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Legacy Logs

All pages containing trip logs (among other things) from the old wiki have been preserved (complete with formatting) in the legacy section of the archive.

The CUCC Blog

Hillwaking Joint Weekend - Bullpot Farm

Author Linus Gerdes - He came to Yorkshire with the hillwalking club, but decided to come underground with the caving club. Route: We entered County Pot and exited from Wretched Rabbit, passing by places such as Poetic Justice. Cavers: Tom Crossley, David Walker, Paul Fox, Ahu Aydin, Marta Grzelak, Naunehal Matharu, Linus Gerdes (author), Juliette Lee, Ross Thomas, Molly Sheldrick, and Wassil Janssen. As an avid hillwalker myself, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a joint trip with the cavers to embark on my first ever proper caving trip. I’ve only ever been in commercialized, well lit up caves before this trip, so I was keen to experience something new. The trip started in the epicenter of Yorkshire Dales caving, Bullpot Farm. The evening before saw the hillwalkers and the cavers drinking together around a cozy fireplace, and I was filled with excitement from the glorious pictures of cavers on the wall (time would show the glory does not reveal itself in the cave, but rather afterwards). As the hillwalkers went to bed to catch an early morning, the cavers revealed a wooden frame called the ‘squeeze machine’. The aim of this game was to squeeze through the wooden frame, which would get narrower after every round. Only thanks to the much welcomed and needed support from Wassil (“Just relax your butt”,”Just relax your bones”, ”Just relax your pants”) people went to their limits trying to beat the record of 16cm (6.3 inches for the English among us). The next morning Ross, Molly and I (3 caving hillwalkers) got out of bed early to see some of the Yorkshire Dales from the top. It only then came to me that cavers sleep long because they don’t require sunlight anyway. Finally, people rose from their beds around 10:30am and had the legendary caving breakfast at around 11:30am, and we got ready and geared up. As there were many novices amongst us, the gearing up part took much longer than expected and we only got ready by 2pm. After a surprisingly beautiful hike in the Dales we arrived at the entrance to the cave. The first descent was a 5 meter downward climb and gave me a rush of adrenaline. Little did I know that only 8 hours later I would emerge from just around the corner in a snow blizzard welcoming us back in the world. The next few hours saw the group squeezing through narrow alleyways, scrambling over boulder rocks and the first abseiling. Spirits were at an all-time high as we still had dry feet. We bounced around waterfalls and even skidded down a path that very much reminded me of going down a waterslide. I am also sure that there were multiple duplicates of Tom in the cave as one moment he was in front of me and a moment later appearing from a tight slid next to me I did not even consider possible to get through. I thought to myself, he was probably born and raised in a cave. Inevitably, the honeymoon phase had to end at some point as the first tight squeeze requiring a crawl flat on the stomach seemed to be the only path ahead. Luckily, I remembered Wassil’s words of wisdom and by relaxing my bones, butt and pants the squeeze was over quickly. My earlier decision to take a bag with water bottles turned out to be rather poor as I had to push the bag in front of me to fit through. After everyone passed the short but intense squeeze, we continued down a small archway, slowly moving forward with our hands and knees in the ice cold water. At this point, the inside of my shoes were already soaking wet. Being a hillwalker in the UK usually results in a high tolerance to being completely soaked, so this situation I luckily wasn’t unfamiliar with. We reached our halfway mark and our lowest point which was a river below the actual overground river we’ve hiked past before. From this point on we ascended up, with every step getting us closer to the exit as my mind wandered to the spicy hot fajitas awaiting me in the bunkhouse. Unfortunately, my caving ration of cereal bars were already consumed in a sugar rush after the squeeze. Furthermore, I also completely lost the sense of time so it came as a surprise when I found out it was already 6pm and that we would be back at 9pm only. The way up revealed some more beautiful cave formations and fun, windy alleyways. This was actually my favourite part of the trip and I felt the rush that I usually only ever get when I’m outside on the mountaintops. After an exciting last climbing session we reached the exit of the cave and hiked back the now not-so-beautiful way to Bullpot Farm. Though Molly and Ahu who were with me not quite enjoyed the hike as much as I did, my inner ‘arctic explorer’ carried me home. Once we arrived at the bunkhouse, a warm shower, Tom’s custom-brewed tea and the spicy Fajitas raised the spirits and we ended up drinking until the early morning with surprise guests from Kent.

