Over the Summer of 2019 I managed to somehow become the ‘gateway’ student tour guide of Fermanagh. This all started during CHECC 2018 when a number of cavers from various University Clubs had discussions surrounding trips to Ireland. Of course, I informed them that they were very much welcome to pop over at any time and if they needed assistance in planning, I could provide if required.
Initially both Nottingham and Kent were interested, but quickly realising this year mightn’t be the best, only Kent were left. Discussions picked up around May ‘19 again with Elif Okutan, as their trip plans were rightly underway with them arriving 26th June to 3rd July ’19. I forwarded them the relevant information for the region well in advance of course and gave them clear directions to the Hoo, their base for the week.
Kent University in Marble Arch Caves on the Legnabrockey Way
So with dates confirmed, I assembled a trusty crew of Daniel Black and Peter Ward, jumping in the wagon and heading down to meet them on the Wednesday evening, arriving at good time for 9:30pm only to find Miner lurking in the shadows putting the final finishing touches to the Shower just recently installed in the Hoo, specially for Kent University to trial.
Overall the trip was fantastic with great hospitality from Kent at all times with us all getting to meet some fantastic people with a number of caves visited over the few days we were with them! On the Thursday, we went to Marble Arch assembling in two teams we went forward with a nice leisurely trip through the Legnabrockey Way, killing some time throughout the trip whilst I put my new Camera through its paces (oh how much I wish I brought a tripod!). Overall we spent around 6 hours between the two groups in Marble Arch and everyone from Kent seemed to enjoy a nice easy cave to start their adventures!
On Friday a group of 5 of us headed to Noons Hole, initially Tom had attempted to rig but after spending a bit too much time faffing on the entrance pitch he had asked for myself to take over. The rig went well, however once at the bottom, 3 of us had ended up spending a considerable amount of time waiting on the last two people to pop down the pitch and with time trundling along we began to realise we wouldn’t have enough time to push into the cave and so to the dismay of myself we started the prussik back out. (Not to the dismay of Kent however as I believe the revisited this cave on their last day) Whilst I was with the group in Kent, Daniel Black and Peter Ward took the remainder around the Garden Caves of the Hoo, including John Thomas’ Hole and Cat’s Hole. It was also this evening Niall O’Rourke but also a few others from DCU joined us at the Hoo, so it was a cosy night indeed, with many deciding to pitch tents!
Mark Watson coming up out of the pitch series in Noons Hole
On Saturday most of Kent had decided to have a rest/touristy day around Enniskillen, so I managed to assemble a few people including Daniel, Peter, Niall, Sam Lee and Meg House, and after the associated morning faff we heading off to Boho Caves to do a bit of exploring and photography. Again, the results weren’t amazing but I’m happy with how this photography trip turned out. Spending around 4 hours in Boho isn’t the worst! Kent knew this was our last night with them so they organised a barbeque for us to attend. It was brilliant and I’m very thankful for them including us in it!
Candle-lit Photography in Boho Caves