by Jane Bradbury
Eight cavers, including two potential new cavers, attended this trip to the SWCC hut.
On Saturday, we split into two teams for our excursion into OFD2 Top entrance. Team 1: Jane Bradbury, Mike Clark, Rob Wake, Clea Otero (new member) set out to explore the upper part of the cave; team 2: Neil Burgess, Mark Schormann, Gareth Phillips and Lee Marchlewizc (our second newcomer) set out to visit Top Waterfall.
All went well with Team 1 to start with. We went straight to the Big Chamber near the entrance and then with the help of Neil’s excellent instructions, we went to the Mini-Columns. After that…well, Speedy Caver wasn’t on our planned itinerary but it was well worth the visit. Some passing strangers helpfully provided instructions for getting to Gnome Chamber and from there we headed straight down the awkward climb into Salubrious. A momentary lapse of memory caused us to miss the passage to Judge and Trident but we soon realised our mistake and backtracked. After oohhing and ahhing at the formations, we took Clea down Swamp Creek for her first taste of streamway caving. She took to it like a fish to water! Back in Salubrious, we went down to Selenite but decided that, actually, we couldn’t be bothered with doing the rift today so we turned round and, after dragging Mike kicking and screaming out of the Labyrinth (he really liked crawling at top speed along the sandy floor of this maze), made our way back to the entrance without incident.
Team 2, meanwhile, had gone down to the main stream way and battled part of the way up to Top Waterfall. However, the stream was well up and the trip was not really feasible so the team turned round and took Lee round the sights on the way out.
On Sunday, a reduced team set off with Peter Devlin and another SWCC diver to do the OFD1 round trip. The water was pretty high so after some discussion, we went part of the way up the active stream way for a “bit of fun”, intending to turn round or to take the first escape route out. However, Clea again showed her love of fast running streams so we decided to push on upstream. It was certainly sporting and I, for one, was very glad to leave the stream behind for the high dry passages that took us back eventually to the entrance. The long slides down the well polished tubes after the protected traverse above the stream way were particularly good fun!