Water Gate Cave
Alternate name :-
507072 x 699442 Oubliette
507076 x 699486 Seaside
Oubliette entrance climb (when open): Long tether, and short ladder.
NB: Oubliette remains securely choked as of 19th May 2019.
Safe exploration of this cave may only be conducted when PERFECT sea conditions exist; this fact cannot be emphasised enough, such conditions rarely occur as exemplified by the period between pushing trips. Do not be fooled to attempt entry during low spring tides it will not guarantee you a safe exit. Please, understand it is not possible to exit, or free dive out against any incoming flow. If any size of waves can be seen breaking then the entrance will certainly be submerged therefore do not approach, the rock surface is slippery and, when barely submerged, secure footing is difficult to achieve. Neither is it wise to contemplate a Plan B waiting out entrapment in one of the possible air bells as the cave floods completely during average states of tide.
NB. During the 5th May 2012 pushing trip conditions appeared favourable, however the team of two barely escaped the incoming flood. To avoid a recurrence another entrance was engineered, Oubliette, this entrance has since become blocked with storm debris, (Jan/Feb 2014), and remains unusable, (May 2019). You are advised to seek guidance before considering a visit.
Seaside, this entrance is in the inter-tidal zone at the very limit of the same bench that extends south from Fraggle Rock. Even if minor waves are breaking here DO NOT ENTER! To the right is a huge chunk of detached limestone, to the left is the gap whence it came. As the cliff comes to an end here turn left, before you at sea level is the low bedding entrance.
Oubliette. This tight vertical entrance is in the small embayment worn into the cliff face to the south, (just around the corner), from Seaside, nestled among huge storm tossed boulders and the overhanging cliff. To access Oubliette, do not attempt to traverse the sea margin from Seaside. Rather walk along the cliff top edge until it becomes possible to climb down onto a ledge directly above the embayment, cross over a bold step, traverse around the cliff and continue to climb down to the next ledge. A two metre climb lands on the next ledge directly above Seaside entrance. Walk left around the promontory to scramble down onto the storm beach, Oubliette is over to the extreme right at the base of the cliff at the inland end of the south wall of the channel.
NB: REPEAT, Oubliette remains securely blocked as of 19th May 2019.
From Seaside a fifteen metre smooth bore entrance bedding meets a junction where a constricted passage runs north for thirteen metres to where daylight is seen through a partially choked bedding. From the junction the smooth entrance tube continues straight ahead for a further ten metres to where the passage reduces in height to form a duck which enters a larger passage that was once broken into by sea erosion. Through this blockage of gigantic boulders, that completely choke the opening, a second entrance was engineered, Oubliette, providing safe access to the cave for further studies. From Oubliette a much larger passage continues for some forty metres to where a cross rift is encountered, here the cave passage alters in nature, the phreatic continuation is choked with sea cobbles. Adjacent to Seaside entrance, formed in the underneath of a huge chunk of semi-detached coast is further evidence of meandering cave passage.
Seaside entrance around corner from PC
TB in Seaside entrance to Watergate
Seaside passage from entrance
Looking out of the Seaside entrance
Seaside entrance, just submerged
The Cliff and Bench looking South
From the Logs
8th April 2012
A visit to the two entrances recorded last year by TB & PC. The first tube PC checked was 14m long to a choke. The next entrance was entered by TB, estimated at 0.5m above chart datum, passing a 15m wet crawl to a two metre square passage with a chamber about 4/5m diameter; daylight entering from a small crevice. This entrance, barely above chart datum, means it will be inaccessible at almost every state of the tide, with the exception of during a very low spring tidal cycle with calm sea conditions. Access therefore may only be a few occasions a year and will certainly prove problematic.
9th April 2012
TB & PC
Low Water 13:30 springs. PC drove to Doolin pier to ascertain the sea state, it appeared to have a one metre swell. This put in doubt entry to Seaside. PC and TB discussed options over mugs of tea.
