Sunday, 20 November 2016

Provisional Members' Weekend

On a gloriously sunny 5th November 15 provisional members gathered in the Long Common Room. It was the first visit to SWCC for some and for several more, today would see them complete their first ever caving trip. They were supported by a team of current members who were ready to act as cave leaders for the weekend and introduce everyone to the club and caves they love. Although a nervous sense of anticipation was in the air, they need not have worried! A great time was had by all - and there was also an incredible fireworks display to watch on Saturday evening and a group curry in a nearby restaurant. A very big thank you to all involved. Here are some photos from the weekend and some descriptions of their trips from our new cavers in their own words.

9.30am start in the Long Common Room!
There are a remarkable number of people awake and eager to go underground for this time of day.

Leaders and new SWCC members sit side by side to have a chat before splitting up in to groups. In the left hand photo, wearing a blue hoody, we have James Hallihan, now 12, who has been caving since he was 3 years old and loves helping to introduce new people to the underground world.
Standing room only as people introduce themselves.

Last weekend my sister and I visited Penwyllt for the first time, we were strangers to the South Wales Caving Club and strangers to caving. Upon arrival I noticed how beautiful the cottages and surrounding area were. We arrived early Friday evening and there were already many club members there, all of them made us feel very welcome. At one point I was introduced to a young boy named James, he was 12 years old and told me he had been caving since he was 3, I couldn't believe it, it's safe to say I was both amazed and impressed, little did I know that he would be leading us on our second day of caving (he did a fantastic job). We spent the evening having a few drinks and chatting with members about their experiences in caves, I did feel a little anxious but that soon ended after discussing the next day's plan with Andy and Antonia.

Andy and Antonia with Kirsty, Chloe, Katie and Sarah.
Saturday morning came and the group took a lovely walk up the hill towards the entrance of OFD II. I couldn't wait to get in there! Having never been caving before I had no idea what it was going to be like, I expected dark tunnels and was actually shown a whole new world, there were some truly amazing sights... Who would have thought there was so much down there? We walked, crawled, slid, climbed up, climbed down and waded through water. At points when I thought I'd panic, the group leaders and adrenaline took over and helped me through it, I think the part that scared me the most was going down the corkscrew, knowing there was a big drop behind me and not being able to see where my feet needed to go was quite scary, that's where team work came in, without my team mates guiding me down I wouldn't have managed, it's definitely safe to say that teamwork is a must down there, luckily everyone was great and we all got on really well, helping each other along the way.

We were in OFD II for five hours, when we first went in it was broad daylight outside, when we came back out the sun was just going down. We'd spent the majority of the day travelling through a beautiful cave system, I felt like I'd seen so much, but after seeing on the map what areas we had covered I realised we'd only seen a tiny fraction of what was there, I couldn't wait to see more of it.

Andy disappearing down a small hole near the Corkscrew

Chloe in the Bedding Chambers

The team near the Judge formation

Swamp Creek
After getting back to the cottages and having a well needed shower, we settled down for dinner and drinks, again we had the chance to meet other members of the club that had arrived while we were out, I must confess that I don't remember the names of everyone we met, there were so many people and my nerves made it difficult for me to converse as well as I usually would, but I'm sure in time it will get easier for me, I was certainly made to feel very welcome there and everyone was really nice and friendly.
A mix of new and established SWCC members go for a curry after the fireworks.
Sunday morning came and we were getting ready for day 2 of caving, this time we were going to OFD I, we took a long walk down to the entrance, after climbing down a few ladders we were in, at this point I felt more excited than nervous.. I couldn't wait to see more! This time we had to take a cows tail each, I looked forward to finding out why we'd need it, little did I know that it would turn out to be one of my favourite parts of the day!
The team arrive at the Toast Rack

Kate on Bolt Traverse, her favourite part of the OFD1 trip.

