciaran, George and Colin about to go in search of the Pom Pom
 Alex, Alex, Andy, Jo, James and Jen ready for Cwm Dwr

Alex, Nick, Sue, Helen, Rita, Celestine and This almost good to go.
 Sally, Malcolm, Fred, Bill, Lewis and Josh

 Edd, Roger, Neil, Pete and Inga

 Antonia, Duncan, Stephen, Mark, Tenzin, Judy

Alex, James, Valentina, John, Ian and Inma 

Claire, Emily, Jane, Emily, Guy and Andy

All groups had a great time underground and came back to the club hut tired, but smiling, and ready for a hot shower. Here are some photos showing what they got up to underground:

Judy, Stephen, Mark, Tenzin at the Trident.

Stephen, Duncan, Judy,  Mark, Tenzin at the Shatter pillar.

 Jane near the Mini Columns

 Bolt Traverse, OFD1- high above the river!

 The team in Bridge Chamber, OFD1

 Chris and Dylan in Pi Chamber

Dylan trying out a crawl in OFD1

When everyone returned to the surface there was loads to do. Andy and Antonia had arranged to show several of their award-winning caving films, including the latest St Cuthbert's film. The room was completely packed! With standing-room only available at the back. Thanks both!

Three of our Junior members -  Ellie, Emily and James - are heading to a Scout jamboree in the USA in 2019. In order to raise funds for this they were selling handmade snowman Christmas ornaments, cakes (with specially designed posters by Thomas and Matthew) and had helped cook a communal curry. Well done all of you!

Ellie with her handmade snowmen

 James, Meghan, Dylan, Emily and Ellie sell cakes in the interval of the caving film showing.
Junior members helping each other out with the cake sale

Despite the awful weather we still managed to have some fireworks and Andy, Dave, Brian and all their helpers wowed us with a 30 minute display. As always - their efforts to keep us entertained, even in dire weather, are greatly appreciated.