Glevum Hall to Squiggly Bit
16 December 2003 by Martin
Introduction by Royston:
After our Dweebland trip it was obvious we needed to know something about the nature of the cave on the ‘other side’ – in Agen Allwedd – so that we could plan for a future smoke test with teams in each cave to spot where (hopefully) smoke would emerge. We decided on an after-work evening trip to the end of Priory Road. Martin and I were joined by Andrew Walker, an enthusiast from Derbyshire who biked down for the trip.
We entered the cave at 8:20pm and signed in. First Boulder Choke was passed fairly competently and we soon emerged at Main Passage. Heading left down here I was surprised to see a couple of bats roosting on floor level boulders. After a few minutes we arrived at the slope that goes down to Southern Stream Passage and headed in. This passage is notorious, and rightly so, but not for any real difficulty, simply for its long and tedious nature. After what seemed like days we found the ropes up to Gothic Passage, got up to the junction, and turned left into the Priory Road series. This is great caving, reminiscent of parts of OyDC, and it goes quite swiftly. We got to an area of solution tubes and spotted a rope heading up one of these. A few more steps tooks us to the Glevum Hall region.
Glevum Hall is tall: very tall. I would like to say that it is the last large bit of cave before Friday 13th in OyDC (but that presupposes too much!). There is a 15m ladder climbing into the upper reaches of Glevum Hall. We had no idea where this went, but is obviously of interest for the future (Royston and Andrew were especially interested).
From Glevum Hall, we followed a series of horizontal solution tubes towards the end of the cave. Just before the final tube (with a burly little lump in the roof that impedes progress), there is a small chamber formed from a trench. At the base of the trench are some vertical potholes in the floor. These potholes are perhaps five or more metres deep and could probably be descended with care. If Dweebland is lower than the end of Aggy, then it would be very interesting to investigate these potholes. When we were in Dweebland a month ago, I noticed that there is a circular chamber that we did not enter in the end of Dweebland (the NE corner of Updweeb): is this related to these potholes in some way? I now wish that I had draft tested these potholes.
Exiting from the solution tubes, we arrived in Severn Beach: a low chamber with small passages leading off in several directions. Royston investigated a passage at the SW corner of the chamber, but it didn’t look too promising.
We left Andrew at Severn Beach as Royston and I crawled to the far east end of the chamber and descended a slope into a very tight crawl. This crawl ended up going slightly upwards into Birthday Surprise. This chamber is low with a descending way on (possibly once a choke before ‘alteration’). The base of the way on looked really tight and would require me to turn from the vertical to a horizontal squeeze in a very small space. I really didn’t like the look of this (I imagined getting stuck and then couldn’t envisage being able to reverse the move). I went in feet first (possibly the first time I have ever done this in a cave). It was a certainly a tight little section to negotiate, but it was soon over and I was in Sick Parrot Chamber.
Sick Parrot Chamber looks a forlorn place these days. There appears to be a camp here, but it might simply be a place where the diggers set up a rest area (along with sleeping bags, a stove etc.). It did not look at all hospitable and the floor does not seem to be smooth enough to sleep on. One wall of Sick Parrot Chamber consists of stacked spoil (in dry stone wall format), the other wall consists of old drums and stoves.
Royston waited in Sick Parrot Chamber as I hesitantly set off down the squiggly bit (this tunnels through Mother Of All Battles choke). I set off crawling over an old piece of rotten wood (suggesting that no-one had been here for years). Soon after this, there is a slight drop at a point where there is scaffolding and wood braced across the top of the passage to help secure the roof. Another drop entered another slight enlargement (it could in no way be described as a chamber); scaffolding was again braced across the roof. I crawled beneath a dubious looking boulder (thankfully, this wasn’t overly tight, but was not spacious either) to a tiny chamber. At this point I decided to turn round as there was a piece of scaffolding in the floor of the passage covered with small boulders: it looked as though something had come out of the roof. I could see the passage curving off to the right ahead of me (there was a small boulder in it that looked as though it had come from the roof of the tiny chamber). I could sense the tiny chamber going up and left, but I didn’t have the guts to have a look around. There was a drip of water on the far wall at my furthest point (the first water I had seen in Priory Road). I turned myself around as carefully as possible and gingerly crawled out to Royston.
I was too emotionally drained to recount my findings to Royston (and he wasn’t that receptive given that it was half past midnight and we were 3 hours from the surface). I got the Testo out and measured the drafts. The outward draft from the Squiggly Bit (that I had been down) was 0.08m/s. The strongest draft was at ground level (I generally found this to be the case: the draft seems to hug the ground, I know not why). The draft from The Bunker was stronger at 0.15m/s (again at ground level). Interestingly, this latter draft was in a larger section of passage suggesting a greater volume flow rate of air from this direction. It was however not completely clear to me that the draft was coming from The Bunker: it might have been coming from an undug section of the cave going parallel to (and about 1m east of) the Squiggly Bit.
It was good to get out of Sick Parrot and back to Andrew (who was quite cold by this time: we had been away for about 45 minutes). We had a Capri Sun drink and a Snickers each (I devoured mine somewhat ungraciously in three chews!) and contemplated the journey out…
My overall impression was that there is much promise at the end of Aggy. There is a definite draft and the cave is pretty similar to OyDC (the rock architecture was reminiscent of the further reaches of OyDC).