I've been wanting to do this cave for a very long time, but never got picked out of the (unsurprisingly) massive hat. Yey for weekends with small numbers of people! Bit of a sleepless night the night before as I hadn't used my new phone alarm before and was paranoid we'd sleep in and miss the 10 am meet time! Luckily it worked, and we were at the cave by 9.40 ish, to meet our guide Brendan. A quick change hiding from tourists behind the car, then we were off through the dinosaur's legs and in!
Originally Brendan had thought it may be dry enough to go into the Mazeways (usually sumped) which would have been brilliant, but unfortunately the rain on thursday had made the water levels rise surprisingly high, so that was off. So we headed off through the showcave and over the fence into the caver bit, up the streamway and through the lakes, a pretty cool streamway in itself. Then into some dry bits, can't quite remember where we went here, but various passages, chambers, crawls etc til we got to straw chamber, and then on to the start of the long crawl. Shows how big the hype is for this bit, i didnt even realise we were in the crawl til halfway through! I can see how it would be hard for tall/broad people but I actually quite enjoyed it, nice smooth floor, not that long, and wiggly :). Popped out by the rope climb and ladder and down we went. We decided to go to the lower series first, then back via the pretty stuff. Next to the washing machine, rather wet looking, then on to Bakerloo, a really cool phreatic passage. This leads to Thixotropic passage, where we stopped to take some photos. These can be found at http://www.ogof.org.uk/dan_yr_ogof_survey.html and are really good!
Then on to the camel, an awkward traverse that none of us did, or a slightly squeezy wet bit, followed by the climb up the Abyss. This I really liked, very very big, and a fun rope/ladder climb to the top.This then leads via more cool phreatic passage to the start of the green canal. We decided to go further, up the the Rising and back. This part of the cave is all really huge! Some light traversing and more streamway, up to where the ladder (soon to be replaced) leads off to the SRT bits in the Far North. Would love to do this bit at some point. On the way back we explored Tunnel 2 for a bit, named for its similarity to Tunnel Cave. Then to the canal. I really really enjoyed the canal, swimming in a rubber ring and wetsuit in a cave is really fun! Wish it was longer! Also fun when Max almost cant get out of his rubber ring again, and John is too buoyant to swim!
After this came the pretty bits. Which really are very very pretty. Cloud chamber was beautiful, as was the still-forming crystal pool (traversing round it was scary in case we broke it!). Also really liked the random plant like helictites, and the Grand Canyon. Then there was nothing left to do but head out, where the water was noticably higher, and go to the tea shop :) but not before Sarah and John tried to expose themselves to passing tourists.
I really really enjoyed this cave, a little bit of everything I like, plus rubber rings and swimming! Lots of really beautiful stuff and huge passages and phreatic bits. Didnt want to leave, and must go back! Thanks very much to Brendan for taking us :) This cave is AWESOME!
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