26 May 2012

Covering new (under)ground

Science! My favourite thing!

Caving! My favourite thing!

Both! My favourite thing!

I already once bumped into a guy who had written his PhD thesis on a mine I had visited. Nice when your job meets your hobbies! And I was aware that about an hour’s drive east, at Berry Head, there was a quarry with loads of caves in them, of which some were of scientific interest. At least one was tidal, and had foraminifera in it! Well that grabs my attention. So when a trip came up to these caves I made sure I was on the list.

Five of us (the maximum number for this cave) drove into the quarry and changed. Two guys had come in a car identical to mine! I was most charmed. And that was only the beginning. Walking into the quarry proper was almost worth the long drive; multicoloured lime stone, quarried out very deep, with a tidal puddle in the middle, and lots of holes in the sides. And all of that festooned with inquisitive bats.

Small cars in big quarry

Rupert, keeper of the gate

Confused cavers at tidal pool

We now had to find the entrance of our cave of preference: Corbridge Cave. Which was harder than you would guess! After Rupert did not find it very soon we all swarmed out. We found many holes, but not the right one. What Rupert did find was that his lamp was malfunctioning. On his way back to the car to pick up my spare lamp he found the entrance of the cave...

When he was back we went in. As there are scientifically interesting things in it, and those tend to lose their merit when disturbed, a path was immaculately demarcated by police tape. I had never been there before, but because of the tape I could easily lead the way. I happily scurried through the red mud until, after only a few tens of metres, the tape seemed to indicate we couldn’t go any further. Rupert came up to investigate, and brought out the map. Only then did we notice its scale. It really was the end! Another few tens of metres on the other side, and that was it.

Corbridge cave is very close to the surface, so roots were invading everywhere. With this rare result of root-garlanded speleothem...

As it was so small we took our time looking at all of it. You could, at one point, see the tide going out, and the line in the water between fresh and saline water. The sediment there had nice current ripples. And on the rock a few alien-looking things were growing. Nice!

A local alien life form

Rupert closing the gate of the cave: the most sporting part of that trip!

When we came out, past a “cute slug” (as identified by the other girl), we were faced with the question: pub, or other cave? We decided on the latter. And on the very tip of the headland (we were on a peninsula) we clambered onto the cliff face and crawled into a little gem: Hogbury Corridor. It was quite small and very tight, but very beautiful. It was worth it! But when we came out it was really time to meet up with the others; there had been three trips in the neighbourhood, and they all ended in the Brixham Yacht Club. There we also met the guy who had done all the research on the cave we had visited. I was so tired I fell asleep in the car on the way back, but I didn’t regret going!

Some creatures seem to die in this cave. Or get dragged there after death...


And a beautiful evening sky as bonus.

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