January 2nd Clearwell Caves
Pat & Nig
January 18th Old Gang Mine & Brandy Bottle Incline
Cheg, Pat, Dave, Barry Sudell
Cheg and Dave G travelled to Pendle late on the Friday evening. On arriving at Barry's house found instructions directing us to the Lamb Inn, it had already passed closing time. Approached the hostelry and ventured in, we had never met Barry or Ceily prior to this visit, the only person known to us was Pat. We got a drink and left near midnight.
Slow start to Saturday morning. Breakfast at Barry's and then off to Swaledale, calling at Skipton to look around the Embsay Railway bookshop, thus arriving at Surrender Bridge about an hour after Pat & Barry.
Changed near the river and set off looking for Old Gang and Brandy Bottle Incline. Old Gang was easy to find, located near the old smelt mill, its entrance portal now missing. Just inside the entrance the water became deep as tested by Pat, the only one with a wet suit, from this it was obvious that this would be a wet suit trip.
After leaving the smelt mill we started to look for Brandy Bottle Incline and had to consult a local farmer to point out the correct track to our objective. We continued for nearly a mile before reaching the entrance, somewhat less obvious than photographs showed due to the entrance mostly run in.
Blocks of stone and some wood were removed to reveal an oil drum, through which access was gained to the level. There were two parallel inclines here originally but no sign of the second incline was visible. The incline still has rails fitted down as far as the first level. The area at the junction was explored but the level had ran in, a short way in.
The incline continued after the junction, arriving at a pool of water with two tubs laying on their side. This was the bottom of the incline, turning left here would lead us into Old Gang Mine and the through trip would bring us out by the smelt mill. This journey would have to wait until later in the year.
A long walk back to the vehicles to change before the drive home.
Looking up Brandy Bottle Incline. This is the right hand incline
Pat, sitting on the rail, Cheg and Barry at the first level on the inclne.
January 19th P8
Malc D + friend, Malc S, Dave E
A trip to show Malc's friend the delights of caving - pleasant ladder trip to the sump. - sump has large silt banks. Had a quick drink in the Wanted, called into the hut to check it was O.K.
January 31st-February 2nd North Wales, Glynn Mine, Parys Mountain
Cheg, Pat, Nig
Superb mine rarely visited.
February 22nd-23rd Nenthead, Smallclough Hydraulic Shaft
Cheg, Pat, Nig, Barry, Ceily, Paul Thompson, Bolge, Darren, John Cooper, Mac
To excavate the blocked hydraulic shaft. Having dammed stream began work after sometime whole area collapsed leaving Cheg on 2 lifelines suspended by Pat & Mac YAWNING MAN of 90' drop. descended it to Rampgill level.
February 29th-March 1st Youd's Level
Barry, Ceily, Nig, Pat, Kevin Wills
Into Gentlewomans pipe workings
PS John Cross was concerned when the party did not return to the hut to kip on the Saturday night and phoned Derbyshire Police. I was awoken in the early hours of Sunday morning and suggested the local police look on Green Lane at Buxton for a 'Combi Care' van, before calling out DCRO. Slept peacefully.
March 14th AGM at the hut.
March 21st-22nd Smallcleugh, Bogg Shaft, Hodgssons Low, Carrs Level., Cumbria
John Cooper, Darren, Bolge, Cheg, Paul Thompson, D.Gough, Barry + Ceily, Pat
April 3rd-5th Yorkshire W/E
Dave E, Malc D, John, Dave (Malc's friend)
Usual meeting spot Friday night.
April 4th Alum Pot/Long Churn
Laddered to bottom of greasy slab - SRT - system has now permanent hangers - fairly breezy at bottom of main shaft, and bottom of Diccan looked impassable - then went up Long Churn Upper to top entrance & then came back. enjoyable steady trip - surprisingly only came across 3 other parties.
Called in at the Hill Inn for refreshment - tried a pint in the Marton Arms but soon left.
April 5th Heron Pot
Pull through rope - water levels underground seemed low.
Malcs friend second trip - did well - first abseil.
Same watering points used.
April 18th-19th Derbyshire
Cheg, Nig, Pat
Meet in Winster area with North Staffs Lads.
May 16th P8
Large gathering at hut for a family type w/e
John, Dave E, Trev, Russ & Glen + 2 friends of John's
Split into 2 groups for tackling - both pitches laddered. One of Johns friends weighs 19½ stone - and 2 pce waterproof - had problems with step-ups
Also staying at hut Caroline, Cath, Phil.
May 29th-31st Bog Shaft, Nenthead
Martin & Sue Bishop, Cheg, Nig, Pat, Dave, Darren & John Cooper
To Bogg Shaft and beyond. found shaft to lower workings.
