Sunday March 12th
Brown Hill Pot
Fleur, Pete, Rachel, Toby, Josh Young and Adam Walmsley (YUCPC), Avelina
Sunday March 12th
County Pot Upper Trident, Main Line Passage, Mancunian Way and Manchester Bypass
Ade, Chuck, Gary, John D, Matt, Mary Holder
Saturday March 11th
County Pot - Pool Sink
Ade, Fleur, Gary, Matt, Rachel, Toby, Josh Young (YUCPC)
A rather late start due to the prior CNCC meeting, but we assembled at Bull Pot Farm at 1:30pm intent on a very efficient exchange between Pool Sink and County Pot. It was Old Farts (Me, Gary, Ade, Fleur) going down County and the younger contingent (Rachel, Josh, Toby) down Pool Sink.
We had a merry trip down County Pot taking the usual Upper Trident route to avoid having to rig any pitches other than the one just below the entrance. This route has one challenging climb, but is otherwise tackle-free. An excellent description of the route to Stop Pot from County via Upper Trident (as well as via Poetic Justice and Manchester Bypass) can be found on the CNCC website, although I am biased as I wrote them!!!
The stream was up a little, but of no concern and within about 45 minutes of entering the cave we were at the bottom of the Stop Pot boulders.
It had been some considerable time since I have done Pool Sink, so navigation to it was a little uncertain, but Fleur had a better memory than me. In the end, it's dead easy; head upstream from the foot of Stop Pot for a few hundred metres, keeping left and gradually rising up onto boulders perched above the stream. After about 75m the stream is lost from immediately below the boulders but continue onwards regardless. Another 75m later (still continuing over boulders), the passage ahead narrows and there is a hole in the floor under the right wall leading back to the stream. This is Holbeck Junction.
Return to the stream here and turn right (downstream) in walking passage for 20m and into an obvious crawl on a shelf on the left. This leads into approximately 10 minutes of easy and varied caving (passing the very recognisable serrated limestone walls; the Bacon Slicer, characteristic of this part of the cave). We didn't know where we were going so we just followed the most obvious route which seemed to work fine. We reached to the bottom of the final pitch of Pool Sink just as the others had got to the bottom, so we traded banter and parted company again.
Pool Sink boasts an absolutely cracking selection of short, easy and enjoyable pitches, which we quickly ascended. The final section of the cave which leads to the surface is annoying; a narrow crawl with a few awkward bends, but it's extremely short and daylight soon beckoned ahead.
Returning down the valley to County Pot we met the others just coming out - Perfect timing! Total time underground only 2.5hr!!!
Plenty of time for tea at the NPC and then curry in Bentham. A great day out.
Saturday February 18th
Alum Pot - Long Churn
Gary, Matt, Rachel, Toby
The planned trip for today was Brown Hill Pot, but the weather forecast from 2pm was a little concerning and we didn't know how Brown Hill responded, so we stuck with a much safer option to do a quick Alum Pot to Long Churn exchange, aiming to be out before the rain started.
Myself and Rachel headed down Long Churn, skillfully traversing the Double Shuffle Pools (which I have never done before; I usually just fling myself in) and reaching Dolly Tubs. On this occasion I decided that I would do my once every five years rigging refresher and promptly set to work. A group of instructed cavers were doing ladders but we were able to bypass them via the right hand window route.
Down at Dolly Tubs ledge the view was splendid as always. I could just make out Gary and Toby above starting the descent of the North West Route of Alum (if you look at one of the photos taken by Gary it shows an excellent view from the top looking down at Toby going over the edge, with me starting rigging of the Greasy Slab part way down). The whole rigging thing came right back to me which was a relief!
For reference, from Dolly Tubs ledge, traverse along the left wall of the shaft to a Y-hang descent (steep slope) down the Greasy Slab with some unavoidable rope rub further down. Once on the large balcony below, there is a sandy shelf leading out along the opposite side of the shaft. Some rather far apart P-anchors support an easy traverse along this ledge to The Bridge. This is a sloping huge jammed block in the middle of the shaft which must be crossed (carefully), and then descended on the far side to another small balcony. Anchors then spiral down to underneath The Bridge where a tiny Y-hang can be achieved, followed by a deviation (in-situ tat) from the opposite wall for the final excellent pitch. What a great place!!!
