South Wales - Ann Soulsby

Friday, 4 March, 2011

Jess Eades, Dan Sullivan, Mel Lambert, Martyn Grayson, Richard Tooley, Tom Spriggs, Helen Nightingale, Clive Westlake, Roy Rodgers, Chris Carter, Emma Battersby, Mike Topsom, John Sharp & me.

We all started to filter in during the evening.  Roy and I got there at 10.00pm and Jess showed me where the ladies room was.  I was fascinated by the little cubby hole at the side of this but apparently this room has a reputation so I kept out….. Once my bunk was sorted I went downstairs to get a drink and was scurried off for an emergency meeting to get the finances sorted.  After this I had a pleasant evening drinking and meeting friends made at the TSG.  Lump arrived during the evening and he had trouble recognising me without my curls.

Got up at 7.45am to find Roy and Chris in the kitchen.  Chris was starting the sausages etc and I helped with toast etc.  Had numerous cups of tea whilst helping to cook and clear up.  Just before 9.00am we started to plate up – Chris said that there were 12 of us so we divided all the grub between 12 plates and went to sit down.  Chairman Dan didn’t get a meal – we were 13!

Report by Ann


Dan yr Ogof
Leaders Helen Brooke and Rufus
Present – Ann Soulsby, Roy Rodgers & John Sharp

Helen had decided that we would do the round trip so we did not need SRT kit.  We got changed at the hut and then it was a small drive round to the show cave.  Roy was under impressed with the dinosaurs…..

We entered the show cave and made our way to the railings and the Lakes.  Helen and Rufus told us the water was very low today however it was still chest deep – well it was on me anyway.  Once through the lakes we climbed up to Boulder Chamber where Helen explained about a phenomenon where there is a natural sump overflow.  The trickle of water coming out is sometimes a rather impressive waterfall.  We were told not to worry if it was gushing when we got back.

The Long Crawl was very short!  I was expecting something like Swinsto or Penyghent.  We were soon at the ladder and into Gerard Platten Hall.  We carefully skirted the Crystal Pool and went up into Flabbergasm Oxbow. Then we continued onwards past all of the galleries of straws and the magnificent Cloud Chamber before getting to the start of the Green Canal, where we located some buoyancy aids.  I was pleased with my wet suit at this point – I would not have liked to be doing it in a furry like John.  We left most of the buoyancy aids at the other end as Helen had arranged for Clive to reverse our round trip.

It wasn’t long before we were back at the ladder at the bottom of the Long Crawl.  As we approached Boulder Chamber Helen saw a trickle of water emerging from Lavatory Dan so we watched and waited for it to flow.  It was quite impressive and apparently we were very lucky to hit on it at exactly the right time.  Back through the Lakes and the show cave and out to get changed.  We were first back at the hut in time to get warm showers and sit in front of the open fire with tea and bickies.  Some of our cavers had not managed to get started Emma and Mike were just setting off after sneaking back to bed….. This puzzled a couple of the other cavers as they thought that they had gone to fetch ciggies and had been waiting for them to go caving – they gave up!

Report by Ann

Top to Cwm Dwr
Present – Jess Eades, Dan Sullivan, Mel Lambert, Martyn Grayson, Richard Tooley

OFD 1 to Top
Present – Tom Spriggs, Helen Nightingale, Clive Westlake, Chris Carter

Top to Cwm Dwr
Present – Emma Battersby, Mike Topsom

Saturday Social

As we filtered in following caving we all gathered in front of the fire while Dan sorted out the evening meal.  Unfortunately we were all so stuffed after the main course that none of us could face the sweet.  Back to the common room where Clive put on a slide show.  We were all pretty done in so it wasn’t long before we started filtering off to our bunks. Report by Ann


Martyn was in charge this morning and feeling grumpy about it….  Jess, Richard and I were helping.  This time we managed to plate up 13 meals although we pretended to Tom that we had forgotten him as he came down late. 
Report by Ann

Pant Mawr Pot
Present - Martyn Grayson, Roy Rodgers, Chris Carter, Emma Battersby, Mike Topsom, John Sharpe & Ann Soulsby

2011 03 04_swcc_020_smThe Pot is located on the moors about 4 km from the hut.  It took us about an hour to walk up as Mike took us the long way round. On the way up we stopped for a quick photo shoot at Ogof Pipe!  Once at Pant Mawr the rope was rigged from a stake, which led onto a 15m pitch. This drops you down into a section of very large passage with the water coming in.