June 20th-21st Brandy Bottle incline to Hard Level
Barry + Ceily, Cheg, Pat, Nig, D Gough, Martin + Sue Bishop, Pauline Cronin, Kay?, Liam Gough
All through except Kay, Pauline & Ceily.
Great trip do it soon before it collapses.
Getting dressed for the through trip on a fabulous June day
Pat Cronin entering Brandy Bottle Incline in January 1992
Since our visit the entrance has been rebuilt.
July 4th-5th Debyshire
Cheg, Nig, Pat
Another visit to Winster mines with North Staffs Lads
July 9th-12th Nenthead, Cumbria
Cheg, Nig Burns, D.Gough, L.Gough, K Wills, Pat
Into ¼ mile of Passage with lots of artifacts, trucks, tools, bang etc. Way into area Desperate all thanks to D.Gough and his trapeze act.
July 12th-18th France
Annual trip to France - caught the 'seacat' 11.30 pm across The Channel in 30 minutes "flight had a surprising roll. Pulled off into an Aire around 2.00 local time. Stayed in Ornans in Doubs area of Jura.
On trip John, Trev, Dave E, Malc S & Malc D
We had arranged to meet Florian Mallard, a French caver we met in 1990.
July 14th Gros Gadeau
Unfortunately we sorted our gear for the dry entrance, Florian, rigged the other way, so the entrance pitches took up more rope than planned. - John had problems on 2nd pitch - somehow ending up halfway down, on a loop of rope - unable to do the last pitch , as we had ran out of rope - System wet, apparently weather for previous week had been mainly rain.
July 15th Gouffre de la Belle Louise
48 metre first pitch quite impressive - dropped through windows to other pitches, one being 20 m. - entered large galleries - one having a very sticky mud - 2 pitches from this level but both blind / to water. so not done - signs of flooding. - I would have thought prospects of more cave.
July 16th Canyon - Gorge D' Amondans
Caving without being underground! - party + french party Went down stream / river - gradually got to drops rapids & pools some needed rope. - There is one series of falls about 150' - landing in a deep pool which had to be swum - eventually river joins River Lison.
July 17th Grotte de la Malatiere
(near Baum les Dames)
Popular cave - entrance pitch of 7 m in collapse chamber - odd squeezes & crawls between galleries until we got to the "Metro" - large gallerie passage well decorated with stalagmites - tho somewhat muddy now - seemed to just end in mud blockage - though a draft could be felt some yards back. - about 2/3 Km passage in system - didn't do all the system - there is a pitch to a lower system.
Packed up - said goodbyes and left Ornans about 11.30 - by getting motorways - got into Calais by 8.00 pm. Malcs car caught Seacat Daves car came back by Hovercraft. Back in Nottm around 1.30 pm. - only set back was a puncture to Daves car.
Aug Sept C. Galway, Eire
M.Farr, N.Geh, T Donovan, P.Cronin
To Eire once more to Kinvara 960 metres found all but 30 m submerged still going.
Sept Tormarton, Wiltshire
Hole opened in field, on inspection with farmer found it to be 11 metres long 9 metres deep. I believe it to have been formed due to movement of valley side Therefore a "Gull Cone"
September 15th-October 3rd Mulu, Sarawak
Dave Gough, John Addison + 3 other members of CSS
September 15th Tuesday
Arrived at Heathrow and met John and the three Chelsea members who I had never met before. Checked in at Malayasia Air desk for first leg of flight to Kuala Lumpur over 6000 miles away.
September 16th Wednesday
Flight from Kuala Lumpa to Kuching, through immigration control and a further flight to Mirri in Sarawak where we were met by 'Tropical Adventure' At TA office discussed costs of going to Mulu and were offered an all price per person of M$2500 or self catering price of M$1375.
Left TA office and booked into Grand Star Inn at M$50 per room per night 2 sharing. We needed time to discuss the costs and what our top line payment would be. Had a wander round the town and a meal.
September 17th Thursday
Back at TA office we sorted out the price of M$7000 for 5 with all in catering. Time to change our travellers cheques and pay up. We were very lucky, 'Black Friday' occurred after we had exchanged but it meant the difference between being comfortable and struggling for those that arrived after Friday.
Exchange rates for us were 4.4M$ per £ or 2.5M$ per US$, the US$ per £ was 2. The one tourist with US$ travellers cheques got the best exchange rate!
We were taken to Lambir Hills National Park for an enjoyable afternoon, the journey to Mulu would continue early on Friday.
