Sunday, 27 October 2019

Top trips and “collector pieces”!

Team: Chloe Francis, Duncan Hornby, Stephen Johnson, George Linnane, Sanita Lustika, James Meredith, Paul Meredith, Helen Stewart, Phil Thomas, Claire Vivian, Hwyel Protheroe-Jones

Dates: 18-20th October 2019.

Authors: Chloe Francis, Duncan Hornby & Claire Vivian

Sludge Pit Hole team in a part of Main Rift passage.

On arriving at the MNRC hut we were greeted by the hut warden, David. We were able to obtain a variety of keys which gave us the opportunity to pick and choose our trips. Then for some, it was an obligatory visit to the Hunters Lodge!

A sneaky shot of Chloe and Duncan at the Hunters.

The team at the MNRC.


Three trips ran on Saturday each have their own report:

Charterhouse Cave

Many thanks to Peter Hall, local Mendip caver who was the guide for this trip. Photos by Sanita.

The cave seemed to have two modes - you are going through a narrow-ish bit or you are comfortable to walk, where subjectively it felt like most of the time you spend in the narrow-ish bits of some shape and form. Never the less it was great fun and a well worth trip. Like it says in the cave description, the first proper formation you come across is the Curly Wurly Stal which you can partly see from a hole in the wall of the passage first and once you turn a corner it turns out to be even bigger and nicer looking.

The Curly Wurly Stal.
Our next stop was the Splatter Chamber, where we got to hear about some theories as to why the splatter is there. 

Splatter Chamber.
After some crawling, we came out in the Grotto of the Singing Stal. You don’t tune into it straight away but once everyone had put their lights out, you could hear it ‘sing’. It sounded like a happy squirrel munching on a nut or something. 


Grotto of the Singing Stal. The stal sounded like a squirrel munching on a nut or something.

A fossil as fat as your finger!

Little splatter formation.
Unfortunately, The Narrows ended up being too narrow for one of us so we had to continue as a party of three. Past the Narrows Frozen Cascade and the Blades were the most impressive formations.

The Blades.
As the cave description says Portal Pool sumps from autumn to spring. Though Peter started to water pumping process, we wouldn’t have gotten much time on the other side, so we opted to not go through the Portal Pool. Instead, we had a listen to the strange noises the air-bell was making...

Turn the sound on your computer and watch the video to 
hear the weird gurgling sound the air-bell made.

We then had a quick look at the Timeline passage with the crystal pool cascade and then made our way back at a leisurely pace taking photos of all the pretties.

The Frozen cascade.

The formation opposite Frozen cascade with Peter Hall in the background

Little helictites before we turn around and make our way back.
The Timeline. This was our turnaround point next to the Portal Pool after listening to the airbell which was making deep, industrial factory-like noises. 
On the way back we had a quick stop at the Citadel to look at the Blobs. They were strangely pretty for the fact that there was not much there in terms of shape or size.
The Blobs at the Citadel chamber.
Trip length: 4-5 hours leisurely pace to the Portal Pool.

GB Cave

As this was Hywel's first SWCC trip and first visit to the Mendips we thought we'd treat him to the splendour that is GB. Massive passageway, plenty of formations and a waterfall to climb. What's not to like about that?

Helen, Hywel and Chloe at the entrance.
The rain in Wales the previous week had been tremendous and it had almost been impossible to see through the windscreen at times on the journey over on Friday evening as the rain was torrential. We were expecting GB to have a lot of water and so decided to do the round trip with a couple of short extensions. We thought the duck into Ladder Dig Extensions would be impassable, so didn't bring a ladder. 

Helen, Hywel and Chloe on the Bridge.
But we were wrong. We went to have a look at the waterfall and could see that the water was nowhere near the level we were expecting, it was quite low!

Still enjoying the sights of GB.
We were committed to the round trip now so off we went. We put Hywel at the front of the group for a lot of the trip so he could have a go at exploring the cave for the first time, without just being led. All the group were capable cavers, so it didn't take long to complete the circuit. It was great to have GB to ourselves on an Autumn Saturday afternoon. The only people we saw were a student group we met at the entrance as we exited the cave.

