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Sunday, 30 December 2012

Local Walk round up 2012

Locally we've spent a fair amount of time in our local woods - Stoke Park. I joined a facebook group of the same name, and we joined in walks by a chap called Steve England, Lockleaze's answer to Ray Mears. We went along to a history walk, mushroom walk & bat watching evening. The bat watching was truly amazing and one of the best things I've ever done. Looking at the mushrooms was pretty amazing too, I had no idea there were so many things to be seen in the woodland.


Making fire using mushrooms

After school

On my own coughing my guts up with a cold sunday stroll

Bat walk sunset

After the rains...foam in the natural spring

A high river Frome

More weird fungus

Before the floods we had some sunny times in Blaise Castle

Discovered a lovely beach in Cleavdon

It all got a bit wet in Wetmoor woodland

Returned to Blaise Castle, bit of a fear testing drop

We did an Avebury walk too organised by Brian of the walking group

We got hit by some pretty heavy showers

Swimming round up 2012

Despite being 100% rubbish at it another one of my passions is swimming outdoors. I don't take part in distance swims, or organised swims, I just like to get in the water when I can and enjoy the surrounding, how awake it makes me feel and the buzzing feeling afterwards. You get a different perspective on things when you are in the water and there is nothing better for muscle ache than having a swim.

Swimming started off (or tried to start off in March) in the Arans. The lake is at 500 metres and there had been snow the week before. I tried my hardest to have a swim but managed nothing more than a brief submersion. I want to return to this area next spring and have some proper swims

In April we went to the Lake District. It snowed and there was still snow on the ground when we did the Fairfield Horseshoe. I managed to not do my camel back up properly and lost nearly all the water in the boot of the car, ended up having to melt snow in a bottle to drink as there was no water on the tops! I ran out an hour or two from the end so seeing the river at the bottom felt like a mirage descending the steep slope. The water looked so beautiful and blue Steve and I goaded each other into swimming. It was freezing but we did manage a dip.

We did a walk in May taking in Chartist cave and to look at some of the pools up there. We found one deep enough for swimming. Getting in and out of it was a bit comedy though due to the steeply sloping mud banks

Here I am looking a bit cold

A Dartmoor camp in June saw a few more chilly immersions!

A few swims were had at Farleigh and Warleigh water levels quite high

A few swims also had in Clevedon Marine Lake

And a swim at Sgwd y Eira post caving, it was raining and cold!

A wild camp in the Arenigs saw two swims one in each lake. The swim in the lake below Llyn Arenig Fach was lovely, I could have stayed in there all day but my tea cooking on the stove got me out in the end!

This is at Llyn Arenig Fawr, first thing in the morning very chilly!

A summer holiday to the Rhinog mountains saw some glorious swimming, mainly sea based. Lovely sandy beaches. We even saw dolphins! We also spent the day at Nantcol waterfalls which was awesome

It was so hot on our last day coming down Rhinog to this lake and getting straight in was fantastic. It was an epic long day of some very rough terrain, had to stop though for a swim

Swimming at sunset

For our second week in N Wales the weather for rubbish so not really much swimming. Had a dip in one of the little streams near the holiday cottage. Even Emma went in after much goading!

Despite paranoia about bad water quality it looked very clear so we went in at Llandudno (I didn't get ill)

Finally managed to have a swim in Llyn Idwal which I'd been wanting to do for ages -it was a bit choppy!

We did a walk in the Brecon Beacons were we managed to get in a lake swim and a number of dips in the river. I gave up putting my walking gear back on and just walked in my swim stuff which probably caused some amusement when we passed the DOE group

We had a weekend camping in the Brecon Beacons managed to cram in a couple of post walk swims

This Blaen Y Glyn

This is near Water Break it's Neck waterfall. We couldn't fnid any pools deep enough for a swim so had a shower

I went on a scrambling weekend in October and couldn't help but get in Llyn Idwal again, it was a little cold! Too cold for photos.

Another swim was had in October which was my last swim of the year :(

Caving round up 2012

I've not posted a blog for a while, lack of time, energy, motivation.. or all three - sorry

This post in a an end of year summary of caving trips. I had a few goals at the start of the year. To take more responsibility for cave navigation, to take Emma caving some more and to learn some rope work. I won't go on about it too much as those who know me know I do enough of that anyway, but not having a car and needing childcare to go caving always means it takes me forever to learn something and despite having been caving a few years now I'd still class myself as a total novice which makes me sad.

Emma's been on a number of easy caving trips, she'd be capable of harder but I'm not a capable leader to take her into the bigger more exciting systems. We started the year off doing a freezing Ogof Clogwyn trip (not sure why we thought January would be a good idea for this!) Later on in the year we did Eglwys Faen, Swildon's Hole, Hunters Lodge Inn Sink, Try Caving with the YSS, Goatchurch and Loxton Cave. She probably enjoyed Swildon's the best, she liked all the water and formatons. I love how kids notice all the things you normally don't give a second thought. She also did a very good job at pointing out fossils I'd not noticed before. She loved getting to descend into a cave via a rope with the YSS for the first time and was impressed with the formations in HLIS

We also enjoyed a day underground with Go Below doing one of their mine adventure trip. Emma enjyoed laughing at me nearly bailing out of an abseil!

Emma in Goatchurch drainpipe

Ogof Clogwyn

Eglwys Faen

Ladder in HLIS

Formations HLIS

Very muddy post HLIS

Long dry pretty way Swildon's - big smiles

Loxton Cave

Try caving with the YSS

We also went on the Gaping Gill winch which was blooming scary. So proud of Emma for going for it. I kept my eyes open too!

