Ogof Draenen to the Dollimore Series and Medusa's Children

14 February 2012

Posted by
Gary Douthwaite

Everything was definitely against us for this trip. After Matt got some kind of flesh eating infection in his foot the night before and me being full of cold (not to mention knackered from doing Aggy for 7 hours), we'd all but written off our planned Draenen expedition. Things didn't get any better the next morning... it had snowed overnight and the road didn't look good!

Despite all this, and not leaving the hut until 11am, we managed to get to the Draenen car park and were swiftly underground!

After the usual fun dunk in the entrance waterfall we were making good time and were soon in Indiana Highway. At this point my cold caught up with me and I was on the verge of turning back, but I soldiered on thanks to the plethra of drugs Mark had with him!

Mostly easy going for a while with a quick stomp through Megadrive and on to Nunnery Passage. We had a bit of discussion about which passage off the Nunnery it was but we chose right. It was not long before the formations started with the very unusual gypsum crystals in Mid-winter Chambers, shortly followed by the Snowball which you can't help put sit and stare at for some time!

Then the crawling began...

There was a lot of groaning and grunting (mostly from Matt) through the Last Sandwich crawl which seems to go on forever ending in a few squeezes which turned out to be not that bad. The reward was worth it when we popped out all of a sudden in the HUGE passage called MS&D (more singing and dancing??). After (yet another) food stop we stomped off down the vast space to arrive at Luck of the Draw.

It was at this point that the description stopped stating distances in meters and moved onto kilometres! 'Follow the passage for 1.2km' it said! So off we went. After an easy rope climb up we entered some easy walking passage which mostly remained that size for it's length. Some time later we arrived at our goal for the day... Madusas Children.

I would agree with all descriptions I have read about this place... it is by far the most amazing formations I have ever seen and definitely the best in the UK as far as I know. For about 30m of passage the walls and ceiling are literally covered with the most bizarre bright white helectites, any one of which would be worth a long trip to see. The well taped path took us carefully through into another section of the same formations. Mark took some video while Matt and I headed on a bit.

By now we were all pretty knackered but pushed on to The Light Bulb formation then attempted to find the Geryon but failed after several crawls. Never mind - next time!

The return trip was arduous to say the least but we were out before midnight to a snowy Wales and thankfully didn't get stuck on the way back to the hut!