On the route we took, there were four challenging parts that we were told to expect, although I must admit that two of them I found easier than some of the normal caving. At one point we had to climb up quite a slippery section, I lost grip of my feet and was dangling by my arms. Usually I'd have panicked in a situation like that but I found it a little funny and knew that my team leaders were there to help and that I had no reason to worry, Claire was very patient with me on that part and was a big help. One of my favourite parts was the Bolt Traverse, followed by using rope to get over and down a steep edge (Low's Chain), being afraid of heights. Both were scary but exciting. 

On the third challenging part Claire led me up first (we could only go one at a time), after I was up safely, she went back to guide the next person up, whilst I was waiting I took the opportunity to take a seat, turn off my head torch and just sit in darkness and listen to the sounds around me, it was very relaxing.
Much like day one, we had to crawl, climb, wade through water etc, we also had chance to go back to our childhood and roly poly through a long narrow patch :) everyone had some laughs at that point, it was good fun. We did a fair bit of climbing down boulders/rocks, it reminded me of when my brother and I used to rock climb at the beach on holiday, it was great fun.

Balancing on scaff bars across the potholes in the streamway
More streamway fun

OFD1 streamway
I was very impressed with James' caving skills, being so young I thought he might struggle, but struggle he did not, he was very confident and did an amazing job at leading us through, he made me realise that people of all ages could cave and that maybe one day I could bring my son along to try it out. 
We spent four hours in OFD II, the time flew by and I enjoyed every minute, again we had a great team and enjoyed each others company.

On both days the group leaders, members and provisional members were all great, I got on with everyone in both groups. Everyone at the club that I had chance to speak to made me feel welcome, it's like a big caving family :) I cant wait to go back and see more parts of the cave! 
The weekend was definitely an experience that I will never forget and I look forward to joining you again soon,
Thank you so much SWCC!!

Chris, Pete, Matt and Peter

Phil, Barbara and Jem

Ash, Phil and Catherine

Claire, Malcolm, James, Jenny, Jamie and Allan
We all met at the club on the Sunday and had a briefing on what to expect and a chat about safety. We then got kitted up into old clothes and wellies and split up into groups. Claire, with the help of Richard, Malcolm and James, were going to lead a group of five provisionals down OFD 1, a round trip. After a 20 minute walk we all assembled at the entrance. A 25 foot climb down ladders put us all into the cave system, where we all sat with our torches off to acclimatise to the dark. After a minute or two Claire switched on her torch and we all followed suit, and lit up the cave. My first real glimpse of what I can only describe as amazing. WOW I said out aloud. But this was just the beginning. We where soon walking in the most amazing passages covered in stalactite and stalagmites. Flowstone and straws ranging in colour from pure white to greens and browns. Suddenly we all stopped. It was time to do our first squeeze. I could feel my legs weaken and my heart race as it was my turn to get down on my hands and knees and stick my head into a hole just big enough to get through. With an encouraging tap on the back from Richard, I was in and crawling. What seemed like an impossible task actually turned out not to be that bad, and I actually enjoyed the experience and asked if there were going to be anymore? With a nod and a smile from Claire, the team leader, we were off again as a group onto our next challenge - a traverse with quite a drop into the stream way. We all clipped our safety lines on to a fixed wire drilled into the wall and one by one walked from left to right over a small slippery ledge. I went last but one, but everyone else before me made it look easy. I made it over without any mishap, but I was relieved to be across and safely inside the next tunnel and next challenge. This was a climb up through a tight passage and boulders but again we all seemed to rise to the challenge. Our reward was the most amazing massive chamber I could have ever imagined. As far as my torch could shine in every direction. Truly awesome. With boulders the size of houses and cars and buses strewn everywhere. My first thought was that it was time to turn around because there isn't any way to get through here. Then Claire asked 12-year old James to lead the way. To my surprise he rose to the challenge and we were all soon clambering and sliding on our bottoms down over boulders through the passage, with a small detour to see some outstanding formations. After another informative chat from Claire (believe it or not) we all played roly-poly under a huge slab of limestone bedding plane which came out at a 12 foot rope climb into a black limestone river passage. One of the finest of any British cave. With water over my wellies we made our way down stream to complete the round trip and back into daylight. I would like to say a big thank you to Claire for sharing her knowledge of the cave systems and how they were formed. And to Richard for his assistance on the climbs, and Malcolm for sharing his knowledge of where each passage goes, and James for leading us through a seemingly impassable part of the cave. 
James showing his cave leadership skills

