Charlie from 1st Stansted Scouts joined the county caving team on a trip and reports on the fun he had underground while caving in the Mendips in early October

“Ever wondered what it’s like crawling through a gap in a cave no bigger than a manhole? That’s what the Essex County Scout Caving Team experienced during a weekend away in the Mendips in early October.

First of all, in September, I attended a 4-hour training session in Billericay at a Scout HQ where we learnt how to climb a caving ladder (different to a normal ladder as it’s made of wire) and got familiar with the kit and gear used underground.

On Friday October 9th, after a hairy journey in rush hour traffic on the M25, we all met up in a car park in Brentwood and piled into the Minibus and began the 4 hour journey to our accommodation; a refurbished Chapel close by to The Mendips. I went to sleep feeling a little nervous and rather apprehensive of what lay ahead.

The next day we explored 4 different caves; Rod’s Pot, Goatchurch Cavern, Pierre’s Pot and Sidcot Swallet, all of which were amazing and not at all scary, not even the bits when we had to crawl on our stomachs with only a caving lamp. The caves all had interesting geology with lots of stalagmites and stalactites as well as a wide range of gaps to crawl through; noticeably a gap in Pierre?s Pot which was tiny and to add to our concerns went sharply upwards.

On the Sunday we explored Swildon’s Hole, a longer cave that starts in a river. Luckily, even though it’s known to be a much wetter cave than the others, we escaped the worst of the water and my new boiler suit didn?t get soaked completely. The best moment was climbing up a freezing 6 foot waterfall using only a hand line and no harness. Another memorable moment was when the Scout in front of me stepped in a puddle which turned out to be 3 feet deep. Rather him than me!

The weekend was great fun, exhilarating and challenging. We all received our Caver badges and certificates at a badge ceremony back at base. Thanks to all the Leaders who looked after everyone and gave up their weekend. It was brilliant! Why don’t you try the Scout Caving Challenge?”

Charlie, 1st Stansted Scouts