The receipt for our stay in Mulu. 7000 Malyasian Dollars for the team of 5 inclusive of food and accommodation
Another meal in town and another night at the Grand Star Hotel. The bedroom doors were fitted with door bells and this is one of the locations where you come to, from Brunnei (which is alcohol free) to enjoy a drink and buy some pleasure!
September 18th Friday
Journey to Mulu began at 6 am. Travelled by minibus to Kuala Barum, here we boarded an 'jet boat', like a floating single deck bus with two large diesel engines, each driving a large prop, to Marudi. After a break, caught another express boat for Tu Tuho and then changed to a long boat for the final leg to Mulu National Park.
Jet Boat waiting at Kuala Barum
Having been fed and watered retired to bed at 9.00 pm.
Mulu is about 3º north of the equator so the day is approx 50% dark and 50% light. The transition between light and dark was very rapid at around 6 pm heralded by a cacophony of insect and animal sounds. Heavy rain usually arrived at about 5pm and could last for several hours, changing the state of the rivers in a very short time.
September 19th Saturday
Visited Park HQ to hand over caving permits (Dave Gill not at home). First caving trip to Cave of the Winds, a show cave and then a quick adventure trip into Clearwater Cave followed by lunch. After a short swim in Clearwater resurgence returned to Park HQ in a downpour. We had intended going for a walk along the plank way from Park HQ to Deer Cave to see the bats exit but changed our minds because of the weather. Back to base to sort out gear and trips and dinner.
Because of the caves and other places of interest i.e. 'The Pinnacle' the area has been designated a national park. Walkways have been constructed to take the visitor from HQ to 'show cave', accommodation has been constructed and is being improved for the more discerning tourist and light aircraft fly in daily.
September 20th Sunday
Formations in Cave of the Winds
Breakfast at 8.00 am and across to park HQ to collect our guide, Thanbi Went to Cave of the Winds to do a through trip to Clearwater Cave. Long hot trip, formation very dry and soft (easily break if used to assist progress) Swiftlets on the wing and in places floor covered in bat dropping to great depth. Occasional 'Cave Racer' snake and large spider spotted.
After evening meal went over to Park HQ to socialise with other cavers. Spectacular electric storm broke, delaying our return to bed until after 12 midnight.
September 21st Monday
A lazy morning after breakfast. Set off after lunch on 3 Km walk to Deer Cave, visiting Lang Cave on the way. With time on our side explored through Deer Cave into the Hidden Valley. Returned to the viewing gallery outside the entrance to watch the bats leaving for evening feeding. Longest continuous exodus was 9 minutes, a spectacular sight.
Returned to HQ for evening meal and sorted equipment ready for tomorrow's visit to camp 5, early to bed.
Bats leaving Deer Cave just before dusk
September 22nd Tuesday
Left at 9.00 am to collect Thambi and then onto nearby settlement to collect our porter Penan who was hired for 30 ringgit per day. Travelled up river by narrow boat, but mostly the boat carried the gear and we got out to help due to low water.
Reached the track to camp 5 about lunch time and after lunch set off on an 8 Km journey to the camp. High humidity and heat soon has you sweating profusely; the journey seems to go on forever, whilst you take a breather the porter passes with his large load of tins, in the most basic of sacks, walking with bare feet and no sign of a sweat!
Arrived at camp, relaxed and had a wash in the river, before evening meal. Played cards and spent the first night sleeping on a wooden floor.
September 23rd Wednesday
Breakfast was ready when we woke just after 7.00 am. Left camp in caving gear at about 9.00 am (not all the party came on this trip) travelling along indistinct forest trails towards Benerat Cave, one wonders how they find their way, vegetation grows rapidly and the markings that we would use at home disappear in days.
Underground by 10.00 am, route finding could be difficult. Cave structure similar to Clearwater. Bolted first pitch for a 'Y' hang and left a rope in situ. Pitches after first pitch were all steep ramps with hand line. After lunch, carried by the guides, visited Arcane Arcade and took some photographs. Left the cave late afternoon , walking in the rain. Played cards again after evening meal and I was 'leeched' twice before we turned in.
Benerat Cave, Arane Arcade
The Pinnacles peeping through the clouds
September 24th Thursday
I had a lazy day on Thursday, resting my feet, whilst the others took a 1Km walk to Krangos Forest. Next day would be another sight seeing journey.
