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Valley Entrance - 27th Nov 2010

Saturday November 27th 2010

Members present: Catherine Moody,  Mark Sims

Report by Catherine Moody

Typical CHECC faff, where both the team and cave changed several times through the day...

After recruiting some lovely folk from Exeter (after being messed around something chronic by one of the other clubs), we headed off to Bull Pot Farm for a little jaunt round Wretched Rabbit, though got to the roman road to find it pretty hairy to say the least - the gritters clearly hadn't made it this far. We didnt even attempt to get up the hill and instead turned around and re-grouped in Bernies.

A lack of SRT training amongst the Exeter group meant we were pretty limited on options and decided on a reckie down Valley Entrance. None of us had ever been there but Steve assured us it was worth a visit.

The guy from Cardiff (Jonas) decided to drop out after the mention of water and went back with John (a member of Exeter club who was too ill to go caving himself but kindly offered himself as driver for the others) after dropping us off and arranging a collection time.

Following a very cold change we speedily headed into the relative warmth of underground to see what Valley entrance had to offer. We were pleasantly surprised! The top section contained some nice bits of walking passageway, though the ceiling was awkwardly low in places. The pitch was simple, and the lack of any waterfall meant it was nice and easy to tell the freshers what to do on the ladder. The pitch drops you into Kingsdale master cave, which greatly exceeded expectations! Although short, it was slightly reminiscent of OFD and very impressive.

We got to the start of a low wet bit and decided not to go any further, especially since some of the group didn’t have proper wetsocks or undersuits and only holey cordura (which goes to show how lucky we as a club are to have such a good supply of gear for our freshers!) Instead we went for a bit of an explore. Two passageways on the left soon joined up and led to another junction (which having read some trip reports, I think must be Master Junction). Going right to start, we ended up in an oxbox and popped out back in the streamway, having bypassed the nasty bit – hooray! However, there was more nastiness to come, as the deep water ahead of us I think was the start of the Rowten sumps. Retracing our steps back to the junction, we went the other way this time.

We found a short climb up on the left which led to some small scrotty bits of passage. Will was loving it so we pressed on until it closed down too much then returned and went down a different bit of scrottiness. After a while we popped out on a shelf above a streamway and realised we’d done a full circle. I think if we’d carried on from Master junction instead of going up the climb we would have found our way to Philosophers crawl/the dry bypass and up to Swinsto great Aven.

Anyhow, after a brief sunbathe on the beach we headed back down KMC, back up the pitch and on a hunt for Milky Way and Toyland which Steve had told us about. We found Milky Way quite easily and off we crawled into the wetness. It went on for quite a way til we found a short climb on right where the water was coming from (Cascade Inlet). There was a rope going up into the roof but without any SRT kit we couldn’t investigate any further – was this Toyland? Subsequent investigations reveal that the answer is yes. A dry passage continued round to the left which I presumed at the time was the start of Toyland (we only knew that Toyland existed, but not what/where it was...). We followed this a fair way and when the others started to get tired I raced ahead to scout out whether there was much worth seeing but it was all much of a muchness – dry sandy crawl followed by small chamber followed by dry sandy crawl followed by small chamber followed by constriction followed by dry sandy crawl.. No idea how long it went on for but it was evident that not many people had ventured down here.

We were nearing our ETA so all headed out to a bitterly cold evening, but were greeted by hot soup courtesy of John and Jonas – most welcome I must say! It was -6 as we were getting changed, and having to peel wetsocks and undersuits off the road made for some entertainment, not to mention a hairy drive back down the valley. It was a great trip though and the Exeter crowd were good company. We should try and arrange some joint trips some time.

We did quite a bit of exploring, but just going in Valley entrance and having a stomp up the Master cave would make a really good freshers trip – possibly even better than Long Churn?