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St. Catherine’s [One] to Fisherstreet Pot.

Doolin, Co. Clare, Eire. 29.May.2006


Pete Whitaker, Peter Benn and Jon Cadamarteri [Caddy]

A return to a [the?] classic Ireland 3km through-trip cave for me following previous visits 10 and 11years ago and a new cave for Pete and Peter on their first trip to Doolin.

Arrived in the village Saturday evening to discover crowded pubs, Gaelic music, street dancing and much drinking of the black stuff.

The weather had been confirmed as the worst May in Ireland since records began until the Saturday and the trip was definitely out of the question on Sunday as the Aille River was high.

Sunday saw a transformation in the weather to clear blue skies and light breezes for the remainder of the holiday and we decided the water levels were sufficiently lowering to recce the system with a larger group trip planned for later in the week.

Ladder and rope already belayed at Fisherstreet Pot in the morning [the field was next to our holiday lodge], we walked up the farm track [permission agreed] to the ruins of St. Catherine’s nunnery under a gorgeous blue sky and warm air – it was a shame in some ways to be going underground on such a fine day – particularly in Ireland where these days are a rarity.

Carbide gennies filled from the entrance stream, we dropped into the St Cath's entrance crawl. Easy crawling for 40m until the roof lowers with the option of a flat out crawl over stream rubble or a bypass over slab on left-hand side.

A short meander, then various route options investigated to rejoin the streamway and a short scramble into the well decorated Beautiful Grotto. Short break in the Grotto viewing the formations and for me to reminisce on the previous trips and photo breaks in there and we clambered back down to rejoin the streamway.

The streamway now enlarges as the Doolin Rd. sink joins. We followed this for a short 25m until the roof again lowers into "the Waddle" – bypassed by climbing into the St. Catherine’s oxbow to keep dry and save the 120m of awkward stooping / wet crawling.

Easy scramble back down to rejoin the main streamway downstream of the Waddle. The original Bristol Univ. guidebook states in classic pathé news style "From here onwards one could drive a motor coach". A small exaggeration maybe as you could possibly drive a Mercedes Sprinter van down the streamway [slower than the normal white-van man] but a full Volvo Plaxton 50-seater would be a tad difficult. Regardless, the streamway is certainly large and is followed for approx. 550m.

The streamway is then a little uncomfortable from here and is again avoided by joining the Great Oxbow – these oxbows were handily placed to avoid the worst of the low streamway. We then made a short easy climb up out of the oxbow into the Great Oxbow Grotto to view further fine decorations. On my first visit into this cave in 1995 our party climbed out of the streamway too early and eventually arrived through the roof system Echo Passage Complex into this same grotto on a non-tourist route.

Back into the main streamway which developed into a taller, thinner canyon maybe 10~15m high for approx. 500m. The water levels were occasionally waist deep and running faster through the twisting canyon – not a place to become trapped with high water levels as evidenced by the plastic cattle feed bags shining brightly high in the roof.

The roof gradually lowered as we started to enter the Second Bedding Cave with a short crawl over rock and then mud in yet another oxbow to bypass the very wet crawl in the streamway.

We returned to the streamway, now a mixture of stooping and erect walking depending on the depth of the underwater floor trenches. Pete then spotted the first eel and albino trout in the water [I had forgotten to mention the eels discovered on previous trips]. Under several stream showers entering from the Aille River [still bloody cold even in May] and we entered the First Bedding Cave with the roof lowering rapidly.

Wading round a left-hand corner with the water chest high, daylight entered from Fisherstreet Pot with our rigged ladder and rope visible. A 30m wet crawl under the low roof led directly out into daylight and blue skies still evident above the "zariba" of trees and bushes ringing the pothole shaft.

Harnesses fitted for self-lining, Pete and I climbed the 12m out to the tree trunk belay and dropped a harness down for Peter and sat basking in the sunshine listening to the birds, the bees and Peter cursing the harness fitting down below.

In summary, a good, short 3½-hour reconnaissance through-trip involving a classic streamway and well decorated grottos.

Trip Date: 29th May 2006
Added: 7th June 2006
Reviewer: Caddy
Score:
Hits: 1755
Language: english

  

[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]

St. Catherine’s [One] to Fisherstreet Pot.
Posted by Jarvis on 2006-06-07 15:07:21
My Score:


Caving Tip #643 - when using a harness that is not yours, make sure it bloody well fits before
your hands go numb!





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