Gardening and composting – a trip to Flood Cavern Dent
Saturday, 17 June 2017

A couple of weeks into fine weather and Beardy has been to Dent to look at getting into Flood Cavern. He reports the entrances are all lost and there is no hope.
Challenge set with survey in hand, a collection of gardening tools Shezi and I set off down the River Dee. In the gorge Shezi falls arse over tit into one of the fine green slimy pools. I enquire if she is ok between the laughter and careful balancing.
Two and half hours of digging through, tree branches, trunks, tyres, glass bottles, house hold waste and other rotting materials a way in is found. A rapid descent is made clearing some more material. The next spot to dig at isn’t clear and I forgot a compass. There are numerous squeezes and wriggles over and around tyres and branches.

We return to the surface and with the wood saw cut up one of the branches to provide a protective covering for the entrance we have open then are then wedged in place with the hope they won’t float out.
It rains. Then Beardy, Chris, Williams and I return. Markings and entrance are found easily. More removal of composting material required but covering has mostly held. Further digging follows. With the prospect of carrying large divers and there gear the route is opened alot more than in the last trip.

Blocks and trees tyres and stinking plastic are all removed to head towards an end point. Laying in water for several hours chills both Chris William and I and the way on seems desperate and unattainable. Beardy and Chris survey their way in and are convinced that it is straight on into the blank wall. So once again I return to a point previously abandoned. There is a small inlet up the the left but this is too tight to get to. So back to the blank wall. Pulling tree branches and rocks and plastic out. Hope is slowly ebbing away with each rock and branch as more pulling and dragging then kicking is required to force it behind me. Then a branch can be poked forward. Can’t see anything. Then the block that makes the floor are only 4inches from the roof, this is hopeless. More branches come out, then a the blocks that make the floor aren’t the floor at all, they start to yield. The gap between floor and ceiling is starting to rise. Then small drop less than half a meter and open passage (relatively speaking), at last.

By this stage both Shezi and I have been laying in water for several hours and are keen to run away and warm up. Beardy and Chris didn’t seem keen to continue and of course had been doing sterling work removing all the rubbish that was pulled out. The amount of rock and material removed became more clear as I crawled passed piles of boulders and rocks stacked in cervices and alcoves.
Then on the surface we bravely decided that neoprene was required for the next trip.
It rained or is going to this weekend.

Why bother, the cave has been surveyed and known since ULSA/NPC extended the cave in the 1990’s. Well the simple answer is the sump. Beardy has been looking at the site on and off several years and this is the second or third summer I have tried to help advance the dig in through the rubbish.

The sump has never been dived and might provide a route into the sump from Tub Hole heading towards Ibeth Peril.
There is also a strongly draughting passage that was found two years ago that will need to be accessed again and explored but at the moment is totally lost.
Lets see what happens with the weather and if it is possible to get in this year.

Unfortunately this site is a extremely hazardous as it sumps as soon as the Dee flows. I suspect that it may flood from the bottom up too, either way it fills with water very quickly.

Comments

Good effort – keep going. You are understating a magnificent cave. The bedding you are in is huge – just full of rocks, trees and rubbish. The final passage to the sump is another fine big bedding and the prize will be for the diver who gets to do a stride entry into the impressive sump.

Get a wetsuit and get on with it before I have to come out of retirement and pirate the place! You’re in now and if you leave it you’ll have to do it all over again as I know from bitter experience over the last 20 years. We really should have dived that sump immediately in the late 90s.

Shame about falling over in the slightly slippy river bed. I don’t remember ever falling over anywhere in that riverbed or off the traverse in the gorge.
You are right about the flood risk but it should be a goer at this time of year – just keep sending people out to check the weather or take a molephone and have a picnic group outside. Access down the river is great fun in the wet or with verglas. Flexible rubber
strapped crampons on wellies work well to cope with the green slippery bits.

PS Did you meet Roland in there? We once saw him towing an eel!

Andy Tharratt