Caving Trip – Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim, 27-29 November 2009

Authors: Abi Graham and Nathan Wardlow

Present: James Armstrong, Steve Bus, TJ Connolly, Aileen Connor, Tony Furnell, Abi Graham, Phil Maxwell, Steve Muh, Nathan Orme, Jock Read, Irena Tomankova, Nathan Wardlow, Conor Winchcombe.


Luxury for the caving club came in the form of the Hostel at Kiltyclogher, fully kitted out with 18 beds (including duvets!), 4 kitchens, 3 televisions and at least 2000 toilets &endash; Jock had the aim of testing each one throughout the weekend but even the most skilled of toilet users would struggle with the sheer size of this epic challenge. Upon arrival late on Friday evening priority wasn't getting the best en-suite rooms: instead, in true cavers' fashion, it was getting to the pub before it closed! Thankfully there was no need to worry since the bar owner extended the opening time for an extra 3-4 hours just for us!

On Saturday, after getting our fill of breakfast, the caving began. We were split into 4 groups: one for Shannon, one for Marble Arch, one to Dermot and Grainne's (which had a reportedly hellish walk up to it) and the fourth on a cave hunt (the cave wasn't found but a new Hill Walking Club for Queen's was founded in its place containing only two members: James and T.J.). I headed down to Shannon with Phil, Tony, Conor and Nathan. The rope work was a first for Conor, Nathan and I. It all went according to plan until I was the proud owner of a stuck chest jammer at the top of a 30 m vertical ascent &endash; an experience I'd recommend to anyone... not! The cave itself had loads of pretty formations and a particularly fun squeeze called the Rebirth Canal (three guesses why). The evening was filled with the first set of caving games of the academic year including table traversing, "Squats and lunges for real men" (aka: picking a Weetabix carton [square of card for the champions] off the floor with your mouth) and squeezing through the smallest chair possible. Sadly no winner for the latter was proclaimed as one chair proved too tight for everyone's bum. No serious injuries today, although Jock's pride was hurt more than once =P

A late start on Sunday for everyone, with an even later start to caving for those destined for Pollnagollum of the Boats to get nice and wet. On this trip there was an unfortunate incident of welly loss for Nathan (as there were two Nathans this weekend there was a requirement for a nickname, so for this report I'm going to go ahead and call him "Taller, Beardier Nathan"). The rest of the trip seemed quite successful despite the water being just a bit too high to get to the end of the cave. I was able to head off to Cascades a bit earlier, which was probably a good idea since we spent around five and a half hours there. That cave had so many parts to it. It started with loads of boulders to squeeze through which seemed to have no definite route through, so I'm thankful to Steve for leading us. Other parts were just mudslides, some involved a fair amount of climbing and some parts were wading, armpit-high, through a river! That day there was a dig going on, so we had the unusual privilege of popping out of a tunnel to find other people underground with us &endash; shocking! Once we got to the end, we had the enviable challenge of figuring out what the way back actually was. No worries though &endash; we all had our mars bars to keep us safe!

In all a totally worthwhile trip and we should definitely go back and stay in the same place again (hint, hint! please!!!).

Love, Abi [and Nathan {the slightly shorter, less beardy one...}] <3 xx