Plan “A” Enter, explore as far as conditions and nerve allow, survey out.
Plan “B” Remove the pallet in the embayment seeking alternate entry.
Plan “C” Go to Fraggle Rock.
On arrival the bench was awash, the entrance all but submerged; with each wavelet a significant volume of water rushed in. This was observed by PC who managed to wade to the corner of the cliff and, while buffeted by waves, could see the entrance area. Monitored for five minutes the volume of water entering was substantial, during which no air was expelled as the cave filled. Nor did there appear to be any reduction in speed with which the sea entered. TB took photos illustrating the situation. The team then climbed up the cliff to gps the entrance position from the bench directly above. This bench has much sea life present; barnacles etc so is an excellent datum for judging various tidal levels within the cave and the adjacent “bay” just around the corner. Moved down to the lower area of the small bay to attempt to scale the far bench and investigate the cliff and benches further south. No handholds on the green slippery surface; the plan is to return and fit a bolt for a rope or ladder. In the mid distance at the base of the cliffs a substantial entrance can be seen, perhaps forty metres wide and four high. This entrance and area seem vaguely familiar.
12th April 2012
The Bay Area, Ballyvoe
CC, TB & PC
LW 16:02; Neaps. The intention was to revisit the holes located previous; to remove the pallet have a look-see at the hole behind the boulder and to drill a hole to hang a ladder from to access the benches to the south. CC & TB worked on the pallet while PC climbed up a boulder, spragged across and drilled the hole to hold a belay bar for the ladder. Meanwhile the pallet was destroyed and access into a small cavity gained, nothing. The other hole was looked at and several boulders removed. One big bugger needs reducing; the echo beyond astounding. TB tried to reconcile the distance he traveled below to surface features. CC & PC will return to remove the boulders jammed in the entrance slot. The water below the entrance appears 1m+ deep, though no swell was noted, even though there was a one metre sea swell. The team then climbed up to the bench and investigated several other “holes”, none went. The huge sea cave is fifty metres wide, six deep and some five metres high, obviously created by the many boulders crashing at its base, some the size of large cars. The team managed to get to the collapse on the far southern side but no other sites found.
5th May 2012
Uisce Geata (Water Gate Cave)
CC & PC
LW 11:03. After a session at Fraggle PC suggested as the sea state was almost smooth and being a low spring tide they could look at the site TB entered. They reached it at 11:40 PC immediately entered. After some 15 metres the wet crawl rose to a stoop, then rose again to walking passage where dry land and big passage were encountered. To the right daylight could be seen. (which is now Oubliette). Pressing on the route became some two metres square, above water level, and increasing with consistent deep water. Over several large partly submerged boulders then dry land again, on a little further to a cross rift, right ended after three metres, left bifurcated, to the left nothing, the right a large tube blocked by sea cobbles, well worth digging. Returning to the skylight PC met CC who entered expressing concern for the rising sea level, together they hurriedly took photos and used the measuring tape to survey out. In sight of daylight, at the end of the entrance crawl, PC explored a low northern passage crawling to its end at thirteen metres; daylight enters through a low choked bedding from the left. Back at the junction PC held the tape urging CC out to exit, the water level had risen some nine inches reducing the airspace further to where CC faced a very small airspace in the duck, by the time PC exited a free dive of several metres was required to pass this low section of roof. LW was 11:03 the team had entered at 11:40, exiting at 11:58. At 12:02, the pair watched the entrance submerge. A grand day with cave passage measured, and estimated, at a conservative 80 metres. New passage today, both sites, is a totaled 100 metres.
24th June 2012
An Uisce Geata (Watergate).
TB & PC
LW 09:04, neaps. TBs’ return brought the fine weather. The plan; to assess and drill the final boulder blocking the rift. Both took drills producing several holes for nudgers. The final hole drilled was a belay for the ladder; the small entrance, and space below resembles an oubliette. The sea clearly visible inside, washing back and forth.
