Boreham Cave

Party:-   S. Pickles & A. Fletcher.

150 feet of easy passage leads to an enlargement just before the canal. Once kitted up, a crawl through a low arch leads to 150 feet of swimming and a short free-dive in deepening water to sump one proper. This is also 150 feet long in a beautiful tube, 10 to 20 feet in diameter with 30 foot visibility. The passage on the far side is at first quite large but soon lowers to hands & knees crawling for 220 feet over gravel & rocks. (Real fun with two bottles, lead weights, etc. but no kneepads.) An inlet enters from the right here and a scramble down a shingle bank lands in the next sump pool. A nasty squeeze down under water leads into the continuation of the sump, again large & crystal clear. A dive of 320 feet leads to a rift air bell where it Is necessary to squeeze over the top, half out of the water, at the same time trying to keep hold of the guide line. From here a further dive of 390 feet via a few entertaining air bells, leads ore to surface in Boreham 9 at a total distance of 1230 feet from the entrance, 860 feet of which is sump.

After quickly de-kitting, a scramble up boulders leads to a 30 foot climb up active gours, then more boulders and a sharp right hand bend in the passage. A rope hanging down here shows the entrance to the high level formations tube. Ignoring this, the Main Gallery was followed, in places 50 feet high by 50 feet wide, with masses of straws hanging from the roof. This continues for 300 feet to the start of Gloopy Twirl Inlet. Here the roof lowers to a stooping and crawling sized passage which we pursued for about 600 feet before deciding to turn round.

Returning to the rope at the corner just above the sump, a climb up for 35 feet leads to the start of the high level formations, Hands &, knees crawling for 100 feet through large crystal pools leads to a passage heading off on the left. The formations in the approach passage are quite something, but in a way prepare you for what is to come.  Low passage for 30 feet suddenly opens up to a comfortable shelf on which to lie amazed at what is in front. The China Shop is a lake chamber with two foot of water on the floor, the remainder of the chamber, 50ft. x 20ft. and 8 feet from water surface to roof is just amass of straws. The only way across is tot claw your way along the bottom with just your head above water through a tunnel smashed out by the original explorers to gain access to the passage on the far side, “The Tinkle Tubes”. These can be explored for about 300 feet, once again through masses of straws & helictites, one of which was measured at 3 inches, long, to where the way chokes completely. The return across the lake was made very carefully to avoid any damage, but inevitably some of the thinner ones snapped as the water lapped up and touched the base of them. Just to see if they really worked, a one foot long pièce of “straw” was picked up & a good drink was had through it before we returned to the sump pool, kitted up & headed out.

Visibility on the way out was nowhere near as good, but we weren’t really bothered. We had had an excellent caving trip and seen some fantastic and unique formations. The crawl between sumps I and 2 was as sweaty & nasty as on the way in but we were soon flopping into sump one and finning our way out after an excellent 4 hour trip.

A. Fletcher


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