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Legacy Logs

All pages containing trip logs (among other things) from the old wiki have been preserved (complete with formatting) in the legacy section of the archive.

The CUCC Blog

Goatchurch & Swildons

2020-12-05 Along with Zephyr and Frankie, the trip was my first time caving whilst it was Ahu and Andrew’s second trip. Thanks to Wassil and Romaric for showing us the ropes. We met bright and early on Saturday morning and loaded up the far too small cars before setting off for the Mendips. Frankie’s car conveniently “forgot to stop” at Tesco, leaving us to cram all the food into our already overcrowded vehicle, which proved more than a little difficult. Once everyone was appropriately kitted up, we headed off to Goatchurch Cavern for our first introduction to caving. Initially the steep entrance into the cave surprised me as it was more challenging than I was expecting but we quickly got the hang of it and learned to squeeze through sections such as the appropriately named ‘bloody tight’ and ‘hellish tight’. The ladder provided the main source of drama, with Wassil insisting that it was not a dead end, whilst Romaric (who was actually down there) was sure that it was. Once Wassil had taken a look for himself and concluded that there was no way through, we continued further into the cave. We stopped again at the ladder on the way back for the rest of the group to go down and take a look. A large rock formation obstructing the way back up trapped Ahu for several minutes before she eventually managed to squeeze out. Surprisingly, after all this, Andrew was still keen to have a turn. By now, we were getting more confident and enjoying exploring and coming up with our own routes. Before we headed out, we all stopped and turned off our torches to experience the complete blackness of the cave, which was a little unnerving at first. We set up camp in the dark and began the slow process of barbecuing the vegetables for dinner. Later in the evening, we were joined by Ben and Henry from Bristol and succeeded in getting a fire going with a little help from 6 litres of diesel. It wasn’t until the majority of the beers were finished that the last of the group finally called it a night at about 4:30am. The cavers rose about midday, some slightly hungover, others well rested, with Zephyr even declaring it the best night’s sleep he’d had all week. It was nearly 3pm by the time breakfast had been cooked and the tents packed up. The group then split, with Ahu, Andrew and Frankie returning to Cambridge whilst the remaining four headed off to Swildon’s Upper Series. By the time we arrived, it was already getting dark and the entrance directly into the streamway looked a bit on the cold side. However, as soon as we set off we fast warmed up and I think exploring the streamways and climbing the waterfalls was probably my favourite part of the weekend. The climb to the exit was by far the most challenging part of the trip and I was very aware of almost getting stuck on multiple occasions. Zephyr and I were surprised to find that the exit came up inside a hollow tree, something we’d been told about on the way in but hadn’t quite believed was true. By now it was getting late so we packed up the even more crowded car ready for the journey back . A quick stop off at a Palestinian takeaway in Bristol (far more unusual sounding than a chinese) saw us back in Cambridge for not long after midnight. All in all it was a fantastic weekend and I can say with certainty that I’ll be back underground at the first possible opportunity.

-- Alice Kirby, Jan. 17, 2024. Category: Caving