Andy Sparrow, Lawrence Wilson, Paul James, Peter Sanders, Richard Nurse, Will Puddy
After meeting at Burrington Café we got into 2 cars and drove up to the UBSS hut to get changed.
After a slightly muddy crawl in, we made our way to the first of the pots. Thinking we would do a bit of a tidy up of the ropes hanging down the pitch we got a bit carried away, much sweat and toil later all the old digging bags at the bottom where hidden or removed along with all the other clutter including the hanging conveyor belt.
Sadly time was against us so most of the debris has been stashed above the pot awaiting another removal trip. Just enough time was left for a debrief at the Woodborough, Winscombe
Ken Passant, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Richard Nurse, Will Puddy
All met up at the gateway to the Gruffy field at 19:30, for the record you can park 5 cars without blocking the gate or 8/9 blocking it, there is also a large lay-by 20 meters up the road.
Rattled down through the squeeze and mud passage to emerge into the always impressive Gorge. From here we went around the corner and crossed the bridge to follow the Gallery to the entrance of White Passage with its spectacular views across Main Chamber. Following the Loop via Rift Chamber we took a detour in the Hall to look over the waterfall and the recent collapse before continuing down the Oxbow to emerge back in the stream way just below the collapse, walked up to the safety tape to have a look, a lot of material has come down but is getting cleared away by the stream.
Rigged the ladder then got going on the squeezes until we were stopped by a duck in a tight squeeze, can’t remember this from previous trips, maybe I’m just a fair weather caver? A bit of bailing ensued then Peter, Will and Rich went through with Will doing the exposed climb up into Great Chamber before all returning to the bottom of the ladder. From here we retraced our inbound route at a fair pace realising how much height we needed to regain! Despite our best efforts got back to the cars at 10:45 so a debrief was not possible.
Andy Sparrow, Danny Burnett, Emma Gisbourne, Lawrence Wilson, Paul James, Peter Sanders, Richard Nurse, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy
Parked on the verge in Eastwater lane at 19:30, wind, rain and brassic! Paid £1 each at the farmhouse (small Tupperware box outside back door.
Unsurprisingly the stream was running down the entrance and through the bolder ruckle giving us a refreshing shower before the exertions of the upper traverse.
Descended Bakers Chimney then a few of us went down Dolphin Chimney to have a look down the very impressive Dolphin pot before meeting up at the Crossroads and going down the S bends. Here we split again with half going out via the S bends, Canyon, Boulder Chamber and Woggle press with the rest going out via the lower traverse, Hallelujah hole and upper traverse before all meeting up for a cleansing shower back to the surface.
Record breaking change before a very pleasant debrief in the Hunters
David Cooke, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy
Parked at the Wessex then made our way across the fields to the impressively ingenious cave gate. Once inside we put our £1s in the bucket before descending the ladder. From here we followed Fault Passage and Main Rift all the way to the sump (where Sean had a swim!).
Retracing our steps we took a tight upward squeeze in the roof to follow Aragonite rift all the way to Strike Chamber. Here we definitely didn’t loose our way but chose to explore numerous digs, squeezes and dead ends before discovering the bottom of the ladder!
A very pleasant debrief was enjoyed by all at the Hunters after a great trip with a brilliant mix of laughs and sporting caving, thanks to all.
David Cooke, Lawrence Wilson, Paul James, Richard Nurse, Will Puddy
After consulting the guide book we decided that an 18m rope was close enough to the recommended 20m one. The entrance was fairly unpleasant with the usual washed in decaying vegetation nearly filling the squeeze. However a pleasant surprise was how little water was going down Shower Pot. The rope turned out to be nearly long enough leaving an easy climb down to the halfway ledge where we pulled through and rigged a short lower to the bottom in the impressive Main Passage.
After a quick look at the start of the eastern extensions we turned west down Diggers Shaft and through Buddha squeeze and a few low crawls to the bottom of Purple Pot. Most of us where thankful for the fixed line to climb, however Rich performed some impressive gymnastics to free climb it.
Soon after Main Chamber in Rod’s was reached. After a quick visit to the Bear Pit we made our way up to the Blind Pots. This is where we had stacked all the digging rubbish a few weeks ago. Making a number of human chains we got all of the empty sacks to the surface and much to my surprise the large, heavy and unwieldy conveyor belt was also wrangled out. Success, Rods has now been officially tidied!
A pleasant debrief was held at the ever obliging Woodborough
David Cooke, Ian Tiley, Lawrence Wilson, Richard Nurse
Non-members: Tim Gouge, Jett
Met 19:30 in a soggy Burrington Coombe and walked to the entrance. Various routes where taken to the top of the original squeeze and after a bit of hunting around the bypass was located. Well it’s not much bigger but at least it’s not vertical. Sadly after spirited efforts Ian and Jett couldn’t get through despite Cookie’s help. By all accounts the 2 of them had a good evening exploring the many routes around the upper series.
Shortly after the bypass squeeze are 2 more before the stream is reached, it’s very impressive, comparable in size to the Swildons stream. After a short grovel downstream to look at the sump and dig site we made our way upstream through a seemingly never ending series of squeezes and climbs to finally arrive at the stunningly beautiful and intact Hanging Gardens it was here that Cookie rejoined us.
