NEWNES PLATEAU – 17 August 2018
2½ years ago, when canyoning with Aine and Colin G, they mentioned that there was a canyon called M***m “in this area”. My first expedition to find it after pouring over topo maps gave me hope (it looked like a canyon) so we did the second expedition to do what I thought was M***m but it was a dismal failure, I wasn’t even in the right area although we didn’t know it at the time.
And then Aine and Colin were able to get me a grid reference, but it came with the comment “there’s a climb out that you need to set up first”.
The thought of a climb freaked me out, I had visions of a 30m exposed climb up a pagoda, so Anna and I went off in June (my third expedition), to suss it out and discovered that there was another exit where you didn’t need to climb. So, I’d already done three exploratory trips to find the canyon, all that remained was to do it and as Trish M and I were going up to Glen Davis for the weekend, we decided to drop in and do it on the Friday and invited John G along to join us.
So, armed with a map of the State Forest trails (so I didn’t get lost again) and 2 x 60m ropes, we set off to do this unpublished canyon.
We walked in through fairly open country until we got into the creek which turned out to be very scrubby.
Before long we found that there were easier routes in, although as we had started so high in the creek, we had assured ourselves that there wasn’t any canyon formation upstream. This rock looked like others had dropped into the creek here.
A little further on we found this massive pagoda with a crack right down the middle which extended to the pagoda next to it, evidence of the mining underneath this area.
We reached the one and only abseil (which I had been told was 60m) very quickly and John sussed out the anchor.
The start of the abseil (photo John G)
I went down first, and as there was a ledge immediately below the start, I got off the rope to take photos (John on the abseil), there was a small pool that you could avoid.
Trish on the abseil (photo John G)
John going down to the second ledge, there was an old tape anchor up to John’s right (using a rock bollard which didn’t look all that great to me), we didn’t use it.
The abseil ended with another very deep pool, John easily managed to straddle the pool, I made it look awfully ungraceful by laying down and bridging the pool, I had no intention of getting wet. Apparently the pool was 1m+ deep.
Trish on the abseil. If we weren’t in the middle of a drought, this wall (and the rest of the canyon) would be brilliant green moss, right now it is dried out.
Looking out from the ledge to the end of the canyon and a forest of tree ferns.
The last section of the abseil, an overhang to some mossy rocks.
Trish on the last section. We actually turned one abseil into 3 by getting off the rope and back on at each ledge/pool which was nice as we were able to talk to each other on the way down. We figure it’s not a 60m abseil more like 45m+.
At the end, looking to the route out. Lots of tree ferns.
The vegetation is unbelievably dry at the moment. To our left was another gully and an amphitheatre so we had enough time to go and explore it.
Looking out from the amphitheatre.
A section of the amphitheatre, there was a soak up the back which was still damp and you could see where when it rained there would be a pool at the bottom of the cliffs (you can see how big it is – John is barely visible in the middle). Evidence of the drought, three giant dead tree ferns on the left and dead ferns in the foreground.
On the cliffs after the walk out. It took a little longer than I remembered but we were up the top of the gully in time for lunch (with a view).
Cliff lines over on the other side of the major creek (our canyon was a small tributary).
Pagoda climbing after lunch, fabulous views and great iron-stone formations.
Because the pull-down on the ropes would have been difficult, we decided to leave them in place, then walk around to the top of the pitch to pull them up, we found a nice rock ledge to walk on which took us almost all the way to where we could drop in and pull up the ropes.
Once we’d pulled up the ropes, it was a simple walk out up to the top of a small hill and back to the vehicles. All up it was probably a four hour round trip.
We all agreed that it was a lovely little canyon and well worth doing, all that remains now is for me to take Anna, Aine and Colin through it to thank them for helping me find it.