Ogof Ffynnon Ddu
Martin and I had driven down to South Wales to help show CUCC's latest band of
victims recruits round. With Martin, Adrian and three novices (Mikhail, Rui, Josh) we decided to try the OFD I round trip. Overall I think we did a pretty good job of persuading them that we knew precisely where we were despite this very much not being the case!
After stomping up the streamway and climbing up Lowe's Passage into the higher level stuff, I took a photo of Rui at the 'Bee's Knees' formations in Roundabout Chamber. This chamber is a classic place to confuse new cavers as the 'obvious' route leads you round a little circle back to where you started at the formations (unless you spot the actual way on which is slightly hidden). On our second time round I was asked to take another photo of the formations. I suggested that we wait as there were some more nice formations 'just round the corner'. On our third time round the penny finally dropped!
We continued on smugly and found the slithery climbs down to the bolt traverse above the streamway. After negotiating this we managed to follow our noses through various passages back to the Toast Rack to complete the round trip in about 4 hours or so.
I have it on good authority that this cave is not called 'Ligad Licker'. This revelation has wreaked havoc with my internal monologue. Nevertheless it's an absolutely excellent cave. The main streamway goes through various sumps which are separated by short sections of large stream passage where you can get a close look at the sumps (but not too close as the water is deep in places and the current strong). A maze of well calcited higher-level passages join the river chambers to produce a fun combination of squirming, climbing, walking stopping and wading. Alex and Jess joined yesterday's dream team with novices David, Rob, Rui and Lara.
Up at Bull Pot Farm for Bonfire Night, things were not looking good as we woke to a cold sleety morning. By the time we'd left Inglesport, however, the sun was out and a light scattering of snow numbed our toes as we trudged up the flanks of Kingsdale. Tony was providing moral support whilst I rigged, with Kathryn, Richard and Sarah behind. As the most hungover of our group, Martin and Anthony were following later to derig!
With a week of rain and now some snow melt aswell, the Rowten stream was very high. Luckily the first pitch is at the other end of the pot, so at first all we noticed was the ominous rumble of a very large, swollen waterfall somewhere below us. By the time we'd traversed across to the second pitch and rigged down to it's main hang in a narrow slot, the water's route had corkscrewed round and was only a few metres away, on the other side of a very airy shaft. This made for a very 'though-provoking' (read scary) situation. Nevertheless the route we took was pretty dry, but for a little spray. More of the same followed as the next exhillirating pitch dropped right next to yet another thundering waterfall. Clawing my way across to a rebelay on the opposite side of the shaft was more than a little terrifying as I very much wanted to avoid swinging back out into the water. The final pitch was in a dry alcove and comparatively quiet. The short section of stream passage below this pitch was cleary completely impassable but it was very impressive to feel the draft from all the water. By the time the five of us had regrouped, Anthony and Martin were just behind us, so with perfect timing we began prussiking out. The cave was so loud that those of us without whistles for communicating on the pitches were quite hoarse by the end of the trip!