Ogof ?? (The New One On Black Mountain)

When you have done all the caves in an area umpteen times the appearance of a new one is always a stimulant to enthusiasm so the news in descent that SWCC had a `significant' find on the Black Mountain prompted the energy to overcome all obstacles and pay the said cave a visit.

I must admit that I was not a participant in the first attempt by Croydon to get down this hole as it was on a very bleak and icy day in February and I had previous experience of futile wanderings of BM under such conditions. As it was the cave was identified easily enough as it was full fierce looking SWCC who didn't seem inclined to step aside for a few tourists.

Rumours then began to circulate that it was gated, however SWCC members at the rescue practice said that although there was a gate it was not locked, so one sunny spring weekend Adrian I and Sue Smith decided to pay it a visit, however during the customary tea stop at Dudley`s we were informed that the top of a pitch was `hanging death' due to some bang work and we would advised to think again. We however persisted and paid SWCC a visit and managed to find the Blaster responsible for the hanging death who said it was on a blind shaft and that the rest of the cave was OK-so off we set.

The cave entrance was easily located in a shake hole near the road just below the Herbert's Quarry Car park (being the shake hole with bits of tin and timber in it).

The first 15' is an easy climb down to a blasted crawl with a gate in place to the top of a 20' pitch, I had great difficulty getting onto this as the top is very constricted and had to do some acrobatics over the top of the pitch in order get my long legs onto the ladder rungs.

After several climbs a hairy looking scaffold shaft is reached followed by a short crawl under a mangy piece of wood and shortly the head of a pitch is reached. Adrian climbed down the first part of this, however coming up proved more difficult as this turned out to be the `hanging death' one and he had to be aided by a dubious bit of digging rope. The `extensions' were off to the right before the pitch and a happy 1/2 hour was spent in squitty wallows before deciding that we had exhausted the possibilities and it was time to exit.

Fortunately there is pond near the road so that you can wash some of the glutinous gunge off before the long drive home.

CONCLUSION - Although this cave has a huge depth potential it is a bit of a collectors item at the moment.

Chris Crowley