Caving again? After yesterday?

After Upper Flood the day before, we planned for a relaxing trip into G.B. cave on Sunday. First we went to Wells for a greasy breakfast, and to enjoy a bit of the sunshine. Suitably fortified, we headed back to Charterhouse, and were underground (after a bit of confusion about where the cave was) at 1pm. We planned a straightforward trip to Bat Passage, the far end of the cave, and back, but with only a brief description (handwritten by Rachel) and an unhelpfully low-res survey, we were relying on Jo’s memories of the cave from 10 years earlier.

The entrance was straightforward, and we quickly found ourselves in The Gorge, an impressively large passage that descends steeply with the roof far above. Half way down there’s an awkward looking pitch, and unfortunately this was the point at which Jo announced that she’d never been in that part of the cave before. Happily, the steep section turned out to be simple with a little help from the description, and quite quickly we reached the Main Chamber, and the start of the Ladder Dig. Unfortunately, the Ladder Dig is 15m up from the floor, so we had an entertaining climb using two bolts in the wall and a chain, and involving connecting each end of a ladder in turn to the bolts, then climbing as high as possible to connect the other end to the next bolt.

After the ladder, a crawl led into Helictite Chamber, where we met a large group of French cavers who told us they had bailed the puddle in the next crawl, but then decided not to go through! We took advantage of their hard work, and passed through into the largest pile of boulders I’ve ever seen. After a decent amount of wandering about aimlessly, we eventually found a route through the boulders and into Bat Passage, beautifully decorated with flowstone and stals.

I took loads of pictures of Bat Passage (the payoff for dragging the camera down there), then we headed back out, only to immediately get lost in the boulders. We spent fifteen or so minutes climbing between huge rocks the size of cars in a 3d maze, trying to spot the boot prints of previous explorers. Eventually we recognised part of our route in, but were still left looking for the exit—a hole about half a metre square between the boulders. We were just starting to get worried when Rachel finally spotted it, and we made our way back through the crawl and down the ladder, with a nice piece of rigging from Rachel ensuring we could retrieve all our gear. All that remained was the climb back up the Gorge and out the entrance. It wasn’t quite the easy trip we’d planned, but it was lots of fun and we were out in time for icecream in Cheddar!

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