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All Posts

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

South Wales

2021-12-03 After rushing down to the tackle store for 5pm, where the only other on time person was Marie, Alice, Oakem, and Natalie waited nearly half an hour for the rest of the group to show up, hoping one of them would have a set of tackle store keys after Alice’s failure to bring them along. Luckily, she had already done the £50 Aldi shop, so the crammed vet car arrived a good hour or more before the others, despite thick fog. When the other car finally arrived after a few too many rounds of Besh!, the caving games commenced. First came the squeeze machine. After some terrible performances, the final battle was between Natalie and a veteran of SWCC whose name I can’t remember. Eventually, Natalie took the win, despite not removing any of her clothing (unlike Alice) and has the grazes on her hips to show for it. Next, table traversing. After success by Wassil, Rudi, Oakem, Joel, and Natalie (almost all the others having gone to sleep by this point), we experimented on the theme and Wassil ended up spending fifteen minutes trying to squeeze though a bench. After a surprise bout of sock wrestling (winner: Oakem, loser: Wassil), some partially successful body traversing, and an attempt at breaking some broom handles, we finally decided to call it a night. In the morning, we realised Alice had bought enough food for a small army and could definitely have shopped for half the price. When Joel finally woke up to Wassil’s tender “good morning sunshine” and 22 eggs, 20 veggie sausages, a mountain of hash browns, a towering stack of toast, a panful of mushrooms, and some thrice-heated, week-old, mashed-up burgers (?) later, we were finally ready for some caving. Wassil took Joel, Rudi, and Campbell to Bridge and bottom OFD, while Alice, Oakem, Natalie, Marie, and Annabelle were led by a 17-year-old minor, James, through top OFD. While I have no idea how Wassil’s group got on apart from the wealth of photos from Rudi suggesting it was a walk in the park, James’ group marched through some of the most difficult caves in the UK!!! Highlights included the sandy crawl (more like the sandy drag), Gnome passage, Alice protesting that it was actually Oxford who broke the trident and not Cambridge, and an attempt to drink water dripping down from the roof as James hadn’t brought any with us. When the second group emerged and found that Wassil’s group were still lost in the cave slash in the middle of a photoshoot (luckily the whole of cave rescue was on standby in case Rudi’s phone broke), we decided to go for an impromptu walk. After a twenty-minute drive including one of the worst roads in Wales, and a half-hour walk in which we spotted the largest trout ever seen with a severe case of athlete’s foot, we arrived at Sgwd Gwladys waterfall. Oakem, Alice, and Marie decided to take a dip (poor effort from Natalie and Annabelle) and were nearly drowned under the waterfall. Upon returning to the hut, we made a start on dinner. It’s often been said that too many cooks spoil the broth. However, in this case, Alice’s frenzied food shop got it off to a bad start. While Natalie began with the monster crumbles, Oakem, Annabelle, and Marie made short work of the vegetables. It took three hours for Wassil’s group to emerge from their photoshoot, after a relocation to bottom OFD. After a “brilliant” fireworks display, which startled Oakem awake from his nap, and three kilos of pasta later, dinner was served. Despite the giant vat of pasta, Rudi decided he was too good for our food and ate his own leftover rice and steak (Wassil’s verdict: horrible). Though Alice had woefully undercatered on cheese (no thanks to Joel’s helping of three times as much cheddar as pasta), Wassil’s cow milk cheese saved the day. Pudding was crumble and chicken egg cow milk custard sauce, though several members partook in the table of birthday cake as well. After dinner, we sat around the bonfire, entertained by Max the collie, and tried our hands at fire poi. While Alice and Oakem were experts (do the C’s in CUCC stand for circus?), we were all terrified that Wassil would set himself on fire and be unable to take us caving the next day. Luckily, his “luscious locks” survived to see another cave. When we were fully inundated with smoke, we went to bed (Alice and Natalie opting to sleep in different bunks this time). Rudi, Joel, Campbell, and Alice had an early start the next morning as Wassil had left head negotiator Alice to enter into a treaty with Bristol and buy some batteries and baked beans. Natalie and Alice began cooking the breakfast feast once Rudi, Joel, and Campbell had made headway on the pasta and departed. After some serious faffing, the hash browns and sausages went in the bin (boo) and the baked beans went in Wassil’s tupperware. Once Wassil had purchased a Cwm Dwr map and everyone had got ready, the six of us set off into the cave. A long, wet slither through a category 2 confined space and two casualties later, Marie, Natalie, Wassil, and Oakem emerged into Cwm Dwr proper. After one long hour, a number of tight boulder chokes, and some unorthodox map cleaning (involving Wassil’s tongue), we finally found the right path. However, despite Wassil’s best efforts to convince us (and himself) otherwise, we had no clue where we were on the map. After several wrong turnings, including a 4m climb and some attempts by Natalie and Wassil to create a landslide, we eventually found the Smithy. Wassil tried his best to kill us all on a slippery traverse over a 10m drop before we had a chance bump into a group of seasoned professionals, who informed us we were actually in Piccadilly and sent us on our way to the confluence. Natalie’s incredible memory enabled a flawless retreat back through the boulder choke (despite Wassil’s desire to get lost) and we emerged half an hour before our callout. Oakem and Natalie polished off the last of the pasta while Wassil desperately tried (and failed) to get us to eat the baked beans from his tupperware. At last, we were fully packed and ready to set off. After abandoning Wassil in Rugby, the rest of us made it home unscathed and before midnight. Thanks Alice for sorting out the tackle store.

-- Natalie, Jan. 17, 2024. Category: Caving