|By Mr. President, 24 April 2002|
Royston, Martin, Dave
We picked up the key in Ebbw vale 15 minutes before time with only minor comment on my driving.
I had forgotten how decorated this cave was almost as soon as we entered there were straws. I was trailing the speed merchants most of the way leaving less time to observe the water pools and gours as the other two.
The one part of the cave I remembered was a nasty little climb with a rope over a 2o-30 foot drop got my adrenaline going and me reminscing about my leaner figure last time 7 years ago that I visited this cave. Luckily Royston eventually took pity on me and provided the vital foothold (his shoulder) and I was up!
After that there was a spiralling upward route through the boulder choke that Royston shot up and I snagged my side bag at every opportunity for a rest. Eventually I took it off but me and Martin emerged only to find Royston had taken to solo exploration.
We then had a muddy walk/crawl to the hall of the mountain king where comments were passed about Rachel must have passed this way before, there were definitely a tell-tale trail through the mud.
Martin took loads of pictures when we reached the hall of the mountain king and on the way out. Hopefully they will do justice to this wonderful cave.
Last time I was in the cave we poked our head down an inviting streamway (near the entrance) full of blue-green water. My memory was of it starting ankle deep, and one of my deepest regrets was that we did not go down it. Well we were ahead of schedule for an ethical caving trip. So down we went, it was waist deep almost immediately and sharp gasps and emmissions of breath later and it was over my nipples. Royston and Martin were not to be stopped but even they were commenting about it being the longest 90 metres they had seen. This was followed by 500 metres walking and boulder hopping to a dig at the end, complete with minature railway (much to Royston's amusement). We got nervous at rotting timbers and signs of obvious recent collapse covering the railway track. When I returned the key it was remarked that they had abandoned the dig because no one was prepared to risk digging it. Anyhow we turned around to make sure we would be ethically correct.
We were out just after 10:00pm, the trip taking a little over two hours even with the wet detour.
On the way I had doubted Martin and Roystons ability to memorise the route from the guide. so I had placed the guide in my oversuit pockey. The wet detour totally soaked "cave of south wales" making me regret my lack of faith. Mind you all those tapes place by the cave W**** actually helped alot despite Royston not appreciating their efforts. Thankfully Royston advised me to stick the guide in the Microwave before it dried out. At home after 8 minutes into the microwave the guide emitting steam from every page was back in a less than pristine state but definitely useable. Thanks for the tip Royston.
After such a trip we got a little cocky in the final execution of the ethics. We decide to head over to the the Lamb and Fox the pub near to Ogof Draenen. None of us had been there before, and as we were in full flight over dark moorland at 10:40pm we were doubting whether we would see it. Martin took us to the only pub on the moorland he knew, but this was not it and it was closed. We were getting desperate perhaps we would have to risk a pub in the valleys. Martin was worried about getting a head full of shoe leather. However consulting the soggy 'caves of south wales' restored our confidence in Martin who directed us to the Lamb and Fox and two pints of theakston's.
The trip to the Hall of the mountain king is clearly a trip that is viable as a non-speed caving trip. It is very well decorated and would be worth another trip. I will take a ladder and cows tails for a return trip for the dodgy climb.
Put it in your diary Rachel.
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