Posted by Allen on 7th November 2010

As Julia was feeling old and knackered, and hadn't been underground for about , well I’m not sure, at least since the last Ice Age, we decided to go into OFD 11 and do an easy trip with me leading again. Meeting Ann, Pauline and Kingsley at Penwyllt we went our separate ways. On reaching top entrance the key came apart inside the padlock with the metal shaft staying inside and the plastic key ring part, parting company, try as I may I couldn't  get the metal shaft out with the padlock locked in place on the door, however it’d come out with the lock in my hand.  
  I was getting frustrated and angry, when Linda bless her asked me if she could have a try, after several expletives that’d make a Soldier blush I relented, Linda had no luck either. Narrowly avoiding a Marital Domestic situation and to all our relief I finally managed to lock the padlock. ( I later reported the key to a member of  SWCC, key no 3 ) Fearing for her safety, Julia, while all this was going on , kept a healthy distance from the both of us!! 

Once inside and having acclimatised our eyes to the dark we made steady progress to the Corkscrew where we turned back as Julia wanted to go to the Mini Columns, after visiting the entrance to the passage that leads to Edwards Short cut and  passing the Wedding Cake I suddenly experienced a searing pain in my left ankle after stepping from one boulder to another, looking around I could see the Girls were nowhere near me, so no rocks had been dislodged and hit me, “ Oh no not again “ was my immediate thought. 
We didn't go to the Mini Columns but headed out with me on my hands and knees, helped by Linda, Julia and a chap from a party who were heading back, he actually stayed with is till the bottom of the hill,  having gained the entrance, I hobbled down to the car, again aided by my carers. Once at SWCC we bade farewell to our friend,  
after changing , the others arrived and Linda and myself went home with me driving. I've  torn a ligament in my Ankle witch holds a Tendon in place on some part of the foot, I wont be Caving for a while.    We had a good trip even if it was cut short ( thanks to Allen again), and I look forward to getting back after a break.  Allen.


Posted by Barry on76th November 2010

Again we split into two groups as Ann, Kingsley and Pauline went into Cwm Dwr and Allen, Linda and Julia went into OFD2.  The sun was shining but it was very cold.
                The Cwm Dwr group were first away to the tube in the quarry floor.  I opened the door and was first down the concrete tube.  At the bottom of that the loose rocks are held back by thick timbers which make very narrow steps in the vertical shaft requiring some careful manoeuvring.  Eventually level-ish ground is reached and there is space to regroup before entering the first flat out crawling section.  Once everyone was down we entered the crawl.  There are about three sections to this with brief respites where you can stand and walk through narrow stream-cut canyons.  The first section is small with some stones on the floor.  The second section starts with a lot of calcite on the floor with water running over it.  Then you loose the water and the passage becomes sandy with a bag grabbing gully on one side.  Eventually you get to a widening where you can regroup before entering the worst section  -  very small, especially at the beginning, with loads of small stones on the floor.  You practically have to ‘swim’ through this to push the stones to the side to give yourself more room.  A short climb up through boulders brings you out into big open passage with a sigh of relief.

Ann led from here and the going is relatively easy on the way in, although there are a few awkward and exposed climbs down.  Most of the passage is a large stream-cut canyon with a dry floor covered with boulders and sand.  There are some lovely white cascades of calcite from the roof.  After a while we reached the boulder choke and were relieved to find that there wasn’t too much water in it.  Ann led the way through the twists and turns without a hitch, although Kingsley had an awkward moment when he found himself turned the wrong way at one point.  Then we were heading downhill again to a big t-junction after a calcited slope.  Here the character of the passage changes.  There is a constant sound of running water as a shallow stream flows on the floor and water cascading down from the roof at one point.  We followed this down to Piccadilly.  We entered Flood Bypass and followed this to the Confluence before turning round.  The water level was lower here than we expected.
                Going back is much harder work because it is all uphill.  However some of the climbs don’t seem quite so bad because you are looking the other way and don’t feel so exposed.  Eventually we were through the choke and back to the crawls.  Ann was first in again but we met up where ever there was enough space.  When we got to the shaft out, I went up first and set up the steppy-sling to make it easier for Kingsley to get up.  We emerged into the cold sunshine one by one having had an excellent trip.


