Peachey and Rachel had come to Ireland for a wee visit and a history lesson, and at the weekend we decided we should show face in Fermanagh and do some caving. We recruited my work colleague, Benedicte, along the way and set off from Dublin on a windy Friday afternoon. This soon became a wind and rain combo. Upon arrival to the Hoo wind dropped slightly but rain became truly biblical and we decided the evening would be much better spent by a fire, drinking port, than going caving. Very cosy and enjoyable. Rachel finished making my new hat, greatly appreciated.
We awoke to extremely pleasant clear blue skies the following day and Rachel cooked a fine breakfast for everyone. She was very motivated to go caving, apparently. So motivated, in fact, that we were leaving the Hoo at 10am, an unheard of hour to go caving. We were so early that no one was yet awake to leave a callout with. Eventually Sam was rung. ‘Sam, can we leave a callout for a trip in Prods Pot. We’re staying at the Hoo, Northern Ireland.’ ‘What Pot? Who?’
Soon we were at the entrance after a much more pleasant walk than the time before. I slowly remembered how to rig caves and we descended, with Benedicte feeling re-assured that she was not with a whole team of people as feckless as me. After some rig faff and Rachel getting stuck in the squeezy bit above the last pitch we headed downstream past some decent formations to soon reach the first of 7 downstream sumps that eventually lead to Cascades Rising cave. We then headed back upstream to explore the inlet Papists Passage. It seems that a lot of the water flowing in the cave is fed by percolation from many small fissures above the main streamway. After some more involved caving upstream in Papists Passage, passing some excellent shingle banks and ripples in the sand below, we reached the sump at the end of the inlet. I think Papists Passage must be quite infilled with sediment, meaning that the main passage is likely a lot taller than it appears.
We then headed in an upstream direction from where the entrance series drops you in, and at this point Peachey and Rachel decided it was too wet to carry on and left myself and Benedicte to see if we could find the upstream sump. This we did, after passing a very fine column. The sump is a bit of an anticlimax after a sporting vadose meander which would not be out of place in the Dales. Then we headed out after a very pleasant and refreshing 4 hour trip. It was still daylight on the surface, very unusual for winter caving trips.
Back to the hut for tea and medals. Quick snooze, then back down the hill and off to Boho to see a noise gig put on by Polish caver Michal of Grotto Promotions. The experience of sitting in a very small room in the Linnet Inn listening to dark ambient noise while bathed in red light and surrounded by other enchanted intent listeners is not one which is easily forgotten. Soon Richard Cole, Petey, Becks, Rob, Emily and the UCD crew and more showed up and I did my best to cure my encroaching cold with Hot Toddy’s but to no avail.
I awoke the next morning feeling rather sore in the throat, and it was decided that a walk would be a much more pleasant way of spending a day that sunny (in Ireland, two sunny days in a row are not to be sniffed at). Then back to Dublin for more tea but no medals. Great weekend!