Saturday 15 November 2008

14th November 2008 - Buy one get one free

Not one cave this week but two. Getting changed on a cold windy evening by the side of the road in Barbondale came as a welcome relief for Dick. For most of the last year he's been staying in a series of luxury hotels ("I'm sure it said hostel" said Sharon) on his round the world trip. We were planning a trip down Crystal Cave, roadside caving at its best, lying only 91m from the road. After about 500m making our way up a streamway we realised we must be in the wrong beck.

Returning to the car and driving about 1km back down the valley, we headed once again up the hillside and soon arrived at the cave entrance.
If you were to ask a child to draw a picture of a cave entrance, they'd probably draw something fairly similar to the dark opening now in front of us. They might not include quite so much water pouring out of it though. Not wishing to share its home with three damp cavers a tiny dipper flew out of the cave as we entered and we were left alone with the spiders and streamway. After only a few metres the cave roof begins to descend and we soon found ourselves lying prone in a babbling brook with no way on for mammals unable to hold their breath underwater for prolonged periods of time. Having only been underground for less than ten minutes we decided we hadn't yet deserved our pint and so returned once again to the car.

Driving ********* ** *** *** *** ***** *** *** **** **** *** ******. ******* ** *** ****** ** ******* ***** ** and arrived at the now beautifully engineered entrance to Cave X.
Making our way through the sporting entrance series we soon arrived in the large chamber offering a choice of ways on. We headed first of all upstream admiring the stunning helictites that were so fine they looked like moss.

Helictites in Cave X

For the second time of the evening we were halted by sumped passageway and so after retracing our steps began the journey through jumbled boulders, following the water deeper into the cave.

Dick at pitch head - without ladder :(

With no ladder on the pitch we briefly explored up another streamway before Dick was given a lesson in using the camera and a return to the surface.

Dicks first go at "proper" cave photography

Phil now has this caving lark completely worked out and he was just moving onto pudding as we joined him in the pub.

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