Posted by Darren on 3rd October 2010

With one group going to the Judge and Trident, Pauline and Darren thought they would have a little adventure on their own.  Thinking that she knew the first section Pauline only had the survey from the Trident.  A few errors were made but she always spotted when a wrong turn had been taken, it just took a while (and Barry) to find the right way.
Once at the Wedding Cake we were on our way and slithered down the Corkscrew and into Salubrious.  We were soon at the junction to the Trident which we ignored and continued straight on down Salubrious to The Crossroads.  We managed to negotiate the boulders to find our way into Selenite Tunnel with all it’s white and orange formations and sparkly crystals on the walls.  Soon we were at Shatter Pillar.  Here we decided to carefully take the smaller passage to Cross Rift as it has some fine decorations.  At the end of Cross Rift it was a case of negotiating various junctions to find our way back to The Cross Roads.  From there we made our way back to the Trident where we met up with the other group.  We travelled back with out them.

Ogof Draenen

Posted by Barry on 2nd October 2011

Dan yr Ogof - 5th September

It was a sunny morning when we met at SWCC club. There were a few cars there and some were on their way. It was quickly decided that there would be two trips. Mine was my first foray into Dan y Ogof, accompanied (led) by Pauline and Barry.
We quickly got changed, Barry sorted parking tickets and we headed to the tourist box for entry into Jurassic park! Suitably impressed with the display we made our way inside, over the barrier and on to Lake 1. Which was reasonably low? We made our way onto flabbergasm oxbow to look at the big suspended boulder hanging treacherously over the grand canyon. 
We soon entered the breath taking cloud chamber, one of the most beautiful chambers I have seen to date.
Awestruck we made out way to green canal and picked our transport vessel. After several selections and sinking of tubes! I grabbed the largest one and made my way along the canal, relishing the experience and reminiscing of time cave guiding in New Zealand. ( big head, ed ! ) 
We then completed a loop of which I am still trying to figure out, but I am sure we made our way back via the washing machine I think, and then back through the long crawl, which I quite enjoyed. Back in the show caves we met some tourists on our way out and helped guide them passed the deadly reptiles awaiting outside ! 
After getting changed I popped into the shop and brought a couple of dinosaurs for my nephew, which, like my day, were sure fire hits. Thank you Pauline and Barry J Darren.

Dan yr Ogof

Posted by Darren on 5th September 2010

Its was an overcast morning, when Pauline, Jan, Barry, Allen and myself met up at Monmouth, before a quick road trip around the forest to get the key. We then met up with Kinsley and Anne in a road side lay by near the mine. Westbury Brook is an old Iron Ore Mine in the Forest of Dean which is tucked away at the back of a huge opening into the hillside and is gated for safety. In it there is an abundance of Red Ochre gooey Clay. I have to say that this is one of the muddiest systems I have entered, along with Otter Hole and Craig a Ffynnon. The entrance has two big drums to descend, which have recently been installed to prevent collapse. After this, an awkward descent led down into a maze of passageways, at which point I felt a custodian of the mine, would definitely have been advantageous. We headed right, along the ‘obvious’ tunnel. What followed were some really tight muddy crawls and reasonable sized caverns.

These tight crawls led onto more precarious descents, which required both Barry’s and Allen’s ropes. After further muddy crawling and running out of rope, Barry and I headed back to retrieve the two ropes. On return the ropes led Barry to a chamber with a fair size drop of fatal proportions. Time to utilise a two to one rescue! We decided to head back to the start, to locate the ‘obvious’ passage. After several attempts of ending up in the same passages, the Westbrook maze had broken me. Allen, Anne, Kinsley and I headed back to the surface. The others carried on their search for the hidden route. After some pleasant chit chat, three of us headed back to our cars. Kinsley diligently kept safeguard for the rest of the team.


Posted by Allen on 5th September 2010

This was not a long trip with me leading as I want to get to know my way and you don’t if you always follow someone else. We intended  doing a round trip taking in Edwards Shortcut, but once there I  was overcome by the shakes, I was literally shaking like a leaf, I couldn't do it and said so, I couldn't stop shaking until Ann said “ Come here you silly sod “ and gave me a big long hug, which made me feel a lot better and  rotten at the same time for letting  everyone down. What makes this more shameful is that I've done this traverse a number of times with no problem, but not this time. Thank you Ann I’ll always be in your debt.  We turned back and  after a lot of pushing pulling and joining of slings managed to get up the awkward climb and back into the passage. I led the way down the Corkscrew and after getting to the  Trident and Judge, made our way out having  taken a few wrong turns thanks to me going wrong.  Apart from the one thing we had a good trip with one amusing little incident on the way to Edwards Shortcut, has someone camouflaged the entrance off the main passage as this eluded us for a while? Suffice to say I wasn't leading at this time!

