Aleeza Janmohamed, Alex Herriott, Dan Cooke, Dan Greenwald, Guia, Hugo, James Kirkpatrick, Jarvist Frost, Kat, Mo, Nick, Paul Hutton, Tim Osborne, William French
The freshers were introduced to the weirdness of SWCC at the outstart, by a very detailed description of where to sleep, depending on age, sex and religeous preference. Most of us just went and slept next to the drying room, which was great until 8am when people started banging tours in the changing rooms below.
Shot down to gnome passage, where the two groups whacked into each. We split again, with the keen diving down Edward's shortcut, while the other chased there way back to Chasm and thereby down the Corkscrew.
Our future meet was 4-ways chamber, where we did indeed meet, miracuolously, within a few minutes of when we said we would. Everyone was still up for some streamway action and so we all headed down to Maypole.
The disturbing climb continued to distress a future generation of cavers. In Yorkshire this would be a pitch. In Mendip it would be a ladder. In Derbyshire there would be some 18th Century mine equipment and some dubious stemples. Here we have a hairline crack to climb along.
Everyone safely over, we headed down to the stream itself, perching on the wet ledge of Maypole to eat our pita sandwiches (the stream carrying away any crumbs). Stashing our Daren drums we set off as two groups once more, skipping and jogging upstream, striding through the jacuuzi pools or desperately traversing around the edge depending on underwear wetness preference.
Kind of amalgamated back into one group by the time we reached the 2nd Oxbowe, just in time for a quick chocolate bar tea. James KP provided much amusement by trying the tight climb, slipping his body easily through only to find himself suspending in free-space by helmet. After managing to de-lynch himself & after he had stopped looking quite so blue we zoomed off once more.
The water levels were just right - not so much as to be dangerous, but enough to be impressive. I find the cascades just before the top waterfall to be the most impressive bit, and they did not disappoint today.
At the waterfall, led by Dan Cooke, the entire fresher ensemble took a dip in the drop pool and a refreshing blast underneath the torrent.
Rather moist, we set controls for a steady cruise out. Made Maypole inlet in an acceptable time. The climb up the jammed boulers was rather more imposing to the wet, cold & tired cavers attempting them!
Checked on the Judge & Trident as we went by, then out the entrance dodging waterfalls that appeared from nowhere into the tail end of the storm. A momentary question of whether the other party were lost behind us, or had disappeared in front (we went via Arete chamber), and back to the hut for a delicious meal and then increasingly 'imaginative' games with KUCC.
Back into OFD for a quick play. We had a look around Shale cavers, found our way to the big cascade climb up above gnome, had a look in Bagpipe chamber for anything fun, confirmed that the columns were indeed suitably protected against marauding amateurs such as ourselves, and had a short but very muddy trip down a hole in the entrance chamber to some old mud grafitti.
Out to a quick hose down in the new SWCC open-air cleaning room, a pack of the gear back into the roof barrels and a smooth drive back along the M4.