Jamaican Caving Notes
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Blenheim Caves 1-3
June 7, 2006 - 13:00-17:00 EST
Team: RS Stewart, E Slack, M Taylor, J Pauel, A Yovandich
Notes: RS Stewart
In March of 2006, we had visited the district of Cross Keys, Manchester, to explore Smokey Hole Cave. This had resulted in a new depth record for Jamaica. Afterwards, a bit of research using Jamaica Underground and Arcview suggested that there might be more deep, unexplored sites to be found a little further north, near Blenheim and Wales (just south of Newport). We had decided to spend several days this expedition to check into things, and today, June 7, would be the first.
The morning had begun in Troy, and it was our plan to spend the night at Marcia's, in Cross Keys. Rather than head there first to drop things off, we decided to do some general recon of the Blenheim district en route. We knew that there'd been quite a bit of mining for bauxite in the district, and we had no idea what areas still existed in a natural state. As the three Bleneim Caves were listed to be not far from the main road, we started with these.
It was soon apparent that much of the area where they were supposed to be had been heavily mined. We drove around the minor roads in the area of the given coords, finding nothing but strip-mines and a few pockets of green on small rocky hills in the midst of it. Eventually, we came across one rather sad gentleman living in an old farm building on a small plot of land surrounded by strip-mining. He told his that it used to be his father's farm, but now this was all that remained. He knew of no caves left in the area, saying that it had all been mined.
There is a good chance that these caves are now lost. We didn't check the small, rocky hills, but the three sites were not described as being located in such (at least two of them were in valleys/cockpits), so there seems little point. However, we will drop by again in the future to have one last look.
The information given in Alan Fincham's book, Jamaica Underground, follows:
Blenheim Cave-1. Newport. Grid: 16-1956-1442. Alt: 740m. Type: Simple shaft. Due south of Welkin Caves and 110m west of the road. A large sinkhole.
Blenheim Cave-2. Newport. Grid 16-1956-1439. Alt: 760. Length 55m. Type: Cave to a shaft. Explorers: GSD, 1962. Due south of Blenheim Cave-1. A cave with loose boulders on the floor, extends for 45m to where the roof lowers to 1m and the passage ends in an unexplored shaft.
Blenheim Cave-3. Newport. Grid 16-1954-1439. Alt: 800. Type: simple shaft. Explorers: GSD 1962. About 400m west of the Blenheim to Newport road. A deep (unexplored?) hole in a funnel-shaped valley. Other sinkoles were reported in this area by the GSD.
An area map showing the positions will be found below.
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