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Saturday July 16th 2016

Robinsons Pot

David S, Gary, John D, Matt E

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Friday June 24th 2016

Faurnarooska Cave

John D, Matt E, Rachel, Tash, Joe Smith

Matt E wrote...

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.

29th June 2016

Matt Ewles

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Thursday June 23rd 2016

Cullaun One

Gary, John D, Matt E, Will, Adam Walmsley, Josh Young,

Matt E wrote...

Having visited Cullaun One exactly ten years ago and turned around at the first ladder pitch I was keen to return and this time complete the round trip at the end.

Cullaun One is rather tricky to find, the entrance being in a forest clearing far from any paths. Head up the Cullaun road (the fourth main left turn after you head north out of Lisdoonvarna, just where the pine forests start). A major parking area on the right is passed after a few hundred metres (the usual spot for parking for Cullaun Five), followed by another major parking spot on the right several hundred metres later (the usual spot for Cullaun Two). Continuing on past these, a farmhouse is passed on the left hand side set a few hundred metres back from the road. About 200m after this farmhouse is a short stretch of tall hedgerow on the left hand side directly next to the road. Park in the small layby just after this (or in a larger layby about 200m further again).

Walk back down the road to the area of hedgerow by the road. On the left (east) is a VERY vague gap through the trees. Selected Caves describes this as a more obvious firebreak, which it may have been when the book was written, but now it is more mature forest and the gap is very vague indeed. Head into the forest along the vague gap for about 150m to a clearing (on the left if you are following the vague gap). There are several depressions amongst this clearing but the entrance is a large 4m drop into a canyon passage surrounded and well hidden by smaller trees/bushes. A GPS would be very helpful overall.

If you have managed to find the entrance well done!!!

The entrance was an easy free climb. Heading downstream involved initially a few slithers over slabs, and an easy climb into a large chamber. Beyond here (just follow the water downstream) soon became a fine walking height streamway for some considerable distance. The Selected Caves description for this and the subsequent sections is excellent (although I would dispute how fine the formations are further down the streamway).

We reached the first pitch where we had turned around ten years ago. We had brought a ladder for this (easily belayed off a muddy stal pillar on the left above the pitch). It is free-climbable and only 4m deep but it is quite wide, wet, slippery and with reasonably few good footholds so the ladder was worthwhile. A short crawl from the bottom reaches the second section of the pitch which drops 3m into a pool of water and is a moderately challenging climb. From here is the Bastard Crawl, a scalloped nearly flat out crawl in the streamway for maybe 20m which really is nothing to be concerned about.

I was first down the crawl so went to check out the squeeze at the end of the round trip... this is a tight flat out crawl to a chimney coming up from below, and is definitely a tiny bit pinchy but nothing to worry about for most slim to average build cavers. Unfortunately at this point I heard that Gary had hurt his hand on the pitch and was going to wait there while we did the round trip. A quick read of the description identified the horrors that lay ahead and it sounded likely to take a couple of hours. Not wanting to leave Gary to wait for two hours (nor liking the sound of what lay ahead) I headed back to go out with Gary while leaving all the youngsters in the group (and John Dale) to head on. John, now highly concerned about the age gap between him and the next youngest person in the group (about 35 years) decided he did not wish to show the young whippersnappers up and so decided to also retreat.

John, Gary and I dabbled with photos on the pitch and in the chamber above for ages and slowly headed out at a nice leisurely pace. We arrived back at the car and were just finished changing when the others returned. They had reached the canal and didn't like the look of it at all (apparently it is horrible) so had declined. After taunting them about how I would have been through it no problem when I was their age (which of course I wouldn't have!!!) we headed to Lisdoonvarna for ice cream.

A nice easy and short trip as far as the Bastard Crawl, but don't bother with the round trip unless you want a miserable wet and tight few hours.

29th June 2016

Matt Ewles

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Wednesday June 22nd 2016

Sea Kayaking (Galway Bay)

Ade, David W, Gary, John D, Matt E, Rachel, Tash, Will, Joe Smith, Josh Young, Adam Walmsley

Matt E wrote...

We had arranged for the Doolin Caves and Cliffs sea kayak tour on the Monday however, the strong winds meant this got pushed back to Wednesday and deferred to the Galway Bay tour instead. Nonetheless it was an excellent half day out, paddling around the shallow waters around Galway Bay we saw the seals and had lots of fun. A nice midweek break from caving. The day was completed by a picnic at Fanore beach, which was completed just in time for the heavens to open, prompting a run back to the car and an early return to the hut. I think several people decided to head off to Cullaun Two after this however most just slept and then made an early start on the beer...

29th June 2016

Matt Ewles

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Tuesday June 21st 2016

Doolin River Cave (St Catherines to Fisherstreet Pot)

Will, Tash, Rachel, Matt E, John D, Gary, David W, Ade, Joe Smith, Josh Young, Adam Walmsley

Matt E wrote...

