Otter Hole

Five of us (Adrian C, Andy, Nick, Neil, Nicky) had a guided trip down over the August bank holiday.

Definitely a trip to be recommended!

Our guide told us that not many people are going down the cave at the moment, so there are plenty of opportunities for more trips. An over tide trip seems best as you have less time pressure; apparently most between tide trips don't get to see some of the best bits.

For our trip we had to get up horribly early and meet the guide at 9am near Chepstow. I was rather worried when he announced himself as Damien, but my fear turned out to be groundless. We were also joined by a couple from Chichester - Emily and Ruben - an unexpected surprise. Things were not looking promising when Nicky announced that she had forgotten her wellies, quickly deciding to sacrifice her boots. The hard work started before we even got the cave; the walk in took 40 minutes, and longer on the way back up the hill.

The whole day was continuous hard work, nothing particularly difficult, but also no easy walking passage and copious amounts of mud. I was expecting a bit of an anti-climax as far as decoration went. Damien, however promised that my expectations would be met and even exceeded; he was not wrong. We saw every sort of decoration I had imagined, in great quantity, and close up. It would also be worth going in there just for a mud fight. My only disappointment was missing the sump opening, as it apparently makes a particularly pleasing glooping sound as it opens. Swimming through the eyehole would also have been fun (the eyehole is a squeezy bit which opens before the rest of the sump).

The most memorable bits of the day however came not from the caving itself, but from Andy. It seems unlikely that we will see Emily again after Andy, who was just in front of her at the time, announced that he may have had a follow through incident. After we came out, several of us were walking like John Wayne on a bad day, Nicky walking around the services in her now bootless feet, and Andy made sure every body in Magawr services knew all about his chafing problem.

When we get round to organising another trip I would recommend asking for Damien again as he was a superb guide - very enthusiastic about the trip, and not putting any pressure on us to go too fast.

Adrian Clark