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Upper Canada Cave

By Harding and Richards.
Bad Photos by Yer Ed. Good ones by Sean Howe.

In the ongoing quest to track down the Lost Hutton Cavern to add to the Catcott collection the Two Nicks reopened May Tree Cave that was last looked into in the 70Ùs by Chris Richards who suspected there might have been a way on at the end of a small chamber stacked with deads. In his quest Chris had found the initials DW candle marked on a wall down an apparent dead end. With this as a spur, David Williams a local man of the cloth had visited Hutton Cavern, the boys ploughed on.

Rather than wrestle with little stacking space in May Tree the Two Nicks deciding it would be easier to empty boulders upwards rather than struggle below, it was back to the surface. Digging down they found a small tight bedding chamber (after 5 months of toil) and an ochreous slope under which they found the other end of the boulder filled chamber. An old stemple (presumed) was found in the rubble over which it was concluded buckets were hauled up from below. At least for this section of the cave.

This was cleared (the nearest stacking space sadly was the connection to May Tree Cave) and a shaft was found, complete with large blocking stone, descending steeply but easily free climbable, its right-hand wall comprising of a huge pile of well stacked deads. This shaft descended into a series of low ochreous chambers that snaked back under and beneath the entrance shaft (as well as being below May Tree). A two hundred year old spade head was found at the base of the entrance shaft as well as a small number of Pleistocene bones (these have been given to Weston Museum), which were found amongst the boulders. Further evidence that perhaps this is generally the right area for the lost Hutton Cavern.

The last small chamber appeared to be a dead end but was merely a blocked squeeze. This was soon cleared with prestigious use of a lump hammer, and a tight, gently angled descending passage called Clay Pipe Passage, complete naturally enough with clay pipe, was followed for 10m or so to a 2 m drop into a chamber. In the ceiling of this chamber was a shaft that probably connects with something above – just where this connects is a mystery, as there appears to be no ‘downÙ connection in May Tree above. it will need banging of course. Looking gingerly up one can see several large boulders wedged into it, but quite what popping it will bring down is anyoneÙs guess.)

Through a narrow slot on the other side of this room both gained access to a chamber known now as Watership Down, after the unwelcome discovery of a rotting corpse of marooned rabbit. The walls here were relatively clean and ochre free. In the floor of this chamber was a narrow opening, which led into a long steeply descending rift The Combe – down which the miners had lobbed rubble the removal of which, in certain sections along the sides may reveal something interesting. The whole rift felt deeper than it appeared. The section is very airy but as yet from wither this air comes is anyoneÙs guess.

At the end of this rift stal covered boulders had blocked the way on, although void could be seen beyond – a half hour dig and the Two Nicks slipped through into a very large bedding chamber 15m+ long and 6m+ wide now known as The Field. Disappointingly this fizzled out or at least appeared to but at the far end there exist two or three possible digs into tunnels. This chamber was more than expected but less than hoped for but still a good find. It appears as though no one had been in there before as there were no scuff marks etc to suggest miners. The chamber was airy which suggested further connections.  Both Jrat and Jane C  - second and third pairs of eyes to visit Upper Canada Cave, busied themselves in the further extremities of the chamber and decided that perhaps it does go on. 

As can be seen from the survey the length is 77m but this leaves out the May Tree Cave the connection of which is now choked with boulder spoil.

ItÙs not Hutton Cavern but will add something towards the barrel!

We are of course rapidly running out of pits to open – this will either bring us closer or more disappointingly away from the lost Hutton Cavern. Either way weÙll know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall. 

Thanks to Jrat, Jane Clarke, Madphil and Richard Marlow and to Dave and Bernard Cole, the landowners for their patience and generosity. 

NB. The cave entrance is on private land so visits have to be arranged through the Two Nicks.

In the diagram of the pits below – the entrance to Upper Canada Cave is the pit adjacent to Blind Pit.

The dynamic duo at the western end of ‘the FieldÙ

The surface entrance to Upper Canada Cave

The 200 year old spade head      Pleistocene bones from Upper Canada Cave