Without a doubt the premium trip in County Clare and one of the finest river caves anywhere in the British Isles/Ireland.

Doolin River Cave is a splendid river passage which commences at St Catherine's on the outskirts of Doolin and ends a few miles away at Fisherstreet Pot, a pothole amongst a cluster of trees about 30m opposite the Irish Crafts gift centre in the centre of Doolin. Due to the distance, some car logistics were needed and we decided to drive all three cars to the farm where you park for St Catherine's entrance (where the lady was very kind in allowing us to park). The non-drivers were dropped off, and the three cars went down to rig Fisherstreet Pot. Two cars were left in Doolin next to the pothole and one car returned to the entrance with all drivers. All very complicated, and it meant that by the time the drivers had returned we had resorted to poor quality jokes to keep us entertained.

From the farmhouse, simply follow the track via a few gates towards the ruined nunnery. About 100m before the nunnery turn left off the track and into a fenced depression surrounded by large trees. In this unlikely looking location is the entrance to St Catherine's entrance to Doolin River Cave (the usual way in, I have never done Aran View Swallet which is the other way in). Overall the Selected Caves description is good, although the first section as far as the canal that it mentions seemed to bear little resemblance to the actual cave and is a little confusing. The entrance is an easy crawl (which was dry when we were there but may have a small stream). Simply follow your nose along the obvious passage for maybe 15 minutes. At the point where the canal is mentioned, this does indeed involve a (potentially hard to spot) letterbox down through well polished blocks into a fast flowing crawl in the stream for several metres.

As soon as the passage opens up, don't forget to climb up on the left into the fine well decorated grotto - we took some lovely photos here.

Back into the stream the cave is now just a matter of following the water downstream. Very soon some absolutely splendid very large dry passages are then reached and traversed through over blocks and then the stream is regained again after. This is followed downstream in absolutely stunning proportions. It is such a treat to be able to just walk easily down such an amazing stream passage. The OFD streamway in South Wales is probably the finest streamway in the UK, but that has many blocks, uneven floor and deep pools so it is a very sporting stream. The Doolin streamway is gently, cavernous and easy walking, and an absolute treat. You can imagine the pleasure UBSS must have had when they first explored this!

From here the Selected Caves description is good, and the streamway is followed all the way to Fisherstreet Pot (takes about 1-2 hours depending on your groups pace) except for a few dry oxbow bypasses to low sections.

In the final sections, some low stooping relents briefly to walking before returning to stooping and then the water deepens to waist deep. Shortly after this it becomes a crawl in a 1m high passage in 40-50cm deep water for 20m before popping up into daylight at the bottom of Fisherstreet Pot, with a 8m ladder ascent to the surface where a huge quantity of cow poo awaits.

The bemusement of the tourists at the Irish craft centre was plain to see, as 11 very wet and bedraggled cavers emerged from the innocent looking 10m diameter cluster of trees in the middle of the field. The tourists were then treated to a strip show as the drivers had seemingly parked our cars literally in front of the main door of the building with dozens of tour buses and tourists passing by every minute.

An absolutely magical trip, all very easy caving, but truly remarkable.

This is clearly not a cave to do if heavy rain is expected as shown by the high scum levels from earlier in the week, however, it had been a moderately rainy evening the night before our trip and water levels were very low. Therefore I suspect this cave can cope well with gentle rain and slightly wet conditions in the summer months, but may flood badly if any prolonged heavy downpours hit (but would drain off equally quickly after the rain subsides).

29th June 2016

Matt Ewles

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29 photos by Gary...

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Monday June 20th 2016

Poulnagollum - Poulelva

Will, Rachel, Adam Walmsley, Joe Smith

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Monday June 20th 2016

Poulelva - Poulnagollum

Ade, David W, Gary, John D, Matt E

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Sunday June 19th 2016

Faurnarooska Cave

Gary, John D, Matt E, Tash, Josh Young

Matt E wrote...

Our first trip of our week in Ireland and what a way to start the week. The rain (as forecast) was absolutely lashing down. It had been all night, and it was also blowing a small gale. Not a good day at all! Still, encouraged by the guidebook which said that Faunarooska does not flood easily we thought we would give this very pretty cave a shot.

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.

Unfortunately, today, we did not take this route to the cave from the car, and instead (on Gary's memory from several years back) we turned right up the fell too early (at the first gate along the track) and ended up spending 45 minutes trudging up the peaty stream around the fell in waist height bracken and through bogs in the pouring rain before eventually locating the shakehole entrance. At least it worked up an appetite.

