Depth through thought

OUCC News 20th June 2012

Volume 22, Number 11

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Editor: Andrew Morgan

OUCC in Descent

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, in the latest issue of Descent (226, p15), there is a report of an expedition to Myanmar (Burma) that Chris, Tim, Fleur, Lou, and Pete went on.

Devon Weekend, 19th-20th May 2012. (Part 4 of 4)

Olaf Khler

Dog Hole, SX 74913 67872, approx. 2-3h, key recommended!

We easily found the entrance to Dog Hole just a few metres to the south of Pridhamsleigh Cavern. It was covered with big branches of trees to make it less attractive to the unknowing. But of course such a barrier would not deter cavers who've read the guidebook speaking of one of the most beautifully decorated caves of Devon.

We ignored the big passage near the entrance heading off to the right, probably to a dead end. Instead we crawled happily ahead, took some turns, climbed down a bit and then up again, and arrived at the upper end of The Dog Chamber. While we immediately spotted the passage with the gate to the right from there, we still decided to go down and have a look at the chamber first. It is rather spacious, but certainly not spectacular.

So I went ahead and started playing with the gate. Not trivial, given that it's located at the far end of a first little squeeze and the lock on its far side is only reachable by some gymnastic bending exercises. Pick someone tall with long, thin arms for this job, that would be me! What I saw beyond this gate did not make me happy though. A deep puddle of water with a squeeze around a corner to the left. Yuck, I hate wet caves! I still made it, but what I found beyond looked even more terrifying. A tiny, slippery tube heading down into the unknown dark. I didn't like it. Alex didn't like it. It took Tonya passing through to convince us, that we might not get stuck and die a horrible death down there. Soon also Rosa and even Tom made it through the squeeze and we all went ahead.

After another, slightly wider tube down to the left, we arrived in a first chamber with plenty of stalactites, curtains and some professional stal cleaning equipment. We ignored the hole going down from here, as it was taped of withsome old rope. Instead, we went through another, less horrible wet squeeze and got into some nice little tubes. At the next T-junction, Alex went down to the right but soon returned having reached the end of Quality Street. We now went uphill to the left, which got us into a nice chamber with a big stalagmite. Continuing along the right hand wall and climbing down a bit, but avoiding the deep, big hole, we next arrived at the impressive Main Chamber. Well, "we" meaning all but Tom, who went for the tube going uphill, so that he popped out on a balcony far above our heads. He soon joined us standing around at the bottom and admiring the glittering crystals all over the walls, stals and curtains.

We went a bit further to the right from the Main Chamber, where we found an amazing crystal waterfall and yet a bit further a crawl continuing for a few metres. We also found a hole in the ground which soon got us to another, much smaller hole in the ground, which still had footprints in it. We decided not to get stuck down there. Finally, we found a second balcony, overlooking the Main Chamber from the other side. But as we were all getting a bit tired after our fourth cave of the weekend, we decided to head out. Reaching Quality Street and the first chamber with the stal cleaning tools was not a problem. The squeezing back up the tunnels and around the wet corner were a bit more of a struggle. We finally had to get the gate back in place through the squeeze and re-attach the lock, which was a job for someone tall with long, thin arms, just like me. Looking at the left hand wall while manipulating gate and lock will help, if you're ever going through the trouble of it. We almost got lost on the way back to the entrance, but made it out in time for some well deserved Devon cream tea. Sitting in the sunny garden with our scones concluded our clueless-but-brilliant Devon weekend.