We arrived down only a short time after the Alum team, and they had already rigged the final pitch.
We did some photography at the always dramatic and inspiring sump next to the thundering Diccan waterfall, and then in the stream passage just upstream of the sump. and we headed back out. to complete the exchange.
The ascent back up Alum north west route was quite sufficient exercise, and we returned to the surface around 2pm to find absolutely no sign of the rain that had been threatened; in fact it was a lovely day. Never mind... Brown Hill will be there for another day.
Sunday January 15th
Gary, John D, Laura, Matt
It wasn't just wet... it was REALLY wet... white water down Kingsdale Beck.
John turned up, snorting about how there was no way we were getting down Rowten today... but having descended Rowten several times in similar conditions I was rather more confident that the Eyehole/Flyover route would be passable.
Progress underground to the bottom of the normal (Eyehole) pitch was expedited by the cold and driving rain on the surface. Gully Route (our original plan) was hidden behind a raging waterfall and shrouded in spray. The noise was deafening!!!
Down at the traverse, I waited patiently as Gary descended first, disappearing into the spray. At this point I was 50/50 whether a descent would be possible, so I was half expecting Gary to turn around and come back up. But after some time, the Rope Free call bellowed up and off we went.
The bottom of the big pitch was horrendous; not the usual wet weather spray, but heavy rain from the torrenting waterfall lashing the balcony by the start of the Flyover route; but perhaps the most noticeable thing was the 40+ mph chilling wind howling at us. It was a painfully cold wait for five minutes, huddled over the pitch head, while Gary completed the Flyover route rigging.
I thought it would be sheltered once off the ledge, but abseiling down the first section of the Flyover route you are hung only 5-6m from the water and the wind, spray and noise was unbelievable. But once at the re-belay you go around a corner away from the waterfall and it was sheltered from the wind.
With our extremities numbed to the bone, it was a relief to get onto the traverse to the final pitch where it was dry and nicely sheltered and we could complete our trip to the bottom in greater comfort.
On the way back out, Gary and I offered to go last and de-rig. We sent the others off out on a 20-minute head start, to avoid us all bunching up at the bottom of the big pitch, not somewhere you would want to wait for more than a few minutes under these conditions. We arranged for the last person up to drop a Krab down the rope to indicate it was free.
After a cold 20 minute wait I set off with instruction from Gary not to stop until the traverse at the top of the big pitch. I was pleased to see a Krab hanging in the loop of rope at the bottom of the big pitch (there was no way I would have heard a rope free call nor could I see up through the spray to tell if anyone was on the rope) so without delay up I went... with the gales, the torrential rain and intimidating roar I didn't stop for my usual rest half way and I belted it up the rope to the relative shelter of the tiny traverse at the top.
From here it was fairly straightforward progress out, where the surface seemed so peaceful and mild by comparison.
A tremendous, dramatic, enjoyable but very cold day out.
Saturday December 31st 2016
Ireby Fell Caverns
Ade, Gary, Laura, Matt
A fine and uncomplicated trip down to Duke Street to work up a thirst for the new year NPC celebrations at Greenclose which York had been very kindly invited to join in with. Gary took some cracking photos. Another group from YUCPC did the Cripple Creek round trip too which sounded a little too energetic for me!
