Depth through thought

OUCC News 11th November 1992

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Again, a fantastically busy period on the caving scene. Exploration in Wales, Gower, and Mendip. Sporting trips to Yorkshire and Mendip, and a photographic epic in Daren. Keep the articles coming everyone, so everyone else can read about what the club has been up to.

Dent forget MENDIP MADNESS this weekend. Plans are afoot for a wicked Rodney's Revenge. David, Jenny, Jim are in charge, so let them know if you are coming, how many extra you are bringing, and whether you can help out with logistics or transport.

Expedition Gear

Recently a lot of people, including me, have been getting upset about where the club gear has been stored. Part of the reason for us all getting upset is that we haven't had the situation explained to us. The purpose of this message is to try and rectify this. Most of the gear not already in the hut will stay in Carshalton. If you think that a. particular piece of gear should be in Oxford, because it may be needed at short notice, then you should tell Dave Bell, and he will bring it up. I'm not quite sure where this gear will live: probably either the hut or somebody's loft. I should maybe stress that this decision has nothing to do with me; I'm only passing on what I have found out after a lot of asking around.


The Daren digs: Gavin's update

This was going to be the dig that went. It had everything you could want: good location, heading into blank mountain, easy digging through soft sand, a good draught. On the previous trip we'd dug down, following what is probably the down dip of a phreatic tube. We'd found a rock arch, and could stick a crow bar through and wave it around on the other side. Great, we thought, we'll just have to get through this arch and it will be open on the other side.

So, Urs and I were back there on Saturday. We continued digging, clearing the sand away from the arch. After a couple of hours Urs declared that she thought it was now passable, and that there was a big passage on the other side. I was duly inserted, and squeezed through to find ... two foot of passage, with only a one inch high passage continuing. A tube above connected back to a tiny rift before the dig. The way on is diggable in theory, but we'd have to dig down about a metre until it was wide enough to pass, and there isn't really enough space to dump the spoil.

'The odd thing is the draught: the passage leading up to the dig draughts well, and then the air seems to blow along the tiny rift, bypassing the dig, and then back through the dig, thus flowing in a circle. I've no idea what drives this, and much probing with joss-sticks failed to locate any other draught.

So another dig has bitten the dust. However, there are a lot of other good leads in the area, and it must only be a matter of time before one of them goes.

Gallivanting on the Gower

After Rob's enthusing on Wednesdays about the Gower caves he has been exploring, Mark and myself decided to get down there and check them out. We met Rob and friend on Sunday morning and went down to 'the surf depot', a house that is occupied by an ever changing population of itinerant surfing folk. We started off by having a look at a large sink, the site of the biggest of the caves Rob has found. This was sumped so we couldn't have gone down it without some major civil engineering (dam building). We followed this by a visit to some of the resurgences on the beach (yes! these caves are by the sea), and then on to the dig that rob had blown up the previous w/e, where we had a bit of a poke around. We then went to a resurgence cave, (via 3 quarry caves: all potential digs) where Mark and Rob did some digging (while I went to sleep in the entrance). In our short day on the Gower we got a pretty good look around at some of the potential, and there is a lot to go at. There are all sorts of digs with far more promise than most things you'll find on Mendip, so if you want to find some cave, this is a good place to look, not to mention the fact that it is by the sea, and near some good climbing (and surfing!).

Dowsing success on Mendip

You may be interested to learn that I visited Mendip this weekend and took part in a dowsing exercise involving a follow up by Hymac digger. The chosen site was at Greendown Farm near East Harptree. After a dowsing reconnaissance the most likely site was chosen and the digger went it. Digging on the Saturday exposed a 5m deep hole which appeared to be a passage with inlet on the east and by lunch time on Sunday this had been further dug to expose the roof of a passage trending SW, as predicted by the dowsing. It takes a small stream and has been named "Greendown Swallet". I will let you know further developments. In fact the follow up to the dowsing indicates that this connects with Wigmore Swallet, and eventually to the main predicted Cheddar trunk master cave!

A possibly more exciting development is that some 3 or 4 years ago I dowsed what seemed to be the connection between Swildon's and Wookey. This passed through a depression in a field south of the Queen Victoria Inn at Priddy. This was one of the first sites dug by the Hymac digging team, and was named "White Pit". The news is that this finally "went" last Wednesday, and a well-decorated fossil series was entered. This is right over the Swildon's streamway beyond the sumps. I am negotiating a trip into White Pit as soon as it has been tidied up and taped.


Our Yorkshire trip

The drive took less time than I expected. As we were late, we decided to go into a show cave, paying our money at a minor entrance. We walked down the amazingly well decorated main passage, and looked up a very impressive aven. Michelle said it reminded her of a picture she had seen of the Octagon at fly Cathedral. Then we went to the hut, which was surprisingly full of small children. Still, it was nice to see Phil Sargent - these older members don't often make it up to the Dales these days. On Sunday, we went down a rather long streamway cave, so big that neither roof nor walls could be seen. Impressive loose mud formations that Michelle said reminded her of autumn leaves. A good trip, though rather tiring. The drive back was brief, and for some reason it felt like we were heading west rather than south. Strange what old age does to one's sense of direction.
El Prez

Four go mad on Blue-Greenies

"I'm tired", Mark mumbled, slumped in a sandy grovel in Eglyws passage. Tiredness had visibly reached everyone, except perhaps Tony who had managed to redirect Daren's destroying influence to the crutch of his one-time oversuit. Big Chamber, trying to concentrate on staying upright on muddy boulders (a Welsh classic), then splashing lethargically through Jigsaw passage. At last, the entrance crawl. Thrutching, squeezing and grunting, listening to the receding rumbly echoes of Tony's wellies ahead, feeling the cold water washing bits of Rock Steady sandswims up and down the inside of may furry. It had all seemed such a good idea at the time, when Jenny suggested a birthday trip (a nipper at 24) to see the infamous Blue-Greenies: the end of the universe and back in a day! Just now I wasn't so sure. Partly my fault for deciding to take my camera gear something I was now paying for trying with exhausted arms to keep the BDH out of the water. And then, out of the crawl's complex train of obstacles - the T-passage thrutch. Landmark. 10 minutes from the end. Fresh air, leaves, flies, bits of the outside. One final insulting grovel in water, then out into the Welsh mizzle, 13.5 hours after we set off.

But what a fantastic trip. Stomping down Red River, rattling up 70ft of ladder, gawping in the Time Machine (even finding time for a detour into a virtually unpushed side passage on the East side), then flat out all the way to Hard Rock and the start of the sand swims. Rock Steady Cruise has to be one of the most peaceful bits of passage in the country, until, that is, you start playing football, or building sandcastles, or squabbling over the few remaining Eclairs in Tony's sweetie mix bag. Acupuncture passage hurt a bit, but the Anklegrinder bypass was lovely. Just in time for 4 o'clock tea at the Restaurant. Then through the thankfully awkward detour to visit that temple for the cave tourist: the Blue-Greenies. A senseless extravagance of peppermint green calcite madness. Beautifully preserved, virtually unphotographable (but thanks guys for your patience...). Thank God it's so difficult to get to.

Donkey's Dicks

There are many ways of getting down a pitch the easiest, of course, being to simply jump. This practice is to be discouraged, however, because the jumper might injure someone below.
Roy Davis