It's a fine 'un

Details

Date: 28 Nov 2015
Visibility: Everyone
Duration: 6hr 40min
Participants: @JonnyC, @RichM, @MLeP
Tags: @JonnyC: Quality Caving Day, @JonnyC: Personal Exploration Trip, @MLeP: Quality Caving Day, @MLeP: Personal Exploration Trip, @RichM: Quality Caving Day, @RichM: Personal Exploration Trip

Summary

An exciting trip to the promised land on a wet Wales afternoon. MLep navigated well

Points

  • Ogof Craig A Ffynnon (South Wales)
Comment by @JonnyC on Sunday 29 November 2015
Following a hard to resist invite I met the boys at whitewalls for a welcome breakfast and gear sort before driving up the road to derelict pub.

Although the morning had started fresh and crisp, by the time we were walking to the cave entrance the true Wales wind and dampness had kicked in and it was a welcome relief to take shelter in the entrance chamber. After a few expletives and raw knuckles the gate was opened and we headed inside for the first crawl to the log book, Mark took the reigns of leading and onward we went up through the scaffold of the first choke.

Gasoline alley was damp but not excessive with water levels moderately low making the crawl through bracing but not torturous. Before long we were ascending a fixed ladder which then goes onto rope with a shimmy up through the edge of a fissure, new steps have been installed here but I can't work out whether they are a help or a hindrance as the designer obviously had legs above average length.

We went through the second choke slurped, slopped and slid through mud and on into the beauty of travertine passage with its unique array of interconnected gower pools. Some skilful musical accompaniment was presented by one of the party as we entered the hall of the mountain king which helped set the scene for such an impressive feature.

Just as we were about to set in to the flat out crawl that is the third choke mark froze like a squirrel between headlights, a few moments later it became apparent why mark had freaked, for some reason it seems so unusual to find a fellow human unexpectedly coming toward you in a cave. We took an enforced rest break for about ten minutes while the party of three emerged one at a time from the crawl, a welcome rest, but it did bring about a chill. We were swiftly warm again as we navigated our way through the crawl with Rich without complaint dragging the heaviest bag behind him.

After about fifteen minutes of contortion and crawl, we emerged into the Severn tunnel (queue obligatory jokes) some pleasant and easy walking after the last choke. We skirted around the entrance to the lower series, I am pretty sure I almost entered it by accident at one stage as my footing failed on the mud.

After gently easing through looser boulders of the fourth choke we stopped for a spot of lunch prepared for us by Mark (against his usual rule apparently), it was just what was needed at this stage although the mud did not enhance the tastes.

Rich went ahead to reccy the traverse and pitch, luckily a traverse line was in place, but Rich still had to take the exposed few steps to rig the ladder. A life lined descent of the ladder was quite and awkward experience, so Rich took an alternative route down the pitch using the in place tat, a move that in hindsight was much easier and meant that dragging the ladder all the way in was unnecessary, well character building!

We firstly headed left to grab a picture or two of the pagoda, some impressive formations were on view here. We then retraced our steps and went further on down into the promised land. The going was quite easy with a little crawling through the oxbow. We found a very beautiful formation which really showed off the power of flowstone. We ploughed on deep to the end of the the promised land for a group photo.

Our return trip was was an opportunity to grab a few more pictures and to enjoy the second part of our lunch at the top of the promised land pitch. I was certainly tiring and slower on the flat out crawls on the return although the mud and increased water did make some of the chokes a little easier to pass.

After each of us in turn laughing at one another for minor mishaps on the exit we each had our comeuppance with me bumping my head quite forcefully on a lowered rock roof, mark taking an ungrateful and unplanned lie down, and rich managing to grab control after wedging his boot on a mud slide before turning himself upside down.

As we passed some of the chokes and indeed in travertine passage the water levels were clearly quite increased and the return trip through gasoline alley we were treated to water levels about twice that of the inward journey but luckily still not passing the chin.

As we exited the cave the rain had finally subsided but there was a good chill in the air, just enough to make the 20 minutes of locking the gate quite frustrating, well done to mark for making it so in the end. Quite muddy we returned to the van and on back to white walls.

A super trip.

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