The return was quicker with the squeezes not being so intimidating, the benefit of now knowing the way and that we would fit. The whole team met up again above the bypass, exited the cave and got back to the cars at 22:30
A much tougher trip than I was expecting, so apologies, however amazed to find all of that in Burrington, a real gem of a trip so thanks to all.
Andy Sparrow, David Cooke, Ian Tiley, Lawrence Wilson, Richard Nurse, Will Puddy
Potential new member: James Howarth
Met on the side of the road in wind and rain, got changed and walked across to the entrance, after rigging a ladder we all went down the concrete tube into the warmth of the cave.
A steeply descending rift, then a climb up found us in the surprisingly pretty upper grottoes before making our way back to the impressively trenched Canyon. A roomy stream passage got us down to Frome Dig where Cookie , Will, Rich and James continued to Mark 1 Dig before ascending to Puke Rift. Despite valiant efforts Lake Passage proved too tight so all rejoined we made our way back the way we had come all the way to the surface admiring many fossils on the way.
Nice pint in the Hunters afterwards
Andy Sparrow, David Cooke, Ian Tiley, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Will Puddy
Non members: Ian “Burt” Burton, Jett, James Howarth, Rachel Sparrow, Tim Gouge
All parked at the Belfry and made our way over to the twin entrances, a bit of water was going down the smaller shaft so we all went for the bigger, dry pipe entrance.
The hilarity started petty much straight away with bodies in every passage and exploring all possible routes. By a process of elimination we found our way to the very drippy but well decorated Aglarond 1 then through a squeeze into Aglarond 2. Some continued through an even tighter squeeze into Aglarond 3. On the way out numerous different ways where explored with some going for a swim on the way to the wet smaller shaft exit.
A cracking little cave with lots of sporting moves and squeezes with some fine decorations. A real laugh with so many people down the cave at the same time.
Lawrence Wilson, Richard Nurse, Will Puddy
Met at the UBSS hut at 7:30 and walked to the cave in lovely evening sun. Walked across the impressive Main Chamber then down to work in Zed Alley with only a minor detour in the Boulder Maze, as remembered it is all small and quite tough. After fixing a rope on Splash Pot we descended, before tackling “Andy’s Nemesis”. This is an increasingly tight horizontal tube that develops into a vertical slot at the end, finishing over a 2m drop into a small chamber. Having taken advice we went in feet first. It is now larger than it was with numerous drill holes on both walls surprisingly close to the far end. Don’t underestimate it, it’s still tight and awkward, especially on the way up where I found it difficult to get established in it whilst keeping my legs high enough to not get wedged in the slot. We could see from the drill holes that Andy had been only inches away from getting through. As Richard said “if he hadn’t got stuck then someone else would”.
From the little chamber we continued through Hells Teeth to the flat out 8m long Windpipe at the end of this the much roomier Browne-Stewart series was entered via a surprisingly large stream (considering how dry April has been) we followed this down an incredibly sharp, suit shredding passage to the terminal sump, a dismal place with digging and diving debris in evidence. Wandering back upstream we made a brief excursion onto the Cascade and Chattering Slope where one look at boulders defying gravity above persuaded us it was time to leave.
We exited via our inward route getting increasingly knackered and battered as we went. It was a lot harder than we remembered and can’t believe we did it four times in one night only a couple of months ago. Exiting in darkness at 9:40 Richard almost had a heart attack when he nearly walked into Rachel and Andy who had come to hear how we had got on. The caving gods hadn’t done with us yet as Richard hit a stone on the track that popped his tyre and bent his alloy.
Andy & Rachel Sparrow, Chris Castle, David Cooke, Ian Tiley, Lawrence Wilson, Neil Rigiani, Paul James, Peter Sanders, Richard Nurse, Will Puddy
11 of us met in Burrington Coombe on a warm Wednesday evening and walked up to the cave, after fixing a hand line we entered and followed a roomy passage into the large descending passage that is East Twin. Wow that’s a lot of digging rubbish in there, pretty much a tip from top to bottom! Dams, spoil traps, a railway, monorail and spoil bags added to the general ambiance.
Close to the bottom a crawling size passage on the right lead us into the much tidier Spar Pot, after negotiating a tight squeeze between boulders the high Main Rift was followed to the bottom where a low crawl, “The Tube” was negotiated before a down climb and some tricky squeezes lead to the Long Crawl and a network of small chambers and a well decorated grotto. Finding the way out tested our memories, emerged to a starlit evening at 21:40 and a pleasant debrief at the Woodborough. A thoroughly enjoyable evening in a cave of two halves, East Twin is a shit hole whilst Spar Pot is loads of fun. Great to see so many club members out and doing.
Ian Tiley, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Hall, Richard Nurse
Met at 7:45 outside the UBSS hut, this is one of the least visited caves of Burrington so the first 5 minutes where taken clearing sticks and other debris from the entrance. From here a wriggle gave way to a narrow, steep bedding plane, covered in compost that seemed to be an ideal habitat for cave spiders. Thankfully the aptly named Disappointment Chamber was soon reached before another tight tube found us at the head of the first pitch which drops into another chamber with the caves only decoration.