-- Linus Gerdes, March 9, 2020. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: CUHWC Joint Trip in Yorkshire (Bullpot Farm) [2020-02-28]

Daren Cilau - South Wales

Route: Daren Cilau, with Camping at The Hard Rock Cafe Including: the Vice, the Loop (3 times), the 20m Pitch, the Time Machine, Bonzai Streamway Dates: 15/02/2020 - 16/02/2020 Cavers: Natasha Wilson, Tom Crossley, Chloe Crossley, Harry Kettle, Wassil Janssen Natasha has very kindly written a trip report of our weekend in Daren Cilau. It should be noted that this was her first trip with CUCC and her second trip overall. This was my second ever caving trip, and first trip with the Cambridge University Caving Club. Some may say that committing myself to an overnight camp on my second ever trip was crazy, but I was excited by the challenge and was determined I would overcome any discomfort. In hindsight, I’d really done very little research and had no idea what I was getting myself into… Our trip began embarrassingly late on the Saturday afternoon, only getting up at midday to start the obligatory big caving breakfast. (3 of us were recovering from big nights back in Cambridge on the Thursday, and Wassil was up til 5am with the Kent University Caving Club!) After much faff, we donned our caving gear, packed our tackle bags with sleeping bags, a change of clothes, food for the night and snacks, and each took one tablet of imodium to avoid any awkward toilet situations over the next day. We made our way to the caves for 2.45pm, only an hour behind the Kent University Caving Club. Our callout was set for 9pm the next day, giving us plenty of time to get back after our underground camp at the Hard Rock Café. The inexperienced caver that I am, I had no idea how long the 517m entrance crawl would take, or how tiring it would be. For two, long, painful and cold hours we crawled, squeezed, and commando shuffled along a tight passageway, elbow deep in freezing water. At some points, the tunnel roof was so low that I had to turn my head sideways to keep it out of the water to breathe, which was slightly terrifying as I knew we’d have to come back the same way and that the weekend weather forecast included the worst storm in 20 years…what would happen if the water rose?! To make the journey even more challenging, our tackle bags were constantly working against us to catch on every turn, small rock, or tight squeeze. With much kicking, shoving, pushing and pulling, we worked together to unstick ourselves (it felt as though 70% of the time was spent fighting our tackle bags, and 30% was spent actually moving!). I was incredibly grateful that the tackle bag I’d been given was long and thin: poor Harry had chosen to take a bag which he aptly named ‘big fatty’ after it became clear it would barely fit through many of the tight squeezes. Needless to say, his progress through the entrance crawl was significantly more painful and accompanied by much more cursing than mine! Eventually, we emerged, freezing and exhausted from the entrance crawl. I was promised by Tom that from this point on it was ‘easy’. I must confess I completely disagree. Yes, there were some slightly more open caves but the squeezing and wriggling was far from over, and we kept having to take off our tackle bags and drag them crouched over through low ceiling passages. I found the open spaces the hardest to keep up with the others, as they clambered quickly over the wet boulders. I was terrified I would slip and twist my ankle or hurt myself and be unable to get back out of the cave, which made trying to move quickly pretty scary. I can’t remember the route exactly, but know that there was lots of clambering over boulders in massive caves, walking down streams where you can’t see how uneven the ground is until you’re suddenly caught off balance by a rock, or dropping down thigh deep into water, yet more crawling and pulling at tackle bags, and a rather unfortunate loop circuit which we managed to do twice before realising that it wasn’t the right way! A welcome break from the exhausting journey came in the form of a 20 metre ladder into Higher Things, which we reached just as the Kent Caving club were finishing their climb. I was amazed to see this incredible metal ladder in the middle of the cave! We hauled our tackle bags up and took turns making the climb with belays. Then there was more crawling, clambering over boulders, some exciting roped climbs and a roped traverse with a massive drop, before we reached the Time Machine. Apparently, the Time Machine is the largest cave passage in Britain. And yes, it was massive, but I have to admit that by this point we’d been caving for hours and everyone was starting to get hungry, and I was even more aware than ever that I was holding people up by being slow as I clambered over boulders, so I didn’t get to appreciate it in all its glory as I was too busy concentrating on the uneven ground below my feet, but trust me, it is BIG! The roof is just sooooo far away. Other cool things before reaching camp included the Bonsai Streamway, where beautiful mini trees seemed to be growing out of the walls from stalagmites, and a stream that just got deeper and deeper until I was neck deep and desperate to reach camp. At 11pm, we finally arrived