Still smiling!

Hywel climbing towards the end of White Passage.
Chloe enjoying the wet grovel.

Chloe admiring some pretties near the entrance.
The sun was shining brightly when we got out and although we were tempted to go and do a second cave in Burrington (Rod's Pot), the lure of lunch and a walk won out. We went to Blagdon and walked around the fields and lake instead.

Trip time: 2.5 hours

Sludge Pit Hole

For much of my caving career this cave has been closed to cavers. A few years ago a change in land ownership meant the access to this cave was improved and is now accessible if you can obtain a CSCC key.

Whilst not Mendips longest system it is a sporty cave and you can easily pass the time exploring the various routes and bitter ends.

The entrance is tucked away in an overgrown depression in a field just up the road from the Wessex Caving Club.

Entrance to Sludge Pit Hole.
A short scramble leads to the 8m pitch. It has a couple of P-bolts and a convenient ledge, so a nice pitch for beginners or people less experienced in the dark art of going up and down wire ladders.

Stephen about to climb main pitch.

Paul at main 8m pitch near the entrance.
We followed the obvious way on which lead us down the steep main rift, this was some of the larger passages within the cave. It terminates at a sump and a particularly dodgy section of the cave with the roof seemingly propped up with a stack of rotting logs. Eek!

Group resting at the sump at the end of main rift passage.

The roof seemingly held up with a stack of rotting planks, this is a few metres away from the sump.
We then did a variety of routes, initially via Aragonite rift back to the entrance, then back towards the skeleton series via the maze and finally back towards the entrance via the shale series.

Team in Main Rift passage.
It was a lot of fun seeking out the various routes and trying to connect parts of the cave. As the system is quite small there was never the fear of getting totally lost as you would do in the much bigger Welsh systems.

But word from the wise going UP shale passage towards the entrance is quite cramped and arduous, definitely would be much easier going DOWN it!

Trip time: 4 hours

Saturday Night

The mystery of the elusive Ploughboy

We stayed at the MNRC, which happily was in walking distance to a pub: The Ploughboy. We knew the walk was tinged with danger, along a busy main road in total darkness. Taking measures to avoid any pre-pub injuries, we ensured we were suitably equipped with high viz jackets and head torches. Marching in single file along the road felt like being on a weird school trip...heading for the best destination ever! Eventually, after about 20 minutes, we reached the pub. James un-clenched his bum cheeks as we re-grouped in the car park. Ah, safety at last!

Imagine our devastation when we realised the pub was closed. There were no lights on. Nobody was there; the whole place was completely deserted. Horror. Dejectedly, we turned around and trudged back towards the hut. Duncan called the Vic, who reckoned they could just about squeeze our party in. I was now hopeful that my Saturday night dinner would not consist of soggy, half-eaten caving mars bars and instant noodles (must bring better food next time).

On arrival back at the hut (the walk felt longer on the way back without the anticipation of destination pub), we figured out who was going to drive. Helen S volunteered to take people in her very lovely and fairly new VW Golf estate. We eagerly clambered in, our mouths watering at the thought of the delicious food which awaited us. However, due to a flat battery in the car key, Helen’s engine would not start. Everyone exited the vehicle.

Eventually we managed to arrange everyone into cars and off we headed to the pub! Helen made some calls to try and resolve her key situation - the issue was solved the next morning with a trip to Wells to get a new battery. We have a great time at the Vic, with plenty of food, beer and good company.


Taking advantage of the cave keys, two trips ran on the Sunday:

Singing River Mine

Ah, Sunday. The perfect time of the week to relax; tolerate your family; catch up on televised sport - or, in the case of a hardy group of SWCC members - explore a disused mine! The order of the day was Singing River Mine. It’s peak activity was in the 18th and 19th centuries mining calamine: the ore of zinc and lead.