Aside from kiddy caving I also went caving with my Dad for the first time ever. He caved for a long time before I was born and sometime after. He's been to the end of many cave systems and dig some digging in his time. He quit caving before I was old enough to join in. Hunters Lodge Inn Sink is a cave next to the pub (Hunters Lodge) which was found during the foot and mouth crisis when cavers weren't able to go caving due to having to cross non accessible land to get to the caves. They asked the landlord if they could dig in the car park where they could see water sinking. The cave is a very pretty cave and my Dad having spent many post caving trips in the Hunters was keen to see it. It was good being able to take my Dad caving and to show him I knew what I was doing.


This year was my first visit to Eastwater cave. Virtually ever caver I'd ever met had told me horrible stories about it, even my Dad described the oppressive feeling of the black rock. I REALLY didn't like the boulder choke, but aside from that found it an enjoyable cave. I'd really like to return next year (if I can find anyone to join me..) to see more of it.

We had a few trips to Fairy Quarry Caves (during the summer when the bats weren't sleeping). First was an easy trip into Hilliers. I had no camera so stole Dave's and took some photos. Short of trip ideas another evening Tim, Steve and I returned to the cave with the intention of getting to the Red Room. I led most the way (navigation success hooray, it is virtually linear though..). We spent a fair amount of time taking photos and plan was to exit via fairy. Tim went through the duck with the final words of he wasn't coming back through it. I tried to go through a few times but couldn't do it, so the group had to split up with Steve and I returning through Hillers at a fair pace as I was soaked. Pretty cross with myself for bailing out. Despite doing tons of outdoor swimming the temp of the water made me go into cold shock and I couldn't get my breath to go through the duck despite sitting in it for a long time trying to catch it. I intend to return in the summer and defeat some of those demons.

I think this is my fave cave photo I've ever taken - Hilliers

We had 3 trips to Lional's Hole also - a Burrington Combe cave notorious for being hard to navigate. Thankfully Tim had been there before and had some of the route figured out. After our second introductory trip we returned with Tim and successfully did the round trip - after lots of dead ends and explores. It's one of those caves you really don't want to look up in - lots of boulders carefully balanced on each other above your head.. Lots of loose rock under foot in the cave too so you have to be careful not to knock anything on anyones head. We returned again and re did the round trip, Steve was pleased he remembered the way, and I was pleased we didn't get our companion stuck in any of the squeezes.

The survey doesn't always make complete sense

My Welsh cave tally is still very low, a trip into Ogof Cnwc happened early on in the year. In November I got to see the Aggie Steamway for the first time which was very exciting and impressive. I really hope to revisit the cave more next year. We had a summer trip to Little Neath Cave which I loved. I was suffering from a bad bad though on the trip and all the stooping nearly killed me. I managed to go flying tripping on a rock in the streamway too (my first big cave fall) I came away with just a bruised ego thankfully. I guess with the Welsh caves it's always a bit of a dilemma as it's really a weekend trip, and my mountain trips tend to be on the weekends so it's a toss up of what to do. I'd like to learn some of the routes in OFD next year and also visit Daren which I've not been in either.

Aggie streamway formations

We've had a few club celebration trips too - we went to the bitter end of Goatchurch for Jennie's Birthday. Candles on a squashed muffin were had.

Formations in Goatchurch? Yes!

After much pestering we had a club Christmas trip in the Swildon's Upper Series  - sickness and work took out half the club but those of us who showed up had a good time. Crackers, mulled wine, mince pies, charades and carols were all had

I took my partner Mike caving a few times too. We visited some of the Burrington Caves and also did Swildons Upper Series to the top of the 20 and back. He enjoyed this. We then (tried to) do Ogof Nant Rhin - the combination of tight entrance, scaffolding and stream to pull yourself through put Mike off and despite a few attempts he decided it wasn't for him. On the plus side of things I am now very comfortable with with the entrance series of the cave having been through it a number of times. I will be returning next year to see the cave proper and take some photos. We ended up taking off our oversuits and drying round the other side of the valley to do Clogwyn. My resounding memory of the day is being cold, very cold! Then the gloriousness of the fire and tea and biscuits in the Lamb and Flag made it all better..

Ivan, Scott, Steve and I also had a Sunday bimble in GB visiting some of the bits we'd not gone before. It was good to cave on a Sunday rather than as an evening trip as we would go at a much slower pace, and have a catch up as we'd not caved together for a while. The leftover Pizza I had in my helmet caused much amusement (jealousy I think!)

I had a brief trip to Rods Pot where again I showed my fear of heights hadn't totally gone and refused to climb down something. As previously mentioned in the blog there were too Epic-y Swildon's trips and lessons were learned. Do not leave your car keys under a tussock (Steve). Make sure you take a novice somewhere easier before Swildon's even if they sound like they have experience and will cope.

It's been very wet in the South West this year, we had a bit of a tricky drive to the Mendips in the rain one evening. The stream which is normally a trickle and had turned into a raging torrent taking over the footpath, heading over the road and raging into Avelines Hole. On the plus side we did make it into Sidcot Swallet and Scott conquered his Nemesis the Lobster Pot. We failed to make it to the end of the cave, the way on being filled with water and none of fancying bailing it esp with more water dripping into the cave.

This is the footpath

Go Scott!

Water gushing into Avelines

I've probably forgotten trips, all in all a good years caving. New years cave resolutions:
- Actually get to practice rope work in a cave situation
- Visit: Daren, Charterhouse Cave, Route find in OFD (taking Emma there too), Route finding in Aggie (taking Emma there when learn't) explore Eastwater some more, do the ruddy duck in Fairy photograph the Crystals in Welsh's Green Swallet
- Cave in Yorkshire