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Low Douk Cave - 13/08/2011

Saturday August 13th 2011

Members present: Kate Mason,  Kevin Francis,  Lieke Oosterkamp

Report by Kevin Francis

After driving and marching through the river on Masongill Lane we found the cave really easily. The “new” entrance in the guidebook was apparently off to the side, traversing a pit and heading into a crawl. We found this quickly and Adam started rigging across. Whilst this was happening I went for a play in the obvious large entrance opposite and ended up a few metres below Adam, but with no way on and the floor looking pretty collapsed. I headed back to the entrance (which was littered with sheep) and had a quick look upstream, where a waterfall entered and didn’t look appealing. Further round the chamber I found a shaft dug out with loads of stacked rocks. Interesting, that wasn’t in the description! I followed it down into a diagonal rift with a sheep in the bottom. That was enough for me so I headed back out to see what Adam was up to. He wasn’t having fun – the low crawl was very low and it emerged in a waterfall. The ground was sodden and we didn’t think the waterfall really belonged there so he headed out.

We decided instead to follow the trail of the sheep. I went in first – without a tacklesack – and wriggled down past the sheep, which led to a roped drop. The whole place was quite thrutchy and I took care heading down as I couldn’t see anything ahead of me. I was soon heading through a few more bends and could see a scaff bar across the floor below me. Was I above a pitch? I didn’t really know – but carried on. It turned out the scaff bar was about a foot off of the floor and after another couple of small drops I was at a traverse line over a small pit. Crossing this led to a small chamber with multiple ways on. None of this was in the description!! I climbed back up and called for the others to join me. After a little while they were all sat in the chamber with me. We decided to ditch the rope and SRT kit here as it had been quite awkward getting through the entrance series!

We didn’t have a survey with us and the notes we had by way of the description were sketchy. We had been expecting 3 entrance pitches and some streamway. We set off for an explore. I went low in a small stream under a boulder choke but t soon ended in collapse. The others climbed over the boulder choke to find the route re-joined the stream. They followed this for a little while until it became very low and unappealing. We headed back to the chamber, but this time I spotted a whole in the roof. This was probably a dig, but my SRT kit kept getting stuck so I didn’t get far. Once back at the chamber Adam shot up another small bodysized muddy tube but again the going was not great. Finally we scouted the edges of the chamber and found lots of sheep bones. Once we were happy we had scoped out enough of the chamber we clambered down into the streamway. This was better! Tight and crabwalky this continued for quite a way and gained depth fairly quickly with various pretties appearing the further down we got. Soon we were at a large chamber with a climb down. I spotted an old passage above the climb down and so Lieke and I shot down there instead to find it was quite pretty. We tracked back to get to the others. Adam had followed the passage had returned, recommending a look. It led over slippery boulders to A relatively high chamber with sump foam on the walls several metres above our heads! The way on was a small crawl in the right hand wall. Looking at the sump foam did not interest me in the crawl. Instead we went back to look at the higher pretty passage.

This turned out to be a good move, there were a few inlets to look at and some nice formations. Adam and I had a look down another meandering crabwalk whilst the girls took photos. This led to a traverse and a drop down to a chamber. At the bottom of this chamber was another drop of about 10 metres. This also was not in the description. We looked around for rigging points and concluded it much be done from naturals. We headed back to the others, and then back to the chamber with our SRT kits. We packed these into the tacklesacks, ate some chocolate and climbed out. The entrance was much more interesting going this way with a bag! The hardest manoeuvres were at the top of the knotted rope where you had to exit the pitch, lift a tacklesack and avoid the sheep all whilst trying to head sideways and up! We got out to see daylight pouring into the entrance.

An interesting trip, it would be good to come back in dryer weather to try the crawl at the end and also to see if there is a higher level route in the streamway. After looking up the cave online it seems we had discovered the “new new” entrance as dug out by the Misty Mountain Mud Miners In recent years.