The mine is located in Shipham, in the back garden of a house down Folly Lane. It was a strange experience to open someone’s front gate and walk through their garden in search of underground adventure.
The Dream Team about to descend Singing River - photo: Helen Stewart.
Phil rigged the entrance ladder pitch and one by one we descended. I paid very careful attention as we explored the complicated labyrinth of passages, mindful of being able to find our way back in time for tea and cake. Although we had a copy of the description, none of us had bothered to read it before entering the mine. In hindsight, this would have been very helpful.

Eventually we found the lakes - woohoo! They were wonderfully clear and blue. As nobody fancied getting fully submerged, it was time to turn around. It would be cool to take a raft down next time to sail across.

View of lake.
Trip time - approximately 2 hours.

Attborough Swallet

Yet another collectors piece to tick off, Attborough Swallet is a short drive away from the MNRC hut. Parked in a lay-by, crossed the road and a short walk into a depression to a bright yellow concrete entrance. Can’t get much nearer than that.

This is yet another small cave with no fear of actualy getting lost. Cotham Hall is the largest chamber with a few routes leading off into various tight, wet, gnarly crawls.

Stephen the mole!
Team Meredith at entrance of Attborough Swallet.
Claire was leading the group as we got towards “Twist and Shout”, hesitant to descend a climb Claire crawled out to let me have a look. By virtue of being too large I had to partially descend the climb so I could turn around and get out of the crawl, it was at that point I realised the climb was much easier than it looked so called the others to continue. A few metres on and the tables were turned and I was hesitant to commit to a climb but Claire was small enough to get down it and work out where the foot holds were.Stephen jumped at the chance and quickly disappeared down into Watery Rift which terminated in a flat out crawl in a stream.

We then returned to Cotham Hall and explored Nasty Nasty which was a grim crawl into a wet and muddy tube, most of us bailed out on that! But Claire and James went out to sample more of the misery and reached a climb down that belled out at the bottom before throwing the towel in and going back to meet the others.

We then headed out via a tube connecting Cotham Hall to Happy Mondays. This short cave is a great Sunday trip if you wanted to get away early but still get a bit of caving in.

Paul squeezing out of tube which connected Cotham Hall chamber to Happy Mondays passage.

The rather muddy team at entrance.
This was the trip where we also found monkey, soon christened 'David Attborough', abandoned in the lay-by near the cave.

The now “unofficial” mascot of SWCC?
Trip time 2.5-3 hours

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Northern Lights, Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

A trip to Northern Lights in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu has got to be one of the best caving trips in South Wales. The caving is varied and adventurous with a few navigational issues and just the right degree of challenge, and the reward for those who undertake the trip is to get to see some amazing cave decorations.

Filmed on 6th July 2019.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Adventure Queens Weekend 5th - 6th of October

Last weekend saw the Adventure Queens visit SWCC's HQ for a weekend of underground fun. This blog post contains some trip reports and pictures from the weekend.

Sunday morning group shot. Photo: Claire Vivian

Trip Report - Chloe Francis

Mission objective: to show how fabulous OFD is to the Adventure Queens & improve my navigational skills.

Team: Moi (Chloe F), Claire V, Helen L, Cat and Natalie (Adventure Queens).

We reached the entrance at 11:30am after an excellent amount of faffing. With me as the leader, who knew what lay ahead: would we spend hours doing loops around Big Chamber? Would I accidently catapult the beginners down Edward’s shortcut? There was only one way to find out…

After spending a few minutes with our lights turned off inside the entrance, we headed to Big Chamber Near the Entrance. After the mini traverses, we took a right turn, then another right turn. I made everyone climb in and out of the prisoner pit - then I went down and through to see where it connects to the brickyard.

We came to upper level Arete, and then turned right towards the Wedding Cake. After peering over at Arete, we went to investigate the delicious formation.

Next obstacle was the corkscrew. I gallantly demonstrated how to negotiate going down this - everyone was very impressed. Claire decided that Cat and Natalie could do with a good crawl, so into the hole at the bottom of the corkscrew we popped. Crawly, crawly, crawly sandy crawl. I think everyone was having a lovely time, especially through the very narrow bits.