The entrance drops into a stream canyon which descends steeply. For a guide to this cave, see my description for our more successful trip later in the week. Unfortunately today our luck was out and water was crashing into the entrance. Further downstream where the first major inlet joins it was pouring in the inlet as well as from further inlets higher up creating a wall of water ahead. Terrifying! We turned around, wondering quite how successful the team in Cullaun Two (an active stream cave) would be getting on right now and returned to the hut to dry out.

Thankfully this weather only lasted for today and by the following morning all was settled and dry again. We managed a more successful trip to Faunarooska later in the week.

29th June 2016

Matt Ewles

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Sunday June 19th 2016

Cullaun Two

David W, Rachel, Will, Joe Smith, Adam Walmsley,

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Sunday May 15th 2016

Hillocks Mine

Chris, David W, Gary, John D, Laura, Matt E

David W wrote...

What a superb short Sunday trip before a drive back home, as we knew the trip wasn't too long we didn't rush, but we got up to the entrance and ones first thoughts shining the torch directly down the shaft makes you immediately think 58 meters.... really, however getting into the shaft was interesting that it didn't give you much room to test your rack with the shaft been 1.5-2 meters wide dropping right in the middle. However going down, you soon realize that the ledge you see from the entrance is only half way, and to realize that people would have dug this with no safety ropes.... well hmm.

Anyhow a drop into the main chamber at the bottom reveals 3 passages, 1 off to the right which we decided against going down as it looked "interesting", Then the one on the left we believed returned to the surface by a different shaft that was climbable. So on wards we go to the middle passage, some slight crawling at the end and a turn to the left leads to an end, turning back and heading straight over leads to the once way on, which was now sumped. So the grissly thought to a first timer in here of A: prusicking 58 meters back up and B: trying to get out of the entrance is not in the slightest way appealing. However another climbable route (via the roman shaft of 6 meters was chosen, climbing up the traverse was not too easy to start with (especially for someone who HATES traverses!) Halfway up going back and forth up the same traverse and climbing into a chamber (Knotlow Caverns) Me and Matt decided to wait for the others.

Once everyone was there we headed up the 6 meter shaft fortunately with a handline allowed one to stop securely and admire the exquisite handpicked walls, a short crawl along getting a pleasant wash in muddy water and then a short climb up revealed that we were near the top by the voice of Chris who went on a surface look and the warning of a dead rabbit in the entrance well hmm.

Another excellent trip and thoroughly fun.

25th June 2016

David Willis

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Saturday May 14th 2016

Alderley Edge Copper Mines

Chris, David W, Gary, Jerry, John D, Laura, Matt E, theyorkminer, Rachel

10 photos by Gary...

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Saturday April 23rd 2016

Cow Pot - Lancaster Hole via Magic Roundabout

Cat, David S, Gary, Laura, Matt E, Philip Judson, Andy Vick

3 photos by Gary...

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Monday February 22nd 2016

Agen Allwedd to Priory Road via Southern Stream

David S, Gary, Matt E

4 photos by Gary...

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Saturday December 12th 2015

Lease Rigg Whinstone Mine Christmas trip - caving by candle

Andy B, Chuck, Chris, Gary, Jerry, John C, John D, Laura, Matt E, Nikki, Rachel, Richard V, Richard W, , Will

13 photos by Gary...

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Saturday December 5th 2015

North Wales Slate Mines

Chuck, Gary, Jerry, John C, John D, Margot, Matt E

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Friday September 25th 2015

St Cuthbert's Swallet

Ade, Gary, Matt E, Tash, Martin Grass (leader)

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Sunday September 13th 2015

Rift Pot (Allotment)

Ade, Gary, Laura, Matt E, Jean Brooksbank (NPC)

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Saturday July 25th 2015

South Llyn-y-Pandy / Rhyd Alyn Mine

Aaron, Cat, Chuck, Chris, David W, Gary, Sprog, Jerry, John D, Matt E, Andy Vick

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Sunday June 7th 2015

Out Sleets Beck Pot

Rachel, Matt E, John D, Gary

Matt E wrote...

Out Sleets Beck has been on my wish list for several years so it was nice to finally have a day dry enough to go and do it!

After meeting John at the parking area (where the track goes off along the south edge of Penyghent Gill, as described by Selected Caves), and a brief drive half a mile further up the road and back to ask permission at Penyghent House, we were soon kitted up and ready to go. A nice flat walk for around 20 minutes along the track reached the third wall heading down the valley and Out Sleets Beck. Only 50m down the hillside in the side of the river was the obvious entrance (not to be confused with another hole some 20m further down which, as we found out, is definitely NOT the entrance).

The dam holding the stream back was sound, and the water seemed low.

A squirm down the entrance led into a thrutchy passage, generally standing height but narrow and slightly awkward, soon reaching the 2-3m climb down for which Selected Caves said a handline might be useful. It didn't appear to be needed at all on the way down, but, see later, on the rather more strenuous journey out we were very appreciative of this!