Saturday December 17th 2016
Eskdale Mines - pre Christmas meal trip
Tegs, , Richard W, Rachel, Peter, Pete, Matt, Laura, John C, Jerry, Gary, Fleur, David W, Chris, Chalky, Ade, Various other mine enthusiasts
Saturday December 3rd 2016
Cwmorthin Slate Mine
Aileen, Ali, Chris, David W, Fleur, Gary, Jerry, John D, Margot, Matt, Rachel, Richard V, Tegs
Sunday September 11th 2016
Black Shiver Pot
David W, Fleur, Gary, John D, Laura, Matt
Tuesday August 16th 2016
Sell Gill Holes
Andy B, Jerry, John C, John D, Matt, Living Joke, Sparky
Monday August 15th 2016
Gary, Jerry, John C, John D, Matt
Sunday August 14th 2016
Little Hull Pot
Ade, Gary, Jerry, John D, Matt
Sunday August 7th 2016
Boxhead Pot - Lost Johns Pot
Chuck, Gary, Matt
Saturday July 16th 2016
David S, Gary, John D, Matt
Friday June 24th 2016
John D, Matt, Rachel, Tash, Joe Smith
After our flooded off attempt at this cave at the start of the week we were keen to return.
The cave is found by parking at the start of the track leading north east at M138046 on Irish OS map 51. This is best reached by heading north on the main road out of Lisdoonvarna and taking the second road (a very discrete and not well marked junction) on the left along a mostly single track road for a few miles. Walk up the track, past the first gate and then past the next wall coming down the hill. Just after this is a gate into onto the fell on the right. Through this gate, bear right to join the wall about 50m back running up the fell. Follow this wall for about 200-300m up the fell. Shortly after the wall 'runs out' near the top of the fell the depression of Faunarooska with a surrounding fence is only 50m further ahead. It is very heavily overgrown.
After quickly finding the shakehole (after the epic earlier in the week) we made quick progress down. After a week of reasonably settled weather the cave was unrecognisable, only a small stream flowing down the entrance.
Scrambling down the descending stream canyon an inlet on the right is soon met (take note of this on the return journey as the way you have come from is the least obvious of the two upstream routes here). Following the easy walking height canyon downstream another inlet is passed on the right after about 50-100m (again take note for the outward journey). The Selected Caves description from this point is highly misleading as it jumps from the first inlet all the way to the end of the streamway where the route to the wet and dry pitches split, with absolutely no mention of the hour of excellent streamway in between which comprises the majority of the trip (as well as most of the pretty bits).
So here goes with perhaps a better description.
After the second inlet (only about 100-150m from the entrance) is passed, the way on is very simple, and there are no junctions. Just follow the meandering narrow canyon passage downstream, mostly walking (sometimes sideways), for a considerable distance (about 600+m, over 30 minutes). There are several notable landmarks along this journey including a chert bridge at neck level across the passage, and then several easy but fun water chutes/cascades. Beyond the cascades the amount of flowstone starts to increase in abundance and it is necessary in several places to crawl in the stream where the flowstone obstructs the passage or the passage is too narrow. Further on a stunning white formation is seen on the right about 8 foot above stream level, and soon after this is an even more stunning section of passage adorned with straws, stactites and flowstone (rather comparable to a smaller version of Fools Paradise in Gingling Hole in Yorkshire). Not far beyond here, through more crawls in the stream, the passage suddenly enlarges at a 1m drop down.
Shortly beyond here is the letterbox on the right towards the wet pitch and then the water is lost on the right. Continuing in the dry passages straight ahead, we scrambled over some large mounds of moonmilk and into the large rift traverse mentioned in Selected Caves. Sadly the formations in the passage below were disappointing (although we maybe didn't climb down far enough to see them), so we turned around and headed out, stopping for some photos in the streamway at the nice formations (see John Dale's photos in the gallery).
We did not take any ropes or ladders and it is my understanding that neither of the pitches are worth descending.
A superb cave with a lovely (though only moderately proportioned) meandering vadose streamway and some stunning decoration in the downstream sections.
It is worth noting that although the description says this cave does not flood easily, it was very much in flood when we visited earlier in the week, although that was exceptionally wet conditions. I guess the cave would be fine in moderately wet weather, however the crawls in the streamway further downstream mean I wouldn't wish to be there in anything too nasty or if any sudden thunderstorms were likely.
Thursday June 23rd 2016
Gary, John D, Matt, Will, Adam Walmsley, Josh Young,
Having visited Cullaun One exactly ten years ago and turned around at the first ladder pitch I was keen to return and this time complete the round trip at the end.