The crawl ends near Swamp Creek, so we went upstream to look at the pure white formation, then turned back to visit the Judge. Here we spent time admiring this rather impressive formation. Then to the Trident, where Claire regaled the tale of how some eighties cavers knocked the end off and it got glued back on.

At this point we bumped into Bob’s team as they stomped up Salubrious. After exchanging pleasantries with the other team, we turned left towards the crossroads so we could check out Selenite Tunnel and Shatter Pillar. At Presidents Leap, Cat decided that she didn’t like the look of the traverse - so I stayed with her while the others went across. While we waited, I sang songs about love, heartbreak, death and, of course, caving. Luckily the others speedily checked out Selenite, so Cat was not subjected to my full musical repertoire.

We retraced our steps and headed down salubrious - the traversing bits not phasing Cat and Natalie in the slightest. At the elephant’s molar we left Salubrious and began to climb back up towards the corkscrew. At the top of the climb we sat down for some chocolate rations. We decided that a good stroll up and down Gnome passage was in order, so we had a leisurely amble down there. On our way, we bumped into some very shady looking characters: Grimmett, Clark, Paul M and James.
No beginners trip to top entrance would be complete without flailing around in a muddy puddle in the hope of admiring something pretty. Therefore, the last order of the trip had to be the mini columns. Everyone had a brilliant time sloshing around in the mud; seeing the formations was definitely worth the effort! 

Cat and Natalie admire the mini columns. Photo: Claire Vivian

Chloe, Natalie, Cat and Claire. Photo: Claire Vivian

Natalie taking to caving like a duck to water. Photo: Claire Vivian
Wearily, we began to head out of the cave. We joined a queue of Cardiff freshers waiting to exit the cave: it was like Everest but underground. Exit time: 15:30 (ish). Time underground: 4 hours (ish). 

Trip Report 2
Trip: OFD top entrance
Time: 3 hours

On the Saturday morning we kitted up a bunch of ladies who had never tried caving before and took them underground to show them around OFD. 

Our group started with a bit of traversing to get comfortable. We then went past the Wedding Cake and down the corkscrew. Along the way, we stopped to marvel at Trident and Judge and had a wander around Swamp Creek. Once we got to Selenite Tunnel there were plenty of fossils and smaller formations to look at so we spent quite a bit of time there. Our next stop was the crystal pool followed by a Frozen River which was our turning back point. Along the way we introduced Sarah to squeezing underneath the boulders, traversing, climbing boulder choke and bridging. On the way back we found a fossils happy face near Maypole Inlet and finished it all of with a look at the Aven before navigating our way back out.

Photos by Sanita Lustika

August Bank Holiday Tiger Weekend

Weekend Round Up - by Chloe Francis

I never thought I would ever lose sleep over salad; but as the August bank holiday drew closer, I began to regret my laissez faire approach to certain important event components. For example, a sign-up list to know numbers for catering might have been useful before very late the evening before the event. The wonderful (and very patient) Chris Grimmett emailed some pertinent questions in the weeks leading up to the bank holiday such as: ‘so where exactly are you having this BBQ; where shall we set up the beer and how much are you charging for food’? None of these questions I really knew the answers to.

By Friday night I had been at the club for two days and had a reasonable idea of how I was going to feed 60 people. However, on hearing my plans to “wing it with a bottle of Bombay Sapphire”, the Soup Dragons Annie Hallihan and Amanda Davies, plus Elaine Hall and Hayley Meredith offered their guidance, moral support and an endless set of skills. Friday night was fun: there was a great atmosphere in the club as the car park got fuller and fuller. I went to bed much later than intended - after persuading everyone in the kitchen share my extremely strong whisky with me.

On Saturday morning groups gathered together and headed underground. There was a fantastic array of trips happening, thanks to the organisational brilliance of Claire Vivian. Over the weekend these included: Draenen, to War of the Worlds; Pwll Dwfn; OFD2, to the Traverses; Top Waterfall; a Pendulum Passage pull-down; an OFD through-trip; Dan yr Ogof - both the round trip and to the Far North; Pant Mawr and a Daren Cilau through trip.

