(Note: See also the archived Upper Flood Swallet trip reports page)
31/01/09 Stainsby's Shaft
(Biff, BiC and MN)
A good digging session in Stainsby's. We protected the next down-section with scaffolding. A few more rotten timbers were uncovered. We could see the way on for several feet between the rocks. The stream was running quite nicely - a dye test is needed to see if it connects to Upper Flood Swallet [BF]
17/01/09 Stainsby's Shaft
(Biff, BiC, EW, MN, PK)
Stainsby's dig went really well. After a few hours installing scaffolding, we started digging and voids started appearing almost straight away. We do not have to haul the spoil up the shaft; instead we are just stashing it in the voids.
We have got down to a very large boulder that has a large void under it but it is holding back tons of infill; the problem is that it is at a poor angle with only a small point of contact against the wall. If it slips, ouch! I think we can dig down the side of the boulder and then support it from the below, then we should make rapid progress as we can see for about 3 or 4 metres down in the direction where the draft is coming from. Behind us on the other side of the boulder is loads of stacking space. The draft was very strong and cold, becoming stronger as the day progressed. Although it was windy (there was a low pressure coming in) there must be a lot of void down there to take so long for the pressure to equalise. [BF]
03/01/09 Upper Flood Swallet
(BiC, MiW, TF, MiR)
Upper Flood Swallet was fine - water levels were pretty low but on the chilly side (6ºC). Though looking frozen, the lid was persuaded to open without much trouble in and out, but our wet gloves stuck to the rim. We did not need to resort to Mike's gas stove. We emerged to a very fine crisp starry night with the grass sparkling in our lights - the muddy track was rock hard
Digging was done at the Rift Series sandy tube - a bit of progress but air less fresh than before, perhaps due to outside weather conditions. Mike W and I explored the new Rift passage, Tim and Mike R returned to poke in the gloop at the end of the East Branch. Its a possible dig site but less strategic than the Sandy Tube as it heads back towards the sump.
Mike W climbed up the small hole behind the boulder at the first West Passage kink, he reports that it did not look promising, even after a bit of hammer and chisel work (tools from Brian's Eye left in place here, some more tools still at Chuckle Choke). I believe the left side wall of the West Passage dig could be made safe by walling it up to the ceiling using stone from outside. The roof above the way on down is more of a problem some scaffolding will be needed there.
What looked like more than 1" of snow under the trees up high on Mendip was actually accumulations of frost fallen from the branches. My car read -8ºC on the way back from the Hunters to the cottage. [BC]
02/01/09 Battery Swallet
(MaW, ?? )
It was colder than you can imagine. I had to stand in the shower for 20 minutes to thaw out!! In saying that, because of the freeze we have finally dug out all the silt and reached the dig face proper. Plenty of room inside now. Lost the nail bar halfway up a hole, but I don't think it was 'the' hole, which was still underwater! It's going to be very exciting when we return and all the water should have gone? Pure cave now! [MaW]
02-04/01/09 Bitterly cold caving on Mendip
(GR, AL, DL, E?, J?, A?, T?, S?, S?)
Bitter cold weather accompanied the first members' weekend of 2009. Arriving at the Cottage Friday midday, 02/01/09, Mendip was presented in freezing mist and the photogenic sight of heavy frost on bushes. Ice frost fell from the trees repeatedly onto otherwise clear roads, forming millimetres of compacted slippery white 'snow' under each tree; a most unusual sight.
Meeting up with Jeremy and with introductions made with other MCG members at the Cottage and digging invitations kindly declined (another time perhaps), our group consisting Angus, Debbie, Emma, Jeremy, Alex and Geoff headed off as planned to SRT Thrupe Lane.
Thrupe Lane - Marble Steamway Perseverance Pitch looked decidedly narrow after Christmas pudding. Once down, and having found our way to Marble Streamway, Debbie arrived first to achieve her ambition to rig the nicely exposed traverse and Y hang of Lateral Pitch. There was no delay in the spray below the pitch and everyone was soon on the long haul up through the narrow jagged rock, seemingly unique to this Mendip cave.
Friday night was 'squeeze box' time as Emma and Debbie successfully negotiated Upper Flood Swallet, in the box at the same time!
Swildon's - Round Trip Saturday morning and ice was firmly on the inside of the bedroom windows and an over suit carelessly left in the car had turned to a frozen lump of stone. Wetsuits were donned for a Swildon's Round Trip and the team set off lead by Angus. Jeremy had weekend commitments but friend Dave joined the group.
Having lifelined everyone down the 20, it was to the sumps, bailing and siphoning to complete our way to the next obstacle, The Squeeze. After valiant efforts, probable cracked rib, chest hair left on rock, the squeeze finally defeated one of our group, necessitating a party split and back-tracking return journey of Emma, Angus and Dave. Remaining members headed to Sump One and quickly negotiated this to find the ladder and lifeline completely undisturbed; a very quiet Saturday in Swildon's.
On exiting the warmth of the cave and walking back across fields, our wet gear froze solid with ice by the time the cars were reached. The temperature was probably minus 10ºC.
GB - Great Chamber Sunday, a sunny trip to GB Great Chamber with members Tony, Steve and Steve joining us for the day required a split into two parties due to access numbers. We parked at the adjacent farm for security and gladly paid £1 per car at the house. This was our first trip to Great Chamber. Some of us had been to Bat Passage previously, but this time we diverted upwards through the boulder choke with the aid of an assisted hand line (a small ladder would also have helped).
Great Chamber proved enjoyable with interesting formations particularly as you climb up slope. Another visit is firmly required as regretfully water fogged the camera. Otherwise this proved an uneventful trip and easy exit, straight back to the Cottage to help clean up and say goodbyes. A great start to 2009 and the New Year; good company caving, good company around the blazing MCG lounge fire and a nice pub evening. Our thanks to all for making this weekend and in particular for the cottage "hot showers" [GR]
05/12/08 Upper Flood Swallet, the ascent of the aven above Thief Chamber (The Old Curiosity Shop)
(BS, PB, KK)
I wasn't particularly looking forward to the big struggle, through the entrance series of Upper Flood Swallet, loaded with heavy tackle bags full of climbing gear. It was bad enough trying to get past those damned tight bits and you really don't need to be shoving, pulling and persuading heavy tackle bags at the same time. To top it off I was going to use my Oldham for lighting too. Another thing to take off and shove in front of me; I really must try and budget for a new set of lights. Fortunately, Keith K took pity on me and lent me his headset, bursting with LEDs. So Peat B and I set off on a crisp morning, with thoughts of a fatigued return to a cottage smelling of Christmas Dinner.
As predicted, the bags were heavy and were very quickly water-logged when we went through the Lavatory Trap with two inches of air space. An hour later, we were at Plank Chamber and heading up into Trench Passage. To our concern the resurgence was flowing through Trench Passage and thoughts of another complete soaking went through our heads. Fortunately it wasn't too bad and we were soon stood at the ladder hanging out of The Old Curiosity Shop.
I started getting geared up with a harness and climbing gear while Peat went off up the ladder to establish a belay position. I followed, and after getting ourselves sorted out in a small alcove adjacent to the top of the ladder, I set off up the aven. I needed to cross the shaft to get to a promising-looking continuation about fifty feet above. The rock was very brittle on one wall, which didn't help for secure bridging out over the shaft. Then a slippery muddy slope didn't help progress. I managed to get to the base of a chimney and get a nut running-belay in, and a few cautious moves up from this enabled a bigger nut placement about eight feet above.
Feeling a little more secure, I considered the idea of continuing to climb free but the security of the rock around curtailed that idea. Above, there were some large blocks the size of bags of coal, cemented together with flowstone and forming a slight overhang. The only thing I could do was to get a bolt in. So, in a rather awkward and restricted position, I started banging away with a hammer and drill. A cordless drill would have been quicker, but Upper Flood Swallet is not drill-friendly and I wouldn't have had the room to use one anyway.
After about fifteen minutes, I finally sank the bolt home, screwed on a hanger and attached etriers to it. I moved up on these to the top most loops and surveyed the scene.
I figured another bolt may be necessary, but then spotted a vague, horizontal crack. I got out a piton and tried sending it home but the crack was blind. I tried again a little to the right and it started to sink home. It went in about 30mm and stopped. Attaching an etrier to it, I transferred my weight onto it. It bent a little worryingly, but seemed ok. I moved up as high as I could, and I could now see the passage sloped upward to an inviting continuation above.
Next to me, a large tottering pillar of blocks, again the size of sacks of coal, had toppled over from one wall and was now leaning against the other wall. Looking down I could see that this would crash down on Peat if it dislodged, and made a mental note to keep well away from it. It looked like a rift passage disappearing into the distance. I called down to Peat to tell him the promising news and warned him I was now going to climb up free.
The way on was over some white flowstone, and I wasn't happy about the need to stand on it. I managed to get a sling around a white knob, and pulling on this, went up the slope for about ten feet to a point where it went back down into a section of rift passage. I looked around to find somewhere to untie the rope and securely attach it. The thought of losing the rope back down the aven and trapping me here worried me. Now I had time to turn around and survey where I was.
I soon saw that the rift passage, which looked so promising, closed down after about fifty feet. Above, I could see through some insecure-looking boulders to a continuation of the aven.
There was a hole just big enough for me to put my helmet through and shine the beam up to see what lay beyond. Above, the aven went up another fifty feet. "DAMN IT!" It closed down everywhere I looked. I continued to look around hoping that I had missed something, but nothing popped up. I went back to the head of the pitch and called down to Peat who had been stuck down there getting cold but buoyed up by the anticipation of a breakthrough. I let him know that it was a no-go and I was now about to reverse the pitch.
A little disconsolate, I started reversing the tricky moves back to the dodgy, bending peg. Then the thought of the impending Christmas Dinner about three hours away came into my head and lifted my spirits. I took another look up the main aven to see if there were any possibilities there, but it all seemed to close down.
After a cautious retreat, removing gear as I went, I was soon alongside Peat. He went back down the ladder and as there was little point in leaving the ladder there, I de-rigged it and let it drop. Using the jammed boulder it was attached to, to sling the rope over, I lowered myself back down the aven and into Thief Chamber. I de-kitted, we packed the gear and went back along Trench Passage to the resurgence where we could clean the gear and have a bite to eat.
We had thought of going down to East Passage to see how the others were getting on at their dig, but the bags were now heavier with the extra ladder in tow, and the return to the surface was going to be another ordeal. So we agreed to head out.
About an hour and a half later and a lot of struggling from me, we surfaced to a heavily frosted evening and a sky full of stars. My sternum hurt, thanks to "Easy Squeeze". We were getting cold but the thought of a hot cup of tea and Christmas Dinner beckoning stirred us both into a quick pace back to the cottage.
Later, I decided to call the passage I had climbed into "What the Dickens" in keeping with the nomenclature of that part of the cave. If it was ever deemed worth another look it would not take a lot to get back up there, but for now I have the honour of the being the first person to see What the Dickens, and probably the last. [BS]
02/12/08 Battery Swallet
(MaW, ?? )
We bailed 200 litres last week and whooshed it down the plumbing (which now terminates at the dig face) in 25 litre drums. Although this flooded and refilled the pond, it did run away in 20 minutes. We cannot bail fast enough, so we will try a sludge pump next. I am going to try gingerly digging and hope there's no flooding. The pond is continually fed by a separate small inlet [MaW]
24/11/08 Upper Flood Swallet, West and East Passages
(MiR, 2 Dutch guests - E?, L?
On the way out we climbed up at Walk the Plank, and went through to Thief's Chamber. The stream was resurging again, not as much as last December but enough to make the way through slightly less unappealing. The interesting thing was that the water flow was enough to show exactly where it sank without filling the hole in the middle of the chamber completely. We spent about 20 minutes pulling mud and rocks out by hand. Many thanks to Erik and Lisa! The water flows away quite easily into rocks and pebbles below the mud. It would be worth going in there sometime with a trowel to excavate the mud enough to get at the rocks below, it is about a foot thick and comes out easily, then we could see if there is anything more of interest.
I had a look up in the roof in the passage just before Walk the Plank, about a metre short of that really nice curtain that shows up well if a light is shone through it. I reckon it might be possible to climb right up at this point, the high rift stops here (or starts, if you are heading downstream) so its not quite as exposed as one might expect. This is the bit marked on the survey as "visible high level". [MiR]
21-23/11/08 Yorkshire Dales
(JG, AL, DL, RussH, RussP, GM, JW, BC-R, AC, SC)
Friday - Sell Gill Holes
We all met at the Inglesport cafe for a quick yarn and a cuppa, and once we were organised we went off to find our home for the weekend - the YSS hut at Helwith Bridge. Once we had fought for the best beds we set off to Sell Gill where we split into two teams and hit the cave via two entrances. Being the beginner, I did the cave by ladders and the others did it by SRT - I just tried to take it all in. Jeremy did a great job of leading our group and needless to say got us in and out the cave in one piece. After a nice shower we all ended up in the local boozer for a few jars!
