Arun Paul, Ben Honan, Dave Kirkpatrick, David Wilson, Jack Halliday, James Perry, James Wilson, Jennifer Ryder, Rebecca Diss, Tom Porter, Úna Barker, Zaeem Najeeb, Ana Teck, Charlie
I am officially some kind of RADult and no longer live in London (why) and have some red vehicle thing which can get me places. I made the 6 hour journey from Norwich to the Croydon Caving hut in South Wales with little incident except a slightly traumatic panic order at Subway which left me with some thing called a pizza sub. Due to some horrible miracle I arrived at the hut before anyone else and waited an hour or so in anticipation before the humans started to appear. Socialising probably occurred and sleep in the cosy “Snorers Annex” followed. It was surprisingly fully occupied but at least not all of them snored…
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu I: Arun Paul, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Charlie
Some fungus has obviously infiltrated my brain because I was super keen to go to some variation of Cwm Dwr/OFD1 which would be decided on arrival to the SWCC after internet access and discussions with Tony Seddon. The group ended up being exceedingly crack, featuring Ana, Arun and Arun’s friend Charlie. Jennifer, Ben and Una are doing some thing in the unholy place that is OFDII. Others are taking the bus to Daren. I drive the dissmobile to the SWCC with Ana, Una and piles of kit and we struggle to get up hills. We decided to just do OFDI today because none of us were really prepared enough to do the through trip but aim to get to the divers pitch (part of the Cwm Dwr connection) and do the rawl series to familiarise ourselves for potential trips in future.
I had a good idea of a lot of the route including the Rawl series (with a few hazy bits) and the bit past the boulder chamber was a mystery to us all.
We got into the cave at some time after midday and headed for the boulder chamber, marvelling at the pretty things on the way. The plan was to walk upstream and try to find the divers pitch and then do the rawl series and the traverse above the streamway on the way back. Somehow this worked and we managed to find our way first to the letter box, which is incredible. There’s basically an almost flat vertical wall with a slightly-bigger-than-a-lying-down-human sized slot running horizontally through it several metres above the ground. There’s a chunky chain above it and a sling below. We found the best method of entry was to clip into the sling (for moral support mainly) and hold on to the chain and then insert feet first into the hole. Don’t forget to unclip your cowstails! This is great fun and not nearly as terrifying as one might imagine. Can confirm that there is not a big hole on the other side. I’m glad we did this for the first time coming from the OFDI side and not Cwm Dwr as coming out of that slot head first with no idea what was on the other side would be quite horrific.
After some spirally passage, we appeared at the divers pitch (maybe?) and marvelled at its depth before turning back. We had a brief moment of confusion trying to find our way through the boulder choke on the way back but all was well when we found the sump (which should be down on the left on the way out).
Had a cheeky stop in the boulder chamber to eat some veggie percy pigs (excellent life choice) and then headed back downstream to Low’s chain (actually an electron ladder and rope) and into the Rawl Series. I took us the wrong way almost immediately, climbing up a boulder slope to the right, which meant Ana and I did some grim squeezy crawling through questionable rocks before we turned around and went to the left, which is quite obvious on the survey, I was just too keen to make incorrect choices.
Almost everything is pretty obvious from here. Selenite corner is a nice place to reassure you that you’re on the right track (a right turn in the passage with lots of white stuff on the wall which I assume is called Selenite). Shale Crawl (roly poly) is fun and I would recommend rolling instead of crawling because this is a far superior mode of travel. Although maybe remove your SRT bag if it’s full of a very poorly sealed vimto bottle unless you want everywhere to smell strongly of purple liquids for some time. Eventually you get to a really friggin small sandy/muddy crawl which lasts a fair while but keep at it and you’ll eventually see some orange tape and not regret your life choices. I think there may be another way through to this point that is perhaps less grim but i’ve never had time to go down the passage and see if it pops out somewhere earlier on (a task for next time).
Some more, probably not horrific caving occurs before you reach something marked as The Subway on the survey. You meet a load of boulders with an obvious way down (this is the Subway) and that’s where we headed, assuming that the thing that had a name on the survey was likely the right way on. We got to some pretty large holes in the floor and i crawled around the side of one before a sudden onset of The Fear occurred and I trembled my way back. This was probably one of the more stupid things i’ve done caving and i would not recommend (the drop is properly big, pls don’t die). I did not remember any of this stuff, and after we all did a slightly sketchier than is necessary climb, we decided we’d have to turn around and possibly head out if we didn’t find the correct way soon.
Back at the boulders before the subway the passage continues (go over the boulders basically) and you meet some nicely wedged boulders in the previously seen big holes which I remembered being the correct way. The subway is below this presumably but doesn’t provide a non-sketchy way on as there’s no way round the holes from that level. The wedged boulders at the higher level make everything much more friendly (walk along the right, cross over and finish on the left side). You then keep walking for a while and you’ll meet Pi chamber which supposedly looks like Pi. The way on requires you to keep turning round to face the way you’re coming from as you walk the obvious route and look for a hole in the wall/floor (on the left if you’re walking onwards, on the right if you’ve turned around). This leads into Helter Skelter which is a fun set of small passages that twist downwards - fun sliding on the way down, probably quite grim coming from the other direction. Once we found this I felt seriously elated as the way on is basically impossible to fuck up from here so I was happy we’d succeeded in making the connection (and glad not to have to go all the way out the way we came).
Eventually you meet a wire and the start of the traverse above the streamway. This bit is great fun and harness and cowstails are recommended (Do you really trust a battery belt?). All plain sailing from here and we decided to take a dip (full submersion) in Pluto’s bath (or Jupiter’s Pool as Dave has taken to calling it) before making our way out. On the surface the wiser of us ate soggy Percy pigs. In the interest of keeping the numbers up, we did the Powell’s cave through trip and met some intrepid non-cavers as we were reaching the end. We were perhaps a bit overdressed.