A pleasantly clean and not tight phreatic tube lead to a tight squeeze at the head of the second pitch. Once all down we had a look at the bottom of the cave on the left and climbed an aven on the right noting how fresh the air was with lots of draughty cracks.
The journey out was pretty tough with little room to get up the ladders and all the tight bits harder climbing up than sliding on the way down.
Emerged filthy and picking spiders off at 9:30. On the walk back Richard and Pete had a quick look down Rods Pot. A pleasant pint was enjoyed at the Crown afterwards.
An unremarkable cave that what it lacks in pleasant bits is more than made up for in the absence of interest! On the plus side has plenty of untapped digs that, judging by the draughts, could extend the cave considerably.
Paul James, Peter Sanders
Peter and PJ met at the Roman Fort car park in very threatening weather, but got changed before the heavens opened (not that we expected to stay dry for long). Short walk, avoiding rabbit holes, to entrance, bringing 13m rope, ladder, spreader and spare rope. Opened very heavy, shiny new gate with CSCC key and descended 4m pipe entrance via stirrup rungs.
Look in ‘Old Man’s Chamber’ at remnants of waterwheel but not much to see. Left car keys here and spare rope brought for entrance tube safety line but not used. Quick look up Peaty Aven (10m narrow brown stal covered rift), but seemed to miss Red Curtain Rift. On past Black and White Grotto, containing (as implied by name) black stal (which features much of the way down) and white stal and straws in roof. The black stal seems to have developed through mineral (lead) rich ground water percolating over older stal since the original excavation. Past gour slope into Sump 1 for first dunking, then Sump 2 through a neat phreatic tube, all hands and knees crawling chest deep in cold water (or floating if you have enough buoyancy, but no wet suits worn on this visit). Only just enough headroom to keep heads out of the water. Eventually drop out into chamber with 7m pitch into the Swimming Pool, passing a 6m narrow rift also into the water. Rig ladder from existing eco-hangers, descend initial slope using existing chain handline and a safety line, step onto ladder and descend into the pool. Slight gasp, then swim to dam, climb over and squeeze along tall but narrow rift past suspended floors. Resist the potential delights of Sump 3 and return to Swimming Pool. This time climbed round edge of the pool to avoid another swim, following the existing traverse line, but bracing from the wall, avoiding needing to depend on this. Back up through the sumps, removing the plug from one but replaced before level dropped much and plunged in. Back out into the fading light in light rain, stumbling down a rabbit hole, and struggled out of wet kit just managing to get under cover just as the heavens opened again. Back to Hunters Lodge for a chat mostly about electric cars.
Very sociable trip down a short but interesting cave, not to mention the ‘sporting’ ducks. Passageway, decorations, dams, hangers, chain (bit rusty with unsighted fixing) all seem to be in reasonable condition.
Lawrence provided the link below in his trip report from 3/10/2018, describing the 440 digging trips that opened up the cave.
Andrew Chamberlain, Neil Rigiani, Paul James, Peter Sanders. Non-members: Carol Rees (Ladder Dig team)
Andy Sparrow, Lawrence Wilson, Yvette Jordan. Non-members: Adam, Harvey
Parked all 8 cars in the gateway in beautiful evening sunshine and sorted ourselves into two groups. Rachel walked over to the entrance with us and conducted some useful stick and flick maintenance.
Rattled our way down the entrance through the squeeze and Mud Passage to arrive at the top of the Gorge, various “oos and aaghs” at the scale of the place, across the bridge where we could see the first group across Main Chamber at the Hall. Up into White Passage admiring the formations all the time. From here we followed the Loop and Oxbow(where we were joined by Andy C.) to Main Chamber, here we had a look at the ladder, flood debris and the collapse before making our way back up the oxbow to the Hall, then followed the left hand wall all the way back to the Gorge then exited.
The blockhouse had 5 long eared brown bats in it waiting to go outside. Walked back to the cars accompanied by a wonderful sunset.
Debrief at the Woodborough, to our surprise the ladder dig team ran in at last orders having had a great trip to Great Chamber via the upward squeeze rather than the bold step (a bit jealous).
Andy Sparrow, David Cooke, Lawrence Wilson, Richard Nurse, Yvette Jordan
A brilliant, fun trip to the bottom of the cave including a swim in the lake, not much to add to Peters excellent trip report from a few weeks ago other than spotting some unusual stalactites that seemed to have formed very quickly in a mortared up area. Presumably in the same way they form in railway tunnels or in the buttresses of the Clifton suspension bridge, does anyone know the chemistry other than “it’s something to do with the lime in the cement”?
Much hilarity at the end of the trip when just after we slammed the cave lid Cookie realised he had left his keys inside, including the key to unlock the lid! Fortunately after some phone calls and searching it turned out that Andy had a key on him all along, alls well that ends well.
A pleasant debrief at the Riverside was enjoyed by all.
Andy & Rachel Sparrow, Chris Castle, Danny Burnett, David Cooke, Ken Passant, Lawrence Wilson, Neil Rigiani, Peter Sanders, Richard Nurse, Seán Tidey
Ian Burton, Nicky Dennis, Faye Litherland, Carol Rees, other partners and former members.
