Members present: Ben S., Peter W., Sam M. and Fabian E.
A very calm evening with wonderful views of the sky which allowed for various star constellations to be identified… This sounds like the perfect camp fire adventure but this was not what was planned.
Our Leader Ben had the task of exploring Brightgate Cave to see what condition this cave was in as well as undertake some conservation with the help of the other members.
After getting kitted up and removing the two railway sleepers out of the entrance which presents animals from entering, we began our descent into the darkness. Luckily, everyone managed to pass the first challenge being the entrance squeeze.
Once we established the path towards the main chamber, we made a plan and Ben suggested we explore to the deepest part of the cave first before heading off in all sorts of directions to explore where else it could lead.
Ben lead the group to the lowest/furthest part of the cave in just under 30 minutes where we found a potential active dig which lead into a funnel where we could hear some water dripping which produced a rather loud echo – maybe there is something big to find?
Once we completed our exploration in the lower part, we decided to start working backwards towards the top and taking every potential turn to see where it could lead.
I found a rather promising looking squeeze into a potential chamber and continuing funnel which he couldn’t reach.
Ben, with his caving experience, tried to squeeze himself in all sorts of positions to try and get through, yet was unsuccessful at first.
Peter tried too but also didn’t manage to get through.
I had a go but couldn’t even get my chest through the gap… wait! What’s this puddle beneath?
Do you think we could empty it slightly and get through the duck?
After about 20 water buckets full of muddy smelly water, it was exposed enough to start squeezing through!
Fabian tried first and managed to get through, shortly followed by Ben who pushed onwards and found an incredible enlarged area where we could stand and admire a crystal clear pool surrounded by some interesting formations.
There was a very strong draft which lead us to believe that there may be a way onwards…
Once everyone had a look in the pool, we returned through the duck onto drier paths, although already covered in slurry, with Sam deciding to dip the back of her head into the pool just as she exited.
Whilst everyone had a little rest following this technical manoeuvre, Ben decided to give the tight squeeze (which was dry) another go! Rotate left, rotate right, lean forwards, push off the wall and… through! First we saw some feet coming through the pool duck, then a torso, then Bens face with a massive grin… he was happy that he’d accomplished this tight manoeuvre.
We explored a few more little crawls, all of which ended up in digs and no way on. We grouped up before exploring the labyrinth which was disorientating but very exciting to adventure through.
As we’d been underground for nearly 3 hours by now, we started our ascent back towards fresh air whilst still exploring different paths to see where they lead.
Ben managed to find an interesting alternative exit towards the free climb which leads up to the top level.
Once we reached the top, we secured the cave with the railway sleepers again before heading back to the vehicles to pack away our gear.
This was a very interesting trip and Bens infectious thirst of exploring and finding different ways had kept the whole group entertained and keen to see every possible part of the cave.
Whilst in the cave, we managed to clean up some rubbish as well as record some graffiti from different time periods.