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Water Icicle Cave - 22 Nov 2008

Saturday November 22nd 2008

Members present: Alexander Stelfox,  Catherine Moody,  Charlie Dixon,  George Bunyan,  Hayley Clamp,  Louise Bell,  Thomas Blakey

Report by Catherine Moody

A huge amount of faff... Trying to organise who was going on what trip with the transport available was a bit of a nightmare and I think it was gone 12 by the time we actually got anything sorted. With some vague directions to "go down a track and its in a field on the left", we headed off in Hayley’s car towards Monyash, where as suspected we discovered that there are many tracks and many fields. Lots of driving around and we were still none the wiser as to where the cave was.. asking the locals and walkers wasn’t much help as they weren’t even aware of any caves nearby. The other car that had left an hour after us (with the idea of giving us chance to rig first and minimise hanging around time) soon arrived in Monyash and as they claimed to know the way, we duly turned around and followed. Turns out they didnt have a clue either! After another of many phone calls to Chuck to try and get a grid reference, we were about to abandon hope when Adam (from Exeter Club I think) remembered that he had a book with the cave description in, and most importantly, a map! Finally we found the right track, however fortune wasnt on our side and there was a giant puddle blocking our way. We abandoned the cars and decided that rather than all getting changed, a few of us should actually try to find the cave first! So off we trundled up the track, and after about 15mins walk we found a field fitting the description, and sure enough there was a manhole covering the entrance to the shaft - success!

Back we went to the cars, where we were told that the girls in the other car couldnt be bothered to go caving anymore and wanted to go to Bakewell instead. Adam and Alex left to drop them off, with the promise that they would return with Bakewell pudding. A quick change and walk back to the cave where Charlie rigged, then George, Hayley, me and Tom descended one by one as the sun set (it was about 4pm by this point!)

It was a straight 34m pitch to the bottom, from where 3 obvious passageways lead off. We headed down the longest first, which had some fairly pretty rifts and towards the end some digging was clearly in progress however after 100m we couldnt go any further and turned back to try another route. The next passageway was extremely muddy and we did well not to sink/fall over as it was nearly over the top of our wellies! A crawl over mats lead to a bit of an opening with a sledge at the top of a steepish slope. Charlie investigated and discovered this lead to a sump and we couldn’t go any further so once again we retraced our steps. When we returned to the pitch we found Adam and Alex who had just come down and told us that there was indeed some bakewell pudding waiting for us at the car hooray! While Charlie and Hayley headed out, I had a quick explore of the final shortest passage, which quickly lead to a T-junction with load of boulders on the left and a narrow rift on the right. It was possibly big enough to squeeze through but I thought it best not to try! Once back on the surface it was bitterly cold (the water Charlie had left outside had frozen) so we did some singing and dancing of the Macarena, head shoulders knees and toes, and the hokey cokey in order to keep warm while we waiting for George and Tom to come out, which was jolly good fun!

The Bakewell Pudding was awesome. :)

For future reference: to find the track, go past the turning to Hillocks until you reach the village. Take a right down Rakes Road and follow for a couple of hundred yards. Where the road veers right, theres a track on the left (essentially straight ahead) which you want to take. This also veers to the right, parallel to the main road then continues for another couple hundred yards before a sharp left. Keep following the track past a farm on the right, for as long as terrain allows. A walk will then take you through some woods before the track opens out and goes up a slight hill. Climb over the wall on the left just before you get to the fence at the end of the lane and the entrance to water icicle is just before the line of trees.