Tony and Emma came up to visit, and we headed over to a cave called Ogof Dydd Byraf in North Wales for the day, where Becka and Julian (Martin also with them) had been recruiting cavers to help in a North Wales Caving Club dig which required large numbers of people to operate.
The first part of the cave is an old lead mine. After a few minutes a slightly constricted ladder pitch breaks into natural passages, some of which are very large and really pretty. After this, it probably took us about 45 minutes of fun caving to get to the dig; via a series of flat out crawls, another ladder pitch and a handline climb.
The dig itself would have made Wallace and Gromit proud. After a long flat out crawl and a small boulder choke, we had popped out into a large chamber containing stacked piles of sandbags holding back more piles of sand. The dig face was located 50 odd metres into a downward-sloping, crawling-sized tube at the base of the chamber. Since bad air collected at the bottom of the dig, a ventilation pipe had been rigged up all the way down the tube. Back in the chamber, it was connected to a fan run off a car battery which some poor sod must have dragged in previously! Various drag trays were used in the tube, with people positioned at each corner to transfer bags of sand from one tray to the next, and more people in the chamber emptying the bags, which would then be returned to the dig face.
By the time I had worked my way forward to the dig face, having a go at each job on the way, the Great Escape theme tune had inexplicably found its way into my head. The digging (which, it is hoped, will eventually lead to a known part of another cave beyond a sump) was in nice dry sand. After a couple of stints at each job, with some sandwiches and tea in between, we headed out.
T/U 7 hours