Cambridge Underground 1981 pp 30-33
CAVING IN BELGIUM
The 1981 CUCC Belgium Expedition (all right, trip), while doing its fair
whack of caving, also obtained a good deal of information about
"Les Grottes Belgiques" which way be of interest to
future expeditions; so here it is. Much of the information was acquired from
M. Robert Delbrouk, who generously provided us with the
cave atlases referred to, which can be found in the club library, any
reputable bookshop, etc. They are:
1) Atlas des Grottes de Belgique (2me partie)
2) A.d.G.d.B. Tome 4
3) A.d.G.d.B. Tome 5
The latter two are updates of the first (and it's companion volume -
1er partie - which is unfortunately not available)(cf
Northern Caves Ed.); I'll refer to each as AGB2 etc.
also runs a caving shop which I shall deservedly plug:
Route de Naninne 23, B 5158 DAVE,
Tel. [010-32-] 81-401473/401471
As the address suggests, this is on the road between
Dave and Naninne, just south of
Namur, and is near exit 16 of the E40. The owner speaks
good English so you won't be vocab-limited in your rush to buy super
rockmelting carbide lamps, thermal underwear, throcking washers (metric) etc.
Another very useful address is that of the hut that we stayed in near
Han-sur-Lesse. It's extremely palatial, with individual
bunks, dining/living room, kitchen, BAR and cinema! This is the CYRES hut:
45, Rue Bel Vaux, Ave et Auffe,
Right, now the caves, first, the well known ones:
- 1) PERE NOEL
- Belgium's most famous and prettiest non-show cave. We didn't get to go
down this one; it is necessary to check whether it is open with CYRES.
- 2) TROU BERNARD (AGB5, 7)
- Rated "a fine trip". We rigged the first pitch with 20m of ladder, rather
than a rope and ladder as shown. A rope is useful for the whole length of the
chicanes, and a short ladder makes the upper bit a lot
easier on the way out. Below the second pitch it's easier to go to the head
of the third pitch (bolt belay), then squeeze through a hole at head height,
a sporting way of avoiding the pitch. Then a 10m pitch to the
"nid d'aigle" which is full of large boulders. I must
confess to a slight jack on this one (the old war wound).
- 3) TROU WERON (Loose plan in AGB2)
- We had heard rumours that this cave was quite sporting and tight, which
proved true. Our greatest difficulty was persuading the farmer, with 100Fr
and our passports, to let us feast our eyes on the cave's glories.
The entrance, in a large shakehole, leads down to a flat-out crawl of
about 20m. This emerges into a small chamber with the way on among boulders
at the bottom. A 5m pitch leads to a second chamber with two ways on. One
(unexplored) has a 5m pitch, the other is a climb into a narrow rift. This
leads into some tight, sporting vadose canyon with two further ladder
pitches. A roof level phreatic tube enters a more steeply descending rift - a
rope is recommended here. The cave ends with a sordid grovel before a divine
little sump. The mud at the bottom is great for flinging. The exit is even
more sporting than the way in; the passage that you had to push hard to get
down is a mite thrutchy on the way back.
- 4) TROU DE L'EGLISE [loose plan in AGB2]
- This supposedly pretty cave is used as a sewer (un
égout) and as a result is rather brown. The cascades are rather
unpleasantly slippery. Possibly the only attraction is that the entrance is
opposite the bar "Le Spéléo".
The remaining caves were not "bashed" on our trip, but were recommended:
- 5) TROU DES NUTONS (AGB2, 5)
- Five successive pitches leading to a "rivière
- 6) TROU DU CHIEN (AGB2, 12)
- Short and interesting, near to the CYRES hut.
- 7) TROU-QUI-FUME (AGB2, 17)
- The lower entrance is always open but is rather tight at first.
The upper entrance is locked; the address to write to is:
M. Foulon, conservateur, Parc National Furfooz,
B 5505 FURFOOZ
- 8) TROU DES CREVES (AGB2, 19)
- This fine cave is only accessible for two weeks each year when the
entrance sump is drained.
- 9) GROTTE DE FAYE (AGB2, 24)
- 10) PUITS AUX LAMPS (AGB2, 25)
- Basically a big pitch into a large chamber.The ground above the entrance
is used as the spoil tip for a quarry but access is still possible. The cave
is very near the road, various techniques for the descent have involved the
use of a long rope a harness, a pulley and a car!
- 11) CHANTOIR DE ROUGE-THIER (AGB2, 37)
- A round trip.
- 12) GROTTE DE REMOUCHAMPS (AGB2, 39)
- 13) GROTTE DE HOTTON (AGB2, 46)
- This cave is steadily being hacked away by quarrying. The upper entrance
is locked, but write to:
Bernard Urbain, Spéléo Club de Belgique,
Avenue Albert de Coster, 1070 BRUXELLES
- 14) PUITS DE CHATEAU (AGB4, 18)
- A 70m wellshaft for SRT practice.
- 15) GROTTE DE LA VILAINE SOURCE (AGB5, 4)
- Write to:
Societé Spéléologique de Namur,
M. Georges Chalon, Route de Dave, B 5100 JAMBES
The entrance to this is in a railway tunnel, the positioning of lookouts
and the possession of a timetable is recommended as the ladder hangs in the
path of the trains.
- 16) LA LAIDE FOSSE (AGB5, 21)
- 17) GROTTE VERONIKA (AGB5, 22);
TROU WINANT (AGB5, 39);
- In the same area are several caves not described in the guides and a
hut, more details can be got from:
M. Albert Brittoz, Rue de Dolembreux 7, B 4050 ESNEUX
- 18) TROU MOULIN (AGB5, 22)
There are also several show caves in the area; the Grotte de
Han is well worth a visit, the rest less so.
The locations of the caves are given in the "AGB's" using the
"Planchette" 1:25000 maps. Many of the locked caves are
kept so because of the "pretties" but it seems that cavers from abroad will
usually be given access if a request is made in advance. With the aid of a
few bottles of Trappiste many of the smaller caves can
become quite gripping too.
More details of Grotte Père Nöel and others
was included in "A Belgian Long Weekend",
in C.U. 1980
Index to Cambridge Underground
Table of Contents for Cambridge Underground 1981
Back to CUCC top page