As cavers set off towards their caves, I drank tea and tried to see through my poor, bloodshot eyes. An expedition to both Tesco and Asda down the valley ensured that we had the food needed for the party. Meanwhile, back at the club, Graham and Harvey negotiated BBQ transportation from the Stump to our HQ. Many thanks to the Wealdon for lending us this monster piece of kit! The day passed by in a salad-y blurr of chopping, slicing and grating. Thankfully, the magical dragon’s cupboard contained a food processor, which helped enormously with the coleslaw making.

With the glorious sunshine people naturally gathered outside the HQ to bask in the late August warmth. This made it easy to round up helpers to move all the benches from outside the cottages to the BBQ location by the dumper truck shed! BBQs were lit, salads were piled on plates and delicious fruit crumbles were demolished. It was lovely to see everyone sitting outside together, sharing tales of the caving adventures which had occurred throughout the day.

Thank you to everyone who helped make this weekend a success - especially to Claire who coordinated the trips and to everyone who volunteered to lead.

Photo: Graham Christian

Trip Report, by Tim Ball (Shepton Mallet CC & Cerberus SS)
Daren Cilau Through-Trip: Bank Holiday Monday 26 August 2019

Which did I prefer, a through-trip in Daren or War of the Worlds in Ogof Draenen? A close thing to decide upon since I visited both thanks to being guided by Tarquin Wilton-Jones over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Overall I’m going with Daren. It’s closer to my heart as a Mendip caver, and in Draenen I get boulder-fade.

I’d not visited the cave for…not sure, at least 8 years I should think, maybe 10. But the entrance series isn’t so bad when you’ve done time in Mendip. How many phone line junction boxes were there? I couldn’t remember, but I learned that it is 8 by the time you get out at the other end. Only three wet grovels, being the immediate entrance and also a nicely coloured and profiled section around half way plus Stal Squeezes near the finish. Just like caving at home!

Tarquin wanted to see Old Main Chamber which I’d not visited before, and I’m glad we went. Rift Passage leading up to it had a couple of entertaining climbs before reaching a small chamber and then onwards through a welcome (easy) phreatic-like passage into the enormous Chamber itself. Massive with a flat-ish roof, and very mud coated on all of the large boulders.

I can’t believe I’d forgotten how long Jigsaw Passage was. In fact, I can’t believe I’d forgotten the general large scale of the cave. Everything is big in one way or another. Tarquin gave us lots of very interesting commentary about the cave creation and how this related to the features we were seeing – I’ve never been underground with someone so knowledgeable. If only I could remember more than a tiny fraction, but at least I now know something about cryogenic cave formation (cryo-stal and cryo-calcite).

Epocalypse Passage was even larger and had the best formations for me with some huge selenite needles and thick mud deposits plus the White Company and then a detour into the fabulous Urchin Oxbox. Seeing really is believing.

Past The Kitchen and into Antler Passage and one memorable hairy climb/traverse where I made a conscious decision not to think about the depth underneath me, even if only for a short distance before posting myself carefully through a calcited aperture having formations close by. Up and down, up and down, with the Passage really giving more sense of the vertical scale of the place. Some of the fixed aids were comedy!

Eventually we turned into Busmans Holiday where the scale increased in width once again. Did we see condensation formations here? I can’t recall but that is another new formation type (to me) that I learned from Tarquin (thanks). Finally into Price’s Prophecy which reminded me very much of Gnome Passage in OFD 1.

And then the sting in the tail. Which is worse, the entrance crawl or Price’s Dig? Well I know where you get muddier that’s for sure. Up until this point I was clean! And I can’t believe that people used to free-dive the sump (now by-passable).

Finally out into daylight and a cuppa brewed for us in the car park by some friendly folk staying in their camper van.

It’s been too long since I’ve visited Daren, and this is a classic trip which everyone should do. Don’t be put off by the entrance series since the rewards are worth it.

Many thanks to Tarquin W-J for guiding us round, and to Claire Vivian and Chloe Francis for organising the SWCC weekend.

