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Loxton Cavern 

article coutesy of Chris Binding (CSCC C&A)

The successful cave discoverers/explorers Nick and Nick of the BEC kindly led a Leaders' Induction Day at Loxton Cavern on Saturday 7th January, organised by CSCC, for club leaders to this relatively recent Mendip discovery.

Since the cave was originally intercepted by miners back in the C18th it contains evidence of their endeavors and these take the form of tally marks, scratched drawings, knee imprints, boot imprints, soot marks & graffiti, 200 year old boots in situ, evidence of stal removal, pick marks etc., all of which require careful appreciation so as to avoid obliterating or muddying over by unaware cavers - hence the leaders' induction trip pointing out their various locations, and advice for moving around the looser sections.

 

 

Cavers from Cerberus, SBSS, ACG, MCG, Cheddar CC, SMCC, WCC & UBSS attended

Andy H of ChCC at the top of the entrance shaft climb

The cave is some 800ft of passage, all following a steeply inclined rift so is on multiple "levels", with pristine clean walls allowing those keen on geology, minerology & fossils a huge array of clean examples to examine; there are many bones within ranging from pig to a bat skeleton with other life occasionally apparent (the I'm-not-sure-what-they're-called, small pink woodlice-like thingies are here - I've only ever seen them in Gough's before). There is a ladder climb up to the "original" entrance from The Hall to Harford's Balcony and then up to the First Apartment. Although there is an in-situ rope to aid the first climber up, it is necessary to bring your own ladder when visiting.

Superb clean walls everywhere throughout the cave display many fossils and sections of magnificent multi-coloured stal (yellow, red, white, orange) and also some good examples of green marl in small neptunian dykes - mostly in The Hall and The Dungeon).

 

     

Andy H at base of ladder climb in The Hall up to Harford's Balcony and beyond

From the Hall, going West, is a slightly awkward short and low traverse over Ochre Passage on past the scratched icons of a couple of birds on the left hand wall with a "long P" symbol (? the ro of a chi-ro symbol, denoting Christianity), on the floor here is a delicate bat skeleton and what appears to be a rabbit(?) skeleton to a narrow passage leading to the Western Cavity; on the right hand wall as you approach are an array of indeterminate scratches directly opposite an awkward left/right turn into Corduroy Crawl (two planks on the floor protect some c.1794 knee marks, showing the imprint of corduroy trousers) and an inclined upward squeeze into the "Upper Horizontal Western Cavity" where much stal has been collected by the miners but sufficient remains for it to be well worth seeing.

 

Nick beside the inclined chamber wall displaying much coloured flowstone

Graham M of UBSS crawls through into the Upper Horizontal Western Cavity extension approaching the flowstone walled section

Turning around and re-approaching The Hall, we drop down into Ochre Passage and then head-first, down-hill, through a narrow squeeze/crawl, emerging in Glissen's Chamber, evidencing scalloping and botryoidal stal in profusion. Andy H takes a quick detour down the committing and very narrow rift in the "floor" into Firmament Chamber while the lardies await his return. A bypass up towards The Hall, avoiding the narrow tube/squeeze via a thrutchy rift brings us back to the base of the entrance shaft and now the loose approach down towards the Eastern part. One by one we emerge in Catcott's Chamber where the ancient boots are found amid other detritus dropped in from a rift above leading (once) to the surface; soot-marked graffiti adorn the wall here and a loose rock slope leads us through an awkward z-section into the Dungeon.

Tim F & Cookie in the Dungeon, avoiding the ancient footprints while viewing the soot marked ceiling

This is the eastern termination of the cave so one heads back out to the surface.

Graham M of UBSS climbing back up the shored entrance shaft - one person at a time

A feature on this cave will appear in February 2006 copy of Descent. Leader trips will commence once keys are distributed. Group size is 5+leader.