Saturday - White Scar Cave
White Scar was exceptionally cold today. This made the swim at the beginning extremely inviting.......NOT! Anyway, what a great cave and very much an eye-opener for a beginner like me. On our return to ground level, passing through the show cave we had to do our bit and pose for the Chinese tourists whilst they took endless photos - when all we wanted to do was have a nice shower and get into warm clothes. I don't think I've ever been so cold getting changed in the car park, with snow on the ground and a lovely Yorkshire wind!
Begoña kindly offered to make us all dinner and after an hour or so she rustled up a great paella and stew, washed down with a few bottles of vino to help us sleep. Honest!
Sunday - Yordas Cave
Oh my god - how cold was it today! Today was an SRT trip so it was a quick learning curve for me, but after taking it all in on Friday I found it straightforward enough. After a 30 metre drop into the top of the cave we had a nice lie in the snow melt-water (not nice!). Jeremy and Debbie continued down the waterfall and out the bottom and the rest of the team came out the same way. On our return to the surface we were very glad for a car with a heater!
Despite the cold, it was a great trip, and many thanks to Jeremy, Angus and Debbie for leading a brilliant weekend and getting us home in one piece! [SC]
(MaR, YR, LM, AM)
The main MCG contingent were staying at the YSS hut at Helwith Bridge so Yvonne and I intended to meet up with them on the Saturday for a trip to White Scar. However our diabetic cat had other plans for us - he chose to have a "hypo" at 7.30am - so we missed the White Scar trip. Instead we met up later with Linda and Alan in the Helwith Bridge for an evening drink before joining the MCG contingent in the YSS to discuss Sunday's plans. SRT seemed to be the flavour of the following day but I was not sure if sitting in a harness is a good idea whilst I still have the remains of a blood clot in my leg. Linda and Yvonne also thought they needed some more practice before attempting an SRT trip, so the three of us decided to meet up at 10.00am on Sunday at the Hill Inn for a trip down Great Douk.
Overnight, the temperature dropped and when we arrived at the pub there was a light dusting of snow / frozen hail. Changing quickly, we arrived at the entrance to Great Douk about 10.30. A good-size stream was issuing from the mouth of the cave making for an interesting climb up the waterfall. Linda had not done this trip before, and when we soon arrived at the collapse at Low Douk we joked that the trip was complete and we should climb to the surface to meet Alan (who had taken the dogs for a jaunt up Ingleborough in the snow). Linda nearly fell for it!
We continued onwards in a sporting stream, traversing over the deeper pools to keep dry and noting signs that the water had fallen between 5 and 15cm very recently judging by the "tide marks" on the walls. More ominously though, after some 200m, we began to notice fresh vegetation on all the walls and the ceiling (which was up to 3m high now). The cave had recently flooded to the roof; probably during the bad weather we had in October when there were several cave rescues on a single day. We also noted impact marks on the walls and much damaged stal presumably caused by large rocks being washed downstream. Many of these marks were over 1m above the floor of the cave - goodness knows what force is required to keep a cobble-size rock in suspension in a steam at this height!
Eventually, the roof lowered as we approached the end of the cave and the exit to Middle Washfold Sink. A wrong turn took us to a choke and a bitterly cold crawl in the water. I found the coldness to be quite painful, not at all like "normal" cave water. It was fresh snow melt and very close to 0º centigrade.
Retracing our route to the mainstream, we searched for the correct way on and found the wet route to Middle Washfold. It was not an attractive option - very low, very wet, and bitterly cold. We tried all the other possibilities in the hope that we could find a "dry" exit to Middle Washfold, but failed. Every way on involved crawling in bitterly cold snow-melt and I was beginning to suffer from the cold, despite wearing two layers of thermals plus a heavy duty furry suit and PVC oversuit.
Turning around, we set off back for the Great Douk entrance. By now, we were all quite wet, and cared not for trying to keep dry by traversing the deeper parts of the steam. Instead we waded quickly downstream and very soon we found ourselves at the entrance where we met a large party of Boy Scouts on a day's hike, complete with gas stoves, kettles and hot drinks. Despite dropping a heavy hint, they did not choose to share the beverage with us (what happened to "a good deed every day"?).
Back at the car, my fingers were so cold that I couldn't feel the keys I was holding to unlock the door to reach my dry clothes. A very quick change into warmer and drier clothing followed, and then we piled into the Hill Inn for a most welcome pot of coffee followed by bowls of steaming hot soup.
When we arrived home at Arnside two hours later and unpacked our wet gear, I found that the snow on our caving wellies and clothing hadn't even begun to melt. No wonder my hands had been so cold when we were changing - it must have been well below zero![MR]
19/11/08 Battery Swallet
With the help of drain rods, there was a gurgle, the water disappeared, another gurgle..... and it flooded! Meantime we're going to dig the floor and build a dam. You only have to look at the end and it floods! It's just a case of slow and painful digging until we can have far more room at the dig face. [MaW]
19/11/08 Upper Flood Swallet
(MiR and 4 UBSS)
On the way in, just before Easy Squeeze (at the corner with the rocking slab) a rock about 6x6x12 inches fell on the leg of the guy at the back. He may have caught it with his foot but he wasn't thrashing about so it must have been loose to start with and just waiting for a chance to make a bid for freedom. On the way back, Mike gently poked another loose rock (on the wall on the outside of the corner) behind the one that fell out, which promptly dropped. What is left is as stable as before, but people might want to eyeball it on the way in.
Over the next few trips we will take in some scaffold bars and clamps and store them somewhere around the boulder choke, so that there are some available when needed.
08/11/08 Battery Swallet
A good team effort saw us dig out all the silt from the cave. Unfortunately this caused the cave to flood. The dig face can now be reached when the water recedes. The roof / floor will have to be dug out to allow room to dig. The air chisel will hopefully make light work of it.[MaW]
07-09/11/08 Derbyshire - Giants, Oxlow & Icicle
(DL, TS, GR)
We enjoyed a superb extended weekend caving the Peak District, from the morning of Friday 7th to Sunday 9th November 2008.
With a kit-packed car and 3 people squeezed in for the 4 hour drive north, it proved a wet and windy weekend at Orpheus Caving Club, shared with a group of friendly students from Swansea University Hiking Club and most helpful Orpheus members, Ken and his wife, a great couple. The caving proved excellent.
Friday afternoon - Giants
With £3 each dropped in the farmers 'Post Office' letter box (cheques are apparently preferred due to theft), we did Giants Hole 'round trip'.
Without survey or description to hand as I write, Giants 'round trip' involves nice heavily snaking stream passage just wide enough to rub around with seemingly endless 180 degree turns, a ladder and line down Garlands Pot, a gargling wet crawl through The Windpipe and a double roped SRT pull through, before back up Garlands to make our way in darkness to the car, to change from wet clothes in bitter cold wind. A nice cave for the first day, the Derbyshire equivalent of a Swildons trip, with something to suit all.
We retired to the warmth of the Orpheus cottage for a meal, chat and glass of wine in front of a raging fire and battering rain on the windows - perfect.
Saturday - Oxlow Cavern
The morning saw us up early to repeat the 30 minute drive to Castleton and its lay-by parking for Oxlow Cavern, after leaving money at the nearby farm (an experience in itself, with mass cats in the conservatory). Up the hillside to a pleasant day and the entrance and the start of the first pitch.
A surprise ! A good quality 40m rope was pre-rigged; Mammut Performance Static, 10mm, gold coloured, clearly marked MCG. What an absolute coincidence!
Having committed ourselves to Oxlow and not wanting an hours round trip back to the cottage for different ropes, we double rigged and descended wondering just who we would find below. SRTing into the West Chamber and down slope to our last planned 20m pitch, we bumped into Masson Caving Group (MCG) coming up. Photos have been emailed to them.
That evening we supped at the local family run pub and enjoyed excellent food, (booking recommended).
Remembrance Sunday - Water Icicle
Sunday was to be a short trip as we all needed to get home. We chose Water Icicle Close Cavern with its simple 34m single drop straight down from an exposed hillside entrance, located just a couple of miles from the cottage. The final lane up retreated to muddy dirt track and off-roading in wet grass and potential engine sump-damaging ruts as we weaved precariously up track to dump our gear, with rain and wind howling.
Unable to leave the car (or we would be firmly stuck) another walk took place for the driver while the open-field exposed entrance was rigged. Above ground it was bone chilling balaclava weather with lovely views as the rain cleared. Below, a careful flame test was carried out for potentially high CO2 / low O2, but all proved breathable, though not an ecstatic flame.
The bottom proved great, not just for the lack of wind and rain, but for unexpected interesting passageways, part natural, part mined and with a couple of recent digs in progress. A pleasing worthwhile trip and an excellent finish to our weekend.
We were sorry to leave; our sincere thanks to Orpheus for a most enjoyable and entertaining stay. We look forward to returning. [GR]
18-19/10/08 MCG weekend at SWCC
(GB, BS, KT, KK. From the SWCC: Mick D. From Texas: Terry H)
We all arrived Friday night to an almost deserted SWCC cottage but this didn't last too long as a minibus turned up with a load of students from Kent University and another mini bus from Imperial College turned up at 2:30am
Saturday: OFD1 Geoff, Brian, Keith T, Keith K, and Terry
We finally got underway about 11:00ish. This was Terry's first trip into OFD 1 and probably his last as he was off back to the USA at the end the week. Geoff led the way pointing out many points of interest, including the strange fixed section of ladder called the Toast Rack - this amused our visitor from Texas. We found the water level was quite low as we set off up the streamway. Between the second and third pole crossing we were able to see the wire traverse high up the rift, where we would be later on in the trip when coming out. At the sump we took a detour up to the boulder choke before returning to the start of Lowe's Passage.
It was to be Keith T's proving trip so we sent him up first to rig a ladder at the start of Lowe's Passage and to lifeline our party up the ladder with Brian overseeing the rigging and lifelining. Geoff was chosen to be lifelined and about half way up the ladder he was asked to simulate unconsciousness by hanging on the rope. This was to give Keith some idea of what it's like trying to hold someone's full weight on a lifeline. He immediately got the idea, and with eyes bulging at the strain Geoff got back onto the ladder.
We moved off on our way admiring the helictite formation know as The Fingers, sadly not looking as good as they were when first seen (presumably by Mr Lowe). With Geoff doing his admirable tour guide bit we set off and made our way through some tight rift passage and up the boulders into Roundabout Chamber. Here Keith T, who had brought a camera along, stopped to take some photos of the pretties and the crystals that cover the roof of the passage just beyond. There are some small but pure white decorations around the wall and some very nice straws and pillars which appear to be bent. Geoff gave the game away about finding the way out of the chamber as we stopped short of doing the complete loop. Terry hadn't taken the bait however and had already found the exit.
Soon we got to a bedding-plane crawl. Geoff said the accepted way to negotiate the craw was to roll over and over like a log. We all adopted the hands and knees approach except for Brian, who took a short detour here but soon relocated the way on.
After a short break we moved on into Rawl Series, taking care around the deep pits in the floor. We reached Pi chamber and descended through an unpromising little hole in the boulder choke and down a nasty awkward drop. From here a short section of passage leads on to another tight bit but after a little gardening we all got through. The way on was down a nicely polished tube, descending at a sharp angle. Geoff suggested that the best way to negotiate this was to just slide in a controlled descent. It was very smooth and would be quite difficult if you needed to try to climb back up it. As the passage starts to go horizontal you can hear the roar of the main streamway below and in front is the steel cable which gives the traverse it's name.
Clipping into the steel cable we climbed down to the ledges above the main streamway. Here a dilapidated fixed iron ladder leads on to the jammed boulder some considerable height above the main streamway. Geoff said we were about 40ft above the stream at this point but it looked more to me. Here we saw a party making their way in the steamway below who were a little surprised to hear voices from above. At this point there is an iron girder section helping to prop up the boulder and also serve as a very narrow walkway which we were able to use, clipping our cowstails into the traverse wire as security.
Geoff went first and showed Keith T how to negotiate the traverse, again on nice new steel cables but with very smooth and polished ledges to walk on. At the end of the Wire Traverse Keith T took more pictures and then we set off along the passage that meandered above the streamway and finally closes down to a crawl. Beyond, you reach the shaft below the Dug Out Link. Once up through the Dug Out we reached some more crawling-size passage which descends gradually to meet the main entry series of OFD 1. The floor of polished wet flowstone did make for an easy descending slide and led on through to the last muddy puddles. A short stomp back to the entrance and we were back out into the glorious grey South Wales afternoon. All agreed it was an enjoyable trip.
Sunday: OFD 2
(GB, BS, KT, KK, and Mick from the SWCC)
Geoff was struggling with a sore knee and lagged behind a bit as we followed the rather wet walk up the hillside to the entrance. We went into Gnome Chamber for a look round and Keith T took photos. We then pushed on stopping for a short time as Keith T went down to a chamber to take more photos. Next we descended to Salubrious Passage. At the corkscrew Geoff was getting too much trouble from his knee and had to stop. So the rest of us went on down to the Cross Rift and on to the Trident and Judge formations. We continued following this passage down to a fine white formation in the roof. Keith T took some good photos of this.
