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OUCC this term

Club Caving Meetings, Michaelmas term 2013

(Provisional listing - may change nearer the beginning of term.)

(end of)


(for trip details see bottom of page)




  28th/29th September Hidden Earth, Monmouth      
0 12th/13th October  "President's Invite" *
Gingling Hole, Robinson's Pot
shared Old Schoolhouse, Chapel-le-Dale Steve Roberts
2 26th/27th October South Wales: OFD Madness 40 SWCC Simon Goddard, Rosa Clements




9th/10th November Mendips 40 SMCC Thomas Leung, Antonina Votintseva




23th/24th November Derbyshire: CHECC 40 Castleton Rotary Club Olaf Kahler


30th/1st November/December Northern dales:
Gaping Gill, Easegill, Lost Johns, Gavel & Short Drop
40 BPF Ben Hudson, Frances Pope



[* not an official OUCC caving trip.]

Bristol Exploration Club; Blackwalls: Tim's luxury chalet, Pwll Du; BPF: Bull Pot Farm;
Chez Gregson:
The Gregson's cottage in Bradwell; MCG: Mendip Caving Group; NPC: Northern Pennine Club;
Orpheus Caving Club; SMCC: Shepton Mallet Caving Club; SWCC:  South Wales Caving Club;
Technical Speleo Group; UBSS: University of Bristol Speleological SocietyWessex: Wessex Caving Club;
: Westminster Speleo Group; YSS: Yorkshire Subterranean Society.

Cost covers: loan of equipment, transport, accommodation, food on site; but not food in transit or what you spend in the pub! See here for more information.
Trips must be paid for in advance
. Payment is by an online system.

Your first caving trip? Read this important information and complete this online OUCC Pre-Trip information form

Going to the Dales? Going to Spain? Don't know the ropes ? - try SRT Training.

PLEASE help and volunteer to organise a weekend. If no-one organises the weekends they won't happen.
There is a detailed crib sheet on the website telling you exactly how to organise a weekend. TAKE A LOOK.

Other meets may be organised - please check at Wednesday meetings or via the OUCC mailing lists.

As usual details of the trips will be advertised closer in time. As a reminder: They will mostly be advertised on the oucc-all mailing list. So if you want to stay up to date, please sign up following the instructions on the website: http://www.oucc.org.uk/current/mailists.htm

South Wales - Novice trip

26th/27th October (end of 2nd week)

Staying at: South Wales Caving Club

Caves: Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (OFD), Cwm Dwr

If you happen to speak Welsh, you'll have to explain the pronunciation of Welsh cave names on this weekend. But regardless of their names, the caves over there are really great fun to explore. Most of the passages are purely horizontal and quite a few are easily walkable with a boulder-strewn floor, but there are also narrow, winding rifts and some deep holes that we'll have to traverse around. The OFD/Cwm Dwr system is allegedly a total of 68km long and 308m deep, and I don't think many people really know all of it. It is also one of the most complicated underground mazes in the UK and you can easily get lost for a while. We'll try to explore different parts of the system and may even work our way from one of the three entrances to a different one, passing some active and abandoned streamways, calcite formations and flowstone floors. There is a wide range of options, all of them very novice friendly, and we'll try to make sure you'll be on a trip that suits you.

Meet leaders for this weekend are Rosa Clements and Simon Goddard, and Rosa already sent a mail around with details on how to sign up.

Mendips - Novice trip

9th/10th November (end of 4th week)

 Staying at: Shepton Mallet Caving Club

Caves: Swildon's Hole, Singing River Mine, Eastwater, Burrington Combe

The caves on the Mendips in Somerset are generally a bit smaller and scattered across the landscape rather than forming big systems as in Wales. This means you can actually finish some of them on a single day. But not Swildon's Hole, the biggest cave in the area. The trip is a classic introduction to caving, and it involves both dry passages, splashy streamways, a bit of ladder climbing and a lot of walking. Eventually, as you get deeper into the mountain, there is a short "sump" - a section of about a meter where the passage is completely flooded. If you are brave enough, you can free-dive to the other side and see the passages beyond, but this diving is really rather unique to Swildon's Hole and even there it's optional, so don't be scared! And there are also plenty of other caves in the area: They are mostly horizontal, may or may not have a wellie-deep stream, require a bit of easy climbing, crawling and squeezing, and they are perfectly suited for people who haven't done any caving before!

Meet leaders will be Thomas Ka Leung and Antonina Votintseva. Please do not sign up for both of the novice trips to Wales and the Mendips. Others want to have a chance to try caving as well!

Derbyshire - CHECC weekend

23th/24th November (end of 6th week)

Staying at: Castleton Rotary Club

Caves: Peak Cavern ("Devil's Arse"), Giants, P8, Knotlow, Maskhill

You thought how awesome it is that Oxford even has a Cave Club? We are not alone! The Council of Higher Education Caving Clubs is an association of university caving clubs from all over the UK, and once a year they organize a weekend where all of them meet. Imagine hordes of students, all of them into caving (and quite a good part new to uni and caving just as you). Do I have to mention the word "party"? Anyone for loud music, dancing, fancy dress, silly competitions, some drinking and all the other shenanigans? If you bump into Jamie, Andrew or Ben, you should also ask them about some memorable red flag incident that happened last year at CHECC...

