O.F.D. 1 to 2.   Easter Saturday 1981

 

Easter Saturday was a perfect, cloudless, hot, sunny day after the long damp winter it was grand to be able to enjoy the views across the Upper Swansea Valley, from the South Wales Caving Clubs Headquarters. What seemed like half the members of the “South Wales’ sat or stood outside the cottages, chatting, drinking tea and generally enjoying the hot sunshine. One could sense the mood, “And. now for Summer- goodbye Winter”. I suppose it says much for the mental makeup of cavers that we were going underground that morning. The trip was arranged with Bob Ratcliffe, Howel & Pete Harvey all members of .the “South Wales”, The Red Rose contingent consisted of Paul Saville, Keith Lewis & myself. It was with a little surprise that we saw that Bob & Pete were wearing shorts, surely real cavers wear wetsuits. Or so were my thoughts at the time, now I’m not so sure.
Nice pleasant walk down the hill to the man-made entrance of OFD & and into the cave, all the time enjoying the anecdotes & reminiscences of Bob &, Peter, who had been on the original exploration. trip into ORD I in 1946.

The tales of the discovery. of the cave — how the entrance was blasted into the cave on land not owned by the owner of the original entrance - now the connection was made between OFD I & 2 by digging up into the bottom of a hanging sump - how the club went midweek, tossing railway sleepers about like match sticks as tens of thousands of gallons of water were released. In fact it was nearly as goad as listening to. George Cornes. ( I hope George doesn’t fall for this bit of crawling. Ed.)
Progress through the cave was leisurely & enjoyable, plenty of time to appreciate the cave, ask questions and get answers. I know that we all enjoyed it. Eventually we had to concentrate on our caving as we had to swing into a narrow tube half way up a pitch then thrutch up the tube for a couple of hundred feet followed by an exposed climb down on the other side. Eventual1y the mainstream was rejoined which we followed to the impressive Marble Showers Passage.

It was at this point that we left terra firma and started on a series of climbs and sonic very impressive traversing. At one point we were looking down on the lights of cavers, 80 feet below us. Long before this, Keith & I were running on four star adrenalin, Paul relying on the ‘Confidence of Youth”. Recollections of the traverse are of two or three spots where one jumped across the passage from ledge to ledge, of places where my legs seemed too short for the straddling and several places where I was glad to have them behind me. Oh yes and a climb down a rope ladder. This high level route being from the end of OFD 1 to near the top end of OFD 2. All good stuff and I suppose that if we do it again it won’t be half as gripping. Once off the traverse section we were faced with some fossil passages ascending steeply leading towards the exit, it was here that the advantages of shorts were best demonstrated. The trip ascends for I000 feet, plus the normal up & downs of a caving trip and one can do without the constrictions of wet suit pants. There may be many advantages in a Lancaster Easegill through trip in wet suit top & shorts!

Frank Croll.

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