All met up at 19:30 at the bottom of the Gorge, fantastic weather, worries about dehydration. Due to the narrowness of the rift entered in small groups. Just inside the entrance is a small, poorly decorated chamber. From here a tricky move to the right leads to a 1 meter wide steeply ascending rift, all managed to get up it without a hand line however probably should have used one for the descent later? The top of the rift opens up briefly before a restriction and then the stunningly well decorated main chamber, it’s about 10m by 10m and 2m high, interesting decorations on all of the walls and across the floor including a pool with fish in! All hot and thirsty, thankfully Andy had brought several bottles of liquid. A small chamber off of the main chamber was visited by everyone in ones and twos, due to the flushing sound the water made we christened it the WC. After all had visited “the Counter” we exited via our inward route at 22:30.
A great trip with lots of banter, good to see so many members, former members and partners. Thanks to Andy for organising and Happy Birthday
Andy Sparrow, David Cooke, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy, Yvette Jordan
Met 19:30 on the green in heat and sunshine, congratulations to Will on the birth of his Daughter. All glad to get into the cool of the cave and out of the horse flies.
Various routes taken down to the Water Chamber, I took the wet way to cool off, however so dry didn’t help much. Arrived at the 20 which Andy rigged and belayed all down. Moved quickly down the stream way with a diversion to admire Barnes Loop. Got to Sump 1 to find an air gap, all swiftly through and continued to Sump 2, this had an air gap to the bell, but none of us fancied a look.
Returned via the stream way to the Water chamber then various routes out.
An excellent trip and Yvette’s first time down Swildons. Got to the Hunters at about 22:20
David Cooke, Lawrence Wilson
After some very heavy rain, negotiated flooded roads to meet up at the Wessex, after changing dropped our pounds in at the farm and had a brief chat with the owners who wished us a good trip. On the walk to the cave noted that all of the fence posts had half a dozen or so snails on top, my theory was that they where moving to higher ground to avoid the flood, Cookie thought they where going to do some BASE jumping?
Thankfully the entrance was dry, we then had a really good poke around the top bits of the cave enjoying the Woggle Press, Boulder chamber, Bakers Chimney, Upper traverse etc…
Good to have the time for exploring, there is a lot of cave in the upper series, I suspect I still haven’t seen the half of it.
Exited into sunshine before adjourning to the Hunter’s.
David Cooke, Lawrence Wilson, Paul James, Peter Sanders, Richard Nurse, Yvette Jordan, (Danny Burnett)
Parked at the triangle at 19:30, got changed and walked the 5 minutes to the cave. A lot of trees have been felled a number of which are in the stream way and swallet, might need clearing to ease the winter water flow?
It was lovely to get into the cool of the cave, the chimney was totally dry despite a fair stream flowing on the surface. The right angle bend and squeeze at the bottom proved too much for Danny so he headed out. After a bit of a wait due to the restricted nature of the pitch head, the ladder was rigged and down we went. Following the increasingly large passage we turned right at the totally dry Showerbath, down through some vertical squeezes to the balcony above the impressively large Great Chamber. After rigging a lifeline we climbed directly down the dry waterfall. A short diversion was made to have a look down the (actually) Wet Way.
A number of routes where taken to Christmas Crawl then we traversed (easily) over the top of Swing Pitch into the bottom end of August Hole, here we followed the small stream to the bottom of the dry Wet Chimney, up, through a squeeze and the Water Chamber and we were back of the bottom of the 5m ladder. I ran back down to Great Chamber to retrieve our lifeline then back out to the surface, finally emerged at 22:40.
A wonderful cave with lots of different challenges along the way. Now I know the way a bit better I’m very keen to get a bit further and see it with some more water going down. Sadly too late for a debrief.
Andy Sparrow, Lawrence Wilson, Richard Nurse, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy, Yvette Jordan
Parked in lay-by on the outskirts of Cross and got kitted up quickly. Walked up Bourton Lane then turned left at the top through a couple of fields with lovely views across the levels. Thankfully Andy remembered where the entrance was as it was very well camouflaged by a couple of years leaf litter (popular cave this one!) somewhat worryingly the gate wasn’t locked even though the padlock was present and working.
Andy tied into the two p-bolts on the surface and descended, rigging as he went. Once through the narrow gate the cave opens out immediately into the roof of the main chamber. 15 foot down a slopping ledge is reached which gives a good vantage point down as well as the impressive collection of cave spiders above.
A short traverse leads to more p-bolts at the head of the longer pitch to the floor.
Once we where all down we went off exploring through the short but very large cave ending up at the top of a very muddy slope where Sean had a look in the dig. Above us was an Aven blocked with large boulders, Andy commented that one bang and you could have black space above you, or possibly sky depending on the orientation!
Back at the rope we started ascending, me faffing around as usual at the rebelay, however didn’t freeze or cry so I’m getting better. Finally got back through the spider zone to the surface in twilight.
A short SRT cave that is well worth a visit, if for nothing else than to have a look at the Victorian rubbish dumped down the entrance.
We enjoyed a pleasant debrief outside the White Hart, Cross.
