Members present: Myself, Rob Middleton and Helen Fairclough.
It appears there hasn’t been a trip report since the Christmas weekend so hear is something for you all to read.
I don’t mind caving down Gautries as it is a fun trip, and can easily be done in a couple of hours if you want something short. Usually most trips involve getting a little bit wet, especially as there is a duck part of the way through, but this trip involved getting a thorough soaking.
We arrived at the cavers car park at Perryfoot to find members of the TSG arriving for their midweek caving trip. The weather was a bit miserable, so took us a bit of time to pluck up the courage and get changed, although I cheated and got changed in the car without getting wet at all.
Once I was all suited up, Rob and Helen were still sorting out the diving stuff so I grabbed one of the bags and headed towards Gautries to drain the entrance whilst they caught up behind. This time it took a bit longer than usual to drain, but that was most likely due to the slightly more than usual amount of water entering the system. Once we were happy that it had all drained away, we made our way to the dam and pipe and here we waited for a few minutes to ensure that water levels were stable and weren’t going to back up.
As a group decision we weighed up the risks of entering the system and decided to go ahead with the trip. We made good progress to the base of the sump (Lisa’s christmas present) with no problems and waited for Rob to get kitted up with his diving gear. The water was definitely a bit higher than when I had first carried for him.
He did his diving thing whilst I walked up and down the canyon checking little bits out and playing with mud trying to warm my feet up. In what felt like no time I could hear that he was getting out of the sump and decided to go lend a hand getting the bottles out of the awkward tube to the sump. I could see that the water had started to back up a bit more, but not to an alarming level, so thought nothing of it. Rob has decided to leave the sump now at 40m in length, finishing at a thin bedding plane with a mud floor coated with pebbles. It could be dug further for those willing to but visibility is very low. The dip is at 40 degrees.
Rob removed all his kit and so we started to head back to the surface. We got to the duck absolutely fine, the water levels hadn’t changed any more but once I had got myself in the water ready to duck, I could hear the distant sound of water. I went through the duck to make sure I wasn’t going mad and the noise only got louder. Great.
We dropped down into Angle chamber, confirming my suspicions.The water coming through had meant that the flood water had backed up enough in the entrance to start to flow through the passages ahead of us and into Angle chamber. We proceeded with caution, I went first and there was a bit of difficulty with the water flowing from ahead and us trying to get through the low sections, but thankfully we were through in no time and by the dam and pipe.
We arrived to find that the water had sumped the entrance so I went up into dry Gautries to find the highest point in case we had to wait it out. Whilst I was gone, Rob had got his diving gear on to check out the entrance to see how far it had backed up and what the situation would be like for us.
He returned with good news and that was that we could get out if we were both happy with diving. It wasn’t too bad as there was a three metre dive, an airbell and another three metre dive before then being out. As I have been scuba diving several times before, I was happy with going ahead of us, and so was Helen so our fate had been sealed.
Rob went ahead of me, giving three tugs on the rope to let me know once he had reached the first airbell and that I could proceed. I was a bit cautious at first because I had no idea what it would be like diving in a cave. I wasn’t amazed with this one because I could see fuck all, but my light worked reasonably well under water, which is good. I didn’t know I had reached Rob until I bumped into him, that is how poor visibility was. First bit done, now onto the next, which went just the same. A lot of bumping into things and scraping my helmet along the roof, but the best thing was that I was out.
I was sat in the entrance with relief that I had got out, and happy that I had got my first cave diving experience. I managed to keep my cool, and so did everyone else despite being in a dangerous situation. It isn’t everyday you get on the wrong side of a flooding cave!
The trip has definitely left me with a fun story to tell and something to laugh at as well. Thanks to Rob for having his diving equipment and for rescuing us