Lyndon arrived back from the states, prompting much late night tea drinking at caving HQ, four hours sleep and a rather late morning start! Our freshers, on the other hand, were up bright and early!
GI Jo turned up in her stylish P205 to whisk the minibus excess down to Priddy; overtook the 'bus at some point on the M4, only to pass them again when searching the villages near Priddy for an open cafe. The one we eventually located, in Farrinton Gurney [open 7 days 8-6, with a farm shop attached!] had brilliant cakes, but a rather disturbing bovine motif. A full size 3D cow exploded from the side of the building, memories of moo were everywhere but the most disturbing example was surely the toilets. The wall paper, the toilet seats and even the bin-liners were cow-print!
Al-fresco caving on Priddy Green; we were ready to rock by Noon. Splitting into three groups, the advance party with a couple of eager freshers zoomed off to rig the ladder. Trampling through the enormous cow pat by the gate, we bimbled along to the little concrete outhouse that marks the start of Swildons.
Wriggling along the big slabs of rock, the freshers soon lost their fear of scuffing the kit & started sliding around on their arses like the best of them! Soon enjoying the congestion at the ladder pitch, freshers all faired very well indeed with belaying by Darryl.
Continuing down, the clambers get rather more technical and people were getting tired - but the double-pots were great fun, people choosing either to slowly shuffle around the edge of the jacuzzi-sized pools, or simply plunging into the waste-deep water & storm through.
By 3pm, all the groups had got to sump I - with nearly all the freshers choosing to free-dive the very short (but still psychologically challenging) underwater region. In fact, more freshers than old lags went through on this trip! The air was noticeably thin the far side of the sump, but still fresh enough to allow a wander along to see sump II.
Clamber out was smooth, but extremely tiring for a first trip - a little assistance was required for most. But still, its not a caving trip unless someone's standing on your head for at least some of it!
Re-rigging the ladder pitch for Plymouth club who were doing the short round trip was rather 'interesting'. Their lovely tackle sac contained a rope-washer, but no ladder spreaders or spare krabs! Our hangers were incompatible, so we improvised something inelegant but safe out of a ICCC krab & the P-bolts - but still a bit irritating!
After the inevitable games of hide 'n' seek in the upper levels, with groups finding themselves climbing across each other at different heights, all cavers were changed & enjoying the brilliant sunshine before six. After a quick pint for the speedy changers, we drove into Bath to get some nosh - sit-down curry for the lazy doing their best to blow student loans, and an expedition to a kebab house lead by Richard Venn.
Home, van cleaned & kit dumped in stores by 11pm.
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