Andrew Chamberlain, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Richard Nurse, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy, Yvette Jordan
Just about managed to park on a very crowded green, thought there must be lots of people down the cave, at the entrance found that somebody has “scattered” ashes down the entrance, around the tree and in the pond. Impossible to avoid it all. Note to self don’t scatter ashes when the stream is dry!
Took various routes down to the top of the Twenty, meeting a party of Mendip Outdoor instructors on the way, that would explain all the cars then. Rigged and descended the pitch and off we went down stream.
After a brief look at Tratman’s Temple we continued through Balch’s Forbidden Grotto and a water filled squeeze into St Paul’s Grotto. A brief wrong turn was looked at before Richard came back and put us on the right track. A nice phreatic passage was followed up and down to the impressive bailing engineering at the Mud Sump which was totally dry. Not far ahead Shatter Pot was reached.
Returned via the same route, emerging through the ashes at 22:10.
A sporting trip that got us to the heart of the fossil network, much talk in the Hunters afterwards of other trips that lead off from here.
Andy Sparrow, Lawrence Wilson, Rachel Sparrow, Richard Nurse, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy, Yvette Jordan
We met at 7:30 in the dark corner of the Hunters carpark. After getting changed there was the normal phaffing and struggling as we all tried to get into our srt kits.
Seán led the way down the start of the shaft, rigging as he went with Will in second position and everyone else following in a long line. We took two ropes with us (60m & 50m) so we could rig multiple routes for a bit of variety and not get stuck in the long, slow line that can happen on srt trips.
Seán rigged down to the main ledge and then headed out towards the right-hand route but decided only one of the two rebalys was needed (sort of going half direct route and half right-hand route) making for a fun but challenging changeover both on the way up and down. Will, Yvette and Rich followed down this route to the bottom of the cave.
Andy, after dropping 3 krabs from the top of Sago's Pot and missing Seán and Will by just a couple of meters appeared down said route on the second rope with Lawrence close behind. Once six of us had made it to the bottom and had a bit of a ganders we started making our way back up the two routes with Rachel leading. The RH route proving very tricky due to the angles, but that's all part of the fun of srt and what makes Hunters Hole such a good practice / training cave.
Will, Rich & Yvette derigged and carried the ropes out with everyone getting out of the cave at about 10pm.
After a kit and karabiner amnesty in the car park we headed to the Hunters for a pint, to plan some logistics for next week and to discuss some future club trips, including the next srt tip (info to follow).
A short but intense trip, with fun had by all. We also welcome Rachel (pending approval from the committee) back into the club.
Laura Benn (BEC Leader), Lawrence Wilson, Richard Nurse, Will Puddy, Tim Gouge
Wow! What a brilliant cave. Not really sure where we went so apologies for lack of details. All met and changed by 19:30 and walked the short distance from the Belfry to the entrance in a Gruffy field. Unusually a large valve handle is kept just inside the locked lid that enables you to turn the stream off.
Just inside, the infamous vertical rift was descended without any trouble, then down a number of fixed ladders to arrive in the surprisingly large Arête Chamber then through Mud Hall and the well decorated Pillar Chamber.
After a while we did an interesting lobster pot down climb between the wall of the cave and a huge stal boss leading to a wet crawl then across more stal to view some amazing curtains. Having reached the (dry) main stream we climbed up stal with the help of a chain to end up in some huge gour pools. Due to time constraints this was our turnaround point.
We returned via the Rabbit Warren, the beautiful Railway Tunnel, Upper Traverse, Boulder Chamber, Pillar Chamber to arrive back in Arête Chamber. Up the fixed ladders to arrive at the bottom of the vertical entrance rift. I hadn’t been looking forward to this for the whole trip, however using the ladder for the odd foothold it was absolutely fine exiting the cave we where met by Andy and Rachel who had come along to hear all about it.
This may be the last ‘drought’ trip for the season but what a beautiful, large, long and well preserved cave this is, hopefully not another 25 years until I get down here again. A well deserved pint was enjoyed at the Hunters
Andrew Atkinson (Leader), Andy Sparrow, Lawrence Wilson, Seán Tidey
(Access limited to three + leader)
I had been as far as the Departure Lounge on a previous trip, Andy had been down pre 2006 extensions, so somewhere around Red Room / Golden Chamber and it was Lawrence's first trip. We were tentatively aiming for Neverland.
From the MCG hut we walked down a couple of Beech lined droves to Ubley Warren nature reserve, close to the entrance of Waterwheel. Entering through a very innocuous, locked, steel lid we climbed down some concrete pipe into a long section of impressively dug passage with a very neat Willy Stanton wall on the left side. This passage carried on alternating between standing, stooping, hand and knees and flat out crawling for over 100m, both in and out of streamway until we reached the beautiful Midnight Chamber. This chamber had some of the finest, longest, whitest straws I’ve seen on Mendip.
From here we followed the Midnight Streamway for 60m of mostly walking, until we reached a duck and the Lavatory Trap, where we had to get right down into to water to proceed. After a bit of crawling through stream we entered the Red Room with red / rust coloured flowstone. A few squeezes later we entered Golden Chamber with a stunning crystal shelf on the left and more fantastic straws. This is the start of the 2006 extensions.
