On Monday, Jack Dewison organised a trip down Winnats Head cave, with the trip being led by Thomas Smith. Also joining the trip was Sam Snowdon, Michael Woodward (Jreg), Michael Mlyniec and Molly Smith.
So we all met at Jack’s house for 17:45pm on Wednesday evening and set off for the trip.We quickly got changed at Winnats Head farm, and had a little panic because Jreg forgot lights for himself and Molly, but thankfully there were spares, so we could proceed, and were soon on our way to the cave entrance.
It is a nice and exposed cave entrance up to the right of the cattle-grid (as if walking down from Winnats Head farm) at the head of Winnats pass. Heading down into the cave, the entrance series to the main chamber has a bit of a low ceiling with a bit of clambering down to a horizontal passage, but isn’t too much of a challenge. This passage involves flat out crawling with the odd stones, so knee pads are recommended! It doesn’t carry on for long until you reach a section where you can briefly stand, and the passage continues on ahead of you, where the ceiling again gets a bit low, and it is hands and knees crawling until you reach the main chamber, by which point I was already sweating!
The cave itself consists of 3 chambers, that are stacked up on top of each other, and you get to each one through a series of boulder chokes. The main chamber marks the first of the boulder chokes that you have to descend through to the other 2 chambers. A word of warning: The boulders can tend to move, so just be careful as you are making your way through. However, there is a bit of rope which leads you on through the boulder choke.
Winding your way through the boulder choke, there is a bit of a squeeze that comes out into Cornwall Avenue, however this section down can be a bit precarious as you have to maneuver your way around a drop down into Cornwall Avenue. But once you are down, it begins to open up into Fox Chamber. Tom began to set up his camera and lighting to get some photographs of the chamber. So, the rest of us pottered about a bit, having mud fights, and having a look at the dig that is taking place at the opposite end of the chamber.
Fox Chamber is a beautiful place, with some good stalactite formations coming down from the ceiling. The floor is just littered with boulders, some of which were massive, some of which were small. There is also a rope that goes up to the ceiling, but we weren’t sure of where that went.
In the meantime, Tom had set the camera equipment up and got some photographs of us in the chamber, and then we packed the kit up and went to find our way down through the boulder choke in the floor. I went down one hole, followed my Michael Mlyniec and the rest went down another close by, and the two groups eventually met up.
In this boulder choke, there are a couple of vertical squeezes, which to some can be a bit of a mental barrier, rather than a physical one. And from the impression I had got, I was feeling quite nervous. But, when attempting them, with the physique I have, I had no trouble at all, and weren’t as challenging as I previously anticipated.
All the squeezes (except the sewer which I will come to in a minute) are a bit nerve wracking because at the bottom, there is always a bit of a precarious drop that you have to maneuver your way around. So do be careful when going down, and go slow so you don’t find yourself falling a few meters and cause a faff with cave rescue struggling to get you out.
At the bottom of this boulder choke, you reach a really nice sump that has clear, blue water. I got Tom to shine his scurion into it, and it is amazing at how clear it is and you can see down into the passageway that the water currently occupies. It really is a beautiful sump. I just had this real urge to jump into it it.
Tom wanted to get a couple of quick photographs, so as he was setting the camera up and took photographs I popped on through the sewer to have a look at how tight it was, and again, it wasn’t as bad as I originally anticipated. So, all those preconceptions in my mind were torn down, and were replaced with a much more pleasant experience.
It was nice to see a little food package with the note “for if the choke goes :)” left on the side, reminding me of the journey that we had to take back up and all of those boulders stacked up above.
We went back to where Tom was taking photographs, and we handed out chocolate bars (I had a Kit Kat chunky) before making our ascent back out, which was nice and easy. Just do be careful clambering over all of the boulders.
A very good trip was had, and I really enjoyed myself, would definitely go back again to potter about. We were out of the cave by 21:30.
And there we have it, There and back again!