Cullaun One is rather tricky to find, the entrance being in a forest clearing far from any paths. Head up the Cullaun road (the fourth main left turn after you head north out of Lisdoonvarna, just where the pine forests start). A major parking area on the right is passed after a few hundred metres (the usual spot for parking for Cullaun Five), followed by another major parking spot on the right several hundred metres later (the usual spot for Cullaun Two). Continuing on past these, a farmhouse is passed on the left hand side set a few hundred metres back from the road. About 200m after this farmhouse is a short stretch of tall hedgerow on the left hand side directly next to the road. Park in the small layby just after this (or in a larger layby about 200m further again).
Walk back down the road to the area of hedgerow by the road. On the left (east) is a VERY vague gap through the trees. Selected Caves describes this as a more obvious firebreak, which it may have been when the book was written, but now it is more mature forest and the gap is very vague indeed. Head into the forest along the vague gap for about 150m to a clearing (on the left if you are following the vague gap). There are several depressions amongst this clearing but the entrance is a large 4m drop into a canyon passage surrounded and well hidden by smaller trees/bushes. A GPS would be very helpful overall.
If you have managed to find the entrance well done!!!
The entrance was an easy free climb. Heading downstream involved initially a few slithers over slabs, and an easy climb into a large chamber. Beyond here (just follow the water downstream) soon became a fine walking height streamway for some considerable distance. The Selected Caves description for this and the subsequent sections is excellent (although I would dispute how fine the formations are further down the streamway).
We reached the first pitch where we had turned around ten years ago. We had brought a ladder for this (easily belayed off a muddy stal pillar on the left above the pitch). It is free-climbable and only 4m deep but it is quite wide, wet, slippery and with reasonably few good footholds so the ladder was worthwhile. A short crawl from the bottom reaches the second section of the pitch which drops 3m into a pool of water and is a moderately challenging climb. From here is the Bastard Crawl, a scalloped nearly flat out crawl in the streamway for maybe 20m which really is nothing to be concerned about.
I was first down the crawl so went to check out the squeeze at the end of the round trip... this is a tight flat out crawl to a chimney coming up from below, and is definitely a tiny bit pinchy but nothing to worry about for most slim to average build cavers. Unfortunately at this point I heard that Gary had hurt his hand on the pitch and was going to wait there while we did the round trip. A quick read of the description identified the horrors that lay ahead and it sounded likely to take a couple of hours. Not wanting to leave Gary to wait for two hours (nor liking the sound of what lay ahead) I headed back to go out with Gary while leaving all the youngsters in the group (and John Dale) to head on. John, now highly concerned about the age gap between him and the next youngest person in the group (about 35 years) decided he did not wish to show the young whippersnappers up and so decided to also retreat.
John, Gary and I dabbled with photos on the pitch and in the chamber above for ages and slowly headed out at a nice leisurely pace. We arrived back at the car and were just finished changing when the others returned. They had reached the canal and didn't like the look of it at all (apparently it is horrible) so had declined. After taunting them about how I would have been through it no problem when I was their age (which of course I wouldn't have!!!) we headed to Lisdoonvarna for ice cream.
A nice easy and short trip as far as the Bastard Crawl, but don't bother with the round trip unless you want a miserable wet and tight few hours.
Wednesday June 22nd 2016
Sea Kayaking (Galway Bay)
Ade, David W, Gary, John D, Matt, Rachel, Tash, Will, Joe Smith, Josh Young, Adam Walmsley
We had arranged for the Doolin Caves and Cliffs sea kayak tour on the Monday however, the strong winds meant this got pushed back to Wednesday and deferred to the Galway Bay tour instead. Nonetheless it was an excellent half day out, paddling around the shallow waters around Galway Bay we saw the seals and had lots of fun. A nice midweek break from caving. The day was completed by a picnic at Fanore beach, which was completed just in time for the heavens to open, prompting a run back to the car and an early return to the hut. I think several people decided to head off to Cullaun Two after this however most just slept and then made an early start on the beer...