Two groups of provisionals' pose outside the OFD1 entrance.
Crossing the impressive Bridge Chamber in OFD1
I thoroughly enjoyed my first weekend as a provisional member. I thought that the cave tours were pitched at the right level - I was able to see a lot of different techniques to tackle underground obstacles on an interesting route of reasonable length. The leaders paced the trip well with a good level of confidence so that no-one was too nervous tackling the obstacles. I felt that I got to see a wide range of different obstacles and appreciated advice on how to tackle each were many things to experiment with (such as how long you can commando crawl for!) In addition to the more challenging obstacles ( in my case the slippery helter skelter and Bolt Traverse) that I will look forward to mastering in the future.

I found the facility to borrow a helmet, headtorch and cowtails really helpful as a beginner and thought the routes were well selected for me. It is great that there are so many fantastic cave routes to explore in close proximity to the club premises. I found the atmosphere at the club very friendly - I was made to feel very welcome. The facilities are comfortable and very reasonably priced and the social gathering for singing in the evening with a few beers was great! It was great to meet other cavers from different regions of the country and there were plenty of people with interesting professions! I look forward to returning for some more caving in the near future!

Alan with Chris, Sam and Jamie
Jaime and James reach Timo's Table
Jamie and Jenny visit the Mini Columns for the first time
Jem, Phil and Barbara on a photographic trip in Gnome Passage 

Here are some of Barbara's photos from the photo trip with Jem and Phil:

Thank you for an excellent weekend everyone!

Provisional members: Andrew Baldwin, Jenny Cooke, Phil Cullen, Jamie Gordon, Colin Hoare, Jamie Huish, Chris Jones, Nigel Jones, Aaron Judd, Barbara Lane, Kirstie Orpen, Chloe Partridge, Angie Peacock, Matt Roberts, Kate Tinklin, Sarah Tinklin, Alan Walsh.

SWCC helpers:
Peter Dennis, Andy Freem, Antonia Freem, Chris Grimmett, James Hallihan, Pete Hobson, Phil Knight, Malcolm Lloyd, Sam Moore, Ash Pursglove, Allan Richardson, Jem Rowland, Richard Sore, John Wellbelove, Jo White.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Slip ‘n’ Slide

Team: Andy Freem, Antonia Freem, Mark Hampson, Colin Hoare, Duncan Hornby, Phil Knight, Tim Lewingdon, Chris Taylor & Claire Vivian.

Trip dates: 22nd-23rd October 2016.

With the exception of Colin and Phil (who turned up Sunday) everyone arrived Friday evening at Whitewalls and bedded in for the obligatory Friday night drinking session. Plans were hatched for an assault into Ogof Agen Allwedd and the inner circle trip.

Getting to Whitewalls had been problematic as the main road was closed for road works (again…) so everyone came up the incredibly steep road from LLangattock, first gear all the way!


The team at the end of Sand Caverns, Agen Allwedd.

After some pre-caving faff we entered Aggy around 10:45. The entrance series is a fairly spacious walking and climbing passage, until it all got very narrow and tight, not what I remembered! We soon realised we had taken a wrong turn, back tracked and then found the way on.

We eventually got to the first choke and surprise we got lost again! For the record once you find the metal bar (which is a fairly new feature) head forward, right and then through a well worn tube at floor level on the left. Ignore the obvious stooping size page going straight ahead (which ends up in a dig a few feet further on)! Then it's a crawl along a very worn section of the choke until you pop out into the impressively large main passage.

