Updated 10th October 2013; 26th September, 5th October, 6th, 7th December 2014; 24th May 2015; 25th October 2016; 20th February, 1st July 2018
Old rope was removed from the system in August 2016. The main pitch was re-bolted. All rope for this pitch and all other pitches has been removed when the cave was completely derigged, August 2017. See the 2016 rigging diagram sketch.
Park at the end of a new piece of road, on a bend above two recently renovated houses. The cave is about 100 metres downhill above a prominent solitary pine tree. As the hole is approached a smallish ash tree and a hazel bush can be seen rising out of a hole on the hillside.
The upper lip is a vertical rock face. The lower grassy lip slopes down steeply to the entrance proper directly below the vertical face. The entrance is 2m high and 4m wide. A rubble slope continues downward at much the same angle to a rock face about 3m high. Above this is a wide ledge and above that is a triangular eye-hole. The chamber is roughly circular, 11m in diameter, and 4m high at its tallest. Directly under the eye-hole on the ledge is a 2.5m round, 5.3m deep shaft through very smooth, almost white rock. This original way on has been by-passed by a dig at the bottom of the wall which leads to the base of the ‘white’ pot. A large passage to the right turns through 90 degrees, then narrows and blocks completely. The continuation of this passage to the left of the white pot gradually lowers and blocks.
The way on lies straight in line with the entrance where the back wall of an alcove, in very, very hard rock was bolted up to a belay at 7m. The wall is only 1.5m thick. Descending the other side gains a 2m wide passage which narrows to a crawl to the edge of a blind pot. A 7m traverse above the pot leads to the edge of a very wide shaft, 14m wide at this point. The pitch descends in 3 steps for a total of 25m. The bottom of the shaft is roughly circular with a diameter of 10m with a couple of alcoves which descend a few more metres and block. On the left of the chamber a 10cm hole draughts well. About 2.5m down the wall seems to undercut and widen. Any further progress will involve a shaft through unstable rubble and need capping and shoring.
The draughting slot in the final chamber was worked at on one trip in August 2013 and again in August 2014, when the breakthrough happened.
A repeatedly capped section allows access to a broken 17m pitch - a 5m drop to a sloping ledge then a rebelay with a 4m drop and another rebelay to a p8 landing on the floor of a rift. One way (heading back to the entrance) has not been looked at; in the north direction, 20m of passage ends at a right hand bend and a 3m diameter shaft, estimated at the time to be about 70m deep.
On the next trip, the pitch was rigged with several bolts at the top and a rebelay about 8m down. The landing was on jammed blocks some 70 to 80m from the pitch top with another large, echoing drop below, including a side rift "which appears to offer the safer way down".
The drop through the boulders was later descended as a p52 into a large chamber about 60m long and 12m wide at the widest. At least two leads to pursue with more tackle were noted: a drop into passage at the south end and, to the north, a smooth-walled meandering vadose trench about 1 metre wide where a rope is also needed. (Sketch). The total pitch depth was measured by altimeter in November 2014 and found to be 125m ± 10m deep. This makes the "best guesses" for the two, separately roped, drops 75m and 44m. See Phil Goodwin's elevation sketch. It was also noted that the floor of the main chamber had been reshaped by floodwater since the summer. The flat silt had gone revealing an entrance to downstream passage (in 3d survey batch 14-03).
Passages from the Main Chamber
Exploration in the main chamber continued on two trips in November 2014.
Up-slope vadose trench The passage meanders gently in a direction of 340° with a general width of about 40cm with widenings at the bends. The initial descent of 8m can be climbed if the boulders are trusted. This is followed by a pitch of 7m, another of 5m and a climb down of about 5m. The pitches are simply washed-out sediment. After about 40m it becomes slightly too tight at the bottom level. However, the rift is about 40m high and draughts inwards so there may be a way through at another level. (Phil Goodwin)
The route was pushed and partly surveyed at Easter 2015 as batch 3812-15-01, with an estimated leg to link to the main centre line. This has been replaced by batch 17-04 at Easter 2017. Just before the rift gets too tight an 8m climb leads to wider passage and a climb/pitch down to a chamber with a narrow outlet (too small for many metres). However, a 20m climb leads to a further passage and a drop down with some water entering on the far wall – this pitch is still to be descended.
A description of the 2017 Easter trip (which didn't reach the logbook) follows:
17th April 2017 - Yoyo 3812 Alex Ritchie, Tom Howard, Chris Scaife, Chris Sharman
The trip was set to continue rigging down from the Big pitch in. Once descended, we continued down the rift off the main chamber and to the final aven. Alex and Chris Sharman proceeded to rig and bolt the final awkward climb whilst Tom and Chris Scaife surveyed in from the final station at the base of the big pitch (main chamber).
We surveyed the rift and finished at the base of a 33m unclimbed aven to be continued in summer. The next plan is a trip to the aven, survey up a climb and bolt across an undescended passage and into unexplored passage - surveying in.
Survey batch for this is 3812-17-04. I have replaced 3812-15-01 with the new 3812-17-04 and linked to the correct station.
A single trip in the summer 2017, derigged the system after it "continued to nowhere exciting".
Downstream There is a hole in the floor of the Main Chamber that has been opened up by water. A series of short climbs between boulders leads down to a short 4m hand line/pitch. At the bottom, in a small chamber, there are two ways on. To the left, after a few metres the passage drops to a crawl before opening up drastically into an aven chamber some 20m high and 4x4m around. There is a confirmed connection with the main chamber at the top of the boulder-slope where the pitch lands.
Back at the chamber below, the crawl, initially a stoop, leads into a tall rift - a dry stream passage. This continues for around 50 meters before developing into a stoop/crawling passage with formations. Some more passage and a low crawl lead to a dead-end aven chamber (climbed by Andrew Latimer). Beyond this the passage chokes at a narrow slit where a boulder choke can be seen around the corner. There is also a head-sized hole with possibly more passage above the choke but it would need digging/capping which could be difficult above head-height.
An ammonite was found by Phil Goodwin lying in a pile of rubble. Although taken to the Natural History Museum, it requires an Iberian ammonite specialist to properly identify it.
Reference: anon., 2013b (Easter logbook); anon., 2013d (summer logbook); anon., 2014d (autumn 2014);
anon., 2015b (Easter logbook); anon., 2016c (summer logbook); anon., 2017c (summer logbook)
Entrance pictures : yes
Underground pictures : Easter 2013 : summer 2013 : autumn 2014
Video : autumn 2014 exploration (YouTube, Alex Ritchie)
Detailed survey : pdf Easter 2013 : sketch of pitches and chamber below p17, 2014
survey after November 2014 - svg - pdf (if downloaded, best with SumatraPDF to view transparency)
2017 survey pdf
Line Survey :
On area survey :
Survex file : yes (after summer 2017) (Amended magnetic declination December 2013 to align with Eur79 grid and coordinates altered to fit ETRS89 datum, April 2014.)
Passage direction rose diagram: 1/7/2018