Pwll Swnd

Posted by Jan on 1st Auhust 2010

Four intrepid explorers (Kingsley, Ann, Jan and Pauline) met up at Herbert’s Quarry lower car park.  After spying 3 lads already tucking into cans of lager we quickly decided to move to the upper car park so they didn’t see what we were leaving in the vehicles.  Here we got ourselves changed and set off through the quarry.  As usual for a day underground, the sun was shining and it was pleasantly warm.  We decided to stay high and follow the ridge round.  In theory this meant a less steep climb at the end……it didn’t feel like it as we slogged up to the highest point carrying the ladders and ropes etc.  However, after crossing the top we found the path on the other side which brought us down directly above the entrance.

We had a brief rest outside then pulled suits on, belted up before slithering into the entrance.  With the absence of Barry (priority date with racing lawnmowers!), Pauline set up the ladder and lifeline and lowered everyone to the bottom of the first pitch.  Jan then took the lead through the crawl to the chamber.  A couple of gour pools provided a welcome drink of cool water for Ann and Pauline.
We sat briefly while Kingsley reminded us of the route down and beyond the next pitch but we would save that for another day.  Then we ducked under the ledge below the slope where we had entered the chamber, and set off on our exploration.  I think we walked or crawled along all the possible passages and found some wonderfully sculpted passage, helectites and other calcite formations which had Ann in raptures.  On several occasions we regretted the lack of camera – Kingsley left his at the entrance, Jan accidently sent it home and Pauline didn’t think about it.  One section of the passage there was evidence that some rocks had moved as one particularly large piece of calcite had fracture lines near the bottom and some smaller pieces had shifted away from it.  On closer inspection the whole lump had shifted several inches from its original position as the stalagmite at the top was no longer lined up with its stalactite.  We also concluded that the whole section of rock wall along that passage looked like it was on the move and could collapse at some time in the future.  We moved on quickly!  
At the furthest reaches of the passages there is a fork.  Initially we took the right fork and followed it to the end.  It was drafting well although we could not see where from.  Pauline crawled to the end and reported that the draft was still present and the floor was mud etc with gaps at the sides which suggested that it could be dug.  A possible project…..?       We checked out the left fork to complete our survey before turning around and working our way back.  
After a brief bit of confusion we eventually found our way back into the chamber where we sat down for a rest.  As we sat in darkness conversation turned to a discussion of lights people had owned, from carbide, through kirby’s to FX’s.  Jan and Ann fell into reminiscing about visiting Stuart Kirby’s mansion in the dim and distant past to get lights repaired.  Eventually we decided that it was time to head back to the bottom of the pitch and climb to the surface.  Pauline climbed up first and operated the rope to bring the others up safely.  It was a team effort stowing the kit back into the bag before exiting.  With the sunlight streaming into the entrance the moss and ferns were beautifully backlit setting Ann off again!  
On the way back we stuck to the lower route across the bog which meant we had a great slide down a grassy bank at one point, led by Kingsley of course.  However because we were parked at the upper car park we had to climb back up a bit to pick up the tram way through the quarry.  A very enjoyable trip.

Otter Hole

Posted by Darren 25th July 2010

On 25th July, Darren, Sam and Graeme ventured on their long awaited trip into Otter Hole.  Having met Ian in the car park, we descended to (almost) river level with the Wye, before crouching through the entrance into the pleasantly cool and dark cave. We were immediately sliding through the previously well advertised mud.  Before too long we could hear the sound of the tidal water rushing out of the cave, but it was some 45 minutes before we arrived at the sump.  Venturing further into the cave could not be guaranteed unless the levels were low enough for us to pass safely through the sump.  Luckily, Ian was able to wade through the sump - the water lapping somewhere around his knees.  For the rest of us, being somewhat more vertically challenged, the water reached the height where certain appendages retreat to seek refuge closer to warmer parts of the body mass.

