Depth through thought
OUCC News 5th March 1997
Volume 7, Number 5
|DTT Volume 7 index|
Most of you will know that a decision has been made to cap the pirate entrance to Ogof Draenen. Below are details of how you can help, and an open letter from Tim Long, the Conservation Officer, reporting on how the decision was reached.
You can forget about dragging tacklesacks of sandwiches BENEATH Pwll Du - on Saturday there will be an almost totally above ground picnic on TOP of Pwll Du. This is your chance to play a part in the 'Cap the Pirate' Entrance to Draenen. On Saturday the club was well represented by Steve, Pauline & me at the PDCMG meeting where the decision was taken that this was the correct course of action. The meeting hadn't been given with enough notice to be constitutional, although the same clubs were represented as at the last meeting which was constitutional, so no firm policy decisions were possible about the pros & cons of second entrances in general. There was however a call for a more open debate, which will take place on 15 June, where all cavers will have the chance to say their piece.
The main purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Pwll Du land sale, of which suffice to say 'it is all under control' and 'there is no cause for concern'. If you do want to know any more then talk to me, Pauline or Steve.
So, bring along your wickerwork hampers, barbecues, & any of the other pieces of picnic paraphernalia that you may have on chief picnic officer Ali Garman's list, ie:
wheel barrow(s) pulleys at least two old 20m ropes slings &
krabs hauling bags (any old tackle bags?) 5m of wire mesh and
wire cutters hacksaw lump hammer heavy duty plastic sheeting or
corrugated iron to protect the hillside above hole crowbars scaffolding
spanner many hands Should be quite a laugh, as long as it doesn't
Preparations are well underway for this years expedition and, judging by the interest, it's going to be a big one.
Following last years van gymnastics in France, and the attractiveness of a 24 hour pre expedition party, it's looking likely that we'll take the Plymouth - Santander ferry. In order to book this, and to purchase other expedition essentials, we need to receive your expedition deposits.
The deposit has been set this year at 130 pounds, or at the reduced rate of 100 pounds if this is your first expedition. Deposit cheques should be written out to 'El Regalon 97 Expedition' and can be given to me or any other member of the expedition committee.
It would be useful if you could also give me an idea of when you plan to be out in Spain, so that we can organise transport and the like.
If you fancy helping us annoy our new neighbours we're having
another party this Saturday (8th) to which all cavers and friends
are invited. Venue : 53 Cranham Street (near Phoenix Cinema in
Jericho) Doors: open at 8 Dress : Casual
Will, Olly and Nobby(absent)
Right, it looks as though we've got a jolly holiday to Ireland
sorted. The best ferry (researched by Anette although unfortunately
she can't come) looks to be the Swansea to Cork. I'm planning
on the Friday March 21st night crossing, returning on either Sunday
30th night (return fare £268 split 5 ways), or Monday 31st
night (£198). So, can everyone who is coming please tell
me whether they want transport sorting out for them or not, and
if so which days they prefer? Then I can work out whether we want
to hire the Van Rouge from the club or not. Should be lots of
At the meeting of the Pwll Du Cave Management Group, on Saturday 1st March 1997, Members and officers of the group met to discuss aspects of the land sale at Pwll Du and its consequences to cavers, and to consider the news that a second entrance to Ogof Draenen had been opened.
Due to the proposed land sale, see last DESCENT, p.9, the Coal Authority, through its Land Agent, has stated it now requires a legal access agreement. The P.D.C.M.G., through its officers, is now in negotiations with the C.A. and has made good progress at an amicable meeting. The C.A. are asking for gated, controlled access and this seems to be covered by the present arrangements. We have also expressed, in writing, our interest in land purchase. This has been acknowledged by the Land Agents. We have also made progress over raising money for possible land purchase. Further discussions will be held with the Land Agents, on both the above items, in the near future. The area is also being put forward by the Countryside Council for Wales (C.C.W.) as a possible Site of Special Scientific Interest (S.S.S.I.) and for other protection by (a) Land purchase and (b) Working with other possible purchasers such as Environmental organisations or the P.D.C.M.G.
The meeting was informed that the second entrance had been opened more or less by accident, when a boulder choke inside the cave was being investigated and it ran-in. Work above ground was then done to make the collapse safe. It had not been thought necessary to inform the management group. The group considered that the new entrance was not viable, due to its position on a very steep, dangerous slope with inadequate access. The site was highly visible and erosion would be a problem, with the top lip of the opening already beginning to break away. It was felt that remote areas of the cave had been well conserved by virtue of their distance from the original entrance and that these areas would be threatened by the opening of an entrance nearby.
Given the unsuitability of the site, the potential conservation implications, the accidental way in which the entrance came about and the continuing moratorium on new entrances, it was decided (with the support of those responsible) that the new entrance would be capped and not used for access to the cave, but in the unfortunate event that a rescue was necessary from the area, it should be possible to re-open the entrance. This work is to be carried out on Saturday 8th March. The group had previously agreed a moratorium on the opening of new entrances, pending a debate on the issue and it seemed an appropriate time to fix a date for this, to coincide with the group's biannual general meeting: 15th June 1997. Further details of this meeting will be circulated in due course.
Pwll Du Cave Management Group