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Kids Caving/ Family Day

10th Feb 2024

It was sunny, winter Saturday. The cavers of the day were Sophia, Olivia, Sarah, Bernadette and Karol helped by silly adults: Mags, Liam, Ray, Kasia, Mariola and Tomas. Everybody met at the Hub, suited up and set of for the adventure. After a little confusion about the the car park, cavers arrived at the right place, obligatory group photos were taken for posterity and they set of. At first Ray led the group along the road with snowy patches on the side. White ammunition was promptly created and everybody started throwing snowballs at each other. Then our cavers left the road to descend into the small gorge with grey rock on one of the slops. There Ray gave the children a short overview about formation of rocks over millions of years. From there after a short walk young and not so young cavers arrived finally to their first cave, a short crawly space in the rock face. Fearless explorer Berno plunged first inside not paying attention to her sister's Sarah protests. Same did teenage, adventure hungry Karol. Olivia looked into the darkness and decided not to go as well as tiny Sophia. Her daddy's gentle encouragement was met only by fierce resistance. When the group was leaving the place a loud splash was heard. Olivia tripped and ended up in the water. The first plunge of the day. From there cavers wandered up the cliffs covered with bushes and moss with the grace and silence of the herd of elephants. Mags proved her power on the way. She grabbed a thick and sturdy looking branch of the tree ripping it clean off and shouting that she had big breakfast.

The journey continued down the cliff. Olivia found remains of some poor dead sheep and got fascinated by it's skull. She wanted to add it to her collection of skulls but to her dismay she wasn't allowed.

The next stop was a beautiful green pool of shallow water surrounded by rocks entirely covered by vividly green moss. Children were supposed to go around the pool clinging to the rock supported by wading adults. Mags struggled a little trying to keep her big 10 years old out of the water as opposed to Liam who opted that day for a much smaller child. This was met with bitter comments from Mags. Small bank on the other side was bravely conquered by little Sophia helped tirelessly by Olivia. Beyond the slope laid two small caves one of them wet. Berno and Sarah, two experienced cavers, and Karol, new to caving but enthusiastic, entered into the cold water like it was nothing. Even Sophia and Olivia went into the cave, however not without great deal of coercing. All the time Mags tried to convince her daughter to no avail that she's her mother and isn't trying to kill her. Going back to the pool Liam took earlier Mags compliant seriously and started carrying the biggest person in the group Tomas. Nobody was sure whether he wanted to help him cross the water or simply chuck him into it. At the very last moment Liam decided to show the merciful side of his nature and let the poor Tomas go.

And again up the cliff through the bushes. Sophia tested her daddy's patience by constantly asking to take her up and down, Olivia complained about the frostbites, Karol, Berno and Sarah simply walked happily onward.

The next cave was a short crawl with a keyhole at the end. All kids apart Sophia went through it, then small Mariola and then bigger Kasia tried her luck. She managed halfway through and then stuck to Mariola's and Mags's amusement. Despite wriggling, squirming, turning and encouragement half of her body was out and the the other half underground. No success. Back inside.

Next Ray and his two girls led everybody to the top of the hill offering vast view over the snow capped mountains of Fermanagh. The weather was brilliant, air crisp. Cavers walked laughing, joking, fooling around. Some more snowballs flew through the air. Life was good.

Then the group reached a bigger and deeper gorge with the imposing, grey rock at one end and a river cascading down the narrow valley. They walked along one of the slopes to the last and the biggest cave of the day. Everyone went inside even the most reluctant cavers Sophia and Olivia. From the first chamber group passed to the second one with the exit when all of the sudden loud grunting echoed around but nobody could find the source of it. The mystery was solved when Ray's head popped suddenly from the ground. Popped, looked around and the disappeared in the floor again.

After exiting the cave the group split up. Liam and Sophia, Mags and shivering Olivia as well as Sarah for whom quick current of the river turned out to be too scary went straight to the car park. The rest decided to wade down the cascades led as always by Ray and little Bernadette who impressed everyone with her courage and determination. Behind them was Karol unfazed by icy cold water. Then Kasia who tripped on slippery stone at some point and sat in freezy water. The second plunge of the day. Mariola and Tomas closed the small group. They walked down the river for a few hundred meters until their path was blocked by wall of sheer rock. They left the river to climb steep and muddy slope of the gorge and join the others in the car park.

After changing into nice and dry clothes cavers went to the town for the well deserved pizza. After finishing tasty meal everybody said their goodbyes tired but happy after Saturday well spet.

Kasia Macek

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