From Golden Chamber we entered the Boulder Choke, which Andrew warned us can take anywhere from 20minutes to 1 hour. This was a real beast of a boulder choke. Lots of downhill head first moves and difficult 180degree turns. Like plonking Lionel’s Hole in the middle of the cave as described by Andy. Fortunately, Andrew knew the route perfectly so there was no unnecessary exploring. The thought of having to retrace our route on the way out lurked in the back of our minds!
After the Boulder Choke, we were rewarded with the Departure Lounge, 6.5m wide, 6m high and 70m long! (Mendip Underground) The chamber had some more fantastic formations including the whitest curtains I have ever seen.
After leaving the Departure Lounge we enter Malcolm’s Way, 500m of walking, stooping and crawling passage. Lots of this section is taped of to preserve the very clean, delicate formations. After this we entered Royal Icing Passage, 40m long and up to 21m high(Mendip Underground) this has some boulders topped with pure white calcite.
From Royal Icing Passage we headed down West passage until we could see into the start of Neverland. By this time, we were all (apart from Andrew) pretty knackered. Although we were at the entrance to Neverland this entrance can not be used as there is no way to use it without damaging the formations. If we had wanted to go further it would have been another 1.5 hours of caving and undressing (you must take off over suits, gloves etc before entering Neverland) just to get to the Neverland Bypass, which is the only safe (for the formations) way in. Knowing that we had the Boulder Choke and a duck to do on the way-out Andy called it and after refuelling on some Mars bars we had one last tantalising glimpse into Neverland and started making our way back.
The journey back was pretty quick but was extremely hard work. We emerged out into the nature reserve just before 3pm pretty exhausted, spending almost four hours underground. Although we didn’t reach Neverland the rest of the cave is so impressive, and I personally was so knackered when I got out there was no disappointment.
We walked back to the hut and got changed, and you know its been a hard trip when the collective decision is no debrief.
Our thanks to Andrew for being an excellent guide.
I plan on organising another trip for spring / summer 2023 when the water is lower.
— Seán Tidey 28/10/2022
Will Puddy, Rich Nurse
Will and I met at the Priddy green carpark at around 1900, after a short discussion on thermal requirements the two of us off across the fields.
Arriving the hut at around 1930, we were surprised to see how low the stream was, we had been expecting a small torrent after hearing about a recent trip Lawrence had led. My decision on thermal and fluffy may be on the warm side!
Keen to get on, we decided to head straight down the short dry way making fast progress through the old grotto, water chamber and down the top of the twenty. Although we had a streamlined ladder set up, we were pleased to find a WCC ladder and kit bag already set up for us to use.
Continuing down the stream, passing beneath Barnes’ Loop, we soon found ourselves at the base of Tratman’s Temple. Aided by the recent club trip to Shatter Pot, our route finding found us looking down towards the Shatter Series at 2000.
From Shatter Pot, the way on was all new to Will, and my first re-visit for about 10years.. we’ll be fine! The Greasy Chimney lived up to its name, proving an interesting problem with a bit of discussion and acrobatics. Onwards we made our way through the next few route choices with a mixture of survey, most obviously caved path and my memory that they all ultimately ended up at Blue Pencil Passage. It was a small relief when we did get to Blue Pencil and the first of the Double Troubles to see features I recognised.
Our “rest” for the trip involved 10/15min of bailing.. this was not restful. I took on the duck first only inhaling small amounts of water, but was at least now thankful for that thermal. Will followed on after doing a much better job than me at avoiding a self-waterboarding. We were pleased to find the next trouble open so straight on to Bang Squeeze. Another duck and into Glistening Gallery with some pretty and the tightest squeeze of the trip over a flowstone floor (Swildon’s Hole 100 years of Exploration suggest this is often mistakenly called Birthday Squeeze which is apparently actually a little further on). Next the final duck (actual Birthday Squeeze!) which we both “free dived” rather than doing our best otter impressions on our backs. A little further, down the Landing and into Swildon’s 2 at 2100.
The remainder of the trip back up the stream was straightforward, though we were certainly feeling the effects of our “resting” or lack of. The sump had an inch air gap and we were very pleased to see the WCC ladder still in place upon reaching the twenty, so we could just collect our kit and head on out, reaching the hut at 2135.
Back to the green to find Andy and Lawrence waiting, obviously pleased to see their ladder being returned although disappointed it had not been cleaned.
Off to the Hunters to meet up with the St Cuthbert’s trip and debrief. A great trip, though we were both staggered to hear it can be done in under an hour?! Those parties must miss all the good bits. Rich
— Richard Nurse 31/10/2022
Paul James, Rich Nurse, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy
After a late flurry of e-mails from members pulling out due to various reason the trip ended up with just the four of us, which was probably the not a bad thing as anymore would have meant a lot of waiting around for ropes to be rigged etc. We met as normal at 7:30pm in the Mendip Outdoor Pursuits car park on a wet and disgusting night.
After the usual SRT phaff we divided up kit and headed up the road to the foot path. Pausing after just a few minutes for Seán to run back to the cars to get Will a spare head torch and helmet after it appeared his was still suffering from his trip in Swildons the previous week.
