I started the day climbing into my trusty army issue Marino wool onesie, after reading various trip reports about the water levels of the cave system we were going to be infiltrating today.
Me, Mat and Mark met at horseshoe quarry, obviously it was jam packed as usual, so we switched up to the main road in a lay-by. As we geared up, I scoffed a few bites of food feeling slightly nervous about the system, not particularly re-assured about the smile on Marks face when referring to the ‘Mouse Hole’.. Albeit we finished getting ready and followed the footpath to the entrance.
I followed Mark into small entrance passage only wide enough to crawl single file on our hands and knees into. I tried not to take much notice of the huge arachnids creeping around my helmet.
Mark rigged the entrance pitch, which he made light work of before abseiling down into the first chamber. Unfortunately the rope wasn’t quite long enough so we had to use our climbing skills to bridge the gap, which actually proved to be a fun addition to the beginning of our trip. We removed our SRT gear and tied our bag to the bottom of the rope to retrieve later. We checked the maps and scouted the way on. Which was through a rather tight slippery slot into a downwards rift.. This was really fun, you had to just let gravity do its job to assist your body through the tight twist and turns to the bottom.
Whilst being cautious not to disturb stacked deads all around us. We had to enter the next bit very gently feet first as there are some really rotten stemples supporting the walls and roofs around you. We held our breaths and one at a time passed through, another short down-climb led us to a muddy tube into a surprisingly dry stream.
There were two passages to our left, one slightly tighter than the other, we chose the wider second one. We began a flat out crawl through a phreatic tube.
This continued over a rock dam, which had some plastic that had been used to redirect the water through the tubes, although it wasn’t needed today as the water was so low..
Finally we then we reached a T junction. The way on was straight on through an obscure restriction that required some contortionist moves. We soon found ourself at the impressively tall, high Telescope aven. We then took the left hand route to Lu-Blue sump. An impressive crystal clear water sump into a deep rift. We then backtracked back to the T junction and straight on past the rock dam back into the phreatic tube. We made sure to take the missing section that was extra tight and bought us to the main passage.
This was where things were about to get a bit more sporting. We proceeded to enter ‘nervous breakdown’ a suitably named series of tight sections forming an awkard route onwards, in and out of the stream. We then continued via another very low crawl past Donkey Dong inlet to an increasingly low wet section with our final obstacle, the Mouse Hole. Mark tried to take the dry route but then opted for a face full of water with a quick duck. Me and Mat opted for the dry one but with an extra tight squeeze.
After this we had another tight soggy crawl to ‘route 66’ we stopped here for our chocolate fix. After our quick break we continued with some more crawling, through an increasingly drafty tunnel and into the relief a sandy, soft floored passage. Our poor knees! We past some more rather large black legged creatures and out into the oil drum exit. Now just to walk back down the road to the entrance to retrieve the SRT kit roughly 2 hours 45 minutes after we entered. Receiving very bemused looks from passing cars, we were very muddy! An excellent sporting trip, no doubt. Not a system without its challenges through the tight bits but as it was reasonable in length which made those challenges very enjoyable.