Cave Women Rock!

Whilst sat on the sofa in BPC’s headquarters we listened to the president tell us how historically the club, including her husband, had taken a vote on whether to allow female members to join. Yet 3 weeks prior on a mild October Saturday morning we were kitting up as an all-female group. Cue a proud feminist moment as this highlight and celebrates how women cavers are cementing their position in what was previously a predominantly male orientated sport. Now back to trip talk, our tribe consisted of Hazel, Lorna, Aimee and myself being led by Lydia and Louise, and we were tackling OFD1. As four of us were caving freshers this was only our second trip and first time we had worn harnesses, after we kitted up we took a quick team photo and plodded on down to the cave entrance. The adventure started off with Louise at the front setting a world record caving pace, 6 cavers squeezing into a very small crevice, and consulting the survey many times. We reached the bolt traverse and started our journey over the rather high and loud stream way. Honestly, I was terrified. I didn’t want to trust my cows tails and was trying to stand whilst clinging onto the wire. I know is something I shouldn’t do but in that moment of time I was not being brave. Anyway, at this point I need to give recognition to how amazing the rest of the group were. Aimee did this traverse wearing just a belt harness (no idea if that’s a technical term but I’m going for it) Hazel and Lorna showed no signs of fear, and just navigated their way across perfectly, and our amazing Louise and Lydia who calmly and successfully guided us across safely....only to realise it was the wrong way and immediately go back over again. We had accidentally done airy fairy, which is a bit more scary and advanced than the bolt traverse. However, we made it back and after having a group caving cuddle we powered on. After the fear I felt during airy fairy everything else seemed quite easy and a lot of fun. We climbed up ladders, shimmed our way up the chimney stack, and rolled our way into roly poly passage. We only stopped to lie on our backs to look up at the beautiful ceiling as if it was the night sky. We spent a good amount of time talking and laughing (I think its brilliant that we now know how long it takes to do Daran) just really enjoying our time connecting. This was our turnaround point and we made our way back singing lots of power ballads and really appreciating what caves do for the acoustics. Getting back above ground, we reflected on how great the trip was and how are had bonded (especially after having to do a few safety sandwiches and encouraging each other at certain parts) I look forward to many more trips as brilliant as this one!!!


By Cat Stewart, 22/11/17