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Present: Andy Freem, Jonathan Lester, Jack Sherlock, Peter Davidson

(Present: Andy Freem, Jonathan Lester, Jack Sherlock, Peter Davidson)

Kicking off our first full day of DUSA’s summer trip to South Wales was a trip down OFD2. 7 of us had moved in to the SWCC the previous evening, being introduced by Andy Freem (DUSA President 1969-72) who had kindly offered to help out with our first trips in OFD.

At around 11am, on (as we were to find out) one of the few moments of the week that it wasn’t chucking it down, we set off up the hill for the 20 minute walk. The other 4 (Ben, Sally, Joanna, Nasir) and Henry headed down towards OFD1’s entrance, which Andy, Ben, Sally and I had recced the night before.

After cracking the safe-like door at Top Entrance, we first dealt with the matter of Jono dazzling us with his inexplicable infra-red 3D scanner, using an adapted Xbox Kinect sensor to record the surroundings near the entrance (or so we were told – who knows?).

We then headed through the Big Chamber Near The Entrance, and then past the Wedding Cake towards the Corkscrew (big fan of the descriptive names in this cave), which got us to one of the many lower levels. Andy had a great knowledge of the natural processes going on in the cave and would take the time to enlighten us with details of hidden features we would have walked right past, not to mention giving us (mostly me) a chance for a breather.

Wading downstream through the Salubrious Passage, we took a brief tangent on the right to observe some other fab features (the Trident and the Judge). We then turned back to the stream way, but not before Andy calmly (as ever) took the opportunity to stand over a 20m drop traverse ahead of us to tell us about where it would lead.

Taking the left at the junction to go further down the stream, we eventually arrived at The Crossroads. From there, we spent some time exploring the surrounding web of tunnels known as The Maze (an accurate title), including passing over the President’s Leap (another feature with a backstory that Andy happily indulged us in; this one of a club’s president falling short of a jump).

Andy took a backseat on the way back, and we retraced our steps back to the Corkscrew. The waterfall climbs in Salubrious Passage proved a bit of a fiddle given their slipperiness, but we mostly didn’t have any problems. From here we took a different path, passing through the beautiful formations in the large Gnome Passage and slipping and sliding our way across the Brickyard to get to our starting point.

At this point we still felt up to doing a bit more caving, so Andy took us down one of the side passages near the entrance. Going down a kind of mudslide we arrived at what are called the Bedding Chambers. Somehow fairly open and fairly tight simultaneously, these basically required us to crawl in paths around the low ceilings whilst avoiding both taped-off stalactites on our right and slopes to massive holes on our left. These led us to a merciful opening where we could peer down back at Gnome Passage far below (which can be descended on rope with SRT) before heading back, in what was a nice ending to an all-round great introductory trip. Massive thanks to Andy!

– Peter Davidson (Secretary)