Highlanders head underground

October 25, 2017

A team of cadets from 1st Battalion the Highlanders recently took part in underground exploring near Inchnadamph. 

The Caithness Company Cadets: Cadet Jack Robertson (15) from Wick Detachment, Cadet Lance Corporal Kieran Sutherland-West (15) from Castletown Detachment, Cadet Corporal Ross Mackay (17) from Thurso Detachment and Cadet Corporal Tristan Jack (15) and Cadet Colour Sergeant Rhuaridh Jack (17) from Farr Detachment, alongside Sergeant Instructor Paul Turner (35) from Halkirk Detachment and Company Commander Major Stephen Mezals (35) visited the Allt Nan Uamh Stream Cave System on 15 October to explore the 1.5km underground cavern and tunnels.

The team started their caving experience with a 2.5km trek up a remote glen early on Sunday morning which bought them to the system’s entrance. The expedition was led by the battalion’s Adventurous Training Officer Lieutenant Clive Roberts (61), a qualified and very experienced caver. The cadets were all briefed on what to expect and, once everyone’s equipment was checked, they headed into the system.

Caving is a combination of walking, climbing, crawling, wriggling, sliding, wedging, pulling, pushing – essentially ‘moving around’ and navigating in a series of natural tunnels and caverns some of which are extremely small and narrow. The cadets spent four hours underground learning how to move around and navigate in the system, exploring different tunnels and caverns and going boldly where few people have gone before.

SI Turner was very impressed with the courage the cadets showed on the day.

He said: “I have been on previous caving trips in the Peak District and Scotland and have seen adults too scared to go far into some of our country’s most inaccessible underground locations. None of the cadets on this trip had ever been caving before so it took a great deal of courage just to be standing in front of the small, dark, rocky entrance that disappeared down into the earth.”

He added: “We strive to inspire our cadets to achieve more, to push themselves and to go further. Caving is not an easy activity, but it is an adventurous one that requires the individual to confront their own fears and to overcome them. Each of those five cadets are perfect examples of that adventurous spirit and can be proud that they have explored one of the most remote locations under the country!”

The Caithness Company cadets in the cave system.

The only way is up for Cpl Ross MacKay.

CSgt Jack squeezes though one of the smaller tunnels.

Steady does it for LCpl Kieran Sutherland-West in one of the system’s less manouevrable areas.