Saturday 8 November 2008

7th November 2008 - A new season begins

The clocks have gone back and there's a chill in the air so John has declared the TNC caving season open.
As a nice opening trip we decided upon a gentle, SRTless return visit to Notts II.

First trip of the year

No matter how many times you descend through the patchwork of building materials that make up the dug entrance to Notts II, I don't think you can fail to me impressed by the commitment and tenacity of its instigators.
The scafolding, breeze blocks and ladders soon bring you into the natural passageway of Inlet 13, which inturn connects with the main streamway. Heading up stream following the deeply cut vadose trench we meandered up to the Tay Bridge which, not heeding McGonagall's advice, seems a little short on butresses as it spans over the down cut trench, just before the nick point.
Leaving the trench the passageway takes on a much more open appearance and the fast flowing stream is replaced by more slowly moving water that requires wading in places.
Having safely negotiated Vlad the Impaler, we took a brief but worthwhile detour to see the fantastic formations in Curry Inlet (Inlet 6).

Beautiful cascade in Curry Inlet

Continuing up the main streamway once again soon brought us to the junction with Inlet 5 which begins as a 190m tunnel which almost seems as though it was mined. It's worth keeping an eye out for the pockets in the roof, some of which contain small groups of helictites.
Though the sump at the end of the passage way looks inviting we chose instead to turn right along a short crawl into a chamber with some fine and unusual formations.

Unusual formations in Inlet 5

The way on lead up a short climb with an in situ rope. None of us having been to stay in a Spa hotel before, we couldn't be sure, but from the passage beyond we felt we had idea of why people go to them. Under subdued lighting, fine mud oozed into every pore and our bodies were massaged by the stumps of stalagmites hidden within it. All the while we were surrounded by truly majestic surroundings. Tom had even torn open the seat of his caving suit to allow the theraputic mud to penetrate even deeper.

Just like a spa break

As with all good things though, the passage finished to soon at another, larger chamber, the limit of our evening's exploration.

The furthest point of our exploration

Back once again in the main streamway, the crystal clear water was soon muddied as we washed off the acumulated mud. Tom even produced a sponge!

View a 4 minute video of the reality of this trip! Click Here

Click here for full screen slide show

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