A short walk along this then a right into main stream and head downstream. Part way along this, one has to pass through the second boulder choke. Eventually one arrived at the Northwest junction, which is where Main Stream and Turkey Stream meet, having slipped and slid most of the way there. This was a key location, and can be easily missed, as the group doing the Grand Circle that day discovered to their detriment when they had to retrace their steps all the way back down Main Stream and up Southern Stream after mistakenly arriving at Turkey Pool. Head downstream follows the main streamway, but upstream (Turkey) was the direction we were heading. If was such an important junction that a “race for life” water bottle was left prominently in the hope of stopping us stomping past the junction looking for it on the way out.

Heading upstream we passed through Turkey Junction with the infamous coal cellar passage coming in from the right. We eventually hit Turkey Pool a narrowing of the passage creating a deep pool. You know you are there as this is the only point along the river passage where one (if they wished) can be chest deep in water!

We passed through Turkey chamber and then took a right into Hawkins Horror and once through that into ever increasingly larger passages. Once at the junction with selenite needle passage we made an executive decision to not head into the inner circle. We had lost time in the entrance series and first boulder choke and decided to head into the Sand caverns. This allowed us to maximise our time in Aggy and not overrun our call out.

This turned out to be a good choice as the Sand Caverns are really quite large and although not packed with formations well worth an explore.With a team photo taken at the bitter end we headed out. The Freems had been filming along the way and the video of our trip is below.

Total trip time: 8 hours 30 mins

In the evening a bunch of us headed to the local Indian for a slap up meal!

Beer and Popadums at the Red Indigo restaurant in Crickhowell.


The team looking clean and enthusiastic, with Colin looking suspiciously clean... 

Fresh aches and pains emerged on Sunday morning for most people, so it was decided that a shorter trip was required today. Andy and Antonia fancied exploring Eglwys Faen and the rest of us thought that Craig a Ffynnon would fit the bill. We were also joined at Whitewalls by two extra club members, Phil Knight and Colin Hoare. So it would be a good strong group of 7 that would head down the hill to the cave. Chris was really excited about this - he had wanted to visit Craig a Ffynnon for many years.

Unusually, the lock opened really easily today for Duncan, and we were in the cave within minutes. It was a later start for us today, so it was around 11am by this time. We then headed in through the pretty Straw Chamber up the ladder at First Choke on to the wet crawl through Gasoline Alley and all still fairly clean and fast going at this point. Arriving at the climb up to the second boulder choke we met a party of three on their way down and then suddenly a group of 8 Cardiff students also arrived to join us. Having been in Craig a Ffynnon several times before without meeting another group, the cave was suddenly looking incredibly busy! But we all got on well and had a chat while waiting for people to ascend/descend the pitch (although Chris had a rather close encounter with a small loose rock). The pitch was a fixed ladder up to a climb of around 8m that has a rope on it for the first part and then some metal plates bolted into the wall, via ferrata style, for the second bit - these are somewhat interesting if you have short legs.

One of the places it would be preferable not to meet another group travelling in the opposite direction, would be while you are actually in the Second Choke itself which is rather tortuous and squalid. So when we met another 3 people while in this we performed some interesting acrobatics to allow people to pass each other. It was then out into the big stuff and we soon reached the gloopy mud. Fun was had by most people in this as wellies came off and legs got stuck, it was soon followed by some slipping and sliding up mud banks and laughter was echoing around the passage. Great to have such good spirits on a caving trip. Onwards we went to the really big and pretty formations. Travertine Passage looked very impressive with its magnificent formations and gour pools, but the Hall of the Mountain King was even more so and almost rendered Chris speechless.

Hall of the Mountain King, Craig a Ffynnon.

