Attending: Reynard, John, Rachel and Rob
After a lot of emails, to-ing and fro-ing, everyone managed to arrive at the right place at the right time with the right kit, we even had cave surveys! A few beers in the ever amiable Chelsea hut, and plans were laid for the next day. Ogof Draenen was the target, aiming to get beyond the Megadrive which has been our limit of exploration on previous trips. A sensible start in the morning saw us getting changed by the roadside in only a light drizzle. A fight with the padlock nearly aborted the trip before it had begun, but brute force solved the day. The entrance series was everything I remembered and actually not quite as damp as usual. Neither John nor Rachel had been in the cave before, but seemed to cope very well with the obsticals. Eventually the passages increased in size, the 4m rope climb was passed without difficulty, and we duly arrived at Cairn Junction to sign officially in. A choice between prolonged boulder hopping or crawling was sensibly decided in favour of the shorter crawl – Beer Challenge. Passing by the WonderBra connection, the final squeeze proved we could all have a few more drinks if we needed to. Boulder hopping began in earnest up to the (not very) White Arch, and then on through the Lamb and Fox chamber -underneath the pub of the same name. A quick scramble up the stacked rocks at the back led onto the slightly intimidating Indiana Highways. A long passage traversing over an intermittently (very) deep rift – mostly with just about reasonable footholds, in a few places it becomes less straightforward. Despite not liking deep drops Rachel managed not to falter, and we pressed on over the Canyon and past the turning to Underworld, before entering Megadrive. Only a couple of hours in, we’d made good time, and no-one was ready to turn back.
Megadrive is a long largish corridor, not very impressive despite the name, but does contain a few patches of selenite crystals. Turning past the windy corner we reached the Nunnery (the Nun itself being a small un-obvious stal). This was a limit of my previous trips, and I wanted to have a look at the connection through into the next part of the system. Leaving Rachel and John to start back at their own pace, Rob and I raced down a side passage to the Balcony pitch into Arms Park. Usefully this is rigged with a permanent flexible ladder, quickly descended. Arms Park seems to be another long large chamber and shouldn’t prove particularly difficult – next time. For now it was time to head back out, retracing our steps. Rachel and John confidently navigated, deliberately bypassing Beer Challenge we went onto look at the impressively large Tea Junction, before turning back up the entrance shaft. Unfortunately no-one had made this any easier while we were underground, but I didn’t hear too much swearing. The rain stopped just as we left the cave after 6 hours underground, and the Lamb and Fox had a very pleasant warm fire going in the grate. We couldn’t stay for long though as dinner needed cooking.
Sunday dawned and somewhat later we got up. Despite yesterday’s extersions everybody felt fit enough to do some more caving. I promised an ‘easy’ trip into Agen Allwedd, having forgotten about the awkward boulders, short but thin rifts, and the flat-out crawl in the water. Oh well, after 30mins walking in the sun and no problems with this padlock, they weren’t that difficult. Surprisingly no bats were seen at all, despite Aggi being a favourite location for them. Eventually we did reach the Main Passage, which really is easy walking all the way (over 1k!) to the Music Room at the end. It passes some more impressive selenite crystals before closing down to not very much at all. A quick poke about the side passages didn’t reveal anything very exciting either. Rachel and John again managed to find the way back without error and we were out in time for tea and cake, and the long journey home.
Thanks to everyone for helping out and making it a fun weekend. See you on the next trip!