We carried on along the passage, a typical weaving, winding stream-filled rift passage of the type you often find in OFD, until it finally closed down at a bolder choke. There may have been a way on but nobody was prepared to push it so we all returned to meet Geoff at the cork screw again. We were all keen to get away not too late so we stomped back to the entrance and out again to a wet and windy hillside. A good weekend, as you always find in Wales. [KK]
04/10/08 Stainsby's Shaft
(MN, LM, GB, Mark I, Biff, EW, HC, AW)
Mick, Linda, Geoff, Mark and Biff fitted lots of scaffolding in the water chamber, which was bone-dry all weekend. Mick and Mark exposed another hole in the floor going down about 3m with another stemple across it. On Sunday Mick, Mike, Ed , Hayley, Alan W and Biff finished the scaffolding and dug down about 1m. We also had to remove a six foot long timber with an iron nail in it, I have washed and photographed it and put it by the coal bunker behind the cottage [BF]
20-21/09/08 Stainsby's Shaft
(MN, P?, Buddy, Biff, EW, Mi? and Pete from ACG)
The floor of the lower passage was dug out to expose large timbers 9"x 11" that are not rotten, with the same size cut outs in the wall. These may be the roof supports of the 18 fathom (33 metre) level. Much mud was removed and scaffolding was installed. This gave us enough confidence to enlarge the hole into the water chamber with a lot of hilti's [BF]
06-07/09/08 Stainsby's Shaft
by Biff Frith
6/7th Sept 13 diggers on Saturday, and 8 Sunday. A concrete lintel was cast in place and 101 drums/rock bags were brought out Saturday with another 100-plus on Sunday. We broke through to a small chamber with a stream and found stemples in place, as well as on the floor. There is a stemple slot cut in to the wall, made by the miners by hand drilling three holes close together in a horizontal line, then the rock above was chiselled out. We can see down another 4m, but it is horribly loose. We are about 4-5m lower than the digging shaft bottom making the total depth about 29-30m.
Upper Flood Swallet - East Passage Digs
by Tim Francis
Although there has not been a great deal of exploration and survey activity in Upper Flood Swallet in recent months we have been doing a little bit of work in the East Passage area.
Attention has focused upon a sand filled tube at the entrance of the Rift Series. Most of Rift Series seems to draft well but passages are constricted. The sandy tube is different in that it is easily diggable and with a small air space to follow. Over the course of 4 trips we have excavated just over 8m of descending crawl. The air always stays fresh even when two or three people are in the tube. The prospects for this dig are intriguing. We are only 6 metres away from intercepting the probable extension of a fault that is encountered at the end of Rift Series. We expect then that the character of the passage will change significantly although quite what will happen is anyone's guess.
All being well it should take us only another two trips to reach this point. There is quite a large gap between Rift Series and Royal Icing Passage to play with. Note also that both Hidden Passage and the dogleg in Royal Icing (that unsurveyed pretty rift beyond the helictite pocket that closes down) have strong draughts.
30/08/09 Stainsby's Shaft
Biff Frith, Mick Norton, Bill Chadwick, Julie Hesketh, Budy (Mark Williams), Paul Ketcher, Angus Leat, and Yvonne & Martin Rowe (briefly). Impressive progress made - dig face shored and made safe, 80 drums of spoil and a large rocks removed.
Progress report by Biff Frith: A dodgy boulder, roughly 5x7x6ft now needs to be secured with a concrete lintel cast in situ. Once this is done, progress can be made under the boulder at an angle of 45° to check out a new route in an 8ft draughting void.
16/08/09 Battery Swallet
by Mark Ward
On 16/08/08 Doug and I spent an hour walking the 'bomb craters' with the very amiable Duncan Massey of Swallet Farm. He was very keen for us to dig Battery Swallet, located in a basically untapped area between Wigmore and Lamb Leer, with great potential. However, the cave lies on the Wookey brothers' land and this was going to prove a bit harder work! The brothers were not impressed when we introduced ourselves as MCG members. They said they were unhappy with the previous fence that had been erected around the trees and that they had lost a cow down the pit? This was later borne out when we dug out a few cow bones from the entrance. One can only speculate how they actually got there? However, with lots of charm and promises, we managed to get them to agree to us having another go! The proviso was that before we did anything, we were to erect a proper barbed wire fence. We returned on 17/08/08 and achieved this although a few more strengthening posts and a stile are required. We are going to give the brothers a couple of pictures and ask them to approve what we have done. We also have to maintain the fence. We have cleared a lot of vegetation from around and above the cave. The next step will be to dig the pit back in layers and build a scaffold and mesh cage to hold it all back, before we can clear the entrance and start digging. We had a squirm inside and a thrutch into Vee Swallet and both look good prospects.
Tim Francis adds: I think the original 1980s MCG diggers at Battery Swallet were Brian Murlis, John Beauchamp and Steve Redwood. I remember reading their log book entries when we had a go at the site in the mid 1990s and also discussed the dig with them in early 1991. Bill Headington also took a brief interest when he was living / working in the area in the early '90s. Vee Swallet, the best looking site, was already adopted so it was about finding another swallet to have a go at. Of course the line of wooded shakeholes themselves will have been known about for eons as the last one is the Devil's Punchbowl, which is absolutely huge. Its well worth a visit if you haven't seen it. So perhaps when "Complete Caves" was written in '77 they all didn't have names? The whole area has been heavily dowsed both by John Wilcock and MCG. There are lots of positive readings apparent to the north of Vee Swallet and then heading West.
15-17/08/08 OFD Weekend
by Geoff Beale
Party: Geoff Beale, Keith Knight, Keith Thomas, Brenda Wybrow.
The weather forecast was not very promising, it was going to rain for the whole weekend , and it lived up to its expectations. Well it was Wales after all. However after a dismal drive down the M4 from Reading we eventually reached the SWCC HQ at Penwyllt and booked in. Saturday's trip was set to be a minor classic to the Cross Rift area, visiting formations at the Trident/Judge (off Salubrious Streamway) and the phreatic passage called Selenite Passage, then down admiring the formations to the Shattered Pillar. GB, KK, and KT laboured up the hill to enter the cave system at top entrance (OFD 2). After our last trip earlier this year, when it was dry, we noticed many stream inlets in passages normally thought of as dry and abandoned.
Salubrious Streamway was flowing faster than I had seen it before as it gurgled its way down to Maypole Inlet and the main stream. Just a short way down from Trident Passage a squeeze through slippery polished boulders leads to a junction where Selenite Passage goes off to the right. After a hairy committing traverse on small ledges over a big drop, the fine formations of Selenite Passage were seen and admired. This passage then meanders down to the very impressive Shattered Pillar which is very near to Cross Rift.
We had a poke about Cross Rift and onwards towards the old skyhook of the Upper Traverses. After a brief refreshment stop we turned for home along a smaller rift passage parallel to Cross Rift with some more traversing on small ledges until we reached an area that I knew as the bold step which is at the top of the rift passage on the climb up from Maypole Inlet at the Main Stream Junction.
Then out by the same route taken in, but in reverse - up Salubrious Streamway, climbing up the boulders at the Corkscrew, Chasm passage, Gnome Passage and skirted round Big Chamber Near The Entrance.
On this trip we had a guest from SWCC. His name was John Gillette. After the trip we were presented with signed caving books by John, who has written several caving volumes. This book was entitled Of Caves And Caving - A Way Of Life. Look out for it in the club library. For Sunday's trip the weather was vile and still raining hard. Despite the rain and Keith Knight having a sore foot, GB and KT decided on a quick trip into OFD 1 to see the height of the main stream at the normal entry point to the stream at The Step. OFD leaders rules say that if the stream is 12-18 inches above the step, then a traverse up the main stream is not advised.
At the step the water level was guessed to be about 3 feet above the step. The stream was an impressive sight, a torrent of fast flowing peaty stained water which was thundering down to the entrance sump.
We retraced our steps back up Loopways to the ladder at the Toastrack. By turning to the left we traversed over Pluto's Pool and down a lofty passage back to the main roaring streamway. The passage here was about 12 feet high with foam marks about 8 feet high. This showed the water height had lowered overnight, but we still felt uneasy and got out quickly. We also had a look at the passage leading down to the dive site from
the entrance ladder. From where we stood, we were in awe of the ominous signs of foam on the cave walls.
On a lighter note we rescued a frog from the top of the entrance lid and hid him for safety in a stone wall.
02/08/08 Not all beginners' trips are the same..
by Jeremy Gilson
Party: Rob Fountain, James O'Brien, Kjell Anderton, Richard Martin, Arthur Munday, Helen, Alun Williams, Mick Norton, Mark Ward & Jeremy Gilson
With seven potential new members planning to descend on the MCG August members' weekend we needed a suitable trip to take them on. Some of them had caved before and were quite good, for others it was their first venture underground. Mick volunteered to help me and suggested Shute Shelve and Axbridge Ochre Mine; this was a great idea and quite different from the usual Burrington or Swildons trip. Mark agreed to help out and was keen to see the upper levels of the Ochre Mine, he suggested taking the maypole to get up the climb as written in Mendip Underground, however Mick was confident that with a harness and cowstails he would be able to climb up and put down a ladder.
The morning was showery but turned sunny and quite warm in the afternoon. After sorting out full sets of gear for everyone we were soon climbing the hill to Shute Shelve. Mick unlocked the gate and we descended the crawl to Reynard's Chamber. For three of the party this was their first trip underground, they had no hesitation with the crawl but looked a little relieved that not all the cave was that size. For me it was good to be back after spending quite a lot of time in the cave around its initial discovery back in my Axbridge days, however I had forgotten just how warm it was down there, I began to wish I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts instead of a fleece and oversuit! After looking around we descended the corkscrew to the lower part of the cave, the view down to Box Tunnel is always impressive and we split into two groups to look at the two digs at the bottom of the cave.
After leaving Shute Shelve we headed further up the hill, this was very hot going in the bright summer sun, especially after getting so hot down Shute Shelve. The view from the hill is stunning, right across from the Bristol Channel to Glastonbury. Making our way carefully through brambles and woodland we quickly found the impressive entrance to Axbridge Ochre Mine, the cool of the entrance a welcome relief to the heat of the afternoon.
Walking into the mine we descended the rift and looked up at the climb to the higher levels, this was much higher and more slippery than I think all of us remembered. Mick tried to climb up but sensibly did not try to get too high up the muddy sides. Mark reminded us of his suggestion - we should have brought the maypole after all. After a brief visit to the end of the lower level and some thought on how to ascend, Mick suggested using a long tree branch to catch the end of the rope that could be seen above us hanging down from the rift. A piece of tree was quickly found and we took it in turns to try and catch one of the loops in the rope. Rob finally came up with the winning solution, he climbed up further along and with those below carefully pushing the rope along Rob was able to reach the rope and pull it down so a ladder could be attached.
The rope was not in too bad a condition, careful consideration was given to it before sending someone up; Mick had his harness and cowstails and was able to ascend by clipping on one end of the ladder and then the other in true Ladder Dig style. Upon reaching the top he rigged the ladder, I climbed up and preceded to lifeline everyone up the pitch. Our new members did well with the ladder, everyone made it up with Richard and Rob managing particularly speedy ascents.
While I was lifelining the rest of the team, Mick climbed the chain to the next level and set up the second ladder, again I climbed up with the rope attached to me and lifelined climbers to the top. Everyone set off in different directions to admire this interesting part of the cave, I was impressed by the flowstone and formations, not what I had expected although much of the 'mine' is in fact natural cave. I was then back on lifelining duty and lifelined everyone down, first the top pitch and then the lower pitch, Mick was the last to descend using a figure of eight on a doubled rope.
Back outside, sitting in the sunshine, everyone agreed that they had a very enjoyable trip, although it had not been the simple new members' trip that Mick and I had expected. Being honest I did think at one point that we wouldn't get up to the first level - I really think Mark was right about that maypole after all!
6 of the potential new members became probationary members (Helen has not yet joined). I enjoyed the day, it was good to revisit Shute Shelve, the Ochre Mine was great fun, quite a challenge, and certainly different from our normal new members or beginners' trip; however I suppose that not all beginners' trips are the same
03/08/08 Stainsby's Shaft
Biff Frith, Keith Knight, Brian Snell, Ed Waters, Hayley Clarke fitted scaffold at the bottom of the shaft and opened up a rift to a third shaft.
02/08/08 Stainsby's Shaft
Biff Frith, Keith Knight, Doug Harris installed fixed ladders in the second shaft making ascent/descent easier.
02/08/08 Upper Flood Swallet
On 02/08/08 Brian Snell, Peat Bennett and Mike Richardson returned to the dig in Rift Series. They made about 3m of progress, still following the left hand wall. There is less height now, maybe a couple of feet, but the digging is still fairly easy.
27/07/08 Upper Flood Swallet Survey update
At 27/07/08 the total surveyed length is 3415m. In addition, 200m of passage remains to be surveyed, giving a total about 3600m. It is important to remember that this figure is not absolute, but depends on the route the survey centreline takes. The more it cuts across the passage, the longer the cave will appear. The survey length data quoted includes all avens and side passages that have had survey legs taken into them.
26/07/08 Stainsby's Shaft
Biff Frith, Paul Ketcher, Mick Norton, Carl Ruxton enlarged the second shaft ready for the ladder but the Hilti caps would not go off and the drill battery gave up.