After posing for some photos, we explored the area around Hall of the Mountain King and the passage on the right near the entrance to it. It was then time to turn around and head out (though we are all desperate to have a longer trip in here soon to visit the Promised Land!). We met the Cardiff group on their way into the Hall of the Mountain King, just as we were on our way out.

More entertainment was provided by the gloopy mud and the temporary loss of 5 wellies, where Claire and Tim proved absolutely useless at helping stuck cavers because they were laughing too much. The climb down from the Second Boulder Choke proved slightly more interesting on the way back down being as everyone was thoroughly covered in mud and very slippery, but there were no calamities and we all emerged out into a bright sunny day.

Total trip time: around 3.5 hours.

Muddy but Sunny! Colin looking not so clean!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Big pitches vs. sore knees!

Trip Dates: 16th -18th September 2016

Team:Derek Cousins, Celestine Crabbe, Mark Hampson, Duncan Hornby, Richard Sore, Helen Stewart, Malcolm Stewart, Phill Thomas, Claire Vivian

Another cracking weekend away, this time in the Peak District. With glorious weather and pubs dangerously close to the TSG hut in Castleton it was going to be a weekend well worth the effort (aka 7 hours of soul destroying driving).



The entrance to Titan is an innocuous looking and beautifully engineered sliding manhole cover high on Hurd Low hill to the north of Castleton. From this vantage point, in fabulous still sunny weather, we had views north as far as Edinburgh and to the south could see the M4 as it goes round Cardiff; it seemed a pity to have to wrestle into stiff SRT harnesses and depart the glorious high peaks for the dark depths below.

Celestine, Mark, Malcolm, Richard and Phill at the entrance to Titan.

However, the key fitted the lock, the manhole opened, all the lights worked, we had all the ropes, it was going to have to be done...

Richard rigged from the girder and shackles just beneath the manhole cover and we followed down the initial pitch, which is a 48m free hang. Largely mined out you are struck as you descend by the amount of effort, concrete, time and money that have been poured into this shaft - once beneath the surface you can start to appreciate what a major civil engineering project this entrance shaft was. Helmets off to the cavers who created and funded it!

Richard rigging the first pitch.

Phill descending the first 45m pitch.

At the foot of the entrance shaft, turning away from the tiny circle of sunlight way up above, a stooping height mined passage leads into a wellie deep pool of muddy water. This continues round a couple of corners, to suddenly end at a window onto a vast black space. A doorstep of calcite with a few lumpy stalagmites on it provides the final launch pad, into the insanely big silo that is the Titan main shaft.

Rigging the second 70m pitch is ‘interesting’. The bolts are high up and well out, and to reach them you have to stand on tip-toe with one foot on a polished 6” high stalagmite, whilst tensioned onto the rope to the back-up belay with a hand jammer. Reaching at full stretch, with the rigging krabs gripped in wobbly finger-tips, it is hard to ignore the black void sucking at your back.

Celestine looking down towards Event Horizon at the top of the second 70m pitch.

The distant bolts do however provide a free-hang and once on the pitch everything becomes a bit more comfortable. Down, down, down, the rope sliding through the rack. Spinning gently, huge calcite flows and half seen corners of the shaft are dimly seen, my Fenix HL55 even on setting 4 is not powerfull enough for this. This is a totally lonely experience, the rest of the team above at the window might as well not be there, there is as far as I can tell no floor beneath me.

Eventually I feel and hear the tackle bag hit the Event Horizon, and I bounce gently on the elastic rope down a boulder slope to bolts, and put a re-belay in. Now I can stand and wait, secure, whilst Phill’s tiny glimmer of light descends towards me. It takes forever.

