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CAVING IN BELGIUM: THE BELGIAN CAVE GUIDE
Trou du Nou-Moulin - Rochefort (No. 17)


 

LOCATION:
Province: Namur
Locality: Rochefort
Coordinates:  x=211.30    y=94.30   z=178m
Map: 59/3

In the village of Rochefort, take direction Jemelle. Just before the bridge over the river Lomme, take a small road at the right (there is a sign that says "TROU MAULIN").  Park the car after 50 metres. Big entrance (15 m wide) that you can't ignore!
 
HISTORY:
This cave has been known forever. The higher level was explored by the E.S.B. in the period 1965-1970.
 
ACCESS:
Access to this cave is permitted again, but only for normal caving-tours. It is not allowed to use the cave for guiding groups of novices around. The city of Rochefort owns this cave and it is in everybodies interest that the relationship with Rochefort stays good!
 

DESCRIPTION:
Length: 2275 m,  Depth: 62 m
This is a big cave, part of an important hydrological system.  Originally, the river Lomme ran through this cave and it still does from time to time.  A dam was build to keep the river out of the cave, but in high water conditions the lower levels of the cave flood totally!
There is another entrance, about 20 m above the original one.  It is possible to make a roundtrip in this cave.  Start in the lower entrance, and follow a big gallery that gradually becomes more and more narrow.   Pass the unforgettable pebble-filled squeeze; climb up a 4 m high and slippery steep slope,  then follow the big gallery until you arrive in an enormous boulder choke, the "Fromage de Gruyere".  Attention: many people have got lost in this labyrinth of boulders!

Find yourself a way up the boulders, until you arrive in a big room that is situated at least 20 m higher than the foot of the choke.   Climb up to the highest part of the room.  You arrive at a "balcony" where a 12 m pitch, followed by another one (+/- 5 m, that can be avoided if you know the way) leads again to the lower levels of the cave.

NB: both pitches can be avoided, by taking some (hard to find) passage at the left side wall. You must search for this passage when you first arrive in the big room, at the top of the boulder choke. The passage is immediately at your left.  It is a steep descent between the left wall and boulders. You go down again for at least 20 metres.

Anyway, both the pitches or the bypass lead to the lower levels again. And again it is a complex maze of rifts and galleries and rooms in which you must try to go down to the lowest part. Once you reach the lowest galleries again (presence of sand and pebbles), the way on is easy: follow a series of low but large galleries, nicely sculpted by the water.  You can take beautiful pictures here!

This part of the cave ends in a water filled pit. 10 m before this sump, climb up towards a passage at the right wall (2 metre climb, slippery)  and then go through a narrow passage  (Le Benitier) that will bring you in the original big gallery again, near the "pebble-squeeze". Le Benitier is sometimes totally filled with water so be prepared to take a short "duck"!    From there on; you can a) head straight out or b) try to reach the upper level: 
Near the Benitier you can climb up the wall, just at the left side of the Benitier,  and you'll  find a steel cable  that permits you to traverse to the upper part of the cave ( the cable has been replaced in January 2003 by the E.S.B.). Follow the dry gallery until you exit through the upper entrance...
An easier and safer alternative would be to enter the upper entrance first, and to rig the passage with ropes (the cable is only meant as an "emergency exit" in case the cave should have flooded).

RIGGING:
- A 30 m rope to descend the 12 m pitch in the Fromage de Gruyere (you will need to pull through the rope, so it must be at least 30 m!) unless you avoid the pitch as is described above. 
- 30 m rope to rig the traverse that connects the upper entrance with the lower galleries
 

COMMENT:Nou-Moulin, flooded
No formations are to be expected in this cave, but the cave is an example of all possible phreatic phenomena that can be seen in caves!!  In general, beautifully water-sculpted rock.  This cave is a real must for photographers; for me it is to be compared with famous phreatic caves such as Pereyjal in France!

BUT! DO NOT ENTER the cave when waterlevels in the Lomme are high, or when the weather is unstable. The cave floods to the roof!  Have a look at the picture, showing the cave entrance practically filled to the roof!

Another remark: because of the frequent flooding, lots of rubbish and debris washes into the cave (plastic bottles and pieces of plastic). Please, while visiting the cave, take as much rubbish along as you can carry.  You will easily find an empty plastic bag somewhere washed into the cave in which you can carry all the rubbish out!

 
SURVEY: Click here to see the survey

 
Contacteer/contact us:  SC Avalon vzw
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