Here is a short note on a recent trip undertaken which might be of general interest. Should you look for a short round trip in OFD Top, say 3 hours or so, off the normal “trade routes” with a bit of an easy 30 foot abseil thrown in, then this is for you.
Starting off from Top Entrance, look for a small hole low down on the right hand wall just about opposite the first passage on the left that goes to the Big Chamber Near The Entrance. Down the hole and your spirits will drop. The first section contains some low crawls but nothing too serious. There’s only one way on so no chance of getting lost in this section. A challenging awkward short climb up through a hole on the right leads to a chamber. The way on contains plenty of gloopy mud, but after 10 minutes or so you will arrive at Shale Chamber in the White Arch section of the cave.
A passage off to the right from Shale Chamber will lead you either to the far end of Gnome Passage (via an interesting traverse over a hole) or you have an alternative which is to climb up a calcite slope (about 45 degrees) for about 40 feet to arrive in Bedding Chambers.
A confidence rope might be useful here. Certainly a down-climb out of here would necessitate a rope. Some nice pretties in this extensive section which meanders above Edwards Shortcut and the Gnome Passage sections of the cave.
You can spend a pleasant hour up here without getting lost. Some good photo opportunities in this unspoilt section too. Now and again you will see a few gaping holes down which the survey clearly shows are above Gnome Passage. We threw our rope down one and all descended the thirty feet or so (the last part of which is a little moist and freehanging, to find ourselves in the far end of Gnome. A pull through on the rope and from here it’s just 10 minutes to the front door and out.
Give it a go, something a bit different.