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Forest of Dean Meet May 2007

By Emma Porter

A grand total of 65 adults, 4 kids and 1 dog ...................................

From BEC:        Emma Porter, Mike and Hilary Wilson, John Christie, Nick Gymer, Peter Hellier, Sean Howe, Tim Ball, Faye Litherland, Phil Coles, John Noble, Ruth Allen, Rich Smith and friend.

From Craven Pothole Club: Mike Clayton, Mike Bertenshaw, Arthur Champion, Gordon Coldwell, Graham Coates, Neville Lucus, Simon Parker, Perce Lister, Rob and Linda Scott, Tom Thompson, Andrew Wallis and Mike Whitehouse.

From Dudley Caving Club: Pete Anstey, Keith Edwards, Andy Grimes, Brendan Marris, Carole and Ellie Northall, Mel Wakeman and Dea Wilkins.

From Shepton Mallet Caving Club: Keith, Amanda, Tom and Poppy Batten, James Begley, Anthony and Cassie Butcher, Marian Challis, Hayley Clark, Phil Collett, Sarah Crofts, Andy and Kirsty Davey, Ivan Hollis, Chris Molyneux, Neil Walmsley, Ed Waters and Richard Webber.

Others: Chris “Zot” Harvey, Richard Dearden (WMCEG), Tibor “Dino” Dianovszki (Hungary), Bill Griffiths (WMCEG), Lisa and Brooke Hall, Iain Heald, John and Laura Haynes (ULSA), Amina Kasar, Heather Simpson (NWCC) and Rachel White (WMCEG).

Forest cavers: Dave Appleing, John “Mole” Hine, Gareth Jones and Paul Taylor.

In 2003, Mike Clayton and I organised a meet in the Forest of Dean primarily for Craven Pothole Club, in 2005 cavers from BEC, Dudley CC and SMCC joined the CPC for a long weekend in the Forest and this year, we were joined by even more cavers.  I have to admit; I started to get a little nervous receiving a barrage of emails advising me who would be there for the weekend! 

Friday 4 May 2007

The troops started to arrive on Friday night to Rushmere Farm Campsite near Coleford where we took over half the field, complete with sign advertising “Cavers’ Event” provided by Dea Wilkins.  John Christie arrived in good time with two barrels of excellent beer, so excellent that the second barrel of beer was started on the Friday evening!  A great evening was had by all, sipping beer around the fire till the early hours.

Saturday 5 May 2007

Saturday saw 6 underground trips to Miss Graces Lane (MGL), Wet Sink (Slaughter Stream), Big Sink, Otter Hole, Redhouse Lane and Westbury Brook Iron Mine. Paul Taylor led a mixed team of BEC/CPC/DCC for a “warm” trip in MGL (not recommended for hangovers!). Meanwhile, two teams consisting of CPC/BEC/SMCC headed down Wet Sink, a team of two SMCC/ two ULSA ventured down Big Sink (and seemed very happy when they were out!), and a team of DCC/BEC tried not to get lost in Westbury Brook Iron Mine (getting further than last time!) with the benefit of some local knowledge provided by Gareth Jones.  The Redhouse Lane Swallet team had a delayed start, after some location problems, which was not a bad thing as Jan Karvik and Andy Harp, both from Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club, had hoped they had timed it right and the entrance would be dug out for them – instead they were there first and had to dig it out for our team! Despite the open passage newly dug out once again, Arthur Champion still decided that the trip was a “once in a lifetime experience”.

Meanwhile, above ground (although perhaps not above water), Zot and Mike Clayton were having fun canoeing on the River Wye, which runs through Symonds Yat, and others were off exploring the Forest by bike and on foot.

We eventually all got back to the campsite to meet Dino from Hungary who had heard about the meet through some Hungarian friends of mine and once the Otter Hole team were back we settled down for a large Chinese takeaway, arranged thanks to Hilary and Mike Wilson. The weather held off as we socialised into the earlier hours once again.

Sunday 6 May 2007

Only three underground locations were explored on the Sunday, with three mixed club teams including a caver joining us from Chesterfield CC as they happened to be staying at the campsite, with trips into Wet Sink, Wigpool Iron Mine and the long descent into Robin Hood Iron Mine.

Due to the numbers interested in the Robin Hood Iron Mine trip and the time required for the entrance pitch, Mike Clayton and I decided to have some peace and quiet from all of the organising and enjoy the sun, relax (so we thought) and be surface support.

In recent years, Mike and I have been surveying this mine with some of the Forest cavers.  The entrance is a brick-lined shaft with a 65m free hang.  In order to safely rig the rope and as members of GCRG, we were kindly lent the GCRG tripod and Land Rover on which to transport it.  The tripod was rigged, only to discover that we did not have the right key.  A few calls later and a trip back to the GCRG depot and the lock was opened and the team descended.  The team went off to explore the mine, whilst I decided to avoid meeting the wild boar and went back to the campsite to sort camping fees and Mike went off canoeing with Mike Wilson and Zot.  I went back to meet the team a few hours later with some alcoholic refreshments and discovered that the entrance speed record had been beaten!

Once all were back from the day’s above and below ground activities, we spent the evening in the Kings Head, sampling the real ales.

Monday 7 May 2007

Monday was wind-down day with some threatening black clouds but which were fortunately just threatening. Several lost or unfortunate key incidents occurred and Mike Wilson had the group at the campsite putting into practice search techniques, although two calls to the AA had to be made anyway!

Meanwhile, a small group of DCC and WMCEG day-trippers headed to Wet Sink for some photography. However, the main trip of the day was to Wigpool Iron Mine, once again led enthusiastically by Mole.  It was an excellent trip and a real surprise at just how pretty it is (see Pete Hellier’s report in the previous BB).

The Forest multi-club weekend was a real success, with a large number of underground and above ground activities taking place and a great social event.  We raised through donations and beer profits, over £75 for GCRG which has been used to pay for two sleeping bags and thermo rests for a Surface Comms Kit, so thank you all!

Thanks to: Everyone that attended and who made the weekend such a success!  John Christie for collecting the beer, Mike Whitehouse and Dea Wilkins for selling raffle tickets and pouring pints, Mike and Hilary Wilson for meeting Mike Clayton and I to check suitable campsites, sorting the Chinese takeaway and helping with camping fees.  A big thank you must go to the Forest cavers who went out of their way to help us; Paul Taylor and Steve Tomalin for checking pubs in advance for real ale, Paul Taylor for lending us keys (and forgiving us when a key was lost!), permit assistance and a great trip into MGL, Gareth Jones for ensuring that the team got a little further on than last time in Westbury Brook, Mole for providing two entertaining trips into Wigpool which were one of the highlights of the weekend, Dave Appleing for sorting and leading the trip into Otter, Jan Karvik for access to MGL, Dave Tuffley for sorting the permits, Andy Clarke for permits for Wetsink and GCRG for lending us the tripod and Land Rover. 

Hope to see you in the Forest in 2009!

Emma Porter

Martian Caves

Caves have been discovered on Mars near the Arisa Mons Volcano. NASA believe the caves, named The Seven Sisters may contain ice and / or water. Some of the openings are said to be the size of football pitches. Rumours of a BEC expedition have yet to be quashed.

            “The bars are crap though

                        , no atmosphere”  JRat

A BEC sticker on the next Beagle expedition might be a start. Er…then again, maybe not. Ed.