26/07/08 Roman Rake
Mark Ward reached the bottom of the hole and the west Rift was entered, with help from Biff, Paul Ketcher, Mick Norton and Carl Ruxton. Unfortunately, the rift pinched in to about 12-18 inches and solid rock was met. Further investigation found this to be the cave floor! Mark decided to remove the hanging death that had been above him as he lay sideways in the hole, but the whole roof came down like a coal shute. The rift is almost full again. The higher part of West rift is full large boulders and the whole place is on the move. No way forward can really been seen and geologically the odds of finding cave were always stacked anyway? The dig has been therefore been shut down.
19/07/08 Upper Flood Swallet
On 19/07/Tim Francis and Mike Richardson paid a visit to Picket Pot. The pool had cleared but was no lower, and it was not obvious where the water runs away to. They report that prospects are not promising. They had a look down Birthday Surprise, and made a vocal connection from the end back to the slot behind the boulder at Royal Icing, so that doesn't look promising either.
At the start of the new dig in Rift Series they excavated a lot of soil, following the highest point in the passage for some three metres in, with enough height to kneel or squat down, before the floor started to come up. To the right there is a space between the infill and the ceiling (the passage is some 2m wide and they were digging along the left hand side). Opposite here, the open passage goes back toward Zebra Aven and it appears they have dug into a pocket on the left hand wall.
Unlike their previous visit the air was fine. Digging is really pleasant (as digging goes), the soil infill stays as soil (and doesn't turn to gloopy mud), though there is enough airflow at the start to get cold if you sit around.
On the way out they recovered the two rescue drums so that out-of-date food items can be replaced.
18-21/07/08 Wet SRTing in Yorkshire
by Geoff Rodwell
July 2008 saw Angus Leat, Geoff Rodwell & Debbie Lambert, together with her daughter Emma and caving friend Ray enjoy a stormy wet four days camping and SRTing in Yorkshire.
Friday 18/07/08 Sell Gill Holes
After a six hour drive to Dalesbridge camp site (run by Jon Beavan, CRO Duty Controller) and with local weather checked, confirming obvious saturated ground and continued belts of rain, it was decided to forego the normal visit to Inglesport and stretch legs by walking uphill to Sell Gill Holes for an SRT "exchange" trip, water flow permitting. This proved excellent. Debbie and Angus rigged the down hill "dry route" watching Emma make her first visit to this cave and in so doing rigged a safe escape exit. Geoff and Ray entered via the uphill stream way and rigged the separate "wet route" down the main waterfall pitch, stopping half way to swing into the tight by-pass bedding plane, before continuing down through heavy spray to the bottom.
Then the exchange was made. Faint screams echoed from Emma as she entered the cold shower of the her first wet pitch accompanied by Angus and Debbie front and rear. Geoff and Ray exited via the dry route and (as agreed) re-entered via Wet. The return manoeuvre from laying flat in the tight bedding plane to swinging back out into the large waterfall pitch on to a clean free hanging rope was enjoyed by all. The wet route got de-rigged while Debbie and Angus brought up the "Dry" rigging. A damp and windy BBQ at camp, mainly sheltering in Angus's caravan with wine bottle and beer completed the first day.
Saturday 19/07/08 Country Pot to Wretched Rabbit
Morning brought with it rain lashing on the tents followed by calm. A long and wet cross moor walk, guided by markers, saw Angus lead the party down County Pot and back out via Wretched Rabbit. This was Angus's second only trip into this system (the rest of the party's first trip) and his route finding was impeccable. This excellent trip proved to be a complete mixture; occasional SRT, occasional free climb traverses, tight bits, rope climbs, roof-floodable steam way and a nice straw -filled upper chamber. One notable question as the group crawled "yet again" through low passage, in stripped down harnesses was "Angus, just what part of SRTing don't you understand?" It seemed a hard walk back across the moor to our vehicle just as rain hit again.
Sunday 20/07/08 Bar Pot to Gaping Gill
Loaded with rope and SRT gear, we enjoyed a pleasant and dry one hour plus walk up to Bar Pot, to drop down two pitches and walk and part crawl to the main chamber of GG. (30m, 45m and 20m safety line)
On our previous trip here, one person proved too solidly built for the tight entrance pitch of Bar Pot, but Ray being tall, the biggest on this trip, squeezed nicely down helped by gravity. Once the two pitches were passsed, a traverse line was rigged around a simple but potentially nasty drop and with a couple of quick crawls, the team re-arranged so that Ray and Emma could be first to enjoy the incredible view as the tunnel turned the final corner to reveal the main chamber.
What a sight. From the one previous "dry" visit, GG was now full of spray, draft and apparent "snake like rushes" of water within its continuous fall. A relaxed walk took place around the noisy chamber. Sheltering under rock overhangs from the downpour and spray, a few photos were attempted before a rapid exit was made back into dry passage. Wildly spectacular in these wet conditions.
At the bottom of the final pitch up to the surface the team organised so that Ray, the largest and an experienced climber and caver, would SRT up last into the squeeze of the rift. An additional pitch head rope was rigged to maximise options. This was set up via a releasable deviation and 2:1 pulley dropped down to SRT harness (all making an independent raise/lower system that could be controlled externally from the rift, if needed). There were no problems. Ray exited like an eased-out champagne cork, to agree the usefulness of a Petzl Pantin in tight rift SRTing. Clapham scones were very welcome on arrival back at the village.
Monday 21/07/08 Alum Pot 'direct route'
The final day. A suspected skin allergy (thankfully nothing serious) forced a regretful split of the group as half the party provided company at the local doctors, leaving the oldies, Ray and Geoff, to head to Alum Pot for a planned first descent of the "Direct Route" The stream was used to soak the rope to prevent heat glaze on the abb down. Two trees (and tensionless hitches) were used to form the initial belay for a descent of only a couple of metres over a mild rope rub to a nice ledge and P hangers nicely located at shoulder height. Another similar short drop over a lip (and another unavoidable very mild rub point) lead to the final main rebelay just below, correctly described in guide books as "exposed" as the caver hangs from a cowtail on a sheer rock wall directly over the 65m "full daylight lit" descent of Alum pot. (15m for surface Y, 80m main rope, 5 krabs minimum).
This rebelay resulted in a "totally free hanging" open air pitch that descends forever to, finally, spray, cold draft and bottom darkness, while above the sunlight falls through tree branches to light nearly all of the descent.
SRTing back up, some 4-5 metres was pulled through the Croll before feet finally left the ground and "rope bounce" commenced. The rope appeared to disappear into the light as far as the eye could see. It proved a tiring 10 - 12 minutes before the first rebelay was passed for a vocal call of "rope free" (leading finally to a regretted 6 hour drive home).
In conclusion, an excellent long weekend; great company and first class relaxed trips, despite inclement weather.
05/07/08 Roman Rake
On 05/07/08, after Biff had split a large rock using "snappers", Doug Harris and Mark Ward poked around in the shattered rock until some of the wall in the West Rift fell down, narrowly missing Mark. Mark had wanted to shift all the rocks and spoil from 2006, so they set about clearing it. Unfortunately, this littered the bottom of the cave with mud and rocks again. So on 08/07/08 Mark Ward and his son went back. After shifting many barrels out of the West Rift, Mark removed a small rock and could see 20ft vertically down the rift, into a Peat-sized hole with a small draught. After removing much spoil to open it up (it had filled to about 5 feet) he found a stemple (now in the Llibrary). The rift appeared to have been dug from the surface maybe as far as the tree and then backfilled. He managed to squeeze down head first into the rift which is about 18" wide opening up to 2 feet.
05/07/08 Stainsby's Shaft
On 05/07/08 Geoff Beale, Mick Norton, Keith Knight, Adrian Bell, Alan Grey, Mike ?? and Biff continued to make good steady progress down the shaft. On 06/07/08, with help from 4 diggers from SMCC they dug for about 4½hours, gaining a total of 6ft over the weekend. There is still another 9-15ft to get to the first level.
Tony Knibbs adds: Quite early (around 1957) when MCG first started exploring the upper reaches of Velvet Bottom, we began to meet the locals in the Nordrach area. During a discussion with an old chap, he informed us that the miners had claimed to have found a beautiful cave during their work on Blackmoor. Soon after learning of this old story we (about twelve of us) spent a fruitless session lasting many hours furtling around in all the interesting-looking holes in the rakes area. It didn't seem to us unreasonable that the miners might have broken into something interesting. Hence my interest in the draughting Charnel Shaft. The original spur to digging Stainsby's Shaft was that a small boulder-filled 'grotto' (Don's Chamber) in the side of the shaft emitted a slight air current and had a few small stal. decorations. It is also possible that the miners simply discovered an isolated void with some crystalline decoration! However, miners tended to leave traces of their passing. Since nothing of this nature has been reported in Upper Flood Swallet, we should remain sceptical about a possible prior visit by miners. I was relieved when it became apparent that Walk the Plank had nothing to do with a wooden plank.
21/06/08 Stainsby's Shaft updates
Paul Ketcher and Biff spent most of the day 21/06/08 fitting a lot more scaffolding to the bottom of the dig. On 22/06/08 they were joined by Ed Waters, Buddy (Mark Williams) and Hayley Clark who helped removed all the spoil created the previous day. They then dug down another 3ft regaining the rift Peat Bennett had squeezed into. At the far end of this (not as big as it looked) rift, almost under where Peat squeezed in, a draft was coming in through small loose boulders. Biff enlarged this to about head size and he could see down another 12-15ft. Rocks dropped down from here go a bit further but it was all very loose and constricted (but free of buddle mud.)
The digging shaft is now 45ft (13metres) deep. Biff has removed the electron ladder to inspect it for any damage or corrosion and it will be replaced by a fixed steel ladder making it safer and easier to descend.
13/06/08 Discovery of Rift Series, Upper Flood Swallet
On 13/06/08 Ben Cooper and Mike Richardson were surveying, starting at Royal Icing Passage, when they found Rift Series (a working title until the name is decided). They had surveyed almost as far as the deep pool, and had climbed up into a rift which Tim Francis (?) had originally inspected. They followed this to a Short Climb where the passage went left and back to Zebra Aven; to the right led to a passage which bent to the left. After a few metres a low crawl on the left connected back to the other side of the climb. At this point the passage was apparently blind, but they spotted a second low crawl a couple of metres on. Pushing through this they entered a walking-height passage. This extended for about 45m with a couple of grovels to meet a cross rift which closed down in both directions, around 5m to the right and 10m to the left. The air was generally quite fresh but suddenly become dead about 40m in. At this point there was an aven that seemed climbable to what might be a roof tube. Mike had a go but it was muddy and he was trying to keep his hands clean for surveying, so it still needs to be checked out.
Also, at the foot of the Short Climb mentioned above, they noticed a low crawl on the left. This heads back to the main East Passage, so might not be too interesting. Except that in the roof-level passage to Zebra Aven, at a bend in the passage, there is a narrow (couple of inches or so) slot in the floor which might be above the crawl at the Short Climb. This needs to be checked.
They achieved a very good agreement with Tim Francis and Richard Carey's centreline survey and managed a loop closure error of 0.3% - this is excellent. In all they surveyed 284m. Of this, only 46m had already been surveyed by Tim and Richard, so they have added 238m to the surveyed length of the cave. The brand new passage (working name: Rift Series, to reflect the complex nature of the intersecting rifts) is 57m long. The damp cross rift at the end is 4m lower than the East Passage terminal sump. There are still three known spurs to be surveyed (working names; Mike's Tube, Tube above Deep Pool, and Mike's Rift just after the Deep Pool). There is a low level spur, heading NE, not yet entered. There are two unclimbed avens in the "Rift Series". The first is just above the 3m climb, the second is in the new extension and has a visible tube.
13/06/08 Upper Flood Swallet, East Passage
by Ben Cooper
Surveying Notes. The survey was conducted by Ben Cooper and Mike Richardson on 13th June 2008, using a Phil Underwood SAP (serial number 7) (compass and clinometer) and a Bosch DLE50 laser rangefinder. Loop closure error was 0.29%. Survey stations are all marked in the cave using tippex. At junctions, "fixed" survey stations have been marked in tippex. My plan in due course is to make these more permanent, for example by drilling a small hole. The survey is super-imposed on the centreline survey completed by Tim Francis and Richard Carey on 6th January 2007, and shows excellent agreement. Total length of the new survey is 268m, bringing the East Passage length to 399m, and an overall length for the Upper Flood Swallet survey of 3415m.
As previously reported, new rift passage was discovered during the survey, prompting the name Rift Series for the section of cave previously referred to as the East Passage oxbow. All leads in this section have now been checked out and are closed. All known and potential dig sites have been marked on the survey with a hammer symbol (with the exception of the "filled passage" in one of the rift avens in Rift Series), and altitude marks are shown as metres above OD.
The survey highlights that the tube that is being dug to the north-east of Zebra Aven appears to be a continuation of a significant cross passage that ends to the south-east in a viable dig marked by the hammer symbol just by the 'S' of Rift Series. It is a too-low arched roof above soft clay infill, with a few-inch air gap. Its potential only became apparent by its 4m depth as revealed by the laser rangefinder. This is currently being actively dug as reported elsewhere. This passage is wide and heading into an unmapped area, so is of significant interest. The westerly dig marked just to the east of Royal Icing is the end of a small crawl, and may be of little interest. However, the southerly dig in the same crawl is an undercut with a visible few-inch high air space at floor level. This has not yet received any attention other than by the survey team - its potential again only becoming apparent by its 3.5m length revealed by the laser rangefinder.
