Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Caving in Yorkshire is awesome!

Trip date: 17th-18th June 2017

Team; Stuart Bennett, Bob Hall, Elaine Hall, Duncan Hornby, Helen Hooper, Andy Jones, Richard Sore and Claire Vivian

Everyone arrived in Yorkshire on the Friday to stay at the excellent Bunkhouse at Hardraw run by the SWCC members Helen and Andy. Duncan managed to break his record of getting to Hardraw now taking no less than 8½ hours to get there…

Hardraw Old School Bunkhouse in the glorious sunshine.

Whilst having a cheeky pint in the Green Dragon, Richard and Stuart arrived looking just as frazzled from their long drives. With a fairly early start and knackered from driving it did not take too much for everyone to retire!

Saturday - Meregill Hole

The SWCC group split into two groups; the advance party rigging pitches 1 and 2 but going no further and the rest following an hour later to complete the rigging to the bottom. The reason this was done was that Andy had two clients (Ariana and Lee) who were on an improver SRT course. They were improving their skills and a full trip to the very bottom would not have been appropriate. Andy gave Duncan the opportunity to rig pitches 1 and 2 which he jumped at under his watchful eye, dispensing best practise and advice. Bob joined the advance party and went no further than pitch 2 as he was recovering from a shoulder injury.

An excellent description and rigging guide can be found on the CNCC website here.

Andy and his SRT clients (Ariana and Lee) at Meregill entrance.

Andy abseiling the first pitch.

Stunning rays of light in the Mere entrance.

Pitch 1 was relatively easily to rig as it was at the surface, pitch 2 had an “interesting” traverse line that lead to the pitch head. It is high up near the roof and you find yourself desperately trying to jam yourself into any place that will hold you as you attempt to rig.

Lee passing the deviation on the second pitch.
Bob arrives at the base of the second pitch.

Whilst waiting at the base of pitch 2, to our surprise 3 Wessex cavers came shooting past and overtook us. Stuart, Claire and Richard arrived and Duncan joined their team. Bob, Andy, Ariana and Lee then returned to the surface. Apparently Andy put them through their paces getting them to repeat some of the skills they were learning, so no rest for the wicked!

Stuart and Richard continued rigging the pitches, made more fiddly with the Wessex rigging in place. Big pitches and several hanging re-belays made for a “lonely” trip until we all gathered at the base of pitch 5. It was at this point the Wessex team blasted past us on their way out...

Aware of time we decided to keep the exploration short. With various options lying ahead Stuart who has visited this cave before announced he had “not been this way” and this was reason enough to give it ago. I now know that if Stuart says “not been this way before” that is reason enough not to go there! A painful hands and knees crawl with SRT kit was not what I wanted! Almost at the point of turning around I could hear Stuart ahead saying he was in a stream way which eventually rejoined the obvious stream way which we had ignored.

Stuart in the Meregill stream way.

The team (Duncan, Claire, Richard and Stuart) near the base of the 5th and final pitch.

After our team photo we headed out; again a lonely journey as we strung out waiting for each pitch to clear and people derigging. We de-rigged the pitches we had rigged. I was secretly pleased with this as poor old Richard and Stuart dragged out the heaviest bags from the deepest parts of the system, kudos to them! As I (Duncan) had rigged the 2 pitches at the entrance I was the last out and was welcomed by a glorious sunny evening with spectacular vistas that only chapel-le-dale can offer.

We got back to the cars, quickly changed, Bob had been a trooper and waited for us, then a mad dash back to Hawes for food. We were joined by Jo White and the rest of the evening was spent in the Green Dragon in Hardraw talking about Richard’s pants, a topic that just kept on giving…

Sunday - Roaring Hole

A rigging guide can be found on the CNCC website here.

Due to time constraints Sunday had to be a short trip and Roaring Hole in Chapel-le-dale fitted the bill. We said our goodbyes at Hardraw and headed over to park up and change. The weather was glorious and was promising to be a scorcher.

Stuart came over but the weather was just too good to get him underground, so only Duncan, Claire and Richard entered Roaring Hole.

The entrance is within a section of limestone paving just off the main track.

Duncan, Richard and Claire at the entrance of Roaring Hole.

At the car we had re-evaluated what we planned to do and with time against Duncan and Claire we decided to just do the first pitch and get as far as we could before turning around.

Looking out or Roaring Hole - saying goodbye to the sunlight.

Duncan installing rigging at the first pitch.

The first pitch is a nice friendly pitch with easy access, no desperate hanging rebelays as in Meregill the day before.

Duncan about to descend the first pitch.
There is a wide ledge for the second half of the first pitch which allowed us to take a few action shots.

Claire descending the second part of pitch 1, Richard in background.
We continued our exploration passing through boulder chokes seemingly held up by rusting scaffolding poles.

Duncan near some pretties.

We passed through a few damp patches and finally arrived at Masons Chamber where a rather tight and awkward squeeze into more boulder choke had to be passed. No problem for Claire, a bit more worrisome for Richard and I!

Richard in the squeeze out of Mason’s Chamber.

