Saturday, 12 September 2015

Brown's Caving Tours. Part 2: OFD, 08.09.15

Team: Stewart Avey, Alan, Andrew Baldwin, Adrian Brown, Catrin Budd, Vaughan Budd, Toby Dryden, Paul Tarrant and Claire Vivian.

If you've only ever been a weekend visitor to SWCC, it may come as a bit of a surprise to learn that there is a whole weekday evening caving scene among locals that you are missing out on. But Brown's Caving Tours are expanding. With a team of 8 people we even had to split up in to two groups tonight to make sure everyone had a worthwhile trip. Joining us for the first time and, indeed, their first ever caving trip with SWCC were the ultra keen Stewart and Alan. They had visited Eglwys Faen and Bridge Cave before, but had not had been part of a caving club or visited a large system like OFD. They were in for a treat tonight. Cat, Paul and Claire were to show them some key sights around Top Entrance. And of equal importance was Adrian's trip in to OFD1 where a whistle-stop round trip was completed by Adrian, Andrew and Vaughan. Significantly, this was Vaughan's first visit to Airy Fairy (he enjoyed it and is keen to repeat it).

We had arranged to meet around 6.30pm so that helmets and lights could be sorted out for Stewart and Alan and introductions could be made before heading underground as close to 7pm as could be managed. We arrived to find that our keen new pair were already there and had been welcomed by Toby, who was now showing them the new colour survey in the Long Common Room - if you haven't seen it yet, you've been away too long. At SWCC we are always friendly, so whilst waiting for everyone to turn up Adrian produced 2 packets of Welsh cakes and made tea to make everyone feel comfortable. With everyone chatting away we inevitably ended up starting slightly later than we planned (ending up with 3 trip tickets for 2 trips at one point ... oops!). But getting changed and heading to the various entrances signaled an end to the faffing and both trips were executed without a hitch. Although the Top Entrance group did get a bit too excited at introducing people to OFD and ended up returning to the club 20 minutes later than planned after extending the trip to visit the mini columns on the way out.

Alan, Stewart, Andrew, Paul, Adrian, Vaughan and Catrin ready to go.
The Top Entrance trip began with Claire being unable to remove the key from the lock after opening the gate so, I lied, there was a mild amount of faffing involved as this was extracted. We paused to look at the conservation sign within the entrance and explain about the importance of the orange tape in the cave to Stewart and Alan. A straightforward route had been chosen - Big Chamber, mini-traverses, Arete, Wedding Cake, Salubrious, Trident and Judge, Swamp Creek and back out. Stewart was already impressed at the size of the cave passage before we had even got as far as Big Chamber! Our new pair made swift work of the mini traverses, passing over without hesitation. We arrived at Arete to find virtually no water there, certainly no waterfall. Then we moved on to pop out behind the Wedding Cake.

Cat at the Wedding Cake. Cat & Vaughan were married just over a week ago and their wedding cake looked nothing like this.
This was Cat and Vaughan's wedding cake

And this was Cat & Vaughan at their wedding
Downwards we went as we headed towards Salubrious. Stewart and Alan were still very excited and particularly liked looking at the formations. They were slightly daunted by the Corkscrew at first, but then made it look easy when it was their turn to pass through. 

Stewart, Alan, Claire and Cat look at formations near the Wedding Cake (Photo: Paul Tarrant)

The slightly wider traverse in Salubrious was passed with care as it was the first time Stewart and Alan had come across this type of move, and then it was on to the Trident, Judge and Swamp Creek, plenty more formations to take in and admire. Some of the group were tiring at this point so we stopped and had a chocolate break before continuing back up the slope. Cat led the way back to the entrance via the top of Gnome Passage.

Cat and Alan admire the Swamp Creek formations.
Alan, Cat, Claire and Stewart in Salubrious (Photo: Paul Tarrant)
With the time approaching 9.50pm by the time we had returned to the Brickyard and, with everyone still enjoying the trip, a decision was made to make a brief detour to the Mini Columns. We went in via the dry way and squeeze (if you are bigger than me) and came back the same way. We were slightly later than we had planned to be when we exited the cave and arrived back at the hut at 10.25pm having spent just over 2.5 hours underground. The other group was already back and changed after completing the Round Trip in OFD1 quickly. At the end of the trip Stewart told us to keep him informed of any trips because November (i.e. the Provisional and new members' Weekend) seemed a long way away. It was great to take such enthusiastic people caving.

If you fancy joining in with mid-week evening trips contact:

Claire and Cat at the Mini Columns (Photo: Paul Tarrant)

Adrian and Claire back at the hut after another successful Brown's Caving Tour.

1 comment:

  1. The food at this place was really amazing, the waiters were attentive, and the event captain was wonderful! I will suggest you to book grand and well decorated New York wedding venues for your dreamed wedding day. Thank you so much!!