September 25th Friday
An early start to follow the trail to the Pinnacles; this is what most people come for who journey to camp 5. The start of the trail is level, following the trail back to the river and boat, but this does not last for long before you turn off and start to climb. The journey is 2.4 Km but by the time you are above the tree tops you have ascended 1000 metres. The top 300 metres of the ascent is either roped or fitted with ladders. 15 people arrived at the top to get a glimpse towards Gunung Api and the Pinnacles when the mist briefly parted. On the return journey gravity wanted to take over causing a journey as difficult but totally different to the ascent. Arriving back at camp 5 it was nice to relax and reflect on the journey. Whilst at camp 5 an American lady arrived and asked where the wash room was "Just follow this path to the river and there you will find it" was the reply. The same lady being scared of leeches had brought her own supply of salt, and slept within a circle of salt to keep the leeches at bay!
September 26th Saturday
Broke camp at 9.00 am to return to civilisation at Park HQ, the walk back to the river took 2¼ hrs. Leeches collected on the walk were removed before taking on blood.
The river level had been boosted by the previous evenings rain so there was no need to get out and paddle the river on the way back. Before arriving at HQ the rain had set in again and continued for most of the evening, the river rising rapidly in response.
September 27th Sunday
After breakfast went to Park HQ and had a chat with some other cavers. Left late morning for a trip into Simon's Cave. The formations here are better but still fragile. Large areas of the floor covered in bat dropping with 'dedicated footsteps, to follow. Myself and John Hunt did some photography and videoing whilst other climbed pitch to upper series. We had a look at some leads in the complex entrance series but did not notice the obvious one. Left the cave late afternoon to clean gear before returning to base.
September 28th Monday
Steady morning, packing for trip to camp 1. After an early lunch went over to Park HQ and met Dave Gill and had a chat about Benerat Cave. From HQ a 5½ KM walk would take us to camp 1, the first part of which is on a plank way. At the end of the plank way you walk across the forest floor which is prone to flooding. This was a harder trail than that to camp 5 crossing two rivers and finally climbing 100 meters by the side of a river before entering camp. The walk had taken 3 hours, the last part in rain and nerves were getting a little stretched. This camp is in the forest proper and the ever present leech will soon hitch a ride to get a feed. Rained most of the night.
Camp1 sleeping area, John Addison is looking toward the river. Blue lines are scratches on the film caused by camera whilst in Mulu
September 29th Tuesday
Left camp for Drunken Forest Cave after a slow start. It took over 2 hrs of trail blazing to reach the Melinau Parka River but we were close to the cave entrance. A good look round and photographed some of the formations. Visited the connection with Clearwater Cave area of the cave but a lot of flowstone needs removing before the connection can be made. Exited the cave and had lunch by the side of the river before returning to camp. Another evening of bridge. Meal cooked under a parka to keep the rain off which continued for most of the night. John presented our guide with a 'T' shirt from his running club.
Connection between Drunken Forest Cave and Clearwater Cave
September 30th Wednesday
No rain at breakfast time. There was an interest to try and get into Good Luck Cave and see Sarawak Chamber so later that morning we set out on a one hour journey to the cave entrance. With a later start we were expecting lower water condition in the entrance passageway. Attempts to try and lower the water did not succeed so with lifejackets fastened we started to swim against the swift stream. All OK until the rope ran out at which point there was nothing to pull against, the journey to reach Sarawak Chamber was abandoned. Five cold figure returned to the entrance and de-kitted. The rain soon joined us on our return to camp 1.
After the evening meal we discussed what was possible to do over the next few days. Trip to top of Mulu unlikely because of the weather, likewise a further trip to try and enter Good Luck Cave. We would break camp in the morning and return to Benerat Lodge.
October 1st Thursday
Set off from camp 1, in caving gear, to return to Park HQ. Decided to travel in caving clothes so as not to get any other clothes wet. Crossed the Melinau river after an hour then had a 2 Km muddy trek through the forest before regaining the plank way. Had lunch at Tropical Adventure base and then went to accommodation to clean up and dry kit.
October 2nd Friday
Journey by long boat to visit a Penan long house settlement on Tutch River. Bangles and beads bought before continuing the journey up river. A very exhilarating trip over several foaming rapids before arriving at the wall of brown water which was impassable in our tiny boat. Returned to Benerat Lodge for lunch. Some went off to look at Horse Cave but I stayed behind to pack ready for departing on Saturday morning.
The boat stops here
October 3rd Saturday
I had to leave today whilst the others stayed for a few more days. I was interested in flying out, but if the weather is bad the scheduled flight does not arrive and the alternative river journey would have left at 6.00 am, so boat it was, reversing the inward river journey as far as Marudi. From here I caught a flight to Miri (only room for about 8 passengers) From Miri via Kuching to Singapore. A 12 hour wait at Singapore and then via Zurich to London. Arrived in Nottingham midnight Sunday.
