Not really feeling like *another* Draenen round trip we decided to investigate another area - Strawberry Passage - or so we thought!
With low water, the entrance was rather more pleasant than on previous trips with only a small amount of water going down the slot above the scaffolding. Still managed to get my pants wet though :)
Headed for Cairn Junction and signed in then up to Wonderbra and to Tea Junction with no problems. We sat at the slope just beyond Tea Junction for some time in awe of the vastness of the passage before heading into what we assumed (and the survey suggested) was Strawberry Passage. After a relatively easy start in the huge drive-a-bus-down-it sized passage, the going got a little tougher with constant up and down over slippery blocks for what seemed to go on for ages. We finally reached a Y junction with a climb up at the end. The right hand passage ended in a taped off area with some really nice formations and a strange flaked calcite floor. The left hand passage went up through boulders to a huge dry chamber which, after some exploring, we decided there was no way on.
By now we were all getting board at this rather un-interesting area of Draenen and headed back down the choke to the Y junction. Then we noticed a small, low crawl at the bottom of the slope and, despite being fairly sure that Matt had just peed there, I went off for an explore.
The obvious worn but small passage headed up through boulders to a squeeze with an enticing space beyond. I called Matt in case I needed pulling out then slithered through. The passage soon emerged in another large and very well decorated area with a stream flowing down it. This, we later discovered was the start of Hearts of the Glory Streamway. Following the taped area which kept us in the knee deep muddy stream passes some amazing 1m long straws before emerging a another stream way and Y junction. Following the stream left (down stream) got lower and we decided we didn't want to get wet so opted for the right passage (upstream). A good distance of nice streamway followed before ending a boulder choke.
So what started as a rather mundane trip actually turned out to be really quite good. All the way out we still thought we'd been in Strawberry Passage but turned out we'd gone almost to the north most end of the cave.
I would defiantly recommend this area for a shorter, but interesting trip with some great formations. Judging by the amount of footprints, a seldom visited aera too. A return trip with a camera me-thinks.
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