After my last post several of you have asked if I have ever been inside a cave when it flooded, and if so what is it like.
Simple answer: very very scary.
I have been in a couple of caves which have flooded but one springs to mind which will always be with me until the day I die.
I was down the Lancaster/Easegill System with 2 mates a few years ago – the weather was good with little chance of rain (the weather forecast said). Which was a blessing as parts of this cave are very flood prone. Also the cave is 41 miles long and is very complex..we knew parts of it but obviously not all – and we had missed a turning and were slightly lost. We knew that there was a high level flood escape route but we couldn’t find it within the 3D maze of passages.
Wading down a long river passage we suddenly felt a strong draft and heard a dull roar. Looking behind us we saw a 2 ft high wall of brown water coming towards us very fast. The passage was about 3 to 4 foot wide and 10 high and we climbed as high as we could and wedged ourselves with backs on one wall and legs on the other – with our heads touching the roof. The walls were incredibly slippery and it was very uncomfortable.
We watched as the water kept rising – and noticed with growing concern that the roof of the passage had bits of grass and peat sods wedged in the cracks. It was pretty obvious that this passage flooded to the roof.
We waited for a couple of hours knowing that if we slipped we would be washed down the stream and probably into a sump and drowned (and our bodies may never be recovered), all the time watching the river and praying it wouldn’t get any higher. It was incredible noisy and the brown swirling water rose to about 4 ft from the roof and we could feel the power of the flood water and watch bits of peat and large twigs float by.
Eventually the stream started to recede and after a long while it was low enough to allow us to make our way out.
Obviously taking a photo of the flooded river was impossible, but I took a shot of the passageway as we made our way out through a lower section. You can see the froth 5 or 6 ft up the walls on the passage leading to the river section where we were trapped – (sorry for the quality of the pic..my hands were shaking from the cold and the lens was a bit wet).
Anyway, an interesting days caving was had by all…