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REPORT

Mendip and St Cuthberts

17th November 2012 - Nigel Dibben - ST 5430 5050

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Tom and I went down Friday late afternoon so we could get to Wells for the Carnival (if you've never seen the Somerset Carnivals in November, then you really should make an effort to get there). After the carnival, we went to the Hunters where Nigel spent the next couple of hours reminiscing with old friends. Then to Upper Pitts for a good night's sleep.

Saturday morning was fine but cold. Our leader, Alison Moody, turned up at about 10 and we were soon on our way via the Belfry (BEC hut) to sign in and then to the manhole entrance of St Cuthberts. A light shower in the entrance rift (a vertical squeeze for about 25 feet) and we were on our way down. The trip is quite quick as the pitches have fixed ladders starting at Arete Pitch onto a large block. Gradually we sloped down through the cave diverting to look at some superb curtains on the way and then down to the main stream. Following this, we walked, crawled, thrutched, climbed down past the huge gours until we reached Sump 1. Just before this are two dams which we plugged to make the trip from thereon drier (relative term). Through the gravelly crawl we went into Cuthberts 2 down to the final sump.

Coming back, the water was released from the dams which had filled about 4 ft deep. Very impressive flow! Onwards and upwards to Plantation Junction then through a series of sloping bedding planes and down to the stream again. Up again (yes, it's a bit like that) and into Rabbit Warren and the Railway Tunnel. More superb formations. Soon we were back at the Arete Pitch and started the climb out. After the entrance rift and before we left the cave, Alison let the main dam go outside and the effect of the stream was incredible flowing full force down the entrance. Someone once decribed it as a vertical sump. Finally, we climbed out into daylight after an active trip of about 4 hours.

Back at Upper Pitts (WCC) we changed and warmed up. Liz turned up later so I (Nigel) left Tom to stay for another day. On the trip, there was Ali Moody, Alistair "Tackleberry" Smith, Tom, Steve Muckross, Beth and me. Great day out in good company.

It wasn't the best place for photography on a led trip and it's quite steamy in places but there are a few snaps below. 

Below 1: Stal curtains, sloping ceiling is typical   Below 2: More curtains   Below 3: At the entrance to Sump 1, now drained   Below 4: Tom at Sump 2   

Picture 1: Stal curtains, sloping ceiling is typical Picture 2: More curtains Picture 3: At the entrance to Sump 1, now drained Picture 4: Tom at Sump 2

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