There remains a few loose ends yet to be surveyed, including the above-mentioned north-easterly tube, and a northerly tube above the not-so-deep 'Deep' Pool. Both are labelled with hammers. There is a third continuation, just south east of 'Deep Pool' that is not labelled. We left painted survey stations close to all these end-points to facilitate further surveying. We plan to complete this in due course, together with a continuation of the full passage survey to the end of the known East Passage.
07/06/08 Digging at Brian's Eye, Upper Flood Swallet
On 07/06/08 Peat Bennett, Mike Richardson, Nick ?? and Tim Francis attacked the dig at Brian's Eye (so-named because Brian Snell stumbled here in Oct 2006 and cut his eyelid, requiring stitches). They could clearly hear the streamway crashing below. There was quite a drip coming out of the roof and it was cold for those who were not at the dig face, which is now bigger and wider but only a little deeper. They had to cut back the rock slope a fair way as it was overhanging rather ominously. It looks a good prospect as it can not be much more than 30-40 feet above the stream. Water levels in Upper Flood Swallet were about average but they had a rude awakening at their return to the Lavatory Trap which was fuller than they had expected. The air in Midnight Chamber was 14°C, and the water was 15°C so they found it quite pleasant in the streamway.
04/06/08 Roman Rake
On 04/06/08 Mark Ward dropped the floor 3 feet, back into the hole that he had originally dug in 2006 next to the (now gone) boulder. The 'orrible' sticky mud has gone and he is now back into the bang spoil. There are a lot of rocks that have to come up to be placed behind the mesh. The dig now needs rock nets ... and a strong pair of arms! 31/05/08 Roman Rake
Following heavy rain and the floods on Mendip, what was left of the mud slide collapsed. The surface ground had been undermined, with only a few feet of earth, mud rocks and open cave. On 31/05/08 Mark Ward meshed and braced almost up to the surface and filled some of the void with rocks. This will need taking up to the surface to stabilise the ground. Never has such a small cave had so much scaffold...though all necessary.
25/05/08 Stainsby's Shaft
With a better turnout on 25/05/08 (Mark Ward, Doug Harris, Bill Chadwick, Biff Frith, Mark Ireland, Adrian Bell, Kev ??, Nicky ??, Alan Grey) it was possible to reduce a large rock to rubble and mine a bit more sludge, Biff was able to get in for another 8ft to what may be the main shaft. Unfortunately this was filled with rocks, but there was another void going left. After another boulder gave in to Mr Hilti, he was able to squeeze in. This took him back to the main rift wall where he could see down another 8ft and also back along the rift to almost under the digging shaft, almost completing a full circle. The rift (dyke) is undercut here thus creating the void (as predicted by Mark Ireland who had seen the same feature in the old dig).
After some discussion it was decided it would be safer and easier to continue going down the digging shaft. Within a few feet the rift wall started undercutting and void could be seen. They continued to dig for the afternoon until, tired and with various minor injuries taking their toll, we called it a day.
The digging shaft is now nearly 40 ft deep and a few hours will need to be spent putting in scaffolding. Once this is done we should be able to get in to the void. This must be close to the 18 fathom level and is in big blocks of limestone so hopefully it is still open. There is a good draft so prospects are good!
24/05/08 Stainsby's Shaft
It was a hard day on 24/05/08 with just four diggers (Mark Ward, Doug Harris, Bill Chadwick, Biff Frith), but we almost got to the next bit of void after a lot of work shoring up the slime bank.
21/05/08 More leads found in West Passage, Upper Flood Swallet
On 21/05/08 Mike Richardson and Ray Deazy undertook a West and East Passages tourist trip that ended up with new exploration. In East Passage, on the right-hand (southern) side of the passage a few metres after the deeper pool, Mike climbed up into a small rift, which entered a tube, adding another 10m of passage (once upon a time I guess that would have been something). He was stopped by mud bank, but could see about 3 metres ahead. There is no particular echo but not it is not totally dead either.
On the way out of West passage, beyond the chamber believed to be below Neverland, at a left/right joggle before Chuckle Choke, Mike checked the crawl behind the boulder. In the roof of the crawl was a narrow rift. He shoved up as far as he could go (Peat or Tim might make a few more inches). Shouting returned a really good echo. This must be the point where the passage up to the Pork Pies crosses over West Passage, so it might be worth a bit of attention.
11/05/08 Stainsby's Shaft
A case of where did they all go, as only 4 of Saturday's diggers (Mark Ward, Paul ??, Biff Frith, Alan Grey) turned up? Being made of sterner stuff than the others, they set off for another shift down the pit. Paul had the first go and found a slot going straight on in the right direction and dug this out as far as his arms would reach. Biff then hiltied it wider but this was slow-going as the rock was very tough. Alan then had a go at digging and opened up a descending slot going for 6 ft and draughting. He then had to go but suggested the other three should dig the floor out at the end of the passage. Mark got very exited when he hit void going down and onwards in the right direction. Biff had the last dig, going in head-first with Mark holding on to his feet so he could drag a large rock out. This revealed that the void goes on under the wall and appears to get wider, going down at 45 degrees, and draughting. The end can only be feet away from the main shaft.
Where does the sediment come from and when did it fill the shaft? It is around 15ft thick and the bands range from 1/2" to 2" thick. There may be 180 separate depositions. Progress has been made down and out of the slimes and is now producing stones and rocks. The voids underneath are clean-washed as if the slimes didn't get that far in. Was the shaft open to the surface and the miners used it as a convenient dump? It would also explain why there was air space in the top of the new passage and at the end of it there is a large void completely clean-washed going up about 8ft. And yes the digger will have to be on a lifeline soon
10/05/08 Stainsby's Shaft
On 10/05/08 Doug Harris, Mark Ward, Mark Ireland, Paul ??, Bill Chadwick, Adrian Bell, Karen Fendley, Russ Porter, Allan Wicks, John Evans, Biff Frith, Alan Grey between them removed around 3 cubic yards of slimes out of the dig, that's over 3 tons in weight, to reveal a passage going for 12 feet towards the main shaft. The draught was coming in from the left hand side through a slot in boulders that Biff hiltied. This was big enough for Bill to squeeze up into a void but it was a no-go as it would have been detrimental to the continued existence of the digger if pursued.
03/05/08 Stainsby's Shaft
03/05/08 saw an excellent turn out (Doug Harris, Mark Ward, Bill Chadwick, Giles Martin, Jeremy Gilson, Karen Fendley, Adrian Bell, Biff Frith, Mark Ireland) as did 04/05/08 (Bill Chadwick, Adrian Bell, Peat Bennett, Mike Richardson, Kev ??, Nicky ??, Ed ??, Buddy ??, Biff Frith) Unfortunately Biff had to fit some scaffolding for safety and it took a long time. But they still managed to drop the floor another 3 to 4 feet before setting off to the Wessex Challenge but that's another story.
Everybody got a go at the dig face and barrels were coming out every few minutes. The shaft was dropped by another 6 foot or so making about 10 feet gained over the weekend. Peat managed to squeeze down into the rift seen from the end of the drafting excursion dug for the last month. He and the diggers could see each other's light confirming that they had gone around in a circle. "Diggers Folly" perhaps? We will be able to enter this rift soon but the way on is still straight down. This is easy digging, the way on being filled with soft mud and boulders, but it will need extensive scaffolding and mesh.
03/05/08 Upper Flood Swallet
On 03/05/08 Tim Francis and Mike Richardson returned to the collapse in Not Easy Squeeze and made it safe by installing scaffolding (photo right, by M Richardson). The roof is stable now although the diggers might like to pop in a little more cement. People should still take care of course and perhaps not treat the scaffolding as a climbing frame.
24/04/08 Collapse in Not Easy Squeeze, Upper Flood Swallet
On 28/04/08 Mike Richardson, with Becka Lawson and Julian Todd (CUCC) entered the cave for a tourist trip with maybe a quick dig at Picket Pot, but only got as far as Not Easy Squeeze. Mike was backing along the rift to the drop to the boulder, thinking "this rock underneath me, I don't remember that" when he looked up and thought "I don't remember that very precarious rock". So he reversed quite quickly! It looked like several rocks had fallen out of the roof at the same point where some had come in the last time the choke moved. A new large rock on the floor could be wobbled; if it had moved it would have blocked the hole above the rope climb; a few smaller pieces were sitting at the lip of the hole. Another rock was jammed above this - poking with a scaffold bar suggested it was not very tight. If it had fallen then the roof above would have been iffy.
The party had taken down two scaffold bars from the Red Room for Easy Squeeze, so they left these and returned to the Red Room to ferry back another bar, an Acro prop (which they freed up and cleaned), and picked up two clamps from Golden Chamber.
20/04/08 Stainsby's Shaft
On 20/04/08 Sunday the digging was even better with a turn out of nine diggers (Doug Harris, Mark Ward, Mark Ireland, Mike Richardson, Tim ?, Adam ?, Biff Frith, Ed ??, and Buddy ??) They hit a deep deposit of layered soft clays, almost certainly buddle washings, that just kept on going down. These clays were easy to dig, the drums being filled faster than the winch team could keep up with, but it kept them fit! Over the weekend we deepened the shaft by 2.7 metres or 9ft. We plan to put in another stage of scaffolding before the May members weekend. 19/04/08 Stainsby's Shaft
An excellent day's digging was had on 19/04/08 despite there only being four diggers (Biff Frith, Doug Harris, Mark Ireland, Mark Ward). The obstruction in the ladder pitch was chemically persuaded to remove itself, as were many boulders below. The scaffolding was almost finished and a safe cage for digging was put in place. Many buckets of spoil were removed whilst the nail bar was lost in cavities measureless to man!
05-06/04/08 Stainsby's Shaft
Mick Norton, Mike Richardson and Pete Bennett on Saturday and Mick Norton, Russ Porter and Mark Island (ACG) on Sunday. We lifted over seventy drums of spoil and many netted rocks, I used over fifty hilties and then we were able to fit more much needed scaffolding, progress looks good with voids opening up between boulders and we had a good draught at times. (Note it was a cold day) Biff Progress report. The winch system is working perfectly, all the preparation work was worth it. We are now digging virgin ground and if we get lucky we might break in to the 19th century stopes that were said to exist. These may have been driven up from the 18 fathom level. The other possibility is we may be able to find a way back to the main shaft as it is only metres away.
One of the old digs on the other side of the shaft ends in the main shaft at about the same depth the new dig has reached. There is a shaped socket in the solid wall that would probably have been used for the shaft ladder staging.
The shaft is back filled even at this depth, but even though it draughts well it would be suicide to dig here. So our present dig is the best and safest option. We are planning to dig again on the 19th/20th April. Biff (with photos by Russ Porter)
23/02/08 Upper Flood Swallet, Thief's Chamber - climb up to Great Expectations.
Bill Chadwick, Mike Richardson, Richard Carey plus Probationary Member Angus Leat.
We had first to visit Bat Products to do some shopping. We bought 10 spits and 3 maillons (having failed to find any at the cottage). We could reach in at the bottom and managed to put in a bolt to get us started on the climb.
The spit is in hard calcite rather than limestone. Once we learned to keep the spit clean, it took us 10-15 minutes to get the spit in. We took a pair of water pump pliers to separate the spit from the bolting tool - these were a necessity.
Bill managed to jam a bar to gain a bit more height and Richard was able to climb into the aven. There were a few ledges and with some shoulder-wedging Richard managed to reach some chocked boulders. We pulled up the ladder and attached it via slings.
From there Richard could see two continuations. One is vertical and will require bolting. From the top of the ladder is a bold traverse to another larger boulder that forms the floor in what we have called The Old Curiosity Shop. From there it continues upslope at 70 degrees. It narrows but as no-one has climbed up there we can't tell if it is a viable continuation or not. The chamber will require further bolting so that the ladder hangs in the larger part of the aven.
Maybe the Dickens Series beckons or maybe not.
22/03/8 Stainsby's Shaft
Mike Richardson, Biff Frith, Mark Ireland (ACG), Mark Ward, Mick Norton.
It was extremely cold in the wind and snow, walking to the dig. The winch was re-installed (after Biff had taken it home for rebuilding). More scaffolding was added at the dig front at the bottom of the internal shaft. A good metre of depth was gained. Digging was easy, warm and dry. Mick Norton
02-03/02/08 Stainsby's Shaft - installing the winch
Bill Chadwick et al
On Saturday the winch was installed and I believe some cementing of the shaft walling was done. Unfortunately the bearings in the winch have rusted and need replacing before it can be used. Biff claims this is a straight forward job and he has the bits. A large pulley has been securely fixed to the roof directly above the shaft (for eventual use with the winch).