After 10 minutes or so along the path, the entrance, a trench under a rocky outcrop with a scaffold bar was found. Rigging commenced with a rope going round a tree, then the scaffold bar then down and the first ladder going straight from the bar. Descending down a rift, not unlike St. Cuthberts, but sloping a bit and much more muddy we ended up on a little ledge / balcony where we could go either right or left. We chose the right route as we could see some grotty in-situ rope on the other route and someone recalled reading something about some lose rock on the left route.
Rich set out down a 45-degree slope rigging the right route. Although we had the topo we had not read the description and topos make route finding look very simple. Rich missed the first bolt so I, coming down as number two had to rig it with Rich below me, not something I’ve done before. We also missed “the window”, which is a small sideways crawl halfway down the pitch, but eventually found our way down to the Mangle Block, which still has the mangle on, creating a new route in the process.
Carrying on past the Mangle Block we came off the rope and ended up in Mud Bank Chamber, a chamber with a massive muddy bank! After sliding along the bank we got into some very narrow climbs/scrambles in the hunt for Aldermaston Chamber with the elusive blue pool, but time was now against us and we didn’t have any more rope.
We started making our way back with, I think Will in the lead and Rich derigging. Making our way back to the ledge without too much problem. We then started making our way, one at a time up the rift that was really hard work, even with the ladder. The big bag of rope was hauled out no problem and then once Rich reached the top we struggled to get the two ladders out as they kept getting tangled and caught.
Eventually we were all out, sweaty and very muddy, even Will’s SRT kit had a bit of mud on it. We coiled rope and ladders and started making our way back. As we started along the path, with impeccable timing (for the second week in a row) Lawrence appeared to escort us back to the car park.
Lawrence and Will checked out Sandford Levi on the way back and we all made it to a now completely deserted carpark, sadly too late to make the pub.
Not the most memorable SRT trip of all time but definitely one of the dirtiest. Most of Thursday was spent washing rope, ladders etc.
Next year I intend to run another trip down there pre-rigging both routes so we can do the Grand Mangle Hole Round Trip without all the waiting around.
— Seán Tidey 8/11/2022
Andy Sparrow, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Rich Nurse, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy, Yvette Jordan, Rachel Sparrow
We all met in the Charterhouse centre car park at 19:30 thankfully the heavy rain had passed so managed to get changed and fettle tackle in the dry before walking 300m down the road to Manor Farm then followed the footpath to the newly refurbished and gated entrance.
Whilst the entrance shaft was being rigged, Andy kindly volunteered to drop our access fee to the farm, unfortunately what he thought was a gate turned out to be a length of fence resting between two walls, no comedy value at all as he ended up flat on his back with legs in the air.
The 50 foot entrance shaft was quickly descended on ladders then a bit of crawling in a blasted passage saw us at the top of September Rift a short but rather restricted pitch that Yvette rigged with ladder and lifeline. At the bottom a descending passage was followed that soon picked up the stream way before arriving in the large and well decorated Curtain Chamber.
At the end of Curtain Chamber a 6m waterfall pitch descends to follow the fine stream way, whilst this was being rigged Rich and myself followed the bypass route that ends at the foot of the waterfall.
From here the impressive stream was followed down Fluted Pots to Albert’s Eye a low “lavatory pan” then to the Stream Junction where another stream joins from the right. We continued downstream in impressive passage that started to decrease in width, up until here the stream had a bit of a whiff of the farmyard, that changed as we got to Sarum Inlet where the walls were thick with rotten slurry, gagging we climbed up out of the stream through a small hole in the roof into fresh air in NHASA gallery. This is a large fossil passage that is well decorated, the end of which provided a suitable turn around point.
We returned the same way we came realising how much height we needed to gain, September Rift is tighter on the way up and the entrance shaft longer. Arriving on the surface we made our way back to the cars in ones and twos to keep the noise down, all back and changed by 22:00
This is a fantastic cave that would surely get a lot more traffic if it wasn’t for the slurry. Thanks to Andy for organising with the farmer and sorting the tackle. All made it to the Hunters for a debrief.
— Lawrence Wilson 17/11/2022
Peter Hall, Peter Sanders, Will Puddy, Rich Nurse
We met at Priddy Green, changing in the barn due to minor leakage from the sky. Lawrence, Andy and Rachel dropped of a ladder and rope, before deserting us for drier, warmer climes at the Hunters.
A damp walk across to the entrance to find the stream up from Will and I previous visit.
Pete H and Will decided to head down the wet way while Peter and I choose the short dry way. Meeting in the water chamber we continued downstream and were soon rigging the 20.
Swift progress down to sump 1 where Peter decided he would stay on the upstream side to have a nosy around and take some photos.
Pete H, Will and I passed through the sump heading past Howards Dig and then on to the Approach passage. An airy step across the stream at high level to get to a fixed hand line, allowed us to pull ourselves into the passage.
A sporting muddy scramble up the approach passage, making use of the central stream carved groove in the middle of the floor for purchase, we soon arrived at the top of the 11ft drop.
The 11ft drop was an airy decent, thankfully protected with a knotted handline. We spent a few minutes getting our orientation, helped by the “Abandon Hope” script on the wall. We were soon at the top of the Junction Chamber which again had a fun fixed rope down climb into the chamber.
