If I said something about a Saturday adventure starting at 11.15am with milky coffee, a farmer’s paddock, sheep and a man wearing pink overalls… you probably wouldn’t have thought I was speaking about a caving trip. But, that’s exactly how a day out at Mt Widderin started.
Given the ‘beginner’ status of the trip I had expected a relatively low key, chilled out day but was pleasantly surprised by just how much fun it was. After gearing up in amazing overalls/ 90’s clothes and gardening gloves, we descended down a collapsed entrance to the lava cave with reasonably large and expansive chambers. Deciding that being able to stand up wasn’t as much fun, a few of us scrambled over to whatever nook and cranny we could find and proceeded to jam ourselves inside, much like a cork in a bottle of champagne. A certain Spaniard took full advantage of any vulnerable status and tried to acquire new shoes whilst innocent individuals were attempting to wiggle headfirst into possible passages.
Not long after this, someone pointed out a deliciously clear body of water inside the cave that seemed at least a good few meters deep, to which us cave divers longed for our gear, or at least a mask. None on hand, David declared that a true cave diver didn’t need their dive gear, wetsuit or drysuit to explore a freezing cold patch of water, so Tim (eager to outshow us) waded in. Some sort of water fight ensued between David and I and so I decided to take my chances with the rest of the water. Not going to lie, wearing just near- threadbare old ratty clothes… it was …..somewhat cold… but more importantly, a hell of a lot of fun.
Clearly being saturated just wasn’t enough, so we proceeded to explore and wiggle further through more cave, smearing thick layers of mud over ourselves from head to toe. David was too clean and needed some face painting assistance. Tim then proceeded to point out a tinsy hole, suggesting (but not expecting?) me to try and wriggle through. Incidentally it was like a jigsaw fit! Brave Mary (who was on her first caving trip ever) also challenged the hole – quite a feat for a beginner … I’ve since started formulating grand plans of an equally-sized explorer team. Mwahhaa.
The final piece of excitement was a tiny passage at one of the extremities of a chamber which, following a restriction, seemed to continue a bit further… keen to go back and check it out because it appeared untouched! Alas, people weren’t too keen on a little bit of solo exploring..
Whilst these shenanigans ensued, other better-behaved individuals took photos of the large chamber and explored the open areas peacefully – clearly demonstrating that caving can satisfy a range of personalities and preferences! We all concluded together with an underground group photo before emerging to the brilliance of daylight and warmth. Finally, we all treated ourselves with car-side delights of tea, coffee, hedgehog slice, dips and snacks with a bit of crunchy mud mixed in (well, those who were flaking mud anyway…).
Safe to say we all had loads of fun; those new to the VSA (myself included), those new to caving (whoop whoop to zxsMary!) and the (I’m assuming) long term servers to the club. Many thanks to Llyod for organising the day and everyone else for making it awesome
Written by – Michelle Doolan