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Trip to Brightgate Cave -- 22nd July 2012

Group: Paul, Mary, Dave

The group had a trip to Brightgate about 5 years ago, but sadly it was abandoned before it really started as two of the three participants couldn't fit in the entrance squeeze before the labyrinth.

This time we only had thin people in the party! We drove in hot, sunny weather and arrived at Brightgate farm by 11.45. After paying the trespass fee and chatting to the farmers wife we changed and Dave managed to remember the way to the cave (through the farm along the track towards the dry valley on the right) The cave entrance was quite close to a power line pole. After removing the piece of railway sleeper which kept animals out we piled in and located the slot in the floor leading to the labyrinth. This doesn't look to bad from above, but it is followed by a tight squeeze at floor level which sorts thin cavers from the rest :-)

After the squeeze comes a drop into the labyrinth an intricate 3 dimensional maze of bedding planes and vertical fissures. The anorexic could probably find myriad ways to get to the main chamber, we just pushed on down and along and then through another squeeze and round a bit and found ourselves in the main chamber.

This was quite spacious and had a reasonable collection of formations. There was a lot of moonmilk, both on the ceiling and coating the numerous blocks littering the chamber.

We headed down following the dip of the cave. Eventually the passage narrowed and after a short squeeze the muddy tube terminated in a clay choke. There were some digging implements, but no real sign of activity. Heading back to the main chamber there was a small passage on the right which was meant to lead to a aven, but it would have involved a wet flat out crawl and so we chickened out. We had a search for the miners inscription and the dog's skeleton, but could find neither - although there is some modern graffiti.

Dave has a quick crawl towards the West Bedding Cave, but its not very appealing as it pretty well flat out over small boulders which get in the way and dig into you. After a final look around the upper sections of the chamber Mary spotted a few odd vertebrae in what looked like a foxhole, but no other animal remains.

We headed back into the labyrinth and battled our way out - this took longer than expected as we had forgotten bits of the route and so explored completely new areas. Eventually after about 10 minutes we recognised the bottom of the awkward squeeze and Dave noticed a scratched arrow pointing up. We headed back to warm sunshine, butties and later a well earned pint.

Total trip time about 2 hours