This was my first ‘proper’ Clare cave and it gave me exactly what I was looking for. Caving mainly in the Dark North I had a mistaken presumption that there is no such thing as a cave that one can simply walk into. I had thought that in order to see pretty sites you have to adventure hard, but this is not always the case. An easy to access cave, relatively dry and with plenty of variation in its passageways and sights. Indeed Sara, who is featured in many of this photos, refers to Poll na Grai as her favourite cave!
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Right from the start it is an attention seeking cave with a circular stone wall around the entrance and, bizarrely, an old water pump suspended on a metal frame seemingly hovering over the mouth of the cave. The narrow and heavily scalloped passageways are a delight, especially when upon turning a corner reveals some very pure white straws and curtains hanging from the roof.
Nothing, however, can prepare you for one particular formation. It surprises me how there seems to be no mention of this particularly suggestive feature in any descriptions of the cave that I have read. It speaks for itself and I shall leave the rest to imagination:
Too much time underground can be bad for the mind!
Of course, despite the ease in which to move around this fantastic cave there is always a challenge, if you go looking for it. And what a challenge! I visited this cave with members of Breifne Caving Club and none of us had been into it prior to this trip. We were not quite expecting the small passage which led off route and ended in a slight crack in the low ceiling.
We may not have paid it much heed only for the calcite covered gravel in the passage which hinted at something pretty in our midst. Indeed, we did not know that it was a well known feature of the cave, and in fact, was like a red carpet leading the way to a definite VIP lounge. For at the end we could hear our voices echo around the walls of a very large chamber and now and then our torches would just reveal some beautiful flowstone.
Sara got up through the crack first after some difficult wriggling. But this was graceful compared to attempt. I had to pull down my oversuit, lodge myself in place, calm my breathing, deeply exhale and push, hoping that when I soon inhaled again I would not be stuck. It took me a few attempts and I felt like it couldn’t be done. In a fit of excitement and/or rage I asked Michal to pull down my oversuit and undersuit! Not a pretty sight but I squeezed through and into the beautiful aven with its perfectly straight and grey slate-like walls standing in contrast to the pure white ‘waterfall’ of pristine flowstone and warm calcited walls. Truly beautiful.
|I will have to return to this cave, as near the entrance there are another two (very different) dramatic avens that I would like to photograph. This will have to wait until I get a wide-angle lens however. Also I would like to explore the adventurous high traverses further into the cave.
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