tired, hungry and soaking wet at the Hard Rock Café! Party balloons were hanging from the ceiling, a mini disco ball and laser lights cast rotating funky patterns on the walls, a group of about 5 guys were sat chilling, and the sound of drum and bass. Loads of Darren drums lined the walls and there was a draining board full of plates/bowls and loads of cooking equipment. A really strange sight after 8 hours caving! In the adjoining passageways were survival bags and rollmats lying on flat patches of ground. We picked our beds, hung our wet kit in the drying area with washing lines, and changed into dry clothes for the evening. Unfortunately at this point me and Wassil discovered our dry bags had failed us, so we put on rather damp clothes, and sat shivering as we ate our couscous and curry for dinner, shared a few swigs of the port that Chloe had carefully carried all the way to camp, and went straight to bed in the hope our damp sleeping bags could help us keep a little warmer. I found it hard to fall asleep on the hard ground, feeling a little too cold to be comfortable, and could hear the sound of rushing water through the walls which was a bit concerning. At some point in the night, I heard people from the Kent Caving Club walking around and making lots of noise and shouting. I wanted to know what was going on but didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag for fear of the cold. It later became apparent that the area we’d been sat eating dinner in the camp had flooded, along with the area that we’d hung all our kit. The other experienced cavers said this was something that had never happened in the history of the camp, but that they were moving all things to higher ground and would let us know if we needed to worry. The water level was still rising, and as I was too cold and worried to sleep anyway, I ended up getting up to help with the moving process. After about 20 minutes, the area where I’d been sleeping also flooded and everyone had to get up. The team spirit throughout the event was incredible, with all 14 of us at the now rapidly flooding Hard Rock Cafe, busy working together to salvage any items we could from the camp and move them up to higher ground. We piled all the roll mats and sleeping bags together and huddled together to keep warm as we waited anxiously for the water to stop rising. Someone suggested making tea, and we decided the situation was severe enough to make breaking into the emergency Darren Drum for chocolates (expiry date 2013) justifiable. Spirits were at an all time high as we sang caving songs whilst warming ourselves with hot drinks. By 7.30am, the water level had stopped rising, and exhausted we all fell asleep. I woke as Wassil next to me started moving about. He was obviously anxious to get going but I didn't feel comfortable just leaving the camp without the more experienced cavers giving us the go ahead in case the way ahead was flooded. After he'd be moving about (evidently trying to wake everyone up without being too obvious), the others started to wake up, and we realised with shock that we had once again managed to sleep until midday! With our callout back at the caving hut set for 9pm, we really needed to get moving as the journey out had taken us 8 hours, and if we weren't careful cave rescue might come looking for us! We quickly gathered our things and set off. Luckily the water level had gone back down, and we were able to find all our kit. (The clothes I'd hung out to dry had instead been fully submerged in water overnight, so were significantly wetter than when I'd put them there to begin with...). As we bid farewell to our fellow cavers, they kindly offered to help set the camp back to how it should be, and told us to change their callout time to midnight to give them time to get back. And so it began, the long journey back through the cave. The water level was in fact lower than on our way in, coming up to my waist instead of my neck which was reassuring. The rest of the journey back was pretty uneventful. We were determined to make it back in good time, so travelled efficiently with only a few breaks (and thankfully no unnecessary loops from getting lost!). Our breakfast and lunch and dinner all consisted of cereal bars and chocolate bars, with one tablet of Imodium to start the day off safely. And we made it! The final 2 hour entrance crawl was made easier for myself by singing loudly with Harry (who was extremely happy having traded his tackle bag with Tom over the bribe of 3 beers), although I think that the singing may have made the journey a bit less enjoyable for the others! When we finally emerged from the cave, freezing cold from the final crawl through water, it was dark outside and snowing/sleeting. We speed walked back to the caving hut and made it for 8pm, took turns jumping in the shower, and scoffed ourselves with our breakfast leftovers from the day before. By 9pm we were on the road, and driving back to Cambridge, with great stories to tell all our friends about how we'd almost been trapped underground from flooding caves. At 11.30pm we got a call from the Kent Caving Society who had made it safely out of the cave, so it was a happy ending for all involved :). Don't forget to have a look at the picture album.