On Sunday, some more shaft walling was done below the winch. Lower down, the narrow rift formed by the wall and a large boulder was widened (both sides) with chiselling and Hiltis. Finally the old spoil and some new material were removed from the very bottom of the shaft. Some significant stabilisation / safety work is needed here as the old wooden shoring which holds back a lot of small fill is a bit iffy and lacks a firm foundation. Some of the surrounds fell into the bottom of the shaft when I was sitting on them! A significant quantity of cement (ready-mix) is going to be required for further walling. It was warmer underground than outside. At the bottom an occasional freshness of the air occurred. Interestingly some grey, water borne mud deposits similar in colour to the Trench Passage mud are present here - quite different to the natural fill which has orangey clay. [BiC]
03/02/08 Upper Flood Swallet - digging in Thief's Chamber and discovery of Shake'n'Vac
Bill Chadwick, Peat Bennett, Adrian (BDCC), Mike Richardson
There were a couple of rock falls in the choke (each one just after Adrian went past ...). The first was just after Not Easy Squeeze, before the drop down to the rope climb. A couple about 6" in size fell into the rift; one got stuck, I went back and poked it down. This bit looks just as safe as it was before. The second was from the loose stuff immediately above EasySqueeze. Peat shoved the debris into the turn-around area. This looks more dodgy. There is a water-melon sized rock jammed directly above the squeeze which looks to be split in two. Not instantly a problem, but I think we need to get some scaffold in there; I propose to take some down (and press-gang tourist trips into portering).
At the back of Thief's Chamber we cleared out the crawl to remove the loose stuff on the wall and ceiling, and to open it out some more. Peat then set to at the end, removing a lot of rocks and general spoil. Subsequently, Bill removed a positively humungous rock, so the end is now a turn-around sized chamber with a body-sized descending rift filled with clean (until dug anyway) washed rocks. It drafts really well whenever a decent rock is removed, and at one point the back slumped several inches, so there must be some open space below.
Bill kept saying how the air is really fresh so it's been named Shake'n'Vac.
Thief's Chamber is getting very gloopy. Most of the rocks were dumped into the floor to give a solid walkway; this is pretty good except that they are all below the surface so you can't actually see where they are! Outside of this strip is a real welly-puller.
There are two small skips, a large pointy bar, a pry bar and a small bar (taken from the Red Room) there now - also a narrow shovel which needs to be recovered since (a) its not much use and (b) I think its the one used to clear the silt traps at the Cottage.
The next trip should take a cold chisel and lump hammer; there is a rock at the top of the rift that could usefully be removed. Also, a larger spoil tray and drag rope - there is one in East Passage at the dead dig below Zebra Aven that could be recovered. Possibly also some slings or tat to pull large rocks up. I think this is currently the best dig in the cave, and doesn't need Hiltis or chemical persuasion.
26/01/08 Upper Flood Swallet - Brian's Nose (or Eye), Trench Passage and Threadneedle Street
Tim Francis, Richard Carey
Still rather wet underground and you could see from the amounts of black silt everywhere that the old cave must have taken a serious amount of water last weekend.
I climbed up into the roof into the alcove above the first streamway inlet (visible if you turn around and look upstream just after the sump-like inlet). Nothing doing I'm afraid, just a small 'chamberlet'. A small crack heads left but it pinches out to nothing. So I can't see there is any passage heading off where the water comes in.
Brian's Nose. This is the heavy drip and 'pot' en-route to Royal Icing Junction. We started the dig at the bottom. More importantly it was an excuse for us to try out Richard's new stove. The tea was nice and hot but we both burnt our mouths.
You can still hear the streamway below here and I'm certain with a bit of effort we could dig down. We excavated some of the rubble cone and there is a solid rift below. Stones rattle down a long way. Next steps would be to clear back the overhanging rocks and hope it's a bit drier on the next few trips.
At the moment there is limited space to avoid the drip running down your back although at least it will keep the dig clean. The hammer and chisel from West Passage were left here. It might be worth sending someone small down to the end of the main streamway to see if there is a sound connection. I have a suspicion it pops in just after the constriction that Peat and I were hilti-ing.
Trench Passage. We dug a little bit at the far end. You can see more clearly now at the end of the low crawl.
There is definitely a way on here although it is small and twists out of sight. The best approach would be to follow the left hand wall right from the start of crawl so that all that overhanging dodgy stuff is removed. Prospects here are excellent and once we've dug the thing out it may be much bigger than first appearances. The air was fresh. A crowbar from chuckle choke is now sitting here but it will need a few more tools - a trowel and a small skip at a minimum.
Threadneedle Street. Richard and I muddied the water in Trench Passage on the way in. We didn't see this coming out of Threadneedle Street. Not very scientific I know.
Trench Stream was flowing quite strongly although of course there was less volume than seen on the flood trip. The water was coming out of a small trench on the right hand side before the low section. I think Bill Chadwick saw the flood water coming out higher up in the flowstone slope just below the Wall Street junction. There may be a high flow / normal flow thing going on so it would be worth lobbing some dye into Trench Stream, when it's flowing, to confirm the link. [TF]
Brain Snell adds: I think Brian's Nose needs to be referred to as Brian's Eye since it was my eye which needed 4 stitches (after falling against the cave wall in December 2006)
07/01/08 Leat Water Tracing, Tim F
Source: MCG newsgroup
Our own bit of exciting dye tracing was conducted last the weekend. We wanted to put some dye into Blackmoor Swallet to see if it came out of Walk the Plank Inlet. But as usual Blackmoor Swallet was dry. So we - Keith - put it in where the water sinks into the Leat underneath the Charterhouse Centre track.
We had a real surprise when the purple dye quickly (20mins or less) re-appeared in 'Streamway Regained' just after Golden Chamber. No dye was seen in Black Shale Rift or Midnight Streamway or Walk The Plank.
I didn't crawl up the stream to see exactly where it came in. It's a rather fine piece of well decorated passage that will be trashed if more visits are made.
So when we assumed that this streamway was exactly the same as the one in the Red Room we were wrong. That means there is virtually a parallel water flow to Black Shale Rift! We'd often thought that there was more water in the Departure Lounge than in Midnight Streamway but this was completely unexpected.
The next plan is to dye trace the Red Room to see where the old cave water enters the new extensions. And of course we need a high flow situation to check where Blackmoor Swallet goes (Trench Passage perhaps?). I'm suspicious about Trench Passage because it has very large black mud banks. [TF]
05/01/08 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG newsgroup
Mike R and Giles M went to the West Passage rift climb whilst Bill C and Carmen + Pete from WCC went into Neverland. We managed to communicate from West Passage to Neverland Passage (between the descent from Pork Pie Chamber and the Curtain Climb) but only with hammer taps.
We had a loud whistle in Neverland but Mike and Giles did not hear it. Mike drilled an 8 inch hole in the calcited roof of the West Passage climb but his drill did not reach the end of the calcite.
Meanwhile Brian S joined Mike and Giles. He went for a look in Mike and Peat's tube dig. Mike had found a small passage off the rift climb and soon Brian and Mike could hear each other.
'Is that you Bill' shouted an excited Mike -'No its Brian' came the reply dashing hopes but proving that the two leads from West Passage are probably one and the same.
In Neverland much of the passage floor sounds hollow, on breaking a small hole in it (very easily, around 1/4" of calcite), an 18" crow bar was pushed its full length into soft mud. At one point along the passage, there is a very small sump in the floor. This took an arm + the 18" bar in water (very confined).
Also further back there is a small chossy rising rift way too small for a person. We thouroughly scoured this part of the Neverland passage for other possible leads without success.
The West Passage team's hammering was heard at several places, possibly loudest by the small sump - there are several hammer marks low down on the wall at this spot.
Carmen climbed a calcite slope on the south side of the Neverland passage to look under a triangular boulder - nothing there. No real prospect of a dig from above, only from below. Both Carmen and Pete were extremely pleased with their trip, not having expected a visit to Neverland.
We made a quick, boot-less visit to the Pork Pies with Bill's 50W spotter lamp, Pete was particularly impressed with the vast white flowstone wall. We completed both passes of the 'suits off' link without incident. Passing through it is an onerous responsibility.
[B Ch + M Ri]
02/01/08 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG newsgroup
Mike R with Tim B as far as Royal Icing.
The ponds were lower than the wet trip on the Xmas Dinner weekend. We nipped into Thief's Chamber (and pointed out to Tim that he was now the 6th person to get there.
There was no water flowing in the Trench; the inlet under the wall was completely clear and static, so far as I could make out (which was tricky because the water reflected the roof above so well) that is closes down about a metre in.[M Ri]
29/12/07 Blackmoor Rising
Source: MCG newsgroup
Biff, Doug H & Mick N spent today digging in Stainsby's Shaft. We parked on the horseshoe bend and walked over. As there had been such torrential rain through the night, I thought I would see if the elusive Blackmoor Swallet was swallowing.
Shock horror, it was resurging. Yes - in three, just separate pools - water was strongly rising.
I walked over to Upper Flood Swallet. The UFS2 depression was flooded but on looking down the Upper Flood Swallet entrance, it was not and I could not hear a stream flowing.
There was a huge lake more than a hundred feet long and about six feet deep quite near to Upper Flood Swallet.
On going down Stainsby's Shaft, no water was squirting into the cave and in no place in the cave could running water be heard. [MN]
29/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet passes 3500m
Source: MCG newsgroup
Ben C has now determined the precise length of Upper Flood Swallet from his survey work.
Total estimated length 3523m
Surveyed Length - 3104m
Estimated unsurveyed passages - 254m
Projected Passages - 165m
14/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG newsgroup
Ben C and Mike R returned to the small chamber and surveyed this back to the fixed point at the entrance to Neverland. Unfortunately, there is an error somewhere since this places the top of the chamber inside the Neverland passage! [??]
13/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet, Royal Icing and Birthday Surprise
by Ben Cooper
Survey Notes The survey of Royal Icing was conducted by Ben Cooper and Mike Richardson on 13th December 2007, using a Phil Underwood SAP (serial number 7) (compass and clinometer) and a Bosch DLE50 laser rangefinder. Loop closure error was 1.39%. Survey stations in the cave are all marked with Tippex as a dot, and are shown in the map as a small cross. At junctions, "fixed" survey stations have also been marked with Tippex as a triangle, and are shown on the map as a small circle.
The map shows Netherwood Inlet at the north, but omits the lower Malcolm's Way passage just to the west and below the overhang shown. The route from Netherwood Inlet south into Royal Icing Passage is not the usual way in: in fact, the climb down to Halogen Loft from here is very exposed and not recommended. The usual route is the climb up from Malcolm's Way into Halogen Loft. From here, Royal Icing continues south at three levels. The lowest level is to the west and ends after a few metres -a westerly tube half way along appears to be blind. The highest level is to the east and is entered by continuing to climb up the slope to the east. This level has a solid floor and a pleasant quiet atmosphere, but ends at an overhang after a few metres. The climb down has not been attempted to protect the undisturbed sediment.
The middle level is the main route, which is followed by carefully traversing over the start of the lowest level, then it becomes easier as it follows the right-hand (westerly) wall. After a few metres, in the floor on the right hand side, a body-sized tube heads off to the west and has been pushed by Tim Francis and Peat Bennett to connect with Charnel Passage. After a few more metres, the passage opens out again and looking up and backwards (to the north), the overhang form the highest level can be seen. At this point the passage dimensions are large: 4.5m wide and 4m high. On the right hand side (west) is a narrow rift in the wall, and at its foot, the floor falls away and has been dug (Brian's Eye). As of this writing, the Brian's Eye dig is flooded and digging has been suspended. Royal Icing continues wide and gains height. Most of the width of the passage is taped to protect its pristine condition, and only a narrow and awkward path remains open along the right hand wall. After a few more metres is a narrow rift on the right and a low blind crawl on the left. At this point the ceiling is some 6m high, and high up on the left (east) a large window can be seen which is actually an opening into East Passage. On the right, just below the narrow rift, the floor lowers and loose boulders indicate a natural drainage point. This was the location that Peat and Ben dug on 5th July 2008, when we quickly opened up a low crawl under the westerly wall. Peat pushed this for some fifty feet into what we named Birthday Surprise (in celebration of Upper Flood Swallet's 40th birthday). This has been sketched onto the map, but is unsurveyed, so its dimensions and direction are estimates.
Just beyond the narrow rift (moving south), Royal Icing Passage narrows and continues up a steep slope. At the top of the slope, the narrow passage opens out slightly and one can step onto a large boulder on the edge of Royal Icing Chamber. Only half of this chamber is shown on this map, most of it is to the east which is contained in the East Passage survey. Immediately on the right, the westerly wall continues south, and a painted permanent station has been placed here. However, underneath, the wall cuts away, and the passage floor plunges down 5m. At the bottom of this funnel is a narrow rift (not visible from above), which has been pushed to a visible window into West Passage and a sound connection with Birthday Surprise.
To the left (east) of the large boulder, the chamber opens up and doubles back. Most of the area is covered in royal-icing-like stal, and the whole area is pristine. It has been extensively taped, leaving a narrow path for entry into East Passage. On the floor by the easterly wall is an interesting vadose water-cut swirl. Straight ahead (south), the roof rises to cathedral proportions, and the floor climbs up over large boulders. A little way up is the clamber through gaps in boulders to West Passage, which is where this survey ends. The full survey south into the remainder of Royal Icing will be completed in due course. Back in Royal Icing Passage, the way on continues up a steep narrowing slope that almost gains the height of the window.