Oh, yes, there'll be caving as well. There are quite a few good and easy horizontal caving trips to be done in the area, so if you haven't had a chance at either the Wales or the Mendip weekends, Derbyshire will still be suited for you. However, there might be a few other cavers from various other universities queuing for those trips already, and I'd prefer to go on vertical trips instead. This means someone will bring a rope along into the cave, attach it to some anchors there, and then you climb up and down a shaft of 20m, 50m or even 140m using the so called Single Rope Technique (SRT). Don't panic! There will be a training session somewhere in Oxford beforehand and the first few pitches will only be 10m or so. Even if you've never done such things before we'll make sure that it's all safe and not too difficult for anyone!

Meet leader will be Olaf Kahler. Also, due to the large numbers of cavers expected, we might have to sleep in tents that weekend.

Yorkshire Dales - Varsity Weekend with CUCC

30th/1st November/December (end of 7th week)

Staying at: Bull Pot Farm

Caves: Gaping Gill, Easegill, Lost Johns, Gavel & Short Drop

On the last trip of the term we will meet with the Cambridge University Caving Club and hold our annual Varsity Match on neutral territory: The Yorkshire Dales. This will also bring us to the last of the four major caving area of the UK. During the day, we'll team up with CUCC and explore the caves of the area: They are mostly vertical and almost all of them require some easy SRT. Again, the trips will be suited for beginners who don't know much about SRT, as long as you've at least been to a training session here in Oxford. And there might even be a chance to squeeze in a horizontal trip, in case the SRT training at "the other place" fails and there are some people left who didn't get a chance to learn what SRT is all about. But the main focus is really on vertical caving, because that opens up a whole range of new possibilities in Yorkshire, including the huge Main Chamber in Gaping Gill, the massive streamway passages of Easegill and the intricate maze of cave systems on Leck Fell. Most of these are actually part of the gigantic Three Counties System, currently estimated at around 80-100km total length, but new bits and pieces get discovered and added to the system on a regular basis.

And I hasten to add: Caving is a half-blue sport, which means you can apply for sponsorship grants and compete against the Cambridge cavers in the Varsity Match, that will be held on Saturday evening on this trip! Great fun to be had and glory to be won! The details of all that will become clear later in the term if you are up for it!

The meet leaders haven't agreed on who is going to lead the meet yet, but it's probably going to be a combination of Vicky Lim, Ben Hudson and Frances Pope.

Unfortunately we can't offer these caving trips for free, although we try really hard to make them as affordable as possible. Each of them will cost 40 GBP per weekend, which includes transport, accommodation, food, gear rental, permit fees, and even the insurance for your first term of caving. So there is no need to pay a membership fee, yet, and if you'd like to go caving more often later on, the membership fee, which includes insurance, is about 23 GBP for a whole year.

And yes, there will of course be more caving trips in Hilary and Trinity Terms, but we haven't decided on them yet. The future plans are usually discussed at the Termly General Meetings of the club and then announced at the beginning of each new term. The first trip of every term will be suitable for newcomers, who join us late, but gradually we'll try to go on longer, harder and more challenging trips to more remote and exciting places throughout each academic year.

At the Fresher's Fair some people were also asking about caving trips outside term times, as students tend to be busy with lectures for the 8 weeks to come. And of course there will be some people in the club who just go caving at random times throughout the year. These are usually rather spontaneous, and such trips also tend to be smaller than the regular term time trips. If you are interested, it's probably best to come along to some of our pub meets during term time so that you get to know the people. And if you nag them long enough, team up with some others and are keen on it, someone can probably be persuaded to do even an easy introductory trip or whatever you like whenever you like.

There are also some long standing traditional trips happening outside the regular term times. Maybe you want to mark them in your calendars, already:

- Christmas & New Years at the Farm: As the title implies, some people are fed up with all the family business and escape the holiday season by going caving. A lot of OUCC people, also some CUCC people and quite a few random others will regularly go to Bull Pot Farm in Yorkshire to do some more or less advanced caving trips, most of them vertical and involving lots of SRT. This is one of the best chances to improve your ropework skills, but you might feel a bit lost if you have neither been to a SRT training session, nor on a vertical caving trip before. Still, the evenings will be great fun for everyone!

- Easter Trip: Admittedly, we haven't had one this year, but we have standing invitations from various friends of the club to visit the Irish equivalent of the CHECC forum: lots of student cavers meeting for a big party and for a lot of caving. We've also got a standing invitation to go to Scotland for a change, and they keep telling us that they've really got some caves up there in Assynt. Of course, such a trip might also involve a bit of mountaineering, walking or whatever you like. I can't promise anything about Easter yet, but if you are keen we can try to make things happen.

- Expedition to Spain: Since 1961, student cavers from Oxford have regularly been to the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain and explored some impressive caves (over 1.200m deep). As in many parts of the world, the cave exploration in the area is still ongoing, and you could become part of it! It is perfectly feasible to find new bits of cave and name them after just one short year of training... well, if you are keen that is! Come to the expedition talk on 30th October if you like the sound of this.