2 Days in Ogof Ffynnon Ddu 2

Friday afternoon began with a battle of consciences between Tilly, Zara, Louise, Natalie and Myself over who would take the 4 places left in Jacob's car and which one of would have to wait until the second group left at 5. There was a lack of communication the previous day over who could go and who couldn’t. Finally, Louise volunteered as tribute which Zara later repaid with a bottle of wine. Now we had a 3-hour journey of conversation about philosophy, immigration, Donald Trump and boobs… Nothing too intense. When we finally arrived, we spent the evening trying so squeeze through chairs and sing modified and unmodified hymns which – to my drunken self - sounded pretty good!

Saturday morning came along and it was time to head to Ogof Ffynnon Ddu II, a cave I had not yet been down. The walk there involved snowball fights and getting lost, therefore we followed Cardiff Uni to the cave instead (because they had their shit together). But this was no mere caving trip, no. This time we were attempting photography and were determined to get some decent pictures (for this trip report). I had my DSLR and Rosanna had both her camera and flashgun. We started with a quick group shot in the main chamber before the two groups split up. For some unknown reason, Jacob and Will insisted on taking their tops off for the photo…

After about 20 minutes of my camera burning through its batteries, we finally got a photo and ended our first shoot. Now the group split into two with Jacob taking Louise, Will and Natalie to the Railway Series and Rosanna, Jed, Marion, Zara and myself venturing off to find Judge and Trident. For the first 3 hours, we got a bit lost due to us not having a tangible survey and so having to use what was downloaded on Rosanna’s camera. This meant that we got to experience the ever so popular circumstance of getting lost whilst still being 10 minutes from the entrance. After running into Kent alumni in Passage to Big Chamber, we then followed them through to Gnome Passage where we then no longer had to rely on the survey and could instead go off Rosanna’s memory.

Now it was down a small streamway until we came to a left. Nice and easy bit of crawling and traversing that nearly made me forget about the tackle sack. When we finally reached Trident and Judge it was time to take out the cameras and flash gun and begin our amateur photography session.

We played around with the flash gun and tried to get as many different shots as possible just to get used to cave photography. Trident itself is abosolutly beautiful when you don’t pay attention to the small line that reveals where it had to be glued back together after an un-known break. Just around the corner lies Judge, which to begin with I thought just looked like a sad man with curly hair and a cloak, then it clicked and I realised that that’s why it was called Judge. Before leaving the passage, we ran into a group of cavers who were also taking photos and who were far more experienced than us. They shared some wisdom on how to use our flashes and told us that for more depth in our photos in big chambers, two flash guns would be needed. Good thing mine is in the mail, ready for Gaping Gill in Yorkshire at the end of February!

We finally left and headed back to Gnome Passage. On our way, we ran into the second group at the Corkscrew where we got to see Louise simply fit through the small centre hole which only just took our tackle sack. We took one last round of photos in Gnome Passage before all returning to the surface. After about five seconds after the door was opened we heard Jacob shout “ITS SNOWING!!!” and so we walked back to the SWCC, slowly freezing to death yet also enjoying the February Christmas miracle.

That evening we had dinner and did the Time Warp probably 4 times? I can’t really remember due to the full hipflask of rum I steadily burned through. I do however recall being terrible at pan and sling, being not so terrible sling and chair and ending the evening by looking through the old photos of the SWCC members of the years.

The next day I returned to OFD II to lead and once again take photos with Briony, Tilly, Josh, Sebrina and Ben. The photo left is an example of what an 80’s caving pop group would look like. We then took a few more photos in Gnome Passage before Tilly, Sebrina and Josh headed back to the surface and Briony, Ben and myself headed to the Mini Columns.

Once we’d reach the Mini Columns we stayed for about an hour, taking action shots and generally playing around with the flash gun again!

Finally, we headed to the surface for left overs, showers and to pack up, but not before a few sunset shots.

Ah! One last little anecdote about the weekend. Whilst walking up to the cave on Sunday, the group was able to watch me summon my fans and confess to the truth that I AM the sheep overlord and I intend to use this great power with great responsibility.

By Lydia Leather, 04/02/17