27th June 2012
Water Gate Cave
TB, CC & PC
The plan; remove the final rock obstructing Oubliette. The team arrived as the sea washed about beneath their feet on a falling tide. All the shot holes drilled the 25th June were full of water so the longest hole was dried out and prepared. Reduced to several large lumps the remains were reduced further using CC’s sledge hammer.
NB: At 15:00 the sea was level with the roof of the entrance passage area. The height of tide filling the passage to the roof was calculated for 15:00 indicating that a tide height of 2.58m successfully floods all passages to the roof. Further exploration will require this data.
Oubliette Bay viewed Northward
Looking up at the large boulder blocking the Oubliette entrance
CC destroying the final boulder blocking Oubliette
TB, first descent of Oubliette
Bottom of Oubliette pitch
Oubliette entrance sealed by the storms of Jan/Feb 2014
3rd July 2012
Water Gate Cave
TB, CC & PC
LW 11:15, springs. Light rain still falling. Arrived and swiftly slipped through the opening. TB thrilled with finally getting a good look around the place after such a long wait. Sea levels had submerged the entrance passages toward the original entrance Watergate, (Seaside), so the Team moved upstream. CC began to dig the choke while TB & PC started the survey from Oubliette. All the while pulses from external wave action fluctuated internal water levels by some six inches (150mm). The survey accompanied rising water levels and terminated where CC was digging. A delay of thirty minutes and the Team would need to swim back along the main passage to Oubliette. In the tight entrance barnacles provide a severe grip on the explorer. PC capped the squeeze to enlarge it though it really needs nudging, perhaps as a matter of urgency.
4th July, 11:00. 2012.
TB & PC
LW 12:02, springs. Raining; PC brought along drill and nudgers to enlarge the Oubliette entrance squeeze. Heavy showers did not dampen enthusiasm, it was felt without an easy exit, those with man sized chests, would be at a disadvantage. With most of the narrow bit gone a short section still required attention, the second nudger worked. TB took video and photos of the larger hole, hooray!
22nd August 2013
TB and PC
Water Gate Cave
11:00: LW 12:29 springs, 0.26m: With such a predicted low tide the plan was to attempt a survey of the entrance passages; alas the tide fell but the waves entering barely formed an airspace and the level of water indicated that the low point in the entrance passage was still sumped, the noises fascinating. Meanwhile the team surveyed the smaller hole nearby, entered by PC last year, and during further prospecting found development beneath a boulder; definitely passage development connected with Watergate, now detached from the cliff, some eleven metres in total. During exploration both regularly soaked by the waves: great fun.
23rd August 2013
Water Gate Cave
TB and PC
LW 13:10; springs: The aim again to survey the entrance passages, alas the wave pattern was similar to yesterday regularly entering the crawl. too much to allow a usable airspace.
22nd March 2015
Water Gate Cave
CC, TB and PC
LW 12:11: Sea state slight, light wind. The plan; attempt to enter Watergate via Seaside; Oubliette is still securely blocked with boulders following the storms of January-February 2014. CC had gone ahead to drill and secure a ladder down from the upper bench, to avoid the increasing swath of greasy green algae that now covers much of the lower bench to the sea. TB and PC joined CC finding the swell had submerged the entrance.
30th August 2015
Water Gate Cave
TB and PC
LW 12:03 (0.25m) springs: the plan; as high pressure in the north Atlantic was building, to make an attempt to enter and complete the survey of Watergate. As “Oubliette” remains blocked vigilance of the sea level and its state was maintained. The plan allowed for the pair to arrive at an hour before LW. En-route breaking sea was visible on the south end of Inisheer; remaining optimistic the pair continued to the site via the slippery coastal bench route. On arrival breakers were noted as being between 0.75m and 1 metre; a walk to the entrance confirmed the suspected inaccessibility.
Passage to Seaside sumped
Main passage 5th May push.
Big scallops main passage
Main Passage, CC and TB