Tuesday June 21st 2016
Doolin River Cave (St Catherines to Fisherstreet Pot)
Will, Tash, Rachel, Matt, John D, Gary, David W, Ade, Joe Smith, Josh Young, Adam Walmsley
Without a doubt the premium trip in County Clare and one of the finest river caves anywhere in the British Isles/Ireland.
Doolin River Cave is a splendid river passage which commences at St Catherine's on the outskirts of Doolin and ends a few miles away at Fisherstreet Pot, a pothole amongst a cluster of trees about 30m opposite the Irish Crafts gift centre in the centre of Doolin. Due to the distance, some car logistics were needed and we decided to drive all three cars to the farm where you park for St Catherine's entrance (where the lady was very kind in allowing us to park). The non-drivers were dropped off, and the three cars went down to rig Fisherstreet Pot. Two cars were left in Doolin next to the pothole and one car returned to the entrance with all drivers. All very complicated, and it meant that by the time the drivers had returned we had resorted to poor quality jokes to keep us entertained.
From the farmhouse, simply follow the track via a few gates towards the ruined nunnery. About 100m before the nunnery turn left off the track and into a fenced depression surrounded by large trees. In this unlikely looking location is the entrance to St Catherine's entrance to Doolin River Cave (the usual way in, I have never done Aran View Swallet which is the other way in). Overall the Selected Caves description is good, although the first section as far as the canal that it mentions seemed to bear little resemblance to the actual cave and is a little confusing. The entrance is an easy crawl (which was dry when we were there but may have a small stream). Simply follow your nose along the obvious passage for maybe 15 minutes. At the point where the canal is mentioned, this does indeed involve a (potentially hard to spot) letterbox down through well polished blocks into a fast flowing crawl in the stream for several metres.
As soon as the passage opens up, don't forget to climb up on the left into the fine well decorated grotto - we took some lovely photos here.
Back into the stream the cave is now just a matter of following the water downstream. Very soon some absolutely splendid very large dry passages are then reached and traversed through over blocks and then the stream is regained again after. This is followed downstream in absolutely stunning proportions. It is such a treat to be able to just walk easily down such an amazing stream passage. The OFD streamway in South Wales is probably the finest streamway in the UK, but that has many blocks, uneven floor and deep pools so it is a very sporting stream. The Doolin streamway is gently, cavernous and easy walking, and an absolute treat. You can imagine the pleasure UBSS must have had when they first explored this!
From here the Selected Caves description is good, and the streamway is followed all the way to Fisherstreet Pot (takes about 1-2 hours depending on your groups pace) except for a few dry oxbow bypasses to low sections.
In the final sections, some low stooping relents briefly to walking before returning to stooping and then the water deepens to waist deep. Shortly after this it becomes a crawl in a 1m high passage in 40-50cm deep water for 20m before popping up into daylight at the bottom of Fisherstreet Pot, with a 8m ladder ascent to the surface where a huge quantity of cow poo awaits.
The bemusement of the tourists at the Irish craft centre was plain to see, as 11 very wet and bedraggled cavers emerged from the innocent looking 10m diameter cluster of trees in the middle of the field. The tourists were then treated to a strip show as the drivers had seemingly parked our cars literally in front of the main door of the building with dozens of tour buses and tourists passing by every minute.
An absolutely magical trip, all very easy caving, but truly remarkable.
This is clearly not a cave to do if heavy rain is expected as shown by the high scum levels from earlier in the week, however, it had been a moderately rainy evening the night before our trip and water levels were very low. Therefore I suspect this cave can cope well with gentle rain and slightly wet conditions in the summer months, but may flood badly if any prolonged heavy downpours hit (but would drain off equally quickly after the rain subsides).
Monday June 20th 2016
Poulnagollum - Poulelva
Will, Rachel, Adam Walmsley, Joe Smith
Monday June 20th 2016
Poulelva - Poulnagollum
Ade, David W, Gary, John D, Matt