Phill takes over the rigging for the final pitch, dropping over the sloping lip of the Event Horizon to find and rig the free-hanging Y-hang, that supports the final drop to the floor of the shaft 65m below. Celestine lands beside me at the rebelay, and I then follow Phill, and make a total RS of passing the y-hang. Not the best place to spend ten minutes sweating and swearing; everything seems to be rigged left-handed and the wrong length; annoying because I know my SRT technique is flawless. Maybe I am going demented because beneath me I can see more than one light and hear voices - surely I haven’t been dangling here long enough for Phill to multiply by binary fission? Eventually, using a footloop and with one leg braced behind my ear, I manage to free my short cow’s tail from the bolt and fall exhausted onto my descender.

The second half of the shaft is as vast as the first and passes through a spatter of welcome spray to land at the foot of a huge jumble of boulders.

The top of the pile represented a good place out of the draft to sit and watch the rest of the team descend, Phill (just one of him) reports that the other team have been and gone - they made very good time.

Celestine descends third and Helen then proved that the y-hang can easily be passed if you know what you’re doing (perhaps I need to look at my technique after all) and Richard and Mark arrive shortly afterwards.

Mark descending the third 60m pitch.

All down we leave three of the SRT kits in the bag hanging from the end of the rope and follow Claire’s party out of Peak, following a trail of little cairns like breadcrumbs through the cave.

Richard and Mark at the top of the “Bung”.

The duck full of Cow Arse Worms is memorable (strong motivator to hold your breath) and colostomy crawl is well named - imagine a Cwm Dwr sized crawl filled with diarrhoea and you won’t be far off. Dragging a tackle bag through this is just fabulous fun; I think I may have said a rude word.

Richard at Surprise View.

All told an excellent trip taking about six hours to reach the warm air of the show cave and then the daylight at the impressive Peak Cavern entrance.

(Titan was de-rigged the next day by Richard, Phill, Malcolm and Mark; de-rigging took about 2 hours.)

Back at base (TSG) - a very muddy Phill about to enjoy a well deserved cup of tea :)

Peak Cavern

Who must really enjoy crawling in liquid mud? It has to be Duncan, Derek and Claire who had fun passing through Colostomy Crawl, not once, but twice, in the same trip.

As Malcolm, Helen, Phill, Richard, Celestine and Mark headed for the entrance to Titan the three of us strolled along the riverside walk to the entrance of Peak Cavern in the sunshine (rather a fast-paced stroll as we had Keith from the TSG with us). This was only a second visit to Peak for us, so our plan was to focus on route finding and try and reach the bottom of Titan from Peak, then exit via Peak again. Keith was heading to the White River series to replace a rope, so it fortuitously turned out that part of our trips would overlap and Keith could show us how to get as far as the Whirlpool. We had a small copy of the Peak-Speedwell survey with us, and this proved pretty useful further on in the trip.

Despite having a tacklebag the weight of a small child, Keith was even faster underground than he had been on the walk through Castleton. We left the showcave and were through the Mucky Ducks and at Treasury Chamber in no time. We then climbed the fixed ladder there and found ourselves in the Trenches (muddy crawling) and Colostomy Crawl (even more muddy crawling). Here we wallowed our way through mud for around 20-30 minutes, passing the junction with the Wind Tunnel and then emerged reborn at the top of Egnaro Aven. This proved to be an easy climb down a series of fixed ladders, though we were all covered in mud and making everything around us rather slippery at this time. We then sped on to find the Short Bypass (first small climb on the right, for anyone wondering) and met another group who had entered via Speedwell at Block Hall. Moving on in the Bung Hole streamway we were able to have a look at the actual Bung in the dam, as the stream was low. Here you reach another fixed ladder climb (approx. 15ft) up the dam wall. As it had been dry in recent days, the ladder climb was easy, but if it has rained recently, you will find yourself climbing up through a torrent of water. It is then a fairly short wade past the entrance to Far Canal (gated access to Speedwell showcave) to reach the Whirlpool. The scaff bars that have been placed on the wall to enable you to cross give an indication of what the area is like in wet conditions, but today the water was several inches below them and I was able to wade through it- it was only around chest deep, no swimming required. By this point, we were around 2hrs into our trip and it was time to head off on our own as Keith went his own way to sort out the rope.