Dan yr Ogof: The Far North
by Dave Eason

After the festivities of Friday night, and a hard days digging on the Black Mountain, I was apprehensive to say the least about the Far North trip! However, this is a classic trip that I have always wanted to do since I started caving and eventually found the enthusiasm. Tony Baker was leading this trip, so this was my first time on a big trip with Tony, after spending about 2 years digging with him! This was my 4th time into the cave, after helping Phil Knight with conservation work in recent times & a first time in for Lee, Ariana and Sanita. Soon we were all ready to go and set off at about 9:30 A.M. from Penwyllt. After quickly kitting up, we were soon walking past the tourists and heading into the cave by about 10:00. With water levels low at the Giedd on Saturday, and the weather being fine, I was surprised to see how much water was coming out of the resurgence, with it's mildly peaty complexion.

Within about 5 minutes we were at the end of the showcave, and stomping off down the concrete path towards the lakes. The water was a couple of inches over the path, and it was a bit higher than I've experienced here before. A strong current was felt crossing lake 3 and climbing the water falls, making it interesting! We shortly got to the 1937 Series, and stomped on through here. It's a shame to stomp through, as there are lots of interesting features to look at when you have the time.

Once through the Long Crawl, we made our way down to the Lower Series of DYO II, as this was a first time in for three of the party and it was well worth a look down here. The mythical, mysterious passage shapes never fail to impress me. After about 45 minutes we were eventually up & over the Camel and at the top of the Abyss, peering down.

Onwards, we headed towards the Rising. We needed to re-rig the pitch into the Great North Road, and had to pick up a new rope, that was stashed by the Battleship. We paused at the rising, spent some time untangling the new rope and got our SRT kits on before making our way up the ladder, then up the rift climb to the hole at the top where you post your self into the Windy Way. The short, very draughty crawl, ends in a traverse over the top of a 15m or so pitch followed by a short pitch down into birthday passage. We were all taken aback to how pretty this passage was, and Sanita spent some time photographing the very fine, delicate helictites here. Tony rigged the 14m pitch down with the new rope and we all made our way into the Great North Road. The sense of remoteness suddenly hits you here, and you are committed to the trip, now in DYO III. You look ahead into the absolutely massive rift passage ahead (sometimes well over 40 m high in places near Pinnacle Chamber), with the stream flowing, and it's awe inspiring.

We headed onwards, before popping up into the massive Pinnacle Chamber where it gets large enough that my light wouldn't illuminate the end & sides of the passage. Climbing down through the boulders took us into the Meanders, with the most incredible horse shoe bend carved into the passage. This part of the cave is not so much controlled by the major fault, so has a less linear nature, and is more carved in great meandering passages. We were then stomping along all sorts of varying terrain, more fault controlled again, with perfectly flat roofed straight, rectangular passages and boulder, gravel and sandy floored streamways, ever getting bigger and more impressive. The passages get sandy, as you reach the big sand chokes where you make your way up the 17m North Aven climb.

At the top, we passed the most amazing layered sediment banks and complete fossilised coral reefs in the roof, before reaching the starting gate, where immense avens rise up above you and 20m sand banks rise up in places at the sides, all the time with various forms of the streamway running loudly under the floor. The floor is either sandy, or made of rounded sandstone cobbles, or a mixture of large limestone blocks, or all three!

We eventually arrived at the immense Grand Hall and Far North Choke, where the passages get huge and immediately end, albeit with some fine formations. This is a fine, dramatic, and impressive place and certainly re-enforces my interest in digging on the Black Mountain. Being here makes you realise why Tony has been digging there for many years, as theoretically, this is all but a fraction of a larger system of caves and these passages continue beyond in some form.

On the way back, we went via the beautifully decorated Mostest oxbow back to the Meanders, with it's crystal floors. Back into DYO II, we went back via Green Canal into the Upper Series, with it's immense, scalloped phreatic passages, carved into jet black, sparkling limestones, with high-contrast pure white & translucent straws and helictites. I've always found the acoustics of this part of the cave interesting too, having a massively long reverberation time whenever you speak.

