Tony Jarratt

From:- Belfry Bulletin No 461, October 1991

Following much drilling and blasting beyond "Butch's Arse" (Quote - Wigmore will never go as long as I've got a hole in my arse - Alan Butcher) a breakthrough was made on the 12th of August. Rich Blake, Graham Johnson and Vince Simmonds eventually squeezed through the terminal rift and descended the 35' deep Black Pudding Pot - named for the colouring of the conglomerate walls. This fine pitch was followed by an inclined thrutch and the attractive Yeo Pot, 25' deep and formed in scalloped white calcite and red and black conglomerate.

The explorers were now excited to fever pitch by the noise of roaring water and. climbing down into a passage at the base of the pot, were confronted with a rare sight a large stream cascading out of a roomy passage into a 10' diameter sump pool. They restrained themselves from exploring the streamway (for which I am eternally grateful!) and laboriously climbed out to celebrate in the traditional way.

The following evening Jake and Vince were joined by Trev Hughes and the writer who followed the upstream passage for 220' to a shallow sump. This streamway is the upper River Yeo, the top end of the Cheddar Master Cave and carries a lot of water - at present about as much as Swildon's 4 in wet weather. It lies at 300' depth and is trending towards the sinks at Red Quar, though there is little water sinking at present and the source of such a large stream is something of a mystery. It is all in conglomerate and is a superb bit of passage.

On 18th August Vince, on his first cave dive, passed Upstream Sump 1 after some 8 feet into a large airbell and Upstream Sump 2. This was then dived for about 15 feet by the writer who had been forced out of cave-diving retirement by the nature of the discovery! Both sumps were free-dived by Jake, Vince and Pete Bolt and the team explored a further 150' of aquatic streamway to the deep Upstream Sump 3. (This has been looked at by Trev Hughes and Tony Boycott but not yet passed. It is about 12' deep and the visibility deteriorates rapidly). Pete and Jake investigated Downstream Sump 1 but did not fancy a long dive using single bottles.

After much hammering and a tremendous amount of colourful expletives, Dany Bradshaw was eventually delivered to this sump which he dived for over 100' until complete lack of visibility forced a retreat. This is not an easy dive due to the silt problems and a selection of roof pendants. Future dives are planned at both ends of the streamway - now about 500' long altogether.

Most of the cave has now been surveyed and various loose ends tied up. A report will appear in a future BB and the survey and photos will be on display at the A.G.M. Anyone visiting the cave is reminded that while only 1600' long and 300' deep it is a fairly severe trip. Upstream Sump 2 is a dangerous free-dive and the use of single kit is recommended. There are no formations and lots of mud but much of the lower series is very photogenic as Pete Bolt's slides have proved. No tourist trips are allowed between October and March due to the pheasant breeding and murdering season.

Potential: - at least one mile upstream and five miles downstream. Another 680' depth to go to the bottom of Sump 3 in Gough's. We await the barrel of beer from the Wessex diggers in joyful anticipation.

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