Why did I depart before the others? John Addison of Addy Tours fame had made all the travel arrangements. The whole tour was going to take 3 weeks and 3 days. I had booked holiday away from my employment for 3 weeks and very close to departure informed the manager that travel arrangements had altered and I required an extra 3 days holiday. Whilst in discussion on the telephone the said person counted the days off on the calendar and informed me when I must be back at work by.
I thus had to reschedule my flights to be back at work on the said day. On contacting the office on the said day the comment was " I wasn't expecting you back until tomorrow". At times honesty doesn't help.
Ironically the following year I was allocated an extra 25 days holiday as part of a long service award.
This report has been brought to you with the help of a 'Psion Organiser' which I took out to Mula and used to make notes of the various trips we undertook. It has taken nearly 20 years to use the notes and I still have the Psion.
Mulu has changed out of all recognition since the first caving expeditions of 70's. It now has hotels, an airport and all manner of 'tourist attractions'.
October 10th Hardrawkin Pot
Yes October! What with family holidays and trying to find a suitable w/e etc
Traveled up Saturday morning, after dinner/ breakfast and setting up the tent, & having one for the road camping at Hill Inn
Trev, Malc D & Dave E
Uneventful trip to the bottom - the main shaft is superb - Johns deposit see report 8/8/89 and all traces have now gone. You could say this was a scientific exploration - to see how the winter floods had dealt with Johns deposit - Pleasant trip for the time available - didn't set off until about 4.
Up early next morning - some didn't sleep too well. breakfast at Inglesport @ 8.40 out to cave @ 9.30 ish.
October 11th Lost Johns
We had a permit from Eldon PHC went down as far as traverse over Battleaxe didn't do full trip, as we had to be back in Nottingham at a reasonable time.
We had called in at Whitewall, Buxton to pick up the permit for Lost Johns - but Kevin had left it at home - we did it anyway - we had a word with the shepherd. Hill Inn seems to have worsened - students & motor bikers - very rowdy & smokey - didn't recognise anyone, so drank in Craven Heiffer - they do good evening meals now.
November 14th Pool Sink - Wretched Rabbit
A day trip to Ingleton.
Met 3 members of Trent Poly CC in Inglesport, where we had breakfast
Dave E, MalcD, Malc S, Larry, Araen, Sam
Abseiled down Pool Sink after an initial section of crawling round corners soon enlarges - 1st pitch superb. - took wretched rabbit passage out - due to fixed rope we were able to climb out - a good days trip.
November 21st Smallcleugh Mine, Nenthead
Malc D, Malc S, Cheg, Pat, Dave G and others
Tourist trip for the cavers.
Malc Debbage and Malc Scothon at the inclined flats in Smallcleugh
December 12th Ingleton W/E
Arrived Friday night - weather had been mainly rain the previous week - we went down
Dave E, Malc D, Larry, Arren, Sam
SRT trip - tight entrance rift 50' - took passage to Serendipity - had to wait whilst a party came up. (about 8 NPC on ladders)- eventually got to sump
Sat night spent in Marton Arms
This was a superb varrid trip with a little bit of everything
December 23rd-31st Nenthead
Cheg, Aileen & Catherine Chester, Pat, Nigel, Dave Gough, Martin & Sue Bishop, John Gough, Barry & Ceily Sudell (all in a two bedroom cottage)
December 24th Smallcleugh
To Bogg Shaft, climb the pipes and enter the return spillway.
December 25th Christmas day
Pre Christmas dinner walk round the upper Nent Valley. Ground has a good covering of snow and the smaller reservoirs are frozen over. Visited the Crown before dinner for a winter warmer.
Table set for Christmas dinner
December 26th Scaleburn Branch, Rampgill, Nenthead
Passed the blockage and visited the horse whimsey.
Cheg inspects the horse whimsey on Scaleburn branch, Rampgill, Nenthead
December 26th Capelceugh to Rampgill through trip
Late Evening trip (everyone well oiled )
Barry Sudell, in the bath, and Pat Cronin getting into wetsuits for a late evening Capelcleugh to Rampgill through trip. The bath was necessary due to their caving gear having been left in Pats van all day with the temperature at around minus ten degrees, the whole lot frozen into a solid mass. First time I ever heard the expression "Fucking Spiders" when referring to something that impressed you.
December 27th Blackburn Level, Garrigill
Cage at far end of Blackburn Level, Garrigill
December 27th Evening Scaleburn
Looking at blockages beyond the horse whimsey.
December 27th Carrghyll Coal Mine
Invited by Neville Richardson to visit his working coal mine.
December 30th Smallcleugh
Bogg shaft again to excavate first blockage on the return spillway.