Faurnarooska Cave

29 June 2016

Posted by
Matt Ewles

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.