Ed, Simon, Adam, Mark R, Lizzie, Tom L, Ben, Luke, Maddie, Chris H
28th April 2013
The weekend started as many others, badgers from around the country converged on an unsuspecting village (in this instance Priddy, Somerset) having escaped another gruelling week at work or uni, and ready for some excitement in the Mendips.
Buttered Badgers dinner was sponsored by Costco and many beverages were consumed to celebrate the start of some long overdue caving related fun. The residents of the BEC were very accommodating and 'Mad Fi' even entertained everyone with some rollerblading (so I hear having not actually arrived by this point). By the time conversation turned to what general items could or couldn't be microwaved safely it was decided that it would probably be best to head to bed for a few hours sleep....
Breakfast (again sponsored by Costco) involved many meats and after a gallon of tea, and Luke feeling delicate again, we were ready for the off, with Mad Fi leading the way to the Wessex (just around the corner apparently). Ben decided it wasn't an exciting enough drive and decided to continue up an increasing narrow and uneven track to give his car additional character in the form of go faster strips.
A short hop past the woods to the entrance gateway and we were finally ready! 1pm,… positively early for these nocturnal badgers!
A nice short scrabble own the entrance which was apparently much wetter than on previous visits, a slide down Jacobs ladder, and we made it to the one and only pitch where the dreaded rope ladder was deployed.
The first scramble through the passages was interesting, with lots of boulders to navigate and slightly squeezy passages to wriggle through.
After what seemed a relatively short period of time, somewhere around greasy chimney, Adam had to head back out the drops and waterfalls that hadn't been difficult to climb down (but would no doubt be slightly more hindering going up) to some other commitment that in the Badger’s view could not possibly be as important as exploring what was turning out to be an interesting new cave.
Blue Pencil Passage was reached and with Mad Fi leading the way managed to persuade all the badgers that they wanted to crawl down (what to my mind was a whole far too tiny to be contemplated), mostly by neglecting to mention that this was not the way out. After a few hairy moments, where technique quite clearly would have come in handy, we made it to the lower passageway where sump 3 and 4 are located (there is nothing to really see if anyone is wondering if this was worth a look).
Now the return up Blue Pencil Passage with the tight unnatural body contorting bendy bits, where gravity had previously helped us down, was mentioned......... Hmmmm. Amazingly, and as you can tell from me writing this, I made it out after much pushing, pulling swearing and general unpleasantness. Did I enjoy this part of the cave?... Possibly… maybe… Well it was an achievement to get out, although everyone else appeared to scramble out in relatively short order so perhaps this type of cave will grow on me in time?!?
On with the cave and through the double trouble services, we had 5 ducks and a sump to look forward to - as if we weren't quite cold and wet enough. Around about the third duck the Badgers were starting to think wistfully about a nice warm hut with a cold beer and wondering why they like caves so much. Birthday squeeze offered an interesting perspective of the ceiling with me needing to remove my helmet to make it through and at one point and wondering if being a woman was in this instance a distinct disadvantage, good job I’m squishy!
Down the slide of death where it turns out to be an advantage to hold onto the rope, we admired a sump that thankfully we didn't have to go down as we were informed it was 18m long and very narrow and tight. Our sump (sump 1) looked much more attractive as on this day there was actually a very narrow gap at the top, was a nice one to call my first and quite invigorating as I was rapidly running out of energy! The trip back to the surface progressed with a large series of waterfalls, and something Mad Fi decided to name the clitoris climb?!? Another short enjoyable slide and then more crawling through underground streams and we were on our way to the exit.
After much cajoling on the part of Mad Fi we made it back to the (yet again) dreaded rope ladder – but the end was in sight and we got a second (or is that third) burst of energy to help with the final push to the surface! There however still appeared to be a few mad scribbles that we had somehow forgotten about before we reached the surface and fresh air, but for a change it was daylight and it was even mildly sunny! Bonus.
Pub for dinner to discuss the various merits of the route /cave and it was generally agreed that the Badgers may once again venture far from their usual hunting grounds in the north for some southern territories......