However, having successfully escaped to the other side of the sump, we continued to boulder hop, climb, descend, crawl, traverse, squeeze and slide further into the cave.  We were all tired by the time we reached the Hall of Thirty, but the wonderful formations that greeted us were a sight to behold.  Huge stal bosses, some gleaming white, and others almost gold in colour.  In other areas, curtains of calcite draped from the ceilings, many with bands of different colours which were synchronised with neighbouring formations.  Having retraced our steps to the Hall entrance, Ian decided there was sufficient time for him (accompanied by Sam) to explore another part of the cave.  Although they were back within 25 minutes, they reported sightings of other beautiful formations.  Mindful of the time limits imposed by the rising tide refilling the sump (so prevent our return to the surface), we started our return journey.  However, we were still able to enjoy many formations we had not seen on the outward journey.  These formations would have been the star attraction in many other caves. We made good time in reaching the sump, and were pleasantly surprised that the water level was a mere knee height. It was only at this point that we realised the mud we had quite easily wallowed through earlier in the day had been in a generally downhill direction.  Crawling, pushing and squeezing exhausted bodies through mud uphill proved to be a more arduous task.  Nonetheless, it only seemed to heighten Sam’s chuckling as he tackled this challenge with relish.  Neither did it impact on Darren’s desire to lead the return leg of the journey – he even sought to discover an alternative route before arriving at the exit of the cave. We had all expected a great deal from this trip and none of us were disappointed.  However, despite it being an epic, it was by no means an ‘Olympus Trip’ as Darren made the schoolboy error of leaving the camera in the car.  I can only suggest you have a look at the photos taken by Barry on the previous trip, though please bear in mind that these photos were taken in 2008, and that having a further 2 years growth, the formations now are so much bigger!

Craig a Ffynnon

Posted by Barry on 11th July 2010

Today’s trip was delayed for a week, as some of us was not available for the normal first Sunday of the month trip. Anyway as what seems to be normal these days the sun was shinning well on the day that we decide to spend underground. But anyway we all meet up at the Limekilns, where the parking arrangements had altered. Got changed and then headed up to the entrance with Kingsley, once inside we locked the gate behind us and filled in the logbook with our destination of the ‘Promise Land’. It was now onwards to the first pitch, which we soon had rigged and everyone up. At least we could now lose one of the kit bags, leaving this pitch rigged for our return. Next came the choke and it was then onwards through to the ‘Hall of the Mountain King’, then the fun began with the flat out crawl that would take us towards the ‘Severn Tunnel’. At the end of the ‘Severn Tunnel’ we took the right turn, passing by the entrance to the ‘Lower Series’ and then  ‘Blaen Elin’ before going very steady through the loose ‘forth choke’. Again once all through, we were soon at the top of the pitch into ‘The Promise Land’, we set up a traverse line, and rigged the pitch, then all got down safely. The old corroded ladder is still hanging in the ‘Promise Land’ just goes to show that they do deteriorate over time, firstly we turn left and visited ‘The Pagoda’ which is a superb set of formations around a lovely white stal. Then we continued down through ‘The Promise Land’ taking on all of the obstacles’ on route with team work, until we reached the final tight bit where only Ann and Darren squeezed through, leaving Jan and I on this side. Once regrouped we started our return trip back out, and when we were all at the top of ‘The Promise Land Pitch’ we stopped to have our Mars Bar’s before continuing. The crawl between ‘The Severn Tunnel’ and ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ really sapped the remainder of our energy. Then in the muddy section just before the boulder choke, Darren decides to drop head first into the mud, he then had to keep smiling so that we could see him. Back at the first pitch, we all got down and de-rigged, then it was back to having two heavy kit bags for the final exit, although we did have a quick look up ‘North West Inlet’ which still had about a foot of water, even with all of this dry weather that we have been having, so after a quick wash here, we then headed back to daylight where it felt so warm with the nice feeling of a flask of coffee awaiting at the vehicles. Although we were all knackered after this seven hour trip, I think that we all very much enjoyed it. 

Dan yr Ogof

Posted by Barry on 6th June 2010

It seems as if everyone was either on holiday or had other commitments for this weekend, so just Rupert and myself  went down to Dan yr Ogof. Once there we struggled into our wetsuits in the sun, and with the paperwork filled in we then headed up to the cave entrance, once in we continued through the show cave, until we got to the railings where the lakes awaited our arrival. The lakes were quite low with us only getting wet up to our chest and plenty of airspace, but the water falls/rapids were still quite noisy. 

