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Majorca 1985

Jeremy Henley

Whilst I was making my geriatric way to camp 1 in the Gouffre Berger my wife was sunning herself in Puerto Pollenza, Majorca.  She so enjoyed the place, very small, very personal service with quite sensational scenery.  In front of the hotel a bay, almost totally landlocked, with a small channel to the sea hidden by hills to the left.  On the far side of the bay more hills and an area of flat land off to the right and then all way along behind the hotel a range of hills on the other side of which more sea.  This spectacular scenery, hot sunshine and lack of grockles, so enchanted her that she persuaded me, though she insists that I persuaded her, that she should return three weeks later taking me along.

The night before we left I packed quietly - in the garage - a tackle bag of caving gear.  I knew that Majorca is limestone and had heard of all the famous show caves.  I had no intention of going there though.  I had phoned Ray Mansfield - that international directory of cavers on Mendip - and he had given me three contact addresses.  I intended to go real caving.

The hotel staff were somewhat taken aback when I pulled the tackle bag out of the boot of the taxi but were more helpful when I asked them to try to contact the three names I had been given.

Firstly the committee Ballear de speleologia turned out not to be on the phone, neither was the first of the two individuals named but, fantastic, the third was and was phoned by the hotel management.  Mateo Alemany was most amicable, spoke perfect English, tried to get someone to go caving with me but eventually gave up. "I am sorry," he said, "but at this time of the year we are all very busy - I work every day in my restaurant my friends can only cave on Sundays.  If you had given us 4 to 6 weeks notice we would have fixed something".  In the summer on Majorca plan a long way ahead!

However the hotel staff were now enjoying this and on their own initiative they arranged for me to meet Pere Llobera, the head of the northern section of the Majorca mountaineering club.  His club address is Seccio de Muntanya, del club Pollenca, La Placa 1 - Pollenca, Mailorca.

Margaret and I got a taxi to Pollenca village and spent a very pleasant evening with the young men of the Seccio de Muntanya conversing in poor French pouring over speleo maps of north east Majorca, a copy of a small section of which is now in the library.  Unfortunately there were no active cavers in the north east of Majorca so if I was to go caving it was going to be on my own and I marked on my map four entrances to easy caves, photos and surveys of which I was shown, needing no ladders or ropes and being about 1000 feet or so long and the deepest about 300 feet.

I spent the next afternoon in blazing sunshine scrambling through dense prickly undergrowth searching for the nearest and easiest cave, eventually I got so scratched that I donned my waterproof overall as protection and managed a good imitation of a sauna. In the end I found an entrance too deep to attempt to climb on my own without aids and another entrance blocked with stones.  I returned home scratched, bleeding and muddy to the immense amusement of some and bewilderment of other guests in the hotel.

After that it was all downhill, cycling, swimming, discos and believe it or not I managed to tack about a bit on a windsurfer after some exceptionally good lessons from a laid back Englishman with a pretty Spanish wife.  Caving?  Not a bit of it.  As they say: "You don¬ít want to explore all the caves at once".