The Oxford Caving Club sets its sights on Hungary this summer to embark on an exploration of the wonders of the earth that await beneath Budapest. Most frequently the club will journey to Spain to the Picos de Europa in Asturias. Documentation for these trips date back to the 1960s leading up to 2012, but recently the club has sought caves in other countries such as China, Venezuela, and Chile.
Caving club Secretary, and acting Chairman Rory Rose has been involved in the Caving Club since childhood when his parents were members, and joined as a matriculated student since his first year in Michaelmas term. He described the clubs trips as something flexible for students of all skill levels and easy to pick up on, especially in the knowledgeable hands of the club members.
“What’s nice about caving is that it doesn’t take much before you can start really exploring caves and finding new stuff which is quite cool compared to any other frontier. No where else can you find somewhere else that’s never been touched by a human.”
This weekend, the club is spending the weekend in Wales in the Ogof FFynnon Ddu which is the deepest cave in Wales and the UK. This is part of a collection of smaller trips that the club participates in biweekly and with varying degrees of difficulty depending on the location they choose. Some caves require more crawling and squeezing through tight spaces, and others with hidden waterfalls that are even suitable for swimming. As some of the expeditions are weekend trips, the club will occasionally make camp within the cave instead of emerge on the surface.
The Ogof FFynnon Ddu is one of the cave the club tends to frequent because of its accessibility to all levels of caving skill. The cave was first explored in 1957 and so many passages have been set out for interested cavers that show waterfalls, tunnels, soaring chambers, and formations along the walls.
“It’s a bit like an obstacle course; things to climb over climb under, squeeze around. You always got something interesting your doing with your body.”
By seventh week, the club will take cavers to Draenen, where they’ll spend the night underground among the formations of the earth. Rose has previously camped inside cave and is rather relaxed about the experience, despite the lack of sunlight to announce that is indeed morning. Only the wind could pose a problem apparently, but apart from that, it’s sure to be a surreal experience.
Image credit: Dave Bunnell