Anyway, once out of the water, it was on with the round trip taking in all of the formations on route. At the start of the Long Crawl we could see that no one was in front of us as the water in the Water Trough was still and clear, but not for long as we crawled through it, after about 15 minutes we emerged at the other end of the Long Crawl and climbed down the fixed ladder into Gerard Platten Hall. We stopped at the Crystal Pool for a while taking a few photos before going up into Flabbergasm Passage. Then we continued onwards past all of the galleries of straws before getting to the start of the Green Canal, where we were lucky to find a couple of buoyancy aids. At the other end there was a good pile of them, so Rupert ferried about 20 aids back to the start of the Canal for other groups to use, once Rupert had returned we stopped for a quick bit to eat before continuing on towards The Abyss.  From here we continued steadily until we linked back up near the Crystal Pool, then it was onwards again back through the Long Crawl which did seem a bit shorter on the way out. On the way back we called in and had a look in Wigmore Hall at all of the formations there, then it was onwards again and back into the lakes and finally the showcave. It was very nice emerging back into daylight and the warmth of the day. Another excellent round trip around Dan yr Ogof which took about 4 hours.

Ogof Draenen

Posted by Darren on 7th March 2010

On a most beautiful winters morning, Sam and I head to the meeting point opposite the Lamb and Fox. Not to sure of the directions (yet to open Jan’s excellent email with map!), I ring Barry (several times) and eventually arrive at the meeting point. Six in total for the foray into Draenen. We descend down the frosty bank to the cave entrance, door unlocked and in through the tight entrance we enter and escape the bitter wind. My main light almost immediately runs out of power, so out with the back up light which successfully did its job (just!). The descent of the scaffolding went smoothly and quickly, with a very entertaining topic of conversation….. Jan’s underwear! From G – string, lace and leather, notably red! It turns out Jan breeds her Manx Loghtan (two, four or six horns) for underwear! So Pete informed us. Pete a friend of Jan’s, a member from the Mendips had come up to join us for the day, (not sure the next invite will be so forthcoming). We all made it down the waterfall and through spare rib and onto Cairn Chamber dry! We headed along wonder bra and onto Gilwern passage, which was marked by a large fallen slab, suspended precociously about 5 metres up.

From here we headed along Gilwern Passage past some protected formations, for a seemingly endless uncomfortable walk over boulders. Nearing the end of it we skirt round a guardian type gnome stalagmite under a pure white stalactite, beautiful. During this section of the journey we saw lots of gypsum crystals, which extensively covered the walls in some places. At the end of Gilwern passage (I think) there was a tight squeeze with which I (the fat athlete) eased through giving hope to the rest of the group! The ladies informed me that they had previously stripped people of here to make the tight gap, encouragement if ever I needed it! From here I think our journey took us to the Y Gwter Fawr Streamway and onto Bread fruit Boulevard. In this section we came to some amazing straw formations above the stream and branched of left. After a short distance we came to a very low roof. The impending 30m duck excited Sam, but unfortunately I was at the back and could not get past the others, to join him….(phew). Also I suggested out notebook entry did not follow this route otherwise I would surely have loved to join him, alas it was not to be! From here we back tracked a bit and then headed of for the Galeria Garimperious extensions, which involved crawling over large dried mud banks. This only lasts for a short distance and the passage gets larger again and the passage gets very muddy and the taped path generally follows the stream through knee deep mud. We headed of on several side passages and did a bit of exploring. One such passage found Pete in the lead and unable to carry on up an ever narrowing passage. It’s to small was the call. Curiosity and sensing a challenge, I manoeuvred myself towards the hole. At which point Pete bet me £20 pound I would not fit through, Jan backed this up with £1.50. With nothing to lose and a reputation to build, I was off! Moment’s later £21.50 squeeze was named. Jan and Sam laughing, Pete muttering we continued in a few metres and explored several passages to no avail and headed out. It was time to head home. This seemed longer and more monotonous than the journey in. Then the questioning in the ranks began, we had missed the massive suspended slab! On we continued until we reached White Arch Passage? Barry relocated us, and we headed back to beer challenge and wonder bra for the return to surface and a most beautiful winters day, spring is upon us!

