Depth through thought
OUCC News 15th June 1994
Volume 4, Number 26
|DTT Volume 4 index|
The following are supposed to be the cheapest places to get flights to Bilbao from (I've been quoted #123 from Heathrow).
V.E. Tours 071 439 7861
Club Skyways 071 603 2242
Airfare Brokers 071 379 5882
Air Affair 071 224 4277
"Real" Bill, and "the other" Rob had been tantalising us for months with stories of caverns measureless beneath the Gower in South Wales, their local and favourite stamping ground. So last weekend "team diminished" (Steve, Tim, Rob) van rouged its way via a pringles' crisp stop at Swindon to Bill's mum's house. Bill rang Rob, and left a message that we made gone to "the beaufort" for a drink. Unfortunately, although the Beaufort is just down the road, Rob got a muddled message that we had stopped at a pub in Burford. It was only just beginning...
A night in the van in the quite seclusion of Bill's mum's driveway led to a breakfast of country crunch with freeze-dried strawberries. "I don't like strawberries", said Rob. After breakfast we bimbled over to the legendary Ogof Carrig Mawr, with its bedding-plane squeezes and rickety anti- flood dams. Real Bill and Other Rob had already convinced me that this place has great potential, and their stories were well tantalising. So few people have been in... Changing was unusual: residents were clearly surprised to see people in strange suits and Geiger counters on their heads. Not the Mendips this. Over the fields, and far away a lovely little valley with a cliff and several sinks. Great. Going Down. But not long after clambering down the entrance climb we arrived at the squeeze. Real Bill took his helmet off, did a curious backflip, and peered in. "oh". "what?", said Other Rob, who was in his Sunday best, about to go to a wedding (presumably not his own). "I'm confused", said Real Bill. "That's unusual", said Other Rob. "Its silted up".
But we dug nonetheless, clearing many tacklebags of sand and silt out of the squeezes. Real Bill had informed me that I needed to pass two squeezes to a right hand bend, where to head up in the bedding. I dug for about an hour and a half, and eventually made the squeezes passable. I was through, and into the right hand bend. Could I get my trailing leg round? "Is this corner a bit technical, Bill?", I asked. "I think so". "Then I think I'll come out and let you have a try", I continued.
Error. Real Bill plunged into the squeeze, and immediately realised that I hadn't reached the corner at all, but had been trying to turn into a silly little rift of no obvious consequence (except pain in the leg). Its amazing what you'll do with a little encouragement. In fact, the "second squeeze" was still ahead, and totally submerged in silt. We gave up, and let Steve and Rob have a look. "But my oversuit will get muddy", said Rob. And so it did.
In the afternoon, we pottered over to Llethryd (Gower's most impressive cave, with a huge chamber), and had excellent fun plunging through ducks, wriggling through boulder chokes, stomping down streamway, and waiting around for Tim to take photos (sorry). Cider reared its head at about 8pm outside the entrance. "But I'll get drunk", said Rob.
That night, we went to a barbeque in a strange place full of delightfully generous people and their children. We slept in the van, except Real Bill who slept under someone's house (he thinks), and I lost a waterpistol fight. Then in the morning it was the grand tour of the Digs of Gower. I forget all the names (actually, they were unpronounceable anyway), but we looked at about 5 entrances, all of which had potential, all being dug by Bill and Rob. Sun, Sea, Surf, and Limestone cliffs. It was too much. We abandoned plans to go back to OCM and dig, and flew off to the sea cliffs deeper into Gower for the afternoon.
A deserted cove. Huge limestone cliffs. Fulmars wheeling overhead. A cool resurgence just above the tide line. We took (most of) our clothes off and went caving. I know, its becoming a habit. But it really is almost possible to sun-bathe and go caving here at the same time. Huge fossil entrances double as wave smoothed sea caves. And finally we settled on another afternoon of digging, this time in "the cave of the grassy ledge" (apparently there is a word for this in Welsh). 200 feet up, the same down, a strongly draughting crawl, leading to an earthy constriction. Digging ensued. Other Rob dug first, and things went steadily. Then he got a bit frenzied, as the crawl began to widen. Generously, he let me takeover to make the breakthrough to where the passage appeared to dip down. In fact, I spent the next hours digging my way through piles of fox turds (they fit snugly into an ear), to reach a tight looking tube. "Your turn Bill"
Real Bill dug the tube until eventually deciding it
was big enough for me to get through. "What's
beyond?" "I'm a bit confused", replied Bill.
"Really!", said Rob. Bill had spotted a platic
fertiliser bag beyond the squeeze, which we now
surmise had probably been left by a fox, not a
farmer. So in I went again, to look at the squeeze.
Nope. I dug for another half an hour, and tried.
Nope. I dug again, and eventually, thrutched
through the literally body-sized tube into a pitiful
chamber, with no chance of turning round. But
beyond, the passage continued in the same vein as
far as I could see. So, not bad. 40ft or so of new
passage, and the easiest dig I've ever done. Then
out to sun, tinned pears, and a most stunning
evening view across the cliffs. We'll be back.