10/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet keeps going
Source: MCG newsgroup
Upper Flood Swallet is now estimated to be 3500m!
Surveying adds 200m.
New passages of 165m "discovered" (not yet entered).
1) Last week saw the detailed survey of the three levels of Royal Icing passage. This added over 100m to the surveyed cave length.
2) On Saturday 08/12/07, Julie H and I surveyed Trench Passage - the middle of three upper-level passages off Plank Chamber (the other two being Plank Inlet and an as-yet-un-named blind grotto), adding another 100m to the surveyed cave length.
Prior to our survey, Tim F had been the only person to have entered Trench, and described an attractive passage, terminating after 20-30m where a low ceiling came down into a mud floor. We subsequently kept out of it due to the stunning mud formations blocking the entrance. Carefully traversing over the RH mud-encrusted boulders, Julie and I made our way in about 10m. From here one can walk comfortably without trashing it.
A 2m diameter crystal encrusted dome sits in the middle of the passage just before this point, and above it is a 4m dripping aven. This whole section still needs to be taped, which Mike R and I may do on Friday 14/12/07.
At the 10m point, a significant stream bubbled up from the right hand wall, and was obviously responsible for carving a 1m deep trench through soft mud banks. On top of the banks are one or two beautiful mud formations formed by small stones protecting pinnacles of mud from washing away in the drip.
We surveyed along the stream to where if disappeared under a low roof, with a 2" airspace. This stream was only present due to the massive rainfall, and had opened a small route beyond what Tim F had previously seen.
3) As I was wearing a wet suit, Julie H volunteered me to lie in the stream and investigate. To my right, I could see about 1m through the 2" space and could hear a cascade beyond. Guessing that the hard floor was actually compacted mud, I dug my fingers down under the water, and within minutes had formed a 6" trench.
Encouraged, I reversed back a little, and started to excavated a larger trench in the stream bed, giving myself enough head and elbow room to be able to dig in towards the low ceiling. For over an hour I kicked and scraped the soft mud, which quickly washed away in the fast flowing water. Pushing the mud through under the low ceiling with my feet, I could feel that the ceiling rose, but at the same time my helmet jammed in the mud and the choppy water rose around my neck and face.
Retreating, I realised I was not going to get through like that! Head-first was also not yet possible, with only 2" of airspace into who-knew-what unknown space beyond. To my left, the ceiling rose, but here the mud bank filled the space. Working away at the bank with my feet, I managed to widen the stream trench and form a more sizeable 5" airspace. It all looked very encouraging. Julie retreated to find some tools (to speeed up the work), and on my own I was suddenly gripped by violent cold-shivers. I had to get out of the stream and find some food.
At this point the mass hordes arrived, and having heard from us that there had been a breakthrough, Brian S, Mike R, Peat B and then Julie H went to investigate while I warmed up.
Refreshed, I went back in to find that they had all effortlessly pushed through the dig into a new chamber, some 30m long, with a 6m+ climb at the end. The stream disappeared at the back wall, and Julie H and I furtled for a few minutes to realise that this would probably also give up its secrets with very little effort. However, Christmas Dinner beckoned, so we left it for another day.
Meanwhile, Bill C had noticed on the way into the lower part of the cave that a stream was flowing out of Threadneedle Street. On his return, he noticed it was very muddy. He explored to find it emanated from under some flow stone on the left hand side just before Wall Street. We therefore speculate, that this is the same stream flowing through Trench Passage, and given that Wall Street is blocked by sediment (as is Trench), that these are one and the same passages. Duck under boss
The gap is 65m as the crow flies.
4) With my new light, I also saw a high level passage in the roof about 20m upstream from Plank. I speculate that there is a high level passage from the Duck-Under Boss gour pools that Tim F investigated, running about 100m to the point I could see.
What makes this section particularly interesting, is that half-way along (at stream level) is an inlet (shown on the survey). This inlet might also exist at the high level as a relic passage.
Meanwhile, the others had some very positive digging making a bypass into Neverland. I'll leave them to describe what they did. [B Co]
08/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet, the Search for the West Passage to Neverland link
Source: MCG newsgroup
Visits to the far end of Neverland and trips to view the Pork Pies require a new link from West Passage to the main Neverland Passage. This is to avoid passing through the very vulnerable, extremely fine formations (Pom-Poms, The Cornet, Fine White Curtain etc. )between the descent to West Passage and Pork Pie Passage. This is the part of Neverland for which there is a 'Suits + Boots off' rule.
First Brian S, Peat B and Mike R dug out a muddy tube on the final corner of the second 90 degree deviation down West Passage. They took a full size garden spade into the cave for this operation. Its still there.
They removed a lot of gloopy mud from a small tube. They were soon joined by Bill and Julie's Grampian geologist friend. Currently, the dig reaches a low crawl which has subsequently mostly filled with water.
Meanwhile Bill C went back to Chuckle Choke to look for more tools. On his way back he looked in a side tube on the south side that was issuing a small stream we had never seen before - the whole of the cave was extremely wet that day.
It looked possible to pass the entrance tube to a small chamber which had a waterfall in it. With Julie's guest from the Grampian they soon gained the chamber and then by pulling some rocks out over their heads were able to climb up to the next level.
This takes you perhaps some 5m up from the highest point of West Passage - tantalising close to Neverland we believed.
Mike and Peat joined the party as it looked a better prospect than the muddy tube. The ceiling is of calcite and sounds slightly hollow on hammering. [M Ri]
08/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet, another breakthrough
Source: MCG newsgroup
Team dig: Mark (Grampian), Peat B, Brian S, Bill C, Mike R.
Team survey: Julie H, Ben C
Meanwhile Bill and Mark investigated hole just short of oxbow. Large stream entering from above, so they knocked out some rocks and climbed up, reaching a calcite roof about 5m above passage. According to the survey this must be very close to Neverland.
Set off out and met Julie and Ben at Walk the Plank. Ben very, very cold having excavated stream to a duck. Brian assumed Ben had been through and went for it. Mike ditto.
Brian to Ben (roughly): "That's an impressive chamber"
Ben to Brian: "What chamber?"
Brian to Ben: "The one you found beyond the duck"
Ben to Brian: "I haven't been through the duck"
Transcription actually sounded more like "Oi you bastards, that was my 'effing breakthrough!" so likely to be called 'Thief chamber'.
Set off out and the Lavatory Trap was sumped right up to overflowing. Brian and Bill bailed lots out. Mark bailed lots out. Mike bailed 2ins air space, go for it. Helmet off, feet first, nose out. Note: 1 body displaced 1ins water so air space down to 1ins. Argh. Wet. Cold. Out. Nuff said. [MRi]
Team survey: Julie H, Ben C
Julie and Ben surveyed Plank Chamber for a couple of hours. We had not fully explored the very pretty passage off the inlet as the beautiful mud cracks were too good to walk over so we left the full exploration to a surveying trip.
The inlet had a healthy stream flowing out of it. We noted a very pretty gour boss with Neverland-style needle-like crystals with an 80cm crater in it which had been re-disolved by water entering in from an aven above.
The aven is obviously climbable. Very pretty, though definitely worth a look at some point. Ben was in a wetsuit so pushed the stream to what appeared to be a sump. I could hear a cascade the other side so Ben had a dig of the mud bank where the water sank; easy digging, kicking the mud away.
Finally the air space widened enough to let us in but we popped back for tools to make it safer, only to catch up with the others who went to have a look at all the excitement and enter the new stuff. Stream emerges into a chamber whose roof rises up to about 60feet ending in an aven, about 90feet high, probably climabable.
The water cascades down past 4foot high mud banks, which need taping, and over a small drop into a pebbly floor where the water sinks behind a boss. We dug for half an hour or so easily removing rocks by hand. The end is very diggable and a good prospect as the survey now shows it heading towards the end of Threadneedle Street. Interesting exit out of the Lavatory Trap! [JH]
08/12/07 GB Cavern
Source: MCG newsgroup
Party: Russ H, Russ P, Tim B, Steve P, John C.
Down GB for SRT training, nearly made it to Ladder Dig. Fantastic trip. THANKS John and Steve.
08-09/12/07 Stainsby's Shaft
Source: MCG newsgroup
On Saturday, Keith K and and I managed to divert the incoming water away from the inner shaft.
On Sunday the twins Keith T and Rob T, Bill C, Keith K and myself cleared more spoil from the top of the inner shaft and then with the help of the compressor and air chisel we removed an out cropping of calcited clay mineral and rocks to make room for the winch and pulley
It was hard work in miserable conditions, well done us.
I hope to fit the winch next weekend then it's on down.
Thanks to Linda M and all those who sorted out the excellent Xmas Dinner on the Saturday evening.[Biff]
02/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG newsgroup
I drove to the Mendips yesterday for a trip in Upper Flood Swallet with Mike R. Driving through the torrential rain I did question my sanity, but as we had both made the effort to take the day off work, we decided to have a look at the cave anyway.
The entrance crawl was awash, with 6" deep water at one point just before the flat-out crawl into Midnight Chamber. I approached the crawl expecting a sump, but amazingly there was only a couple of inches of water. Midnight Streamay was strong and we approcahed the Lavatory Trap somewhat apprehensively.
Needless to say, the level was very high with only 3" of airspace.
Oh well, we hadn't come all this way to be turned back now, and I quickly volunteered Mike for the miserable task. Darn-it, he made it through, so I had to follow. Once through, it only took a few minutes of bailing to reduce the level another couple of inches.
The rest of the trip was fabulous. Water was dripping everywhere and all the inlets were flowing nicely.
We surveyed from the end of 550m Way back up to Netherwood Inlet, and then over the top into Halogen Loft, surveying three independent levels here, through Royal Icing Chamber and up to the start of Neverland. We poked about in the floor of Halogen Loft, seeing numerous tubes, cracks and opportunities in the rubble in the floor.
All looks very exciting, though nothing looks like it will give up its secrets easily.
On the return, the Lavatory Trap hadn't risen at all since we had bailed it, so it would have been quite easy if I had remembered to take off my helmet, which of course I hadn't.
We surfaced at 9pm, after some 9-hours underground, much later than planned due to us both having forgotten our watches.
In fact, I had forgotten much of my kit, and had to raid the shed. Thanks to whoever for the oversuit and boots. Much appreciated. I will wash and return on Saturday morning.
Tentative plan for Saturday is to carry out a more detailed survey of Plank Chamber and its three major side passages.
01/12/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Mike R, Tim B, Russ P
17:00 - 20:00. Thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to Golden Chamber; very physical and tight squeezes. Mike was an excellent guide. On return found entrance door frozen stuck due to a ground frost. [RP]
01-02/12/07 Blackmoor Shaft
Source: MCG logbook
Despite foul weather good work was done in Blackmoor Shaft, aka Stainsby's Shaft.
The diggers removed a good cubic metre of spoil from the head of the second shaft on Saturday and on Sunday built a mortared wall to consolidate what they had done.
The diggers on Saturday were Tim, Adrian and Biff, joined by AlanG and Simon from ACG.
Sunday it was just Adrian and Biff.
Historically the shaft was named Stainsby's by the miners in the 1840's but in the old MCG log books the club has called it Blackmoor Shaft since 1961. Any comments to which we should use? [Biff]
01/12/07 Mountain biking
Source: MCG logbook
Bill C and Hugh (son). Beacon Batch, Burrington, over to Cheddar, back up. About 30km. Weather mixed. Ground wet. 10:30-15:00. And again on Beacon Batch in wind and rain for a bit Sunday am. [BCh]
01/12/07 Blackmoor (or Stainsby's) Shaft
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Biff , Adrian B, Tim F, Richard C, briefly ACG (Alan, Simon), Joan G came for a look.
Widened and deepened the rift [south south-east below Don's Chamber]. Heavy rain so quite a slurry trickle was heading down the passage. We lowered the floor as far as the proposed winch platform. The slope looks rather dodgy because it's all mud and rocks rather than solid. So the plan is to wall it up to stabilise the slope. Headed back in the cold and luckily the rain and hail had stopped. Bumped into a bunch of lost scouts who couldn't find Yoxter. [TF]
30-31/11/07 Skye caves
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Julie H and Eva, and lots of GSG (Grampian).
Spar Cave (Eva and Julie), Camas Mallag Caves and Beinn An Dubhaich Cave. All excellent fun tourist trips - see newsletter 346 for details. [JH]
30-31/11/07 Skye caves
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Mike R, Tim B.
Mike demonstrated his knowledge of Mendip caves is, with certain exceptions, rather limited. Got through Ladder Dig but failed to get as far as Bat Passage; failed to find the Devil's Elbow. Added an exploratory feel to the trip. [MRi]
10/11/07 Stainsby's Shaft
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Doug H, Mick N, Biff, Rob (BDCC)
Digging and infrastructure, concreting and stone-walling. Alan Gray (ACG) was supposed to come but failed to show.
13/11/07 Lionel's Hole
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Antoinette B, Sonya C.
Seemed to be a lot of bats!