Crossing the chamber and a small climb up, we head off towards the Black Hole. The Black Hole was certainly that, looking out over the edge I’m not convinced we were able to see the bottom! From here we made out return, using Howard’s Dig to re-enter the stream way.
Before long we were back through sump one, and soon found Peter taking photos. Up through Barnes loop, the 20 and then a reverse of our entry route choices through the upper series.
A thoroughly enjoyable round on the downstream side of sump 1, which made for well-deserved debrief at the Hunters.
— Richard Nurse 29/11/2022
Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Yvette Jordan
Jenna and Kieran
Met at 19:30 in a cold gateway with impressive lightning going off in the distance, after changing we walked across the wet field to the entrance.
As soon as we were inside we started to warm up and descended steeply down past a few Lesser Horseshoe bats then through the squeeze into Mud Passage before entering the Gorge which had a good size stream flowing, which we followed all the way to the top of the taped off waterfall, various ooos and aaghs at the size of Main Chamber.
Having walked back up we crossed the bridge and admired the helictites before going into White Passage, the Loop and Oxbow to regain the stream way, the terminal sump was quite backed up with a froth line up to the foot of the ladder dig climb, presumably from last Wednesday’s rain.
Having had a look at the bottom of the waterfall we went back up the oxbow before having a sit down at the Hall overlooking Main Chamber then back up the terrace before retracing our inbound route emerging at 21:30 into the cool with thunderclaps going off all around us, managed to get changed before the rain started on the drive to the Woodborough.
As ever a fantastic cave that was enjoyed by all, particularly Jenna and Kieran who we warned not to get used to such big spaces!
— Lawrence Wilson 24/11/2022
Andy Sparrow, Lawrence Wilson, Peter Sanders, Rich Nurse, Seán Tidey, Will Puddy, Yvette Jordan
Met at 19:30 and parked in a couple of lay-bys just past the entrance to the field, it was one of the coldest nights of the year so once Andy, Yvette and myself where changed we walked through thick frost to the cave entrance, rigged ladder and lifeline and descended into the warmth of the cave where we where met by the others, turning right down a short climb we followed a hidden right turn into the beautifully decorated Talus IV, having marvelled and explored we returned to the initial junction.
This time we went straight ahead down a passage with a couple of squeezes to arrive at the top of The Forty Backs a 15m snug pitch which we descended by ladder and lifeline to Masters’ Aven a 40m high, very loose chamber where we admired the fine (and perfectly preserved) mud formations.
We then split up, with Andy, Peter and myself retracing our inbound route whilst the others ascended a short scramble before free climbing Coffee Pot and squeezing back to the first junction from where we all ascend back into a fridged and clear night before getting changed and warming up in front of the fire at the Hunters by 22:00
A cave of two halves with Talus IV being a large phreatic remnant and the rest much more “Mendipy” lots of fun with Prophecy Pot still left to explore, thanks to Andy for organising access.
— Lawrence Wilson 10/12/2022
Andrew Chamberlain, Andy Sparrow, Chris Castle, Ian Tiley, Judi Durber, Lawrence Wilson, Paul James, Peter Sanders, Rich Nurse, Will Puddy, Yvette Jordan
Adam, Tim Gouge, Jake Tebet, Simon Jordan, Zoe Hebden, Andy Hebden, Rachel Sparrow
For the final trip of the year some silliness and socialising was the order of the day.
All 18 of us met up in Burrington Coombe and split into teams of 2 and where promptly tied together with 6m of rope! At the cave entrance each team was given a quiz sheet with 20 questions and a survey of the cave with 20 locations marked on it. At each of the locations was the answer to that question. On the stroke of 19:32 they where off, having one hour to hand back the quiz sheet.
Younger members rocketed off to the bottom of the cave whilst others filled in the answers they knew. Pretty much every extremity of the cave was used from Orange Peel Passage to the Dexion Extensions. Most teams got to the Boulder Chamber with about half going deeper.
With everyone’s eyes on the clock a mad scramble ensued to get back to the entrance. With only one team a couple of minutes late (earning themselves a hefty points fine!)
(Whilst this was going on I did a substantial clean up of the main entrance where a bonfire had been lit some time ago)
All got to the Woodborough at 21:00 where we took over the function area. After marking the somewhat muddy (thanks Will) and wet (thanks Tim) answer sheets the winners where Tim and Jake who not only did all of Goarchurch but also had time to get one of the bonuses at the end of West Twin Adit. After the trophy was presented (stet) and photos taken everyone chatted until it was time to leave. The evening had a fantastic ending with Judi and Adam announcing there engagement, congratulations.
Thanks to all who took part, hopefully it was the right mix of Christmas and cave knowledge, caving and socialising. Special thanks to Andy for producing the surveys and providing the rope which he gave to people who wished to practice their knots afterwards. Also to my son, Rowan, who I dragged around Goatchurch, Pierre’s Pot, Sidcot Swallet and West Twin Adit to place the answers and bonuses before he started an evening shift at The Riverside in Cheddar.
— Lawrence Wilson 1/01/2023