Cambridge Underground 1986-7 pp 17-18

CUCC Silver Slipper Expedition to County Clare, Eire - 1986

After a long, strenous, tortuous minibus journey along narrow and winding cow-infested roads, the three intrepid adventurers, ie: The Silver Slipper Society faced Aillwee Cave entrance. With nervous anticipation (and crossed legs) we stumbled through the doors, and into the loos. After the appropriate amount of time, we emerged and stomped through the entrance series which we later learned was 'the award winning entrance building comprising shop and restaurant facilities', stopping on the way for some light refreshments and the statutory Twix.

After checking our permits, the local cave leader led us up an ascending tube to the two hundred foot long entrance tunnel, which had been banged by UBSS. This brought us to the first chamber called Bear Haven, which we passed through with the minimum of difficulty. The challenge was about to begin: could we cope we asked ourselves? Would it be too much for our delicate dispositions? Would we crack under the strain? We were about to find out what lay ahead. The leader went before us lighting the way as we penetrated further and further and further into the heart of the mountain. We slithered through Mud Hall, and came into the aweinspiring Cascade chamber containing a magnificent, multi-coloured flowstone. After admiring the magnificent, multicoloured flowstone, we crossed the chamber via a 'tricky traverse' under an overhanging rock, so tricky, in fact, that a member of our (experienced) party managed to bang her head, it was a terrible injury to be sure!

After a hundred feet of narrow sinuous passage, we met our second major obstacle: no it wasn't a three hundred foot pitch or even a mile long flat out crawl, but a massive boulder choke spanning the passage. However, we were lucky as the guide knew the way and we scrambled through with the aid of the hand rail into the enormous Midsummer Cavern. Here we gazed, dumbstruck, at yet more magnificent, multicoloured formations which adorned the roof, floor and walls of the cavern. The leader illuminated such amazing forms as the 'Bacon Rasher', 'Bunch of Carrots' and the 'Madonna's Hands' but all this was outshone by the dingly-dangly things known commonly as straws.

Beyond the Midsummer Cavern we wound our way down a meandering phreatic tube, six feet square (or do we mean round?) After two hundred feet we began the difficult and dangerous descent via two scree slopes into The Highway. "Pulsating prunes," we cried, "we're going too fast."

We screeched to a halt before falling into the bottomless chasm; which incidentally is an almost straight passage 500' long, 50' high and 30' broad. In wet weather the stream rises from the sumps at the end of the cave and backs up through this cavern to the steps, did we just say steps? We meant the difficult and dangerous scree slopes.

Beyond this, it became just too difficult because the paving stones and handrail ran out! Even the multi-talented and vastly experienced Silver Slipper Society couldn't cope with the prospect of real caving. At this time, with much regret we turned back.

We turned on our heels and fled back up the difficult and dangerous descent, through the meandering phreatic tube into Midsummer Cavern, then onto the massive boulder choke, but it held no fears for us on our return journey. We bolted down the hundred feet of narrow, sinuous passage into Cascade Chamber. We dashed across the tricky traverse catching a fleeting glimpse of the magnificent, multicoloured flowstone. We went on through Mud Hall, Bear Haven, and down the ascending tube to rush back to Uncle Peter who was sitting there with our coffee - still hot thanks to the speed of our caving. We then staggered into the daylight, happy but tired after our exhilarating trip.

Time Underground: That would be telling!

Equipment : Who cares?

Members of the Expedition

Sue Orchard.
Gwyneth Hutchings.
Jo Greaney.

Yorvik Pot

by the President

In the same vein as the article from Ireland, the following cryptic entry was found in the log book by myself after I had been browsing through the reports of previous meets. It seems that part of the Silver Slipper Society had undertaken a secret trip to an undisclosed location somewhere in the North of England. Here they found and descended a cave, the description of which was entered into the log book when no one was looking. There is a considerable mystery here, because a diligent search of Pennine Underground (even including volume 5) did not reveal a single cave or pothole whose description matched that below! Where is the elusive Yorvik Pot? Only the members of the Silver Slipper Society know the answer, and they have sworn an oath of secrecy. Perhaps one of our readers recognises the description and then we can make good the ommission from the pages of Pennine Underground. Anyway, here is the mysterious extract from the log book:

Yorvik Pot

We went down the steep descent in the entrance series. After passing through the twisting, narrow passages we entered the main chamber where we were overcome by the dreadful smell. Stomped through the main chamber where we saw some extremely interesting formations. Passed from the main chamber through the 'Double Doors' where we reached the main dig. We then passed into a smaller chamber known as 'The Gift Shop'. Left via an awkward climb to the surface where we emerged, our eyes blinking in the bright sunlight.

Time Underground 1 ½ hours.

Tackle: Dry Grots, Flat Caps, Black Pudding, Two pound coins

By Jo, Gwyneth and Patrick

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