A late trip down under!
What better way to spend a cold, dark, wet, wild and windy, winters, Wednesday night……. Than a trip underground?
“Let’s go caving” they said. Brr the thought of the cold cave on a winter’s night brought a chill to my spine!
“I’m in, I’ll come!” Did I really just say that? Did they hear me?
“Right Wednesday it is then!” Damn they heard me! No backing out now!
Wednesday night fast approached. We pile into the van and off we go! We stop on route for some food to keep our energy up! We are feeling lucky so each by a scratch card! The boys are a flop- Losers! But me?? £15 win WOOOOO!! Back in the van spirits are high and chat of the cave commences! I can’t help but notice that it hasn’t stopped raining since we got in the van! Is this a good idea??
Talk of the weather is broached and out comes the good old iPhone to check for weather updates and rainfall measurements. It is going to carry on raining! Apparently if we get down there and the water is looking high then we can just head back out! There is also a flood escape route! Marc doesn’t look convinced though! Glad I’m not the only one!
We pull up at the road side, the wind is howling too! No one wants to get out but we all need a wee! Which way shall we face to avoid splash back? I manage to make it unscathed! We head into the back of the van and begin gearing up! Caving suit, wellies and helmets on, we are ready to face the elements again! Is it just me or am I the only one looking forwards to getting in this cave now? It’s freezing out here and the wind is really strong! Will we even have a van to come back to? It might blow away!
As we approach the cave entrance I can’t help but feel like we are being watched. Who knew that sheep eyes glowed in the dark! We seem to be surrounded by pairs of glowing eyes! Weird! We open up the lid and I am awestruck! I have never seen anything like it. It looks like what I can only describe as 40 metres of scrambling/squirming and squeezing hell! Marc jumps in and takes the lead, Dan prompts me to follow! Big deep breath I do as I’m told. The shaft we enter is no bigger than a large man hole cover. We squirm and worm our way into the deep, damp, dark cave. We squeeze through tight sections, slither through damp sections until we make it to large open chamber! I can’t believe how big it is? How can all this be beneath a hole in the ground barely big enough to get my body in?
Marc and I look at Dan! ‘Is this a usual amount of water then?’ He nods and reassures us that it is fine. It is only calf deep and there is a flood passage after all should we need it. I hope we don’t! We snake our way down some winding passages wading through the water. The cave boasts amazing features including huge flow stones and super long straws hanging from the ceiling. I am amazed how warm it is down here!
We take it in turns to lead on! When it is my turn we head up to what looks like a cave dig to have a nosy. We crawl on our hands and knees through the narrow passage to explore. It goes on forever, I find it hard to imagine how they would dig it out, carrying the dirt and rubble on their backs. Do they do this for fun?? The tunnel goes on forever, like the great escape, I imagine them digging with spoons! We get to a part of the tunnel which is supported with wooden planks. This gives me a shiver as we pass it, we would be stuck if the passage collapsed in at this point! I quickly crawl on! When we reach the end there is just enough space to turn around and head back. Why did I forget my knee pads? I wonder if they ever found what they were looking for?
Next it is Dan’s turn to lead and he takes us down a narrow rocky, muddy and wet side passage. Water trickles its way down to my toes. Brr- hopefully the neoprene socks will kick in sharpish! I can’t say that is all that enjoyable down this passage, rocks digging into my knees, cold tingley toes, mud caked hands and nothing but a view of Dan’s derriere- total eclipse!!! As we reverse back out I am glad of the open chamber once again.
Dan is adamant that there is a secret passage/chamber down here to explore. He heard it on the caving grapevine! We squirm in and out of several passages but it seems this one is beyond us! We give in and decide to head back out. Every now and then as we wander back down the wide passage Dan shoots off “this must be it” “it must be this one” it’s definitely down here somewhere”.
Perhaps this was one of those tricks that new employees often play! Like sending you to the shop for a long stand or a bucket of steam! This didn’t dampen our spirits! We headed back towards the entrance, the passage way was cleverly marked with a green plastic tag! It is clear to see why- it could have easily been missed!
We scramble up and out! It was much easier than I imagined it would be after the epic decent inside. Thank goodness the van is still there! We clamber in! Time to commence operation ultimate team bonding! Trying to maintain our modesty whilst stripping off down to our smalls in the back of the van amongst bikes and oodles of kit!
As we head home the only logical next step is to talk over our trip with a nice cold pint! Beers on on me (I’m £15 up after all).
Until next time ……