YUGOSLAVIA: or HOW TO MAKE YOUR PENSION STRETCH WHILE HOLIDAYING ABROAD

The Red Rose geriatric trip to Yugoslavia almost started in disaster as we hadn’t got a roof rack, however Steve decided he couldn’t go, so we stuffed everything including the rubber boat in the back of the minibus and 9 of us set off, All went well and we crossed the channel in the evening intending to camp at Zeebruge. The time was midnight when we arrived and on asking, found the camp sight full. However the landlord suggested we camp by a green lane opposite,                                                    .                                                                                    ‘Everybody else does it”.                                         .                                                                                               We had just got the tents out when the police arrived. “Move along”                                .                     “Where to?” “The campsite” “It’s full”                                           .                                                                      Shrugged shoulders from your friendly copper, So we drove on, through the night and next morning till we decided that enough was enough and pulled off the autobahn to the village of Hohë Grenshausen. It was cheap and next to a swimming pool so this is where we caught up on our sleep. Jim Farrer had his first taste of iced cafe here on Ron’s instructions,
After a nights stop at Katy’s’ near Golling in Austria we made Yugoslavia in a pass storming epic over the Radstadt, Katchburg and Wurzen passes. After a bit of bartering with the locals we founed our contact, Prof. Sustersic at Laze near Postojna. He quickly got us organised and by the next morning we were on our way down Najdene Jama. Actually we had a bit of trouble finding the 15’ deep rift in the middle of a forest, but once down the 3’ square hole in the bottom it got bigger and bigger. A short passage opened on to the balcony of 60’ pitch which dropped us into a huge rift covered in flowstone, followed , after about :300’, to another short passage, down a steep sandy slope onto an awkard 50’ pitch.

Down the shaft, we found ourselves traversing around the side of a large chamber on a path about 2’ deep in mud. As it started to slope, upwards we met Lol, who had gone on ahead with young Jack. Raising his finger to his lips, he motioned us to keep quiet, then he heaved a large rock down the slope. We could hear it rolling down for quite a while, then suddenly a deep SPLO0SH!!! I think everybody prayed for deeper and stickier mud at this point.

We spent the rest of the trip looking up and, down; passages which, unfortunately, seemed to close up. On the way back to the first ladder, Doug (found) a 10’ square passage that we had, missed coming in. This was down the flowstone, So while Jim F. Chris and I ferried the tackle up the pitch, Doug, Lol and young Jack ploughed on down the passage until it eventually came to the lake that we had rolled the rock into.
We found out later, from the survey, that the way on was over the lake where another 5km of big passage can be found.

We arrived back at camp at about 10pm, just as it began to rain and hail - and what hail! as BIG as golf balls. L started to think, ( steady on Jim, - ed.) what a holiday., but once it cleared up we never saw rain again.,

Next day we were up at 7am to help Franz on a surveying trip, the cave turned out to be an old show cave called Vilenicas Jama, - older than., the Postojna show caves, Apparently the Yugos. had blasted through the stals at the bottom of the light area and found some new stuff. Helping Franz to survey was a guy called Rado Gospodaric, a professor I’d. been caving with 20 years ago,. (before I was young,). He’s now in charge of the caving Institute.

This cave fulfilled all my caving dreams. We were just walking though a forest of stals. 20’ high. they’d even sawn through broken stals. to make steps in the show cave We came to the hole they’d blasted through the floor and then CRAWLED for almost 20’.  Lol threatened to go out at this stage, complaining that he wasn’t used to crawling. After a spectacular looking passage, we came out over the side of an inclined rift chamber about 200’ below. A short ladder down the calcite flow saw us weaving our ay through the stals to the bottom of the chamber. Doug, Lol and Jack gave the Yugo. a hand surveying a further 200’ below, while Jim F, Chris and I photographed our way out. I used up a whole film in 2 hours and wished I’d brought another with me. Both Jim and I ran out of words to describe the formations, ‘FABULOUS’

Back at the pub we met some lads from the local caving club. When we were thrown out of the pub they all came back to the camp site and stayed drinking till dawn. Only Jim F managed to keep the flag flying till the end. It was so hot we decided to have a day at the seaside where we spent the day eating, sunbathing, swimming, and in a few cases photographing the topless birds. Back at the ‘ranch’, Franz had organised a trip to Wolf Cave which was up in the hills at about 4000’. Doug, Jim P and Chris plus yours truly went to have a look at this, while the Germans went to investigate the holes in the poije near the camp. The draught, from the cave we went to, was so strong it could be felt 50’ below on the climb through the woods to it.

Apparently the Yugos had lost the draught and were blasting to try and find it. What a challenge! - Maybe we should have brought Johnny Southworth along. We eventually arrived in a chamber at the bottom and started searching for the draught. Jim F thought he could feel it down a small sentry box. After Doug and I had cleared a few boulders, a hole appeared. It was so cola down the hole, due to the draught, that we became quite invigorated, dropping the floor by about 3t to expose a rift, but we were stopped by a large slab. By a bit of careful. jamming of boulders, Jim was able to slide through into a rift which was roughly 20’deep before ending in a boulder choke.

After a day visiting Predjama Castle (in a cave,) and a quick trip to Planinska Jama, we said farewell to the Yugo cavers and got ready for Triglav. We camped at Bohinj and after driving as far as possible. Jim F, Lol, Jack, Jacque and myself set off for Triglav. It was too hot for me on the walk in so I stayed at the first hut with Jacqu. while the rest of the lads went on to the Planina Hut, gaining the peak the next day. While waiting for the lads to return next day, we went for a walk in the double poije below the hut. Guess what a stream was sinking . After a bit of searching I exposed a rift 6’ long by 2’ wide going in for about 20ft. It’s all there waiting for you lads.

The rest of the holiday was spent by Lake Bohinj, disturbing the nudists and supping the local ale. Oh I forgot to mention the moniental meal we had at Katthes on the way home.  A good trip!

Back to Contents.                                                                               JIM NEWTON