Depth through thought
OUCC News 7th March 2012
Volume 22, Number 7
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Editor: Andrew Morgan email@example.com
Steve found this old MCG article while sorting out some old journals recently and thought it was worth including as the cave was an old OUCC dig about 20 or so years ago (see OUCC Proceedings 13, 1991). There should be a trip to Dallimore's on the next Mendip weekend!
It's from the MCG newsletter #248 of November 1995, and reproduced with kind permission from Tim Francis and MCG.
"Speaking as a rescue warden, I can honestly say that if someone were injured here, we just wouldn't bother"
Discovered in 1990 by OUCC, The Oxford Extensions to Dallimore's Cave must be the most exclusive section of cave passage on Mendip. "Balaclavas and Petzl Zooms recommended" hints at the constricted nature of the squeezes that you need to push to get into the passage beyond. It's worth the effort as the formations have hardly been touched with some fine caving to be had.
On a previous trip into Dallimore's a few years ago we had stumbled across the Broken Nose squeeze but were not exactly sure that it was the correct way on. On this occasion I forced the squeeze rather than perform the necessary two point turn which is a lot easier. A few bruised ribs and plenty of profanities accompanied my reversal of the manoeuvre (ask Ralph!). A quick perusal of the Oxford journal and I was keen to have another go.
Julie was the only other person who showed any enthusiasm to have a crack at the extensions so it was down to only the two of us. The start of the extensions begins just beyond the base of the main rift. Crawl upslope, and to the left, into a sloping rift. (Continuing downslope from the rift only takes you to a large, muddy dig). At the end of the rift take the small hole on the right. A body sized tube descends to a small puddle and then turns to the left. The passage becomes 'rifty' and rather awkward for about ten feet. At this point one reaches the rather optimistically named "Turning Chamber". Rather than a chamber it is a slightly wider point in the rift where it is possible to turn round. This is a useful spot on the return journey as it means that you do not have to thrutch back up the rift feet first all the way.
The next obstacle is the "Broken Nose" squeeze which marks the point of the original breakthrough in 1990. Thrutch along on your side as far as you can go, keeping high, and shove your head into the small crack at the end of the rift. This should allow you to pull your legs underneath you and drop into the rift below. Remember to reverse the manoeuvre on the way out or you won't get out. The way on is to continue on down the rift which can be descended either headfirst or feet first. A small muddy tube and crawl lead to the final obstacle: "Tim's Testicle Tug". This is a rather claustrophobic bedding plane which drops into a large rift.
From here you are finally into the big stuff! A short muddy puddle leads to a climb and some fine walking passage. This is well decorated in several places and has been well taped off. The final few hundred feet of cave are split up by a tricky 3m drop and "The Ant-Lion" a tight calcite squeeze. A small section of ladder helps the return which is much difficult when gravity is against you. The end of the cave is "Curious Love" which is a typical Mendip grovel. The diggers are currently banging a wet puddle with a hint of an airspace. I would have thought it would also be worth following the fossil roof line which can be seen 15ft back from the dig face.
And that's it! Well worth the visit if you are small, thin and enjoy that claustrophic feeling.