-- Natasha Wilson, Feb. 24, 2020. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: Daren Cilau in South Wales (Whitewalls) [2020-02-14]

Swildon's Short Round Trip

Route: Short Round - Swildon's Hole Including: Mud Sump, Paradise Regained, St. Paul, The Landing, Sump 1, and The Streamway Cavers: David, Maxime, Monika and Romaric Of the grand total of 4 caving trips I've been on, this one was by far the best! It was so different from the other ones as you spent most of the time in all sorts of puddles whether it was walking through them or crawling and hence it was a very wet trip as opposed to the standard dryer ones. This was also the time I could not have been happier that I owned and brought my wetsuit; I'm not sure how others survived in the frigid water. Highlights from the trip included climbing up and down waterfalls and floating in the pools beneath them! There's been nothing more epic in caving so far than floating under a waterfall underground. The dreaded sumps according to everyone turned out to be much less intimidating than they sounded and were actually quite fun. Cheers to more caving! Monika

-- Monika Kirilowski, Oct. 3, 2019. Category: Caving

Referenced in the following trips: Mendips (Wessex) [2019-08-30]

Ardeche trip

A bit of a summary of what I got up to: Sunday 8th September - Dragoniairre du Bann Present: Alex Crow, Jess Stirrups, Martin Green, Mark McAuley, Grace Chu, Edd Willats, Luke Brock, Luke Brownbridge Started off with an old favourite. A small entrance tube descends in steps to an awkward pitch head. This drops about 25m (a 40m rope is not enough to pull through but a 60m rope is) to a big calcite slope which is descended as 2 pitches with in situ traverse lines on the more gentle bits of the slope. The final hang is very much in free space and there were some entertaining aerobatics as everyone passed the pitch head. Ultimately you land on a ledge above a small river. At the bottom of the pitch we all donned wetsuits and had a good dunk in the river. I think with hindsight the wetsuits could be kept in tackle sacks for longer providing water levels aren't too high. From the bottom of the pitch you head downstream a short distance before climbing a ramp and entering a series of crawls which include a quite constricted downwards slot I had completely forgotten about (sorry!). The crawls end in another short pitch in a big rifty chamber with the river at the bottom. This is followed to a climb over/through a collapse to another short pitch which drops you in the river. At this point the cave gets quite swimmy and you follow the river out to daylight. You can avoid a lot of the water doing a traverse in the roof after the crawly stuff but I think you always end up in the river at the bottom. Wetsuits are strongly advised, primarily for buoyancy. Its also worth packing a few empty bottles to keep the tackle sacks buoyant. Many photos were taken in the wet bit. Many thanks to Stu Walker for facilitating the car shuffle. Monday 9th September - Cote Patier Present: Alex Crow, Sarah Crow, Tom Crow, Luck Brock, Romaric Masson, Stu Walker Took my parents to the Cote Patier. This is a very big linear system with some nice formations and an impressive doline. Short climb up a ladder followed by lots of walking. Towards the end there is a climb with some lakes with boats. Much silliness can be had here but we turned round before that point. The non Crow family group continued to the upstream sump I believe. Tuesday 10th September - Pebra Present: Alex Crow, Luke Brock, Romaric Masson, Stu Walker, David Walker Another old favourite, a slopping/stepped phreatic entance pitch consumes a ridiculous amount of rope considering it is allegedly only 30m deep. The bolts always seem to be in completely the wrong place. I spent far too much time rigging an esoteric tri-hang half way down (sorry everyone). The bottom of the pitch leads to a short crawl to a huge chamber full of enormous formations. Cue much swearing from those who hadn't been before. It is a very impressive place. There is an up pitch to a high level traverse around the chamber and on to another chamber. David had a look up this but the traverse line wasn't rigged (there was an in-situ rope in previous years) and we hadn't brought a rope for it. Wednesday 11th September - Ardeche River Present: Alex Crow, Luke Brock, Sarah Crow, Tom Crow, Stuart Walkver, Chloe