What a day! Back to the Croydon for copious vegetables and partially successful games of pot and sling/human traverse before the annex was once more filled with noisy sleepers.
Ogof y Daren Cilau: David Wilson, Jack Halliday, James Perry, James Wilson, Zaeem Najeeb
So I was on the tube today and suddenly remembered that I hadn't written a trip report for W0 or W1. With a sudden bout of inspiration, my neurons fired in every which way they could to connect the map that was those weekends
So I went to Daren and Ogof Fechan with several other people who wanted to get wet and wild together. Saturday was Daren and it was a team of 5 to go into the cave apparently only wide enough to fit a Daren drum. This was Perry, Jimmy, Davey and Jack Hal again. Perry went MIA though due to his demons from the night before attacking in a wave of fury. We crawled our way through the entrance which is an hour crawl, marvelling the 'don't run' sign and magic cave boxes that are definitely not spaced apart equally. Nothing too bad but the 'surface moisture' worth of water we thought we'd encounter was actually many puddles of water. Now that I think about it, it was advertised as being a dry option? After we all came to understand what surface moisture was, we meandered our way to a stupidly long ladder that went more horizontal than vertical midway due to being oddly fixed to a ledge. This allowed us to find out how to properly tie an Italian hitch, relying on the fountain of knowledge that is the scouts, an all got up after a large amount of time. Unfortunately no one fell so we couldn't test out the safety of the system, maybe next time?
We nearly made it through the system to time chamber, but decided to turn back to meet our callout. This break then consisted of eating corn beef and a tin of beans with sausages. The corn beef had a thin outer late of solidified fat and took an absurd amount of effort to open, I think we ended up just gutting it in the end? Overall unpleasant and a bad idea for English caving, would recommend for Slov? The tin of beans were pleasant with the hidden sausages being a surprise. They were then unpleasant during our crawl out. So similar to how caves have a reaction time to rain, my body has a reaction time to beans and several other staple foods. This causes me to be tormented by bouts of flatulence. Now I, as the victim, was forced to release said flatulence to maintain the beautiful ecosystem that is my body. This was aided with odd bends that helped me push the evil out. Unfortunately, this evil was hot, and as hot air rises, followed us through the cave. At some point my mind was full of thoughts on how to release the noxious gas safely that I started becoming confused on who was behind me. Maybe it also acted as a hallucinogenic substance as I managed to not notice Jack and Jimmy swapping places at some point on who was in front / behind me. Still confused to this day.
We got out safely, no longer seeing the man in the van opposite of the minibus, so no flirtuous gazes were exchanged. Got back, ate something, drank something, and there was a guy who did not like Li batteries and Tesla and was very vocal on it. I think some table traversing happened and I ate more food etc. rinse and repeat.
Ogof Ffynnon Ddu: Ben Honan, Jennifer Ryder, Úna Barker
Cwm Dwr: Arun Paul, Ben Honan, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck
After the miraculous success of our trip to OFD1 on Saturday, we were keen to learn the route in Cwm Dwr to make a through trip feasible for our future selves. The team was arguably as crack as before, with a single insertion of Bun in the place of Charlie. Driving occurred and we got in the cave at maybe 12. We planned to try and get as close to the confluence as possible but I assumed we wouldn’t make it all the way, this being Sunday and all.
We inserted ourselves into the incredible entrance and made it through the boulder choke with ease thanks to Arun’s prior experience and some good instructions from humans at the swcc (something about a hole on the right, keeping right and going down and up via some water). Some crawling occurred and we appeared at the bit where there’s a scary sign telling you the space gets small or something. We were unsure how long the crawl was (i had a vague memory of 30 mins being said to me, but now think this probs meant the whole entrance bit not just the crawl) and for some reasons, Ben didn’t want to continue. I headed back to the entrance with him while Ana and Arun waited for me, already inside the crawl. We very swiftly reached the entrance climb and i waited at the bottom until Ben got out. Back to the others in a quicker time than expected and we continued on. The crawl was pretty short, sorry Ben.
Some route finding occurred and it was all pretty easy with the old surveys that have a route highlighted on them. We were rather swift and got to the confluence before heading out. Any attempts at trying to describe the route will probably just lead to humans getting lost.
Back at the hut at basically 4 on the dot, which was slightly later than planned but not an issue. An excellent weekend.
Ogof Fechan: David Wilson, Tom Porter, Zaeem Najeeb
Fechan was next and it was me, Davey and a large lad who had a nice car and clean kit. He had many eclairs and his name was Tim, he seemed like a nice guy. I was at the back this time and this was a wet trip, hence I wore a wetsuit. I recall Jimmy and Davey aiding me do up the back, and the look of happiness and joy on their faces as they dug their hands into my wetsuit to pull out a stuck piece. The cave had quite a bit more surface moisture than the previous day, with a duck near the end. Got to hear some fun stories and enjoy marvelling people's behinds. On the way back, I led and this was a mistake. Got us fine for a bit until I started crawling over a groin rock, with my body in an upside down U shape, entering a smaller chamber where I could just about turn back. This was not the right way. I would have probably continued a bit more had Davey not pointed this out and had we more time to loaf about. Got out and had a standoff with some horses whilst thinking about something probably related to horses. Saw no cows so we didn't get to return back to the SWCC from Fechan with 2 buckets of milk as is Welsh tradition.
Overall good trips and would do again, knee pads are advised and it was a place with nice beds.