The passage soon descended into a tubular crawl, with a pronounced left bend half way along, soon reaching the first pitch, which Selected Caves says is free climbable but I would disagree. Despite it's short length (barely 3m) there are few handholds and getting up or down without the rope would be tricky. A 7m rope is quite sufficient

Immediately beyond the first pitch an inlet brought a fair flow of water in from the left (ignore). The downstream passage was a fine section of walking streamway for maybe 100m to the first significant pitch, Cascade Pot. We took a 28m rope and it just reached, using all P-bolts in the traverse line (the same was later true for Deluge Pot, where we had a 29m rope, therefore add several metres to the lengths specified in Selected Caves for these... I'd suggest 30m for both). Cascade Pot is reached by a climb up before the pitch head, and is very nicely P-anchored to allow a spectacular takeoff and descent to avoid the water. The Pot itself is magnificent, a paradigm Yorkshire Dales wet pothole, 15m deep, maybe 6m wide, beautifully round, a photographers paradise (see the pictures here on our website), with a dark swirling pool of knee-deep water at the bottom. One of the most beautiful short pitches in the Dales!

A crawl at the edge of the pool leads onwards, and immediately bears slightly right, becoming quite cobbley and soon joining the flowing water again in a wide, low crawling height passage, with brief sections of being flat-out with belly in the water. However, this is nothing concerning, and your upper body can be kept dry with care. This passage reminded me why doing Out Sleets Beck Pot in or after wet weather is a VERY bad idea!

After maybe 50m of crawling the passage floor cut down and walking resumed, soon reaching some delightful white 'cauliflower' formations. Beyond these Deluge Pot is reached, and once again a climb up to roof level a few metres back is required to follow the P-bolted route. Another spectacular descent of a magnificent pothole alongside the roaring water (but staying dry) followed.

From the bottom, the walking stream passage continues for maybe 50-100m before I suddenly knew what was coming next: The canal and duck! I was wearing my neofleece in preparation for this but had no idea how wet it would involve getting. Gary and Rachel went first, entering up to their neck (!) on the first bit but then disappearing waist-deep through the canal. This did not please me at all and I was contemplating simply waiting here, but Rachel persuaded me through.

Basically, the canal starts when the nice walking passage abruptly reaches a very deep pool, maybe 5-6ft deep. Only a metre across this the passage continues narrower and waist-deep. Therefore to cross the very deep section it is possible to launch yourself across. This is surprisingly effective if successful (avoiding a chest-wetting) and surprisingly unpleasant if not (brief submersion up to neck). Needless to say the latter happened to me. Beyond the deep pool, the canal is a narrow zig-zag passage for only 6-8m. Immediately beyond the first corner is a tight section where SRT kit is certainly an encumberance and I was glad to have left mine before the pool. This tight bit is too constricted at water level but easily passed by posting yourself sidewards through above water level. Round the next bend is the duck, which is actually little more than a rock arch meaning a stoop with belly in the water. But given that I had already got wet to the neck it didn't matter.

The whole 'wet' experience is over in less than 60 seconds and is really nothing to worry about. A 3mm wetsuit or neofleece is a nice accessory though.

Saying that, for those not wishing the wetness, a trip just to this point and back would be a fine and enjoyable 3hr trip, although the river passage beyond is worth seeing.

Beyond the canal is a truely superb section of meandering stomping river passage, leading down several cascades. Once the cascades end, the passage narrows in and the way on is a narrow thrutch at river level (possibly called Shatter passage or something like that). A left hand corner at the end of this leads quickly to the sump and some further reminders of why coming here in wet weather would be ill-advised.

The journey out was very quick indeed. What proved a particular surprise was how arduous the section from the first (proper) pitch out to the entrance is when slightly more tired than on the way in, now carrying several litres of water in our clothing, and with gravity against us. We were glad of the handline on the first climb. Rachel and I had headed out unencumbered (i.e. without a tacklesack) and found it strenuous, but Gary and John were cursing as they arrived to the surface.

Total trip time around 4hr, at a gentle but reasonably efficient pace.

A truely magnificent trip, with something for everyone: Beautiful pitches and wet pots, crawls, climbs, a canal, stomping winding river passages, cascades, some cauliflower formations (quite unlike anything I have seen elsewhere in such abundance), and overall a huge amount of fun. Out Sleets Beck has flung itself into my top ten Yorkshire Dales caves and I can strongly recommend it to anyone - But only when the weather is certain to be settled!

9th June 2015

Matt Ewles

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7 photos by Gary...

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Sunday May 17th 2015

Whitewell Pot, Whitewell Cave & Hell Hole

Matt E, Laura, Gary, David W

18 photos by Gary...

YCC Trip History

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