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Provisional's Weekend

by PCW ~, 24 October 2012

We had a record turn-out for this year's Beginners and Provsionals weekend at the start of October. No less than 35 new folk went caving, and on saturday there were 6 trips undergound! All very ably organised by Claire, who was supported by many members leading trips and cooking a fine evening meal.

Rather than try to write anything myself, I think I will leave it to some of those who came caving at the weekend - in their own words.

From Mark Perris: What a weekend!!!! I arrived on Friday evening in the dark with a misty rain falling with a touch of apprehension as I didn't know anybody else attending before arriving. Having had a quick tour of the building, I joined a group of members in the long common room, and chatted to fellow first time attendees and long standing members. We also enjoyed a slide show presentation on Greenland and a caving video.

The Saturday morning soon arrived, and having had a small amount of experience previously, I set off with Andy, Antonia, Stuart, Dyfed and Sarah for the top entrance of OFD. We soon descended heading through The Maze, Salubrious Passage, the Corkscrew and Crossroads to name a few with some amazing features having been seen, all explained superbly by Andy. Having left around 11.00am we arrived back at the surface at about 3.30pm, the exertion had taken its toll and I was exhausted as we descended the slope back to the cottage.

We got back to much chatter amongst all and despite my previous apprehension the atmosphere was superb, with members making everybody feel hugely welcome and very much a part of the club.

Dinner that evening was excellent, and again conversations between all were flowing. Later, we again enjoyed some video and photographic footage of caving expeditions.

On Sunday, I enjoyed a great trip through the lower entrance with Tony, Jem and Claire which helped round off a superb weekend, despite the exhausting climb back up the hill after. Again, some amazing features and some excellent caving. The advice and support from my fellow cavers, enhanced the whole experience. We returned to a hot cup of tea and shower, before I eventually headed off home, with a firm intention of returning very soon. Much thanks to all, especially Claire for the organisation and Tony & Andy for being great cave leaders on my trips.

Andy delights the room with his action videos This young lady felt quite at home "I used to be afraid of the dark"!

Jo and Piers's team

From Colin Hough: I like caves and have been to several show caves, but the only caving I had done before last weekend was a single very tame afternoon on a school trip over twenty years ago, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I came along with a minimum of kit (wellies, helmet and some old waterproofs) and an open mind.

The experience was far more than I could have hoped for. This was not just a trek into some caves. This was an adventure. We made our way across very rocky, uneven passages, through vast cavern. We traversed deep holes in narrow passages, edging along braced against the walls with only a drop below us. We crossed a narrow ledge overlooking a waterfall as it cascaded into an abyss beneath us. We marvelled at the wonderful and bizarre geological formations which had been created over the centuries. We crawled through narrow muddy passages, squeezed through holes which looked barely large enough to fit through, clambered over ledges and slid down muddly slopes.

We eventually emerged, nearly three hours later, caked in mud, exhausted but exhuberant. It was a fantastic experience. Walking on an irregular surface caused the muscles in my legs to be very tense throughout. I didn't realise how much so until I got home and they started aching. At times it was terrifying, it was often magnificent and invariably muddy, but I will definitely return. If you decide to give it a try there are a few key lessons that you should follow.

Rent a proper caving overall. You need something sturdy to wear and if you don't, your clothes will not only get filthy, but trashed.
Bring a change of clothes, because you are likely to get wet. (wetsuit socks are also a great idea)
Bring some chocolate. You will get tired quicker than you expect and the sugar will help keep you going.
Most of all bring along a spirit of wonder and sense of adventure. You will not be disapponted.

The wonders of Gnome Passage . and anastamosing channels or "proto caves"

Piers and Peter's team

Hi Claire

Thank you so much for arranging the Caving experience this weekend - I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Driving home I was reflecting and thinking how on earth did I manage "that"! - rather scary at times, but sooo glad I did it! Thank you to yourself, Gary and - it goes without saying- to Chris and Clark, our leaders, for their support, encouragement and perseverance when I started to "fluster" (What an under-estimate!) phew!

Thanks for everything, Jinny

Chris and Clark's team

James is in fact in charge . . .
Yea, great trip! Getting clothing and gear ready
Harvey and Blanca's team Vince and Bill's team