I’ll accept that this is a tenuous link to the new X-men film title but it will have to do as no other puns came immediately to mind. It does however lead me to expand on a conversation we had in the pub (don’t worry I’ll get to the caving trip later) about old SUSS trip reports from the 1960’s, where we were glad to find the same irreverence, humour and dedication to puns as we do today. They also listed a great deal of the problems we have today; leader shortages, car shortages, kit being expensive etc. The more things change, the more they stay the same as the old adage goes.
My Irish adventure aside (I’ll leave one of the other SUSSians to write that one up) I have been down Eldon since my foot has recovered and my exams… well… went really badly. I was looking forward to my 3rd trip since November and was blissfully unaware of quite how fat I had become – so much so that a metric ton is actually a useful unit… My feet are fine now so if you do want to go caving, drop me a line as I can afford to expend a couple kilo calories.
But yeah, caving. I’ve had a fair amount of contact with a guy from NWCC called Mike, this has mostly been by email and I experienced what I can only assume is what everyone else thinks when they see my name – hmmmm, he’s quite foreign. I was expecting a Polish accent but instead was greeted with the dulcet tones of the Maelor Cymraeg (this is probably wrong now that I’ve written it). We arranged a trip for the following week down OHA but that was rained off. This was its replacement, a nice quick evening trip, popping in and out.
I got the grid reference off wikipedia and drove round the houses (Sat Navs get very confused in NE Wales) and found the right spot. Met up with Joel from UCET got changed and waited for Mike. This is genuinely the most amazing part of the trip and that does not admonish nor dismiss the brilliance of the cave. Mike put on his oversuit. This is an oversuit he has had for 17 years. He wears a beaver oversuit. I might have again use the word oversuit to underline my amazement. He prophylactically patched it and repairs it by gluing more patches on. The only oversuit that grows over time. It’s not like he doesn’t use it either – the amount of digging he does… I’m lost for words.
We got to a fairly unassuming and very Welsh entrance. By that I mean it was a metal gate low down on a wall leading to a crawl. So far so good. There was a twatty ladder pitch about 10m in length. Everything was quite dry and sandy, meaning that any crawling you do results in you getting soaked with sweat – changing out of my underclothes was disgusting, completely sodden. An awkward climb and more crawling later we broke out into a big old chamber – about a third the size of Oxlow Cavern. It used to be bigger but they had a dig and needed to shove the spoil somewhere. We went down the dig, Mike was only slightly bitter about the fact that they hadn’t broken through to Llyn Parc and said if he had known that the 80m dig didn’t break through he might not have bothered. It all sounded like a Rockliff esque dig, using 80m worth of tumble drier tubing to keep the face ventilated.
All this effort was worth it. Huge streamway passages, beautifully round and phreatic but not a drop of water in them due to miners drainage channels. We visited the sump but didn’t go through as it was a sump and not a duck as had been hoped. We left the sandbags there for future diggers. We explored the siphon drainage diversion, and then went for even more crawling. I can’t remember where in the cave this was but there was an absolutely beautiful section with many calcite carrots in. They have a really good attitude to conservation over there.
We had a poke at a few other leads and then turned round. There was a fair amount of crawling to do and we were running fairly late. I got quite dehydrated and was being slow so Joel went out ahead (although got lost so wasn’t that much further ahead anyway) and I plodded with Mike being very patient and told lots of anecdotes whilst waiting. The cave has quite an interesting history.
As with all the caves in North Wales I’ve visited thus far, I find myself going ‘that really needs pushing!’ etc. One thing they are short of is manpower so if you do fancy some fairly impressive trips and digging where few people go then I recommend you get in touch.
We forgot to tell Joel to alter the callout. This resulted in a flashlight waiting at the cars. It seems that on my many caving trips in mae hen wlad fy nhadau that I have now triggered a callout on 10% of them. This rises to 20% if you exclude all mines. NWCRO will be putting out a warning soon… To illustrate how dehydrated I was, at the first service station I drank half a litre of water, half a litre of Cola, half a litre of juice and another half a litre of water. An hour and a half later (back at home) I drank 2 litres of water. I should also point out that I had between 1 and 3/2 of a litre before the trip. Be wary of dehydration.
The drive back was awesome after I switched my satnav off – it got very confused and actually sent me round in a circle for no apparent reason. I saw the road A5 and stuck to that (I think the A55 was faster – that’s how I drove to the cave first off). It felt wrong seeing Betws-y-coed being the West side of the sign, a bit like seeing Sheffield westbound from the other side of the A1 – you know it’s possible and in fact probable but still are suprised when it happened. This next sentence really will just amuse Glen so don’t bother reading it the rest of you; I knew that I hadn’t hit the A55 and that the Sat Nav was mental when I got to a roundabout that said Llangollen was left and Ruthin was right. Given Minera is not far from Wrexham and you’re supposed to be going back on the coast road… oh well.
I had to wimp out of a thursday trip as I am a bit crap.