Words and Pictures by Mark Burkey
Claire, Duncan, Mark H, Jess and I arrived at the car park at the unholy
hour of 08.15 to be met by our guide for the day Paul Taylor. Our first
stop after suiting up was to take a look from the view point down at river
Wye winding its way down the valley. Paul pointed out where the cave was
to us and we then headed down through the dense undergrowth.
The gated entrance to the cave gives no indication of what is in store
and I knew nothing other than the cave was tidal and it would be muddy,
so I was in for a real treat!
After signing the logbook we headed in. The entrance series is immediately
flat out and muddy but soon opens out in to larger passage. We soon made
our way over Pyramid Step, down Breakdown Passage to the tidal sump. Here
we paused to have some refreshment and listen to stories of the cave's
original discovery from Paul.
The water level below the 'Eye Hole' was fairly low and we quickly paddled
our way through, up the ladder and through choke 1. After a short traverse
we were again plodding our way through larger passage to easy stream way
to the second choke.
After this we took some time to wash ourselves off thoroughly before heading
through more muddy passage in the Link Crawl!
Hall of 30 from above
Reaching 'The Extension' we were immediately wowed by the pretty formations
before us. Every corner we turned seemed to impossibly become prettier
than the last until the huge stalagmites and stalactites of the Hall of
30 loomed in to view to take our breath away. We could have happily spent
the entire day with the formations we had already passed, but there was
still more to come. We continued on to 'Long Straw Chamber' passing more
beautiful curtains, stal's and columns of colours varying from Black to
pure white dripping from ceilings that at one point became the brightest
Hall of 30 from below
We had spent a fair amount of time drinking in the beauty of the cave
to Long Straw Chamber and decided at this point that rather than rush
through to the end we would spend some time on our return journey taking
pictures and re-visiting Otter's amazing chambers.
After further fun slipping and sliding through the mud on our way out
we headed up the hill to give each other a good scrubbing at the bathtub
before finally changing back at the car park and saying our farewells.
On a personal note I would just like to thank Claire for all her hard
work in organising these events, Paul Taylor for giving his time to lead
us and the very interesting history told to us during the trip, and Mark
H, Duncan and Jess who were great fun to cave with in this amazingly beautiful
Present: Claire Vivian, Mark Hampson, Duncan Hornby, Jessica Harding
& Mark Burkey