10/11/07 Stainsby's Shaft
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Biff, Mick N, Bill C, Doug H, Carl R.
Infrastructure at start of dig. Scaffolding, grid, cement. Top of shaft secured. Old bath to collect rain water. Carl and Bill went to Caracass Cave to get the winch and some tools. [BCh]
03/11/07 Impromptu beginners' weekend
Source: MCG logbook
Following several enquiries via the web, two prospective members (Nina from Bridgewater, Tim B from Shaftsbury) came to the cottage and were taken to Swildon's by Linda M and Brian S.
Tim dived Sump 1 on is first caving trip. Both did well and we hope to see them again soon.
Steve P and his nephew Russell P went to GB Cavern, and took Alan W and John E on the 'Round Trip'. Russell is another prospective member and we hope he will apply to join!
Same day, Biff and others fixed a new fixed ladder in Stainsby's Shaft.
03/11/07 Upper Flood Swallet
20/10/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
20/10/07 Bath Swallet-Rod's Pot
Source: MCG logbook
18 person exchange trip. Nine in Rod's led by Mick N and Giles M. Nine in Bath led by Paul ?, Bill C, Biff. Exchange and out - three ladders. Excellent. MN
We started to do Waterwheel Swallet but somebody has removed the key without the knowledge of the C&A officer or the cottage warden. So did Stainsby's Shaft to new dig. MN
14/10/07 Blackmoor (or Stainsby's) Shaft
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Bill C, Biff.
Revisit old dig at bottom of the shaft spoil heap to the south east. This goes quite a way, say 30m in and 15m down from the bottom of the surface shaft (about 10m).
Interestingly this is basically a boulder choke against a big cave wall, often covered in flowstone. Near the bottom there is an excavated vertical 10' tube ending with a small puddle containing small mammal bones. A couple of old digging tools and a polythene skip. The main wall is undercut at the top of this 10ft pit and floored with crazed grey mud. The air here is very fresh and cold. An air space above the mud (very sticky) of about 6ins goes off for about 8ft. All very interesting - reminiscent of the main UF boulder choke but a bit more muddy. BCh
13/10-/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Bill C, Mike R, Joel C, Matt S (stunt double for Mark who was sick).
12:00 - 20:00. Inspected the aven at Walk The Plank. Joel thought it looked do-able. However we pressed on to Zebra Aven and he duly bolted his way up over an hour or two.
Meanwhile Mike, assisted by Bill, dug the tube out of the Zebra Aven corner. The mud looks sandy, indeed the trowel goes in ok but then it turns to glue and sticks to everything. You know how boots go when you walk on a wet clay field - our hands were like that. We pressed on for a bit but from time to time the air seemed a little short.
We left it in a state where Mike imagines Tim/Peat might be prepared to push through. However there is no echo and not much draught - not looking good.
Back at the bolting, Joel passed a squeeze but sadly after that the aven pinched out to a narrow immature slot - where the water comes from. Joel is interested in another visit to bolt the Walk The Plank aven which we all agreed looked a more mature better project.
It is really great not to have to faff with a lock on exit. You just slam the door - fantastic. The aven is about 16m high. [BCh]
07/10/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Biff, Mick N, Giles.
Old Upper Flood Swallet lid removed. New lid fitted with new padlock.
The new lid can be opened from the inside when locked on the outside, so the lid can be locked shut when a group is inside on a trip. A temporary iron ladder has been chained in place for now! I hope to make a permanent one later. BF
06/10/07 Upper Flood Swallet, Charnel Inlet
Source: MCG logbook
06/10/07 Bath Swallet - Rod's Pot through trip and Read's Cavern
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Giles M, Mick N, Richard P.
With the recent breakthrough between Bath and Rod's, we thought we would give the through trip a stab. A quick descent was made of Bath with the usual two ladders being rigged and then Mick giving a guided tour of the lower parts of the cave. The connection was found first time and involved a rather awkward left hand turn/crawl through thick mud and then up a quite tight muddy shaft, which was difficult with a ladder and rope (rigged by UBSS) and would be very challenging with no fixed aid. Another tour was provided by Mick and then we headed out, with no problems finding the way out. Although the odd step (near the entrance) proved a little bit challenging, especially when Giles found the large boulder above our heads was gently rocking and seemed to be held up on two very small points of contact. We got to the surface just in time to avoid a group of 15 scouts, who were just entering. Quick trip to see Read's Cavern and then back to Rod's to derig. [RP]
06/10/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
04/10/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
Steve W, Neil L. Just to the Lavatory Trap and back before pub. [NL]
21/09/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Mike R, Mark (SWCC), Andy, Simon (UBSS)
Route: East Passage, West passage, Wall Street
Possible dig if not on (illegible), turn left at Zebra Aven (I think, where climb up loose rocks in right) - tube with but (illegible) visible for several metres. [MRi]
15/09/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Julie H, Mike R, Pete G, Phillipa G
Tourist trip to take Pete and his youngest daughter into Upper Flood Swallet.
Much speculation on the caving forum as to whether Pete would fit. He tried the squeeze machine at the cottage, to no avail, even with nothing on but a plastic bag to cover his modesty and make his chest more slippery! Alas he only made it as far as the boulder choke at the end of Andrew's Grotto before his big manly chest proved too big which challenges the theory that 'Not EasySqueeze' is the tightest part of the cave!! [JH]
08/09/07 Upper Flood Swallet
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Tim F, Ben C, Mike R
Started dig at end of Threadneedle Street. A slab in the roof needs removing. Also opened up a bypass to EasySqueeze but it's horrendous hence the name "Better call the Samaritans". [TF]
19/08/07 MM Mine
Source: MCG logbook
Party: Paul ?, Mick N, Bill C, Biff
When descending the shaft Biff decided to test his pelican box with the 36volt drill in it by hurling it to the bottom. We can now say that pelican boxes are not unbreakable but but luckily the 36volt drill survived.
We proceeded to the end of the mine and after about 1 hour's digging we broke through to another 6 metres of passage to a t-junction; left went 2 metres to a shaft but choked after 2 meters
(01/05/06 to 01/08/07 to be added
15/04/06 Upper Flood Swallet
Party: Malcolm Cotter, Charlie Allison, Mark Ward
Trip: to the end to clear Andrew's Grotto of spoil
Shifted 40 buckets removing all the boulders back to the Red Room, so there's plenty of space now! Water levels not very high, cave as unpleasant as ever!! [CA]
08/04/06 Ubley Hill Pot
(PeatB, TimF). After failing to find the key for Upper Flood Swallet, decided to go to Ubley to see if we could open the entrance series with a spot of digging. (Upper Flood Swallet did turn up but we had sorted all the kit out by then). Called at Ubley farm but no one was in so traipsed across the field with the curious cows rushing over to see what was going on. Once in the cave, Battle of the Somme commenced. Everything got stuck. Trying to get clay off the spade was a two- man job. Once the floor had been dropped looked to see if we could get through the crawl - called it a day at this point as it was impossible to get mud out of the floor. Probably the best way to get through is via a water hose. Everything got messy on the way back up the pitch, not helped with my light going out. [Peat]
07/04/06 Loxton Quarry Cave / Lost Cave of Loxton
(PeatB, MickN, GilesM, DougH, TimF). Tim, Mick and I went into Loxton Quarry Cave and the others went into the Lost Cave of Loxton to see if we could do a sound connection. Even after lots of shouting we couldn't hear anything. Then popped over to the others to look round and have a guided tour of the lost cave. This even included the 2 birds scratched onto the wall which seem to be fading, corduroy marks under some planks and a clay pipe. Formations were pretty good just to the right of the entrance pitch. Then tried to get into the other caves in the area - which was all to no avail as the locks had rusted up. [Peat]
06/04/06 Coral Cave
(GilesM, MickN, Sonya & MalcolmC). SRT trip to test Mick's rigging technique. Everything went well! Not a particularly easy SRT cave owing to tightish entry and traverse to rebelay. Much larger void than expected with large, steep, boulder strewn passage. [MOC] This was Giles, Sonya and Malcolm's first time in this cave. [MN]
05/04/06 Bone Hole
(DougH, MickN, Biff). [MN]
04/04/06 G.B. Cavern
(GilesM, MickN, DougH, Duncan, Biff ). Nearly all passages covered. Good air today. [MN]
03/04/06 Rhino Rift
(GilesM, MickN, Duncan, Biff [Bracknell C C]) Right hand route. We decided to revive the right hand route in Rhino Rift. All on spits - Biff was rigging. Last time he used spits was in the Berger with Doug two years ago. No problem. This is an airy route, much more exciting than the 'P' bolted left hand route. You are more exposed, get right up in the roof and are much closer to the formations - also less ammunition underfoot. Three hour trip. This was Giles' first Mendip S.R.T. trip. [MN]
02/04/06 Upper Flood Swallet
(First party: MarkW, TimF, MikeR, DougH). 2nd part of History trip for leadership. Went up to Rip-off Aven. Then down to digging area and removed several large loose rocks. Drilled one hole, then the drill stopped working. Tim fired one hilti - lots of rocks moved out of Golden Chamber back to Andrew's Grotto. Lavatory Trap water level slightly higher than usual. Good trip. [DH] On removing side wall in terminal chamber, wall decided to pin Doug into the terminal rift. Doug proceeded to smash the boulders to extricate himself. Amusing at the time!! Roof of terminal chamber needs shoring? [MW] (Second party: JulieH, Giles Martin, LindaMilne). Got to end. Too fat to get into Golden Chamber but I believe the others had a smashing time in there. [GM] (Third party: SonyaC and MalcolmC). Joined others in Boulder Choke where large quantities of rocks were passed back. Nice pretty stream down Upper Flood Swallet Passage. Main stream had good volume. Strong air current noticed in Bypass Passage - outward. P.S. Did not see any indication of boulder slumping.
01/04/06 Swildon's Hole
(GilesM, JulieH). Post AGM potter around the Upper/Entrance series. Lots of water. Explored places you wouldn't normally bother with - particularly beyond a small climb close to the water Chamber - lots of small crawly stuff - plenty of it and quite tight. Good fun trip. [JH]
25/03/06 Hunters Lodge Inn Sink
(MarkW, SonyaC). This is a really surprising place - interesting crawl over flat boulders ('Pub Crawl'); over a hole in the floor leads to the beautifully decorated 'Happy Hour Highway'. A hole down to the right takes you to a wet, rifty fun climb and this narrows down eventually, through a cowshy duck and crawl, to the end of this passage. Saw frogs in the streamway of this 'Inn-let'. Following the 'Highway' further takes you past more stunning formations. We looked at the 60ft pitch - will do another time - and explored the 'Barmaids' Bedrooms' - more stunning flowstone - there are bones on the right-hand side at the far end of this passage which can be squeezed along to its narrow, low conclusion (but small chamber visible). The 'Drip Tray Sump' does look very clear and promising. Really, really impressive. Fab trip. [SC]
18/03/06 Upper Flood Swallet
(LeeH, MarkW). Trip to see progress past Golden Chamber, very promising. Cleared all mud and rocks from Andrew's Grotto back to red Room - good job. [MW] P.S. Warning: Second squeeze in Boulder Choke - the boulder has moved/split!! [LH]
05/03/06 Upper Flood Swallet
(MalcolmC, BenCooper, DougH, TimF, MikeR). Started work on the rifty aven below Golden Chamber. Made good progress with Hilti caps but we didn't really have the right [?]bar. The battery ran out of juice before we could finish the hole for a snapper. But now the corner has come off it doesn't look that far. It might only need two or three sessions depending upon how cold and wet it is. [TF]
05/03/06 Bowden Hill Mine, Scotland
(JulieH, Goon [GSG] , GaryS [?GSG]) Good fun - old limestone mine dug open by the GSG in the 80's or 90's. Mostly crawling acrobatics. Goon knew the through trip so spent about 2.5 hours playing. Gary appeared to have fun and even threatened to come up to Sutherland one day. Not the most exciting of underground trips but "needs must ..." [JH]
19/02/06 Upper Flood Swallet
(MikeR, MarkW, SonyaC, MalcolmC) Mike having been on the 'breakthrough' trip, outlined the requirements! First job was to rearrange rocks in Golden Chamber. We then commenced cleaning mud from the temporary dump in the Boulder Choke - generally a good cleaning operation. We all had a look at the new passage and were very pleased with progress. More removal of mud and testing of large rock lodged in mud on right desirable. Very loud noise from stream. May still be in Lower Limestone Shale. [MOC]
05/02/06 Upper Flood Swallet
(TimF, Peat, MikeR). Golden Chamber - was written up by Mike in Newsletter No. 332.
(JulieH, TimF, Peat, MikeR). Finally got round to doing Eastwater after many years caving. Wittered mightily at the end of the First Traverse; full marks to Julie, Tim and Pete for persuading me not to wimp out. Tim poked about a bit, then out via Hallelujah Hole and over top of Baker's Chimney. I'll crack the claustrophobia bit yet. [MikeR]
Mendip Caving Group. UK Charity Number 270088. The object of the Group is, for the benefit of the public, the furtherance of all aspects of the exploration, scientific study and conservation of caves and related features. Membership shall be open to anyone over the age of 18 years with an interest in the objects of the Group.