Caving Dairy 1998/9

Now that the year is drawing to a close, I think it is appropriate that the Caving Secretary should present a round up of this year's caving diary, and a preview of next year's caving diary.

1998 started literally with a bang. In fact, a number of bangs, as fireworks were let off, Big Ben chimed, and Hugh's dustbin exploded!

I had been talking about spending New Year at Le Lapiaz for some while, and now that Hugh has decided to sell the place, it might be our last opportunity. So, in a break from the traditional New Year in Scotland, a good group of Croydon members decided to see in1998 in the Vercors.

We arrived late Saturday night, tired by the long drive, and awoke on Sunday morning to be greeted by snow! This was a good start for a mixed week of caving, walking and skiing. I enjoyed an exciting trip down Trou-qui-Souffle as well as some less strenuous trips down the Choranche, Bournillion and Gournier caves. Others spent much of their time at the local ski resort in Villard-de-Lens, and there were numerous long (and short) walks during the week. And no trip to the Vercors would be complete without a trip to Expé to buy lots of cheap French caving kit.

New Year's Eve itself was unusually good! We only planned to get some take-away pizzas and have a bit of a party, but what transpired was quite remarkable. There was dancing in the street, fireworks, and Hugh's dustbin did indeed explode (repeatedly in fact) courtesy of the obligatory carbide bombs.

My next caving trip of the year was to Mendip for the annual skittles challenge against Wealden. I was unable to go caving, as I had some work to do, but managed to amuse myself about the Shepton hut while the others enjoyed themselves. Needless to say, we beat the Wealden. I think that makes it 3-2 to us, or is that just the way I would like to think it is? Next year's annual skittles challenge will be delayed due to the Banff skiing trip, but it is intended to reorganise this later in the year.

The next exciting event was the AGM! The meeting was held, the business was seen to, the committee was successfully reorganised, and we all went round to Adrian's house for beer and food.

Two weeks later and I was down the cottage doing some real caving. Well, Pant Mawr anyway! My next trip to Godre Pentre was in March for an OFD I to Cwm Dwr through trip.

Then another big event at Easter - a Croydon trip to County Clare. You may recall that this was when we had some of the worst weather of the year with severe flooding in the south-east. This made our outward journey a little longer and choppier than expected, but once we were there we had the best weather in the UK! I enjoyed a full week of caving down Doolin River Cave, Poll-an-Ionian, Faurnorouska and Poll-na-Gollum, with a couple of good walks thrown in for good measure.

The early May bank holiday was another club weekend at Godre Pentre. I led a huge photo trip down Ogof Clogwyn and Shakespeares Cave (two caves in one day!) and went for a walk up Pen-y-Fan on Sunday. On Saturday night, an impromptu barbecue (the first of the year) was held, which was very enjoyable.

The late May bank holiday was less fun, as I had to go to a wedding on the Saturday and my car was broken into on Sunday. Still, there was another good barbecue at Godre Pentre on Saturday night. The car break ins seem to have stopped again now as I am told that an individual has subsequently been caught.

It is usual to have a summer trip to Mendip, and we had two trips this year in June and July. The first was a Croydon weekend with sporting trips down Longwood August and Charterhouse caves, and the second was the Cavers Fair at Priddy. I must say that, contrary to all the write ups I have read, this was one of the worst events I have been to. It was badly organised and shambolick, but I did eventually manage an interesting trip down White Pit.

The next month was dominated by Eric and Fiona's wedding with stag nights, hen nights, and then the wedding itself, which was well attended by Croydon members. In the middle of this we managed a club weekend with a difference - canoeing down the River Wye from Ross-on-Wye to Monmouth. This was a two day trip with an overnight camp in the middle of nowhere and a committee meeting as well. No caving, but a good time was had by all. It is intended to repeat this trip again next year. Maybe this time we can fit in the caves at Symonds Yat?

The August bank holiday was another club weekend in Wales with another barbecue and trips down OFD I to Cwm Dwr via the escape route, and Daren Cilau. George's German caving colleagues joined us, and reportedly had an excellent time. There is the possibility of them hosting us for a caving holiday/expedition to Germany some time in the future. Any takers?

September saw the BCRA Conference in Southport again. My last trip to Southport was disappointing, but this year was infinitely better, and I would be happy to go there again. There was the usual mix of lectures and videos, some good and some bad, but all in all it was a fun weekend. The highlight of the show was the stomp on Saturday night where the main band were so bad that virtually everybody left, and they reputedly split up straight afterwards!

My next caving weekend was Bonfire Night. I managed a quick trip down Pant Mawr Pot again on Saturday before the firework extravaganza. This year, Selwyn allowed us the use of his field opposite the New Inn, and this proved an excellent location for our display. Despite anything more dangerous than an indoor firework being banned this year, we obtained our arsenal from a new source, and were very pleased with the results. It is hoped to do the same again next year.

As well as the above events which I attended, there were also numerous Sunday trips down Merstham Mines, and the usual working week and KOF's weekend at Godre Pentre. No doubt there were other club caving trips which I know nothing about!

I am now looking forward to the Annual Dinner and next year's AGM. The provisional diary for next year follows. This will be confirmed by the new Caving Secretary after the AGM. If anyone would like to take on this role next year, I would be only to pleased to hear from them!

Provisional Caving Diary 1999

  • 30 January AGM, Swan & Sugarloaf, South Croydon.
  • 13-14 March Skittles vs Wealden, Queen Vic, Priddy, Mendip.
  • 1-3 May Bank Holiday. Club weekend at Godre Pentre, South Wales.
  • 29-31 May Bank Holiday. Club weekend at Godre Pentre, South Wales.
  • 5-6 June Cottage working week. Continued from last weekend.
  • 31 July - 1 August Club weekend canoeing down the River Wye.
  • 28-29 August Bank Holiday. Club weekend at Godre Pentre, South Wales.
  • 18-19 September BCRA Conference.
  • 6-7 November Bonfire Night.
  • 4-5 December Annual Dinner.

Caving trips are also planned to Mendip and Portland in Dorset. Caves to be booked include Pinner Chalk Mines, Craig-y-Ffynnon, Slaughter Stream Cave, Otter Hole, Wet Sink, Ogof Draenen and Peak Cavern. It has also been suggested that Croydon should hold a Millennium event.

Steve Wray