Depth through thought
OUCC News 13th May 1998
Volume 8, Number 11
|DTT Volume 8 index
The team had soon assembled - JC, Alison, Andy, Lev and Keith. I spent the necessary bit of time over lunch in the Hunter's putting the frighteners on them about the sump in Stoke Lane - this achieved, we set off in glorious spring sunshine to Stoke St Michael.
Problems with the lights started with the discovery that JC had bought his charger but no light; the excuse failed completely as I lent him my zoom. Lev then found that his light died in about 15 seconds from being switched on. Nobly he volunteered to lie in the buttercups and sunshine reading various caving books and the paper, while we could get wet and cold underground. The entrance as ever, had all the aspects of flushing oneself down a water closet. Once inside, we proceeded with a few minor navigational difficulties to the duck and the sump.
The duck is really only a duck if you're my kind of size - skinny bastards can crawl above the water, but those possessed of substantial manly chest measurements have to get a bit more involved with the water to get through. Any advantage in staying a little dry that the thin brigade have is of course immediately negated by the sump. This now has a line through it - a thin, divers-style piece of string that is actually more of a hazard than a help as it tends to tangle round your light and so on as you go through. Care is needed.
Once through the sump, declared a real hoot by all concerned, we had a quick crawl around the large chambers. Keith's light failed at this point, and despite a great deal of impromptu surgery it could not be persuaded to work again, so Keith had the highly educational experience of caving in the dark. As ever, I failed to find all of the four big chambers, but a good time was had by all anyway. I do remember that on one trip down here years ago, I did manage to find all the chambers, and even thought I'd found a new bit of streamway, which, unfortunately, simply proved to be the branch of the canal passage that leads off to the right immediately after the sump. However, close study of the guide book after the trip means that next time I can guarantee (honest) to find every bit of the cave.
A quick exit found us in the glorious sunshine again, and we then had
a gentle amble round Wells, where I got a glimpse of the St Andrews well
resurgence, which looks mightily impressive, but doesn't seem to be in
the guidebook. Presumably neither the Bishop nor the Dean of Bath and Wells
are CDG members.
The remainder of the team, after amusing tight-wetsuit scenes by the sideof the road, soon set off down a rather wet entrance into the cave. The first section of was rather small but sporting nevertheless, with a crawly type bouldery winding passage and a decent sized streamway flowing down it. The highlight of the trip is sump one. Only short but unusually shaped, and possible to swim straight past the exit on the way back if you're not thinking properly (oh yes, stories of inept scouts abound...).
After the sump, the cave quickly opens out into some very large chambers with fine formations at the end, including a spitting image of Queen Vic. The second casualty suffered a rather long drawn out death shortly before Queen Victoria, moments of life interspersed with temporary unconsciousness, until my light finally packed up as we started to head out. Club sponsored illumination is not, it must be said, particularly frugal at the moment.
Out in time for a bimble around Wells and half an hour deciding whether
to go for the chippy option or the pizza option. Good trip.