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Daren Cilau

by  Mark Lumley

The Rock Steady Crew had a major push on the Hard Rock Extensions from Thursday 24th May to Sunday 27th.  This required a three or four night's camp 2 1/2 miles underground at the Hard Rock Cafe set up in the oxbows off the Kings Road.

Because of the severity of the undertaking we briefed everyone to bring in some kind of comforts. In the event everyone went completely over the top.  So, when on Saturday night we were visited by Clive Gardener and Arthur Millet, they were agog at the sight of a passage festooned with balloons and streamers. Our stereo blared Jean Michael Jarre at them on full volume and we invited them for a meal of Soup followed by Macaroni Cheese and beef burgers (with bread rolls~ mayonnaise and fresh lettuce, of course!!).  All this was washed down with liberal quantities of Ovaltine, coffee, tea (with lemon or milk), rum, whiskey and various other forms of liquor smuggled back from Ireland.  Their opinion about the hardship of underground camps were radically changed by the time they left.  (For the conservation minded, every trace of our camp disappeared on Sunday afternoon).

We organised ourselves into two digging teams, one for the daytime and one to dig at night.  This worked very efficiently and over breakfast we were entertained by the antics of the previous shift staggering to their beds as pissed as newts.

Our previous digs pushed the H.R. Extensions to over 1/2km terminating in a 40ft wide bedding chamber end in breakdown ( Brazil).  On our push into this we gained about 40-50ft in two days but we had lost the draught (and finally the airspace too).  It became apparent that we would have to backtrack and push on from another point. Clive managed to find a tight bedding that was draughting and the final night shift pushed this for about 40ft with no sign of it breaking out yet.

The crew left the cave on Sunday afternoon and evening, clocking up 65-75 hours of caving per person. On arriving back at Whitewalls we met our 'Back up' team.  They had got so pissed on Friday night that they were incapable of coming into the cave - lucky sods!

Although the main breakthrough was not forthcoming on this trip, it is clearly only a matter of perseverance.  We put in about 100 man hours of actual digging on this trip and will return for a further 3 day camp from the 29th May to 1st June.  The site is well worth the effort with miles of cave beyond.  There is a good possibility of a connection with Agen Allwedd and every sign that we’re on the right track to meet the elusive Llangattock 'master cave'.