Although we are a relatively small club, our members are engaged in a number of ongoing enterprises which are of interest to the world at large as well as cavers. They range from training sessions for beginners through to exploration and even film making. A few of our endeavours are outlined here:
This was our recent dig which on the 19th September 2007 created a connection between Rods Pot and Bath Swallet making it the third longest through trip on Mendip. Located in the Burrington Combe area it has quickly become a popular and sporting cave.
First dug by the Wessex Caving Club we must undoubtedly give a great deal of credit to Aubrey Newport, Pete Hann and Colin who made it possible. However a number of ways on had not appeared to manifest themselves in any obvious fashion after a considerable number of years digging. With their assistance vocal connections were established on a trip with Pete, Aubrey, Barry, Andy and Rachel. After some negotiation Andy Sparrow in the early part on 2007 got permission to resume the dig with Cheddar Caving Club. He was following a hunch about the purple coloured rock in both caves that he and Rachael Payne had noticed which maybe indicated a genuine link between the two. Although a vocal connection had quickly been achieved no obvious way on seemed apparent. A short time later there was a bad spate of weather and on return it was noticed a large amount of debris had shifted due to flooding in both caves. A large amount of spoil had disappeared down a plug hole and a quick recce of Rods Pot showed it had dissipated into the Bear Pit- there was possibly a connection at least. Boulders had also fallen in Bath Swallet during this wet period and a bypass was found past them. The diggers followed a route which then began continuing up. To prove the connection Andy drove a bar into the Rods Pot top end where we suspected the caves to meet due to the purple rock theory. For many weeks we dug, still unsure this was the right way on, but eventually the bar was discovered in Bath Swallet by Chris Lank who thought it was a boulder he had been working on. It was proof of a connection and digging began in earnest through what has now come to be known as Purple Pot. Members of the team on breakthrough night were Robin Gray, Matt Amner, Alun Williams, Brendan Hanley, Barry Hulatt, Chris Lank, Danny Burnett, Andy Sparrow and Rachel Payne. Rachel made club history by being the first to make the through trip from Bath Swallet to Rods Pot. It's been a great and exciting time to be involved in such a historic event. It goes without saying that there were many others in the club who assisted with the dig including Zoe Wilson, Andy Hebdon, Meg Whyte (formerly Hulatt), Martin Lee, Danni Gorman, Steve and Karen Pointen (Mark Whyte was injured so could not cave, much to his disappointment). We were able to announce this at Hidden Earth 2007 to great applause. We hope that we have given cavers great pleasure in this trip we have helped to create.
The club has been digging at this site for over three years, a period of time which members may expect to result in a huge report, detailing vast and dramatic discoveries. Alas, it is not like that. Progress has been erratic and extremely difficult and therefore slow, resulting in a meager 30 metres of passage - BUT!… with great potential, if only it would take a more horizontal trend.
Damocles passage is off the northwest corner of Sand Chamber in the Adventure Caving Area of Gough's Cave. It is a high rift passage heading almost due north, and after 30 metres ends in a boulder ruckle. This can be climbed for about 6 metres to a chamber leading to two ways on. One, to the right, wriggles through boulders for another 20 metres but does not appear to go anywhere, although it has not been thoroughly looked at. The other, to the left, leads to a muddy slope with scalloping in the roof, formerly terminating in a boulder choke. and this was our chosen site. Descriptions of caves are usually difficult to follow without a survey, and although we don't have a decent one of the dig, it doesn't matter. Just keep a mental image of a way going almost vertically and you won't go far wrong. It had been looked at before. In the early 80s the BEC did some banging, bringing a few rocks down but apparently lost interest, despite the flowmarks. I had been told that 200 feet of passage had been found but a collapse had blocked the way on, which gave initial excitement. However, our investigations, plus some personal communication with one of the earlier diggers, showed this to be slightly inaccurate, it was more like 2 feet. The club first had a look-see on 28th May 2000 after which it was agreed to fund the dig and I obtained the necessary permission but it was to be over a year before work started. To be continued….
This site is Cheddar Caving Club's adopted cave under the Descent “Adopt-a-Cave” Scheme. As some members will know, Waterwheel Swallet contains many of Dr. Stanton's digging aids in the form of small dams, water collection piping and stairways.
Over the years some of these features have deteriorated. After some consultation the following “improvements” to the man-made structures in situ have been done. 1) The tube/swim dam has been deepened by about two inches, thus making it a very fun feature of the cave. It remains exceptionally cold and is still very “Ohmigod!”. 2) Another dam has been installed downstream from the tube/swim dam (see why below). 3) The large (final) dam has had the major leak plugged and it should now partially refill in times of flood (and when the bungs are pulled on the three previous upstream dams, thus “flood pulsing” the final large dam). This final dam holds about 90 cubic metres of water and in order for the “lake” to fill it is necessary for “water in” to be more than “water out” and therefore the three upstream dams collectively hold almost enough water to half-fill the lake. In times of rainy weather, the dam should be about half full anyway - it has many small leaks at about the half-way up level. On progressing down through the cave, a visiting group should be able to pull out all three bungs on their way in and eventually arrive at the lake as it begins to fill. 4) The old rusty chains (with dangerously worn/thin links at the fixing points) at the entrance and on the climb down at the pitch have been removed/replaced respectively. 5) A fixed ladder is presently propped up against the final large dam; this is a precaution. When the final dam is full there is a possibility that some cavers may be out of their depth. For this reason the ladder is in situ for cavers to use should they need to get out of the water quickly. 6) Four eco-hangers have been placed on the right hand wall as you approach the 7m pitch; a traverse line and Y-hang/ladder can be rigged from these. Many cavers will approve of these improvements/ restorations to the man-made elements of the cave and enjoy their future visits to this fine, fun and interesting site. I believe the work has been sympathetically done with reference to Dr. Stanton's article in UBSS Proceedings, 1987, vol 18.no.. In order for the dams to work properly it is important that cavers make sure the bungs are a good fit when they replace them upon exiting the cave. A sign has been placed in the first chamber, below the entrance tube, notifying cavers of the recent work. The sign will be removed in due course once it has become more widely known that the cave is now a much wetter experience than has been the case for many years.
A Rock and a Hard Place is a Third Eye films production that chronicles the discovery and exploration of the Fairy Quarry Cave Systems. Many of the cast and crew are Cheddar Caving Club members, as is the films writer and director Andy Sparrow. The film is available on DVD and also includes a short film - Solo, an audio story - Floodpulse and the stirring Original Soundtrack.
To purchase visit: CaveClimb.com