Agen Allwedd

Posted by Barry on 7th February 2010

The group met in the car park at Crickhowell where a good bit of wheeler dealing took place. Hay, horse radish swedes, prices were good and there were some good bargains to be had. We then moved on up to the farm, changed and climbed the hill up to Agen Allwedd. Through the entrance series, we squeezed, boulder hopped, and counted numerous bats, before emerging into Barons Chamber. We paused for the obligatory photo, before proceeding down and along Main Passage, appalled at the new graffiti that had appeared on the walls and ceiling. (There were even arrows scratched on to the walls of the entrance series). Arriving at the Music Hall, Darren sang a very commendable version of ‘American Pie’ with lyrics that were quite unknown to the rest of us. Scurrying along the top of the Cliffs of Dover, some Tom-foolery somehow left Ann and Pauline giggling with delight. (I (Jan) was too busy pointing out the finer points of the cave to Darren and Sam than to participate in such high jinks!!!!!!!!!!

At the cairn that signified the start of the Aven series we left Kingsley to have 40 winks while the rest of us squirmed up and into a large chamber. Here we encountered yet more bats. Had they got there the same way as ourselves or did they come by a different route? We split up and went exploring. Ann and myself found a mature passage that draughted well at a boulder choke. Barry and his team followed other blind alleys. A lot of activity had taken place in this area in the way of digs since we were here last. As yet the way on is still a mystery. Re-grouping back at the cairn, Ann and Kingsley decided to head out. Barry took a group up to The Ace of Spades, before we too made our way back to the entrance.

Anyway, once out of the water, it was on with the round trip taking in all of the formations on route. At the start of the Long Crawl we could see that no one was in front of us as the water in the Water Trough was still and clear, but not for long as we crawled through it, after about 15 minutes we emerged at the other end of the Long Crawl and climbed down the fixed ladder into Gerard Platten Hall. We stopped at the Crystal Pool for a while taking a few photos before going up into Flabbergasm Passage. Then we continued onwards past all of the galleries of straws before getting to the start of the Green Canal, where we were lucky to find a couple of buoyancy aids. At the other end there was a good pile of them, so Rupert ferried about 20 aids back to the start of the Canal for other groups to use, once Rupert had returned we stopped for a quick bit to eat before continuing on towards The Abyss.  From here we continued steadily until we linked back up near the Crystal Pool, then it was onwards again back through the Long Crawl which did seem a bit shorter on the way out. On the way back we called in and had a look in Wigmore Hall at all of the formations there, then it was onwards again and back into the lakes and finally the showcave. It was very nice emerging back into daylight and the warmth of the day. Another excellent round trip around Dan yr Ogof which took about 4 hours.

Craig a Ffynnon

Posted by Barry on 3rd January 2010

With the cold overnight weather, we were all expecting the side road up to Blackrock to be ice covered, but as it happens, the council must had gritted it, so we all made it up to the limekilns safely and on time. Then came the task of getting out of our warm vehicles and stripping off in freezing conditions on snow covered ground – what fun. Anyway once kitted up we made our way up to the entrance, where we found the lock to be frozen solid, but luckily enough we had already thought about this and brought along a flask of hot water to pour on the lock, this worked successfully and we soon had the gate open. We were then in the firing line of a roaring cold draught as we crawled along the entrance series, and with the logbook filled in we continued inwards, where we noticed quite a few bats including one which was hibernating on the end of a straw, anyway we were soon up the fixed ladder pitch and then the crawl where water levels were normal.

Looking up towards North West Inlet, there was air space, but only just (could had been fun). So onwards to the main pitch, where Ann ascended first in order to get it rigged, once ready Ann belayed everyone up, then we started on the boulder choke, once through it was into the muddy section and then the nice formations and gour pools, after a brief stop looking at the formations we continued onwards to Hall of the Mountain Kings. At this point Paul and I returned back down the main passage to take photos and do a bit of filming whilst the others went exploring, after about 30 minutes the rest of the group came back down the main passage where we were standing on a high spot just below the gour pools, it was really nice just watching the lights appearing as reflections in these pools, which we saw for ages before the we saw the group itself. Anyway once regrouped we started our way back out. At the top of the pitch I belayed the group down, whist me and Ann descended ourselves. Once back at the entrance Kingsley was awaiting our arrival and we were greeted by some nice winter sunshine (but it was still cold). Not a terribly long trip, but still very nice.