Goodman, Stuart Bennet, Adrian Horrell, Romaric Masson Obligatory kayaking trip down the river. Started off quite a long way upstream compared to normal and the river was ridiculously low. The kayak slides on the weirs were entertaining. Luke and I spent most of the trip trying to get Adrian and Stuart wet with varying degrees of success. There was some jumping off rocks and Romaric went caving. Thursday 12th September - St Marcel d Ardeche Present: Alex Crow, Jess Stirrups and David Walker (Part 1), Adrian Horrell, Stuart Bennet, Martin Green, Serena Povia (Part 4), Mark McAuley, Grace Chu, Luke Brock, Chloe Goodman, Romaric Masson, Stuart Walker (Part 1) After some debate over how many cars we could get away with taking down the track to the cave with our permit for 1 car (we settled on 3) and trying to decide what to do with the enormous gate key we made it to the entrance. The St Marcel is a massive system in every sense of the word and we split into 3 groups going to different areas of the cave. Following a chat at the entrance about keys and books team part 3 bombed off only to find that we didn't have the required key. Once we met up with the others they denied all knowledge of the required key and some excellent poker faces were deployed. After a short period of general piss taking and nearly sending us back to the entrance in search of the key, teams 1 and 4 eventually yielded the key and we could disappear through the hatch to part 3. Teams 1 and 4 continued on through the show cave before splitting up to visit parts 1 and 4 separately. Following the hatch there is a bit of a crawl and a few small chambers before you reach the "horrible duck" and the 500m "laminoir" (bedding plane). Never before have 3 cavers been so disappointed to find a "horrible duck" completely dry. Fortunately the 500m of bedding plane wasn't entirely flat out, there were even some stoopy sections so we didnt completely overheat. Once through the bedding plane we got into the big stuff that the cave is so well known for. Phreatic tubes you really could drive a bus down. We stopped off at a side passage to admire some very fine helictites before stomping off down the main gallery which also has some nice formations. This eventually leads to a short climb up where we could finally use the SRT kits we had been carting around (cowstails useful but you don't really need anything else). The gallery continues some distance (still massive) before you get to what is probably the biggest rift I have ever seen. Sadly we didnt have a disto with us to check but it really was huge. Very very reminiscent of the Noel entrance pitch. Somewhere further on you eventually get to "the squeeze". This is indeed small and awkward and is notable for the way the draft coming through it is strong enough to roar. We were advised that going through the squeeze was pointless but we thought we'd have a look which was a good decision. The other side of the squeeze leads to more big pretty stuff with some pitches. This eventually degenerates into a maze of phreatic passages that continue for some kilometres with multiple up and down pitches. We explored these for a bit but decided we ought to start heading out before we got to the end. Will have to attempt to go all the way some time but it'd be a hell of a trip. Friday 12th September - Unknown Present: Alex Crow and Martin Green Martin and I went to have a look at a cave we had been told about on the condition we didn't tell anyone where it was or take any photos. There is a squeeze which I'm impressed Martin got through followed by some awkward pitches. These lead to a reasonably sized chamber with some exceptional formations.

-- Alex Crow, Oct. 1, 2019. Category: Caving

Trip Announcement: Mendip 30/08 - 01/09

I have just started making arrangements for a summer trip to the Mendips next weekend. If you are interested in coming, please email me at "president at" Current plans seems to be: staying at the Wessex Hut (if we can get space) on the Friday and Saturday nights with a crash course in SRT followed by a trip down Hunter's Hole (just next to the pub...). Elaine's party is Saturday night AFAIK, and Sunday might be a nice time for a jolly down Swildon's. Crossley's Car: - Crossley - Romaric - Rosana - Marc David's Car: - David - Monika - Maxime - Jon - Chloe Wookey & Tess are no longer planning to go.

-- Tom Crossley, Aug. 21, 2019. Category: News