Downstream the passage is large and we descended over large boulder collapses until we reached the 1st Boulder Choke. Above the second Boulder Choke was Straw Chamber, which is extremely pretty.  We dropped down into the streamway with more pretties. Another boulder choke and some climbs led to some more pretties.  Roy decided to have a rest in one of the chambers.  When we got back to him Martyn, Roy and myself decided to set off out to speed up the exit.  Unfortunately we didn’t plan on getting lost in the boulder chokes so it gave the others chance to catch us up.

Mike ascended with his improvised SRT kit; Emma gave in and borrowed a chest jammer.  We were pretty slick getting out which was good as it was later than we intended it to be.  On the way back we chose the most direct route giving us time for a quick shower back at the hut.  Perfect timing we were just getting changed when the other group arrived so we had a quick cuppa and the fruit pies with them before heading off home.
Report by Ann

Dan yr Ogof

Leader Clive Westlake
Present – Tom Spriggs, Helen Nightingale, Jess Eades & Richard Tooley – This report by Helen Nightingale

Clive kindly took us to Dan-yr-Ogof, and we set off with minimal faffing, after Tom had found his breakfast. It was very strange to go there when the show caves were shut. The place was deserted and the dinosaurs looked a bit redundant. At least there were no public to scare with our bare bottoms as we changed in the car park. Somebody discovered you can press a button to make the turnstiles go round, just as I was climbing over it, then I had to laugh at the dog flap sized caver door at the show cave entrance. It sort of felt like we were not supposed to be there.

When I was very young I went around the show cave with a guide, and was told about all the nasty scary tight potholes the proper cavers came to go down, and I always wanted to see what proper caving was like. I had also been told how hideous the Green Canal was – by a man who can’t swim, so I was very keen to do that too. Nobody had told me how Dan-yr-Ogof is very beautiful as well.

Clive told us to follow his route through the lakes near the beginning, as he knew the shallowest route, but I still had to swim. I was glad of my wetsuit right from the start. On reaching the Long Crawl, I was expecting the kind of hideousness I had been told about as a child, but it wasn't very long, tight or wet. Apparently if I want “proper potholing” like that, I will find it down the Longer Crawl.

Then we headed off down some passages that reminded me of the London Underground because of the shape of the passageways, and then found out we were at Bakerloo. At first Clive was telling us not to bother hanging around being impressed by the formations, as there was better to come, and he was right. We went past the Red Monk, and on to the Cloud Chamber. This was quite incredible, all the very long straws were a beautiful sight, and we stopped to take it all in. It would have been easy to have spent ages there, but there were more wonderful sights to see.

Through a chink in a bit of passageway, we saw some kit up ahead of us, and wondered who it was. It turned out it was the pile of rubber rings and floats at the start of the Green Canal. It was funny to see everybody squeezing themselves into the rather small rubber rings, and then getting in the canal. The others started off wading, but I was doing the doggy paddle right from the start. Watching a couple of big blokes emerge from the canal ahead of me, stomping along wearing rubber rings cracked me up. Jess recorded it all on her new camera.

We decided to make the trip a bit longer, and went Faster and Slower to the Highway to see the bottom of the Rising. There was some wonderful large passageways and trenches to see before turning back to complete the round trip. We proved that none of us are fat bastards by squeezing under the Camel’s back. We passed many more formations and sparkly areas of rock, as well as unusual scalloping patterns.

As another aside, we went down Flabbergasm for some photography. Jess posed near the floor to ceiling straw, and the rest of us held bits of kit for Clive. Then back to the parts we had already been through. I am sure I saw many more crystals at the crystal pool on the way back than on the way out. I was sad to be on the way out again. It was an excellent trip, great fun, and thanks go to Clive for leading it, and everyone else for pushing and pulling me up climbs when I was being very pathetic.

Sheffield (Broken)

Present – Dan Sullivan & Mel Lambert