We eventually made our way out by about 7:20 (slightly longer than anticipated) with the water now below the path at Lake 1. I almost immediately headed off to Brecon with some other members for a curry. What an amazing trip in a fantastic place. Huge thanks to Tony for leading, and thanks to the others for being great company!


Far North Trip by Sanita Lustika


Top Waterfall Trip Report
By Chloe Taylor

Having not been underground all summer (I can’t bring myself to willingly crawl into a dark, wet and muddy hole when we are blessed with some rare sunshine!), it’s safe to say I was a tad anxious about embarking on an intimidatingly named ‘Tiger Trip’. Luckily, I was reassured that it didn’t mean MEGA HARD caving, just something a little more than you are used to. With that in mind, I happily scrambled into my suit and crawled into the dark, wet and muddy hole that is Top Entrance (on a particularly sunshiny day).

John was our leader for the trip to Top Waterfall, which, he gleefully told us, he had never actually been to before. Jane, Carwyn and I didn’t mind – we were up for an adventure! We headed for the streamway, pausing at times for Jane to take some samples for her university students. When it came to lowering ourselves down into Maypole Inlet, John said the climb up could be tricky and asked if we would like a rope attaching – later on, I was glad we had said yes! We continued on down Maypole Inlet (one of my favourite parts of OFD – it makes me think of cows!) and to the main streamway. Here, we unfortunately got into a little trouble. On climbing down, Jane missed her footing and fell into the streamway. Being an absolute trooper, she insisted that we carry on, but from above it definitely looked like it hurt.

We gingerly continued up the streamway to search for Top Waterfall, keeping a close eye on Jane and her sore arm. Not knowing how much further away it was, and being concerned that we’d miss our ticket time, we turned around. The way back was mostly uneventful, but I was nervous about the climb up from Maypole Inlet, having needed to make much use of Nigel’s shoulders to get up it on a recent through trip! Luckily, Carwyn’s climbing skills came in handy and he was able to scramble up and move the pre-attached rope into a good position for us to use, which I was very grateful for. We found ourselves getting quite shivery at this point, and I must say I was glad to get back to the club and stuff my face with cider and grub at the brilliantly organised BBQ

Pwll Dwfn Trip Report
By Alan Walsh

The sweatiest part of the trip was undoubtedly the long slog up the hill from the Dan yr Ogof car park, even taking into consideration that we only got changed into our full gear at the entrance to the cave! While Bob headed in first to get started on the rigging, the rest of us basked in the sunshine, with Morgan following second to assist Bob where necessary. Stephen was third, eager to get some practise in with the new design of Petzl stop! I followed up at the back, pausing for a ‘milksop moment’ as he lowered himself through the awkward scramble at the cave entrance and failed to find a foothold without assistance.

The first pitch was described as being climbable, but this certainly didn’t look the case while descending. It looked a bit more hand and foot friendly from the bottom but the rope negated the temptation to try it out! The second pitch involved a rebelay for practise, where the cave helpfully offered me a small ledge to push off with my feet to release the short cows tail before testing the descender!

The further pitches offered a chance to practise passing deviations. I only made it down 4 of the pitches, somehow doubting the efficiency of my ascending technique to the extent that it felt like the mouth of the cave may be out of reach! I started out first and experienced a unique blend of surprise and annoyance as I found I was ascending the rope with a speed and efficiency that I no longer needed to be ashamed off, so could have easily managed the final pitch. In the swing of things even the rebelay was far quicker on the way up! Inexplicably the tight climb at the entrance went smoother for me on the way out than on the way in, while Bob seemed to find the reverse was true. It can only be assumed that my body had detected some deficiency in my bones during my four pitch ascent and decided that not a second could be lost in obtaining some vitamin D!

Overall the trip was a fantastic opportunity to practise SRT close to SWCC, which I didn’t know existed a few days before, finished off by a discussion over the merits of snap gate, screw and twist lock karabiners on the stroll back to the car park. It was only after Bill returned after his second triumphant ice cream hunt of the summer (of the ones I am aware of) on Sunday that I regretted not partaking in one myself!