1990 - 1999

1990   Concrete pipes were put in the entrance to Ireby.  Divers discovered the  East Kingsdale Branch of KMC/Keld Head system.  G Cornes, the discoverer of Cornes Cavern, celebrated his 80th birthday by doing a Lancaster Hole/County Pot through trip supported by large numbers of fellow cavers.  The Greensites Project was set up over OFD to try and develop new ways of detecting unknown cave passage.  A new permanent ladder installed in Daren Cilau.  Late in December the first explorers entered Slaughter Stream Cave after a long dig.  There was a major push by divers on the Cheddar River in Gough’s Cave.  The Swildon’s stream dried up so much that there was airspace through both Sump 1 and 2.   NCA appointed a Training Co-ordinator.  BACI was formally disbanded.

1991  The connection of the West Kingsdale sumps with the King Pot sump was followed by a through dive from King Pot to Keld Head, over 3kms and the longest diving traverse in the world. Roaring Hole was connected by divers to Meregill.  Battlefield Chamber in White Scar was opened to tourists.  The entrance to Dale Head collapsed.  Major extensions were discovered beyond the sump in Gingling Hole.  Agreement was reached that 8mm self-cutting anchors would be replaced by resin fixed “P-hangers”.  Hymac Hole was opened, the first entrance to be dug with a Hymac digger hired by the “Mendip Mining Company”.  A Hymac was used to open the entrance to Whitepit.  After 14 years Wigmore Swallet finally went.  Major extensions were made in Slaughter Stream Cave.  Carno Adit went after nearly 10 years of digging.  The White River Series was discovered in Peak Cavern.   The first issue of NCA Speleoscene and the 100th issue of Descent were published.   Eric Hensler, one of the grand old men of British Caving, died.

1992    Gingling Hole, Dub Cote Cave, Peak Cavern and Carno Adit all continued to grow.  Diggers in Thrupe Lane broke through to the top of High Atlas.  A British team connected Clearwater and Blackrock Caves in Mulu to give a 100km + system, the 7th longest in the world.   Ken Pearce, the first person to dive sump 1 at the bottom of the Gouffre Berger, died; as did Bill Little, a well-known and sometimes controversial South Wales Caver.

1993   After underwater digging the divers finally broke through into upstream passages in Leck Beck Head.  Foxholes was connected to Ingleborough Cave. There were serious  problems with deteriorating air quality in Swildons.  Priddy Green Sink was re-opened and digging to reach Swildons restarted.  A new agreement was reached which allowed access to Pen Park Hole.  Elm Hole & Pwll-y-Cwm were connected in the Clydach Gorge.  Yet more major extensions were made in Daren Cilau.  Sid Perou won an Emmy Award for his filming in Lechuguilla.

1994   The Fall Pot and Stake Pot ladders were removed from the Easegill system.  There was the first report in Descent of a long-term dig called Ogof Draenen, it went and within a month was 15km long.   Cnoc nan Uamh was extended to a total length of 2km to make it the longest in Scotland.  Luke Devenish, a colourful long-term Mendip caver and Wilfred Joint, a similarly well-known Devon caver, both died.   David Jenkins, author of Caves of Wales and the Marches, died.

1995   Box Head Pot was opened up and gave a new entrance to Lost John’s.  Illusion Pot was connected to the back end of Dalebarn cave.  There was a successful trial radio link-up between cavers in White Scar Cave and other cavers in OFD.   George Cornes, the person who found Lancaster Hole and an important figure in the exploration of the Easegill System,  died aged 85.   David Heap, author of Potholing: Beneath the Northern Pennines, died.  James Hall Mine was connected to the Speedwell Cavern streamway.  The Main rising in Speedwell Cavern was pushed by divers to –66.5m, already the deepest in Britain but seen to continue and go deeper.   Ogof Draenen continued to grow, by February it was the 4th longest cave in Britain.   Dry weather again led to an airspace through Swildon’s Sump 1 and bad air problems in the cave.  Divers discovered Uamh an Claonaite 7 where huge extensions restored the cave as the longest in Scotland.  A shaft in Brezno pod velbom was claimed to be the deepest underground shaft in the world at –501m, there is a ledge of sorts at –377m but the rest of the hang is free.


1996   A new route out of Pippikin to the surface was named Bye George Pot in honour of George Cornes.  A major inter-club water tracing project in the Malham area attempted to clarify the hydrology.  Divers found Bronze age human remains in a cave near Sedbergh.  CNCC published its first Rigging Cards and CNCC Rigging Guide number 2.  Ogof Draenen continued to grow and attempts continued to link Aggen Allwedd to Daren Cilau.  Priddy Green Sink  was connected to Swildon’s.  The CDG celebrated their 50th anniversary at Wookey Hole.  The Sports Council tells NCA it will not make any funds available to support caving expeditions.  Three Americans were sent to jail for smashing formations and selling them to local mineral shops. 

1997 Divers connected Witches Cave and Pippikin Pot.  James Hall Mine was connected through to Peak Cavern beyond Far Sump after major dig.  Melvyn Davies, a long term figure on the South Wales caving scene died.  The land above Ogof Draenen was put up for sale as the cave passed 60km in length.  The drain for the Mud Sump in Swildons became blocked and it became impossible to bale it.  Rob Palmer died while diving in the Red Sea and Rob Parker died while diving in the Bahamas (4 Sharks Blue Hole). 

1998   The deaths occurred of Mike Dewdney-Yorke and PB Smith, both larger than life cavers.  The Ogof Draenen land sale was still not finalised although the cave continued to grow.  Pollution problems causing bad air led to the closure of Otter Hole.  Pete Livesey, hard caver and climber of the 60’s and 70’s died  For the second time ever, diving gear was used to rescue non-divers from Uamh an Claonaite when it flooded.  Gouffre Mirolda briefly became deepest in world at –1610 (8m deeper than the Jean Bernard) before being passed by  Lamprechtsofen  –1632.

1999   The first British cave dive of over a mile in each direction took place in Keld Head.  The deaths occurred of Monty Grainger, surveyor of GG in 1937 and again in the mid 60’s; Reg Hainsworth, hard man of the 20 and 30’s, founder and committed member of the CRO; and Bryan Ellis, stalwart of the BCRA. Titan shaft, the largest in Britain was discovered and climbed in Peak Cavern.  The caves of Fairy Cave Quarry were re-opened to cavers after being closed for over a decade.  Access to the Gouffre Berger was stopped after the FFS had taken the Maire d’Engins to court.

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