Geocaching, underground, abandoned caves. – Those words when used in a sentence, had by heart racing and my brain ticking over as to when we could begin our next adventure.
I looked at the cache description on geocaching.com. Any cache that begins with the following, must be good right?
These quarries are dangerous. The main dangers are two fold: Roof collapse and getting lost.
To prevent accidents, observe these basic rules.
- Never touch displaced blocks, these may be supporting the roof.
- Avoid places where the roof layer looks unsound.
- Follow the route, if in doubt retrace your steps to a known location. If in serious doubt retrace your steps and exit the quarry. Guides are available who know the quarries and will ensure you don’t get lost but not help find the cache.
- When doing this cache please take all safety precautions needed and when going after the cache please let somebody know where you are going, how long you expect to be. I do not want this to be the first UK cache that claims a life.
So let me get this straight. Two people (Im not daft enough to go alone) with no caving experience are going to go underground, in the dark, armed with a map that we took from Geocaching.com, to find a Tupperware box right? Sounds like my kind of fun.
We needed equipment. Lots of equipment. I like to buy things on a whim, that perhaps I don’t need but this time was different, this could mean the difference between coming up to see the sun again or not. I purchase a hard-hat – Venitex Diamond V Baseball Cap Style Safety Helmet Hard Hat – Black some knee pads (very, very useful) – Am-Tech Professional Knee Pads Gel – and a Torch. A bright torch. – LED Lenser 8407 P7 Torch
The following equipment guidelines have been set and I recommend you adhere to them;
1. Head protection. *minimum, highly recommended. Cheap builders helmets will initially do. Worth getting if you plan to do more Below Aboves and you WILL bang your head in places.
2. Stout walking/hiking boots with good grip. Keep a pair of ordinary boots or shoes in the car to change into. The boots WILL get muddy.
3. A boiler suit or an additional layer of clothes to remove to protect your car and look descent in the pub afterwards.
4. Gloves, the stone is cold and sometimes wet/muddy. Gardening gloves are fine..
5. Good torch with backup torch. *minimum, highly recommended. Ideally you want a head torch to keep hands free for climbing.
6. Guide – Ideal if you’re unsure. Maps/surveys are available if you can find the name of the quarry and are willing to purchase one from a source. Contact me for more information.
7. Pen/Pencil & Paper to record notes and where pictures taken.
8. Camera, extra flashes, tripod for long exposure shots.
As a group I recommend food, water, first aid.
SPECIAL NOTE. Please do not use tea lights or glow sticks, if you use these and a caver follows after you he will remove them as litter. If you wish to use glow sticks to supplement your lighting then please take them with you.
Ok, I’m now armed and dangerous.
To begin with there are puzzles to solve to just get you to the Cave entrance. Generally, I’m no good at puzzle solving and this time was no exception, so I left that all up to my Caching partner-in-crime, JMT69
On to the caches themselves. There are 7 geocaches in close proximity to each other just west of Bath and its possible, to get most, if not all of them done in one day. One of the set was possibly the easiest of the bunch (although they are all D5 T5 caches) and a good place to start.
Kingsdown Quarry is also known as Swan Mine, due to the close proximity to the Swan Inn, which used to be the Quarry Managers house. It was a producer of Bath stone, just like the others in the area. Its a fairly small quarry but it has a lot of artefact’s left, an old crane, tools etc. There was no rail system here, horse and cart was used. In places the cart tracks and hoof prints can still be seen, along with a water trough. Also some nice calcite deposits and ‘cave pearls’. The cave is in good condition, pretty well looked after with little graffiti and no litter
This really was a once in a lifetime affair that cant be missed. If you are able bodied, then you can do these caches. There is a fair amount of jumping, climbing and crawling to do, but no so much that you will find yourself in difficulty. I understand that there are now UV markers along the paths for Cachers to follow, so the chances of getting lost are slim.
One thing that I did find fascinating was the abandoned machinery that had been left, along with the graffiti from the workmen, most of which is dated and very old indeed! The air is still and clean and it is silent and still, apart from the odd drip of water or the beep of your GPS as you get close to the cache (which themselves are well kept and more often than not contain a TB)
A real 10/10 cache that’s not to be missed. What are you waiting for?