We eventually got to what we believe is Slab Climb which would have required using a bit of kit to get down safely. This turned out to be a suitable turn around point.

We retraced our tracks and exited into scorching sunshine.

Ingleborough in the sunshine.

We said our goodbyes and then Duncan and Claire made a dash for Newbury so Claire could catch her connecting train. Richard met up with Jo and they visited Mistral to pick up some data loggers.

Local Caving

Dave, Paul and Adrian (CSS and SWCC) at Llanelly Quarry Pot
Over the past year or so evening caving trips and meals out among local cavers have become more regular. The last few weeks have been no exception. During that time we have visited Llanelly Quarry Pot, Little Neath, OFD2, OFD1, been out for 2 currys and gone bowling. It's good to see local cavers meeting up, with trips often being mixed-club ones, so if you want to join in, just get in touch. 

Dave admires some formations in Llanelly Quarry Pot
Lisa, Paul, Nigel, Jen and Dan at Little Neath (SWCC/CSS/Gagendor)

Dan cooling off in Little Neath

John and Paul exploring a cave on Gower

Alan on President's Leap during a route-finding trip

Paul, Barbara, Steve and Chris go bowling

It's yet another strike! (Steve is now banned from bowling with us...)

Chris in Selenite Tunnel

Claire, Chris, Alan and Paul going in to OFD2. Route finding to Cross Rift

Chris crossing President's Leap
Ian, Tom and Glenys getting ready for Top Entrance

Tom in Top Entrance

Local curry evening

Jenny and Jamie in OFD1

Alan, Chris and Trev about to go in to OFD1 on a hot evening

Paul, Adrian, Steve and Dave raring to go
Claire and Ceri near Minchin Hole
Ceri and Claire in Minchin Hole, Gower

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Provisional Members'/ Beginners' Weekend

Just a quick write-up here as a more detailed report will appear in the Newsletter. The 3-4 June weekend saw 14 people either new to caving, or SWCC, come and visit the club and go underground with current club members.

Morning briefing before heading underground.
We had a variety of trips suitable for all abilities on offer. Some of the more advanced cavers who were new to the club, rather than caving itself, visited Dan yr Ogof and Northern Lights in OFD on Saturday. Others had their first experience of a cave and visited Trident and Judge, Swamp Creek and the mini-Columns, or OFD1. These trips took them underground for around 4 hours and taught them some valuable new skills, such as traversing and crawling. The smiles afterwards showed that they all enjoyed their trips!
John, Paul, Steve and Tim get ready to go to Northern Lights

2 beginner groups get ready to go underground

Matthew trying out a squeeze

Lucy at Swamp Creek

James on President's Leap

Lucy at the Mini-Columns
Following caving and hot showers we then sat outside enjoying the sunshine and chatting in the early evening until it was time to go out for a curry. There were 17 of us who ended up eating out, so it made for a pleasant and sociable evening.

Dave, Paul, Nigel, Alex and Matthew enjoying the sunshine.

Sunday looked like a completely different month. The sun of the day before was replaced by heavy drizzle. Nevertheless, we still had plenty of people keen to get underground and we were eager to oblige with most of us visiting OFD1.

Alex, Matthew and Lucy in Roundabout Chamber, OFD1
Alex on Bolt Traverse

Thank you to our leaders for the weekend: Bill Buxton, Andy Freem, Antonia Freem, Chris Grimmett, Bob Hall, James Hallihan, Phil Knight, Tim Lewingdon, Malcolm Lloyd, Sam Moore, Chris Taylor and John Wellbelove.

Welcome to new provisional members: Lucy Archer, Mia Berwick, Paul Conboy, Dave Coulson, David Eason, Keeley Gordon, Petra Hajnal, Laurence Howells, Matthew Jones, Nigel Jones, Alex Nahmad-Rohen, Alex, Oliver Rathmill and Steve Rush.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Little Neath River Cave

Team: Jen Baxter, Lisa Boore, Nigel Jones, Paul Tarrant, Dan Thorne, Claire Vivian

A spell of hot, dry weather made us think about doing a trip that would cool us down. Little Neath fitted the bill. It was Nigel's first visit to the cave and he was impressed by the formations and justifiably pleased to get in through a rather intimidating entrance series.
L-R: Lisa, Paul, Nigel, Jen and Dan. Yes, that is the entrance to the left of Jen's hand.
 I was impressed at not having to fight an army of spiders to get in through the entrance. Lisa then showed me a way above the squeeze that meant you could stay mainly dry (the boys - who were neck deep in the water at this point - couldn't fit. Sorry boys!)
Dan about to go through the tight section.
After this we stomped around the main river passage, spent some time taking photographs of formations and then completed the round trip. Nigel definitely overcame his fears admirably here and a great trip was had be all. Topped off by a quick pint in The Old White Horse Inn at Pontneddfechan, meant it was a great sociable evening. But most of all, well done Nigel!
Nigel passing though the squeeze neck deep in the water.

Nigel viewing some great formations
Claire, Jen and Lisa admire a formation. (Photo: Paul Tarrant)

Jen, Claire and Dan near the sump (Photo: Paul Tarrant)