We expected the route finding to be harder than it turned out to be and within the next 30 minutes we found our way to Titan, having a fabulous game of ‘gates and ladders’ along the way. The most memorable sections were one particularly awkward gate to open from underneath whilst balancing on a rocking ladder, Stemple Highway with its mildly interesting for short legs traverses and a good few squeezes which were definitely easier in the opposite direction. Not to mention the smelly pool of water, almost a duck, that contains the notorious Cow Arse Worms (which we passed through twice and managed to avoid getting). We got slightly lost once following some bang wire, but this turned out to be a small detour and we regained the route fairly quickly. We then emerged through an uphill crawl into the bottom of Titan. This was incredibly impressive and Duncan had fun experimenting with the tremendous echo there. When we arrived, we could see a member of the Titan team was rigging the Event Horizon, so we decided to wait for them to come down to say hello. Before long, Phill abseiled down and joined us. The rest of the team were on their way down, but we decided to push on back to Peak as it was getting chilly waiting there. On the way out we made good progress - though Colostomy Crawl seemed even longer on the way back - and decided to spend some time exploring the Peak streamway as Derek had not been there before and it is a fine streamway. We headed to Surprise View and down another fixed ladder to the river - we headed downstream as far as Buxton Water Sump and then went upstream as far as the cascade.

We spent ages cleaning our caving kit before entering the showcave (as Peak access rules dictate) and this turned out to be time well-spent as there was a tour group at the end of the cave just as we arrived. We had a chat with a couple of tourists in the group on the way out and then emerged into the sunshine once again.

Trip time: 6 hrs.


Giants Hole

The trip into Giants Hole was to be their first visit for Celestine, Claire and Helen with Duncan leading the round trip. It should be noted that the landowner is now charging a whopping £3 per person to cross their land, this placed into a safety box where one parks.

We were to do the classic round trip, with Helen announcing that this was her first trip with Duncan, so no pressure then… :)

Celestine, Duncan, Claire and Derek preparing to leave the sunshine for Giants Hole.

Entering the cave we quickly got to the top of Garland Pot. My 9m ladder easily reached the bottom but a 20m rope would have been best (I only had a 15m). Several well placed bolts and an easy take-off make this a simple pitch to rig.

Duncan belaying Derek on Garland Pot pitch, Giants Hole.

Derek belaying Duncan down Garland Pot pitch.

At the bottom of the pitch is the start of the Crabwalk, a tight meandering passage very similar to maypole inlet in OFD. The main difference is that it just keeps going on and on! There is over 600m of Crabwalk there.

The team in one of the very few places within the Crab walk where people can gather!

One location (the Vice) requires the larger person to pretty much lie in the streamway as it is so narrow.

Going to the bitter end of the Crabwalk ends at a sump so we backed up about 15m and headed out of the stream to the left. At this point (the Eating House) there are several ways on but we needed to go up the awkward climb up where the knotted rope with footloops requires good upper body strength to haul yourself up ‘n’ out into Maggin’s Rift.

Then there was much memory loss, another longer but easier climb, leading ultimately to a junction known as Poached Egg.

Helen at top of a pitch (name unknown) on the return part of the trip.

Turning right eventually leads to the Devil's Windpipe, which requires a flat out crawl into a duck that can sump. According to the sign placed at the entrance, if it sumps it should not be attempted as it is over 20m in length. After much crawling and going wrong only once we eventually popped out above the crab walk. Fortunately for us someone had left a rope in situ so we abseiled down it. It is possible to free climb it down further on, where the rocks offer good footholds.

Claire descending into Crab Walk using an Italian Hitch.

We finally headed up stream back to Garlands pot pitch and once de-rigged we headed out.

Trip time: 4 Hours

Authors: Malcolm, Helen, Claire and Duncan