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Jan 27, 2004

WINDSOR CASTLE CAVE


Position: WGS84 - 18 23' 34.0" N, 77 53' 36.5" W, +/- 5 m

Field notes: R. S. STEWART

Cavers: R. S. Stewart, M. Taylor, S. McCall, V. Reid

Time in: 14:45 EST, Time out: 15:00 EST

THREAT VULNERABILITY: Severely degraded

(Continued from Rice Bottom 3).

This was the fourth of four caves that we would visit this day, after the three Rice Bottom caves.

We first looked for this cave on Jan 25. We had found, close to the listed position, a bushed-up entrance on the side of a small road that was called "Ketto Pond Cave" by the people of the district. On Jan 25, there had been many wasps living at the entrance, and we had had no Pyro, so we'd put it off until another day. This was the day.

After we had finished at Rice Bottom, we still had time left before nightfall. We decided to use it investigating "Ketto Pond". We arrived, parked, and then Martel, in a very professional fashion, successfully sprayed, chopped, sprayed, chopped, until the entrance was clear of both brush and wasps. It was a fine bit of work and soon revealed the opening to the cave in all its glory.

The entrance can best be described as a dump. It faces SE, is about 5 m wide by 4 high, and has had every imaginable type of trash pushed/thrown/rafted into it. To enter the cave, one must first gingerly scramble around an old car chassis or two. This mess soon gives way to a stream-passage, of several metres width and height, that is littered with plastic jugs and bottles, disposable diapers, cans, you-name-it. Because of its proximity to the road, Windsor Castle Cave has become the local trash-bin. This is not good for one very good reason: it is an upstream source of a downstream spring.

The catchment for the cave is in pasture-land across the road. During the rainy-season, the water rises and floods this cave. Because it was now the dry time, there was water pooled in places but no real flow. Nevertheless, this stream-passage cave obviously ties into associated caves downstream closer to Roehampton. Because of its use as a dump, and the seasonal flushing of this filth through the system, it is contributing the worst organic pollution conceivable to the "springs" downstream. These are the springs people blithely fill their water bottles at. If they were to have a look in this cave, they would be more circumspect.

We actually explored this sewer, a testament to our dedication to the St James assessment project. We managed to follow the passage, pushing garbage aside, for about 50 m until it was down to a mud-silted 1 m in diameter. At this point, we'd seen as much as we needed to see and called a halt to things.

Windsor Castle Cave is a good example of how severely degraded a cave can actually become. If it were a sinkhole, or dry breakdown-chamber cave high in a saddle, it wouldn't be quite so nasty. Unfortunately, this "dump" is feeding its filth straight into the water supply for the district.

Biologically, it has a few bats near the entrance and a lot of roaches.

The morphology is similar to the Rice Bottom Caves but the rock appears softer. The orientation is in the same direction, but the bedding was not as pronounced, (or else we just didn't notice because of the crap we were moving through).

The GPS position for this cave is very good, better than +/- 5 m.

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