Clare 2010

Clare 2010 (2nd-11th April)

Rich, Rufus, Milkybar, Henry, Megan, Oli, Chris, Tim, Josh, Carly, Barry, Jo M (RUCC), Jo H, Huw, Toby, Luke, Jono, Mark (BEC), Hellie (BEC)
Thanks to all those who helped with the organisation, particularly Rich and Rufus – we had an amazing week!

This Easter, Aberystwyth went to Ireland for our first annual Clare trip since 1999.
The caves in Clare are all stream caves, so liable to flood, and predictably it had been pissing it down in the run up to our trip. However we thought we could safely hit our local cave and do through trips from St Catharine’s to Arran view, and vice versa, as ‘Caves of County Clare (COCC) made it seem like this variation on the Doolin through trip would be safe in relatively high water conditions. Little did we know it, but this would be the start of a love hate relationship with COCC, and its centre line surveys.
We broke into two unequal sized groups. the larger group went down Arran View, dodging the spiders, tyres and other bits of crap that adorn Irish cave entrances. We followed a tight, winding rift, until at some point we penetrated one of the impenetrable inlets. Eventually we decided it was miserable and we’d like to turn round.
Meanwhile the other group didn’t get lost, and had a fantastic trip. ‘One of the best of Milkyponce’s life’, ‘it reminded Chris why he liked caving’.
While they claim that they were impressed by ‘epic, soaring canyon walls,’ as they followed a ‘fast flowing, dynamic streamway,’ ‘broad and majestic, like the Shannon,’ to some ‘very, well decorated’ crawling, I think the smug gits either went straight to McGanns bar and only pretended to cave, or realised our trip wasn’t great and invented a good one to wind us up.
Happily the caving improved, and the next day a Pollnagollum – Poulelva trip was enjoyed by me, and that’s what counts. As the next days forecast was shit we then did what we do best – got really drunk. We decorated our helmets with an Easter theme; I wish I hadn’t used permanent marker to draw a penguin on mine. Eventually we thought attempting to sober Rich and Jono up would be the socially responsible thing to do, so we attempted to spoon feed them some of the excellent food Rufus had organised for us. This turned out to be funnier than it was messy, and was luckily recorded for posterity –Youtube – County Clare videos
Once the weather improved we celebrated Hellie’s arrival with a more traditional St Catherines – to Fisherstreet trip. We had all pre-ordered and paid for a Guinness at McGanns Bar, and were served from a hole in the wall while still in our caving kit. A great trip, with great company followed by a great pint from a great pub!
We enjoyed Pol na Gree, Moonmilk, Faunarooska and the Coolagh river cave (Gour passage is before Balcombe’s pot, not on it as suggested by the survey). And there’s a reason Polldonough North is little visited), but the speleological highlight was undoubtedly a trip to Pollaber, discovered by ACC in the ‘80s. It’s so good we’re coming back next year to take a lump hammer to the terminal squeeze.
Our 9 days cost 230 quid, before beer. We were all impressed by the standard of accommodation provided by Doolin cottages (, though it was a fair walk to the pub. I would definitely take a copy of ‘Selected Caves’. We had the 1981 and 2003 copies of COCC, but found that the descriptions were so detailed that it obscured the relevant bits, and so we kept on checking things in Selected. The Clare section is written by an ACC graduate as well, so you can be assured of its quality.
– Oli Dawson

Pollaber (survey by Aberystwyth Caving Club 2000; Grid Reference M1179 0298; Altitude 225 m; Surveyed Length 115 m)
Day 1 
Doolin River Cave – Arran View; St. Catherines to Arran View through trip
Day 2
Pollnagollum – Poulelva through trip. Drinking games after dinner…
Day 3
It rained…visit to Father Ted’s house and the Doolin coastline
Day 4
Pollnagree & cave prospecting around Slieve Elva
Day 5
Doolin River Cave – St Catherines to Fisherstreet through trip. Pint at McGanns afterwards
Day 6
Day 7
Coolagh River Cave through trips; Moonmilk Cave. Exped party
Day 8
Dead horse cave; Poll Aber, followed by trip to the beach
Day 9
Return to Aberystwyth