|South Wales Trip||Layby Pot (Derbys Classic)||Ingleborough Cave||Simpsons Pot||Sunset Hole|
|Hardrawkin Pot||Juniper Gulf||Hardrawkin Pot||Flood Entrance Pot||Notts Pot|
|County Pot||Christmas Pot|
Enthusiasm for a trip to South Wales is always high, therefore it was not entirely unexpected when the organiser, i.e. me, received numerous requests for further information regarding time, place, caves, beer token requirements, etc, etc. So, I organised a good weekend and waited for the "deffos" to come swarming in
A huge team of Pendle cavers arrived in a small Welsh town, present were the caving talents of Dave Kestell, Andy Phillipson, Simon Webb, Weaner, Thug, Chuffy, Webbo, the Webbmeister, pig-shafter Webb and a fraggle named Swampy from English Nature. A huge team indeed, and all of them tigers, except for Swampy ! Good times were forecast !!!
The Welsh village was blessed with a class hostelry, so with a wallet bulging with newly found wealth, I piled in and ordered two pints of the finest Welsh beer available. 20 minutes later two fine-looking pints of "Welsh Smooth" arrived and after a thirsty journey the welcoming smell of ale was irresistible. Thug and I gulped at our foamy headed pints and experienced a taste like no other, namely that of ale and cider mixed badly in dirty pump pipes by a Welsh crofter ..ugh ! We were not alone in our horror as the entire batch of Welsh Smooth had been contaminated by the filthy landlord running the squalid pit so Webbo and Swampy also had to join in the delightful taste sensation.
The pub was storming, there in the tiny Welsh Helwith Pit were the PISS plus a long haired freak, two local sheep chasers and the fat landlord. Things were looking up for a good night ! Then, out of the mist, came a minibus full of noisy students from Notts Uni. They stormed into the pub and orders for drink started flying. Eventually the students calmed down and 15 pints of tap water sat on the table in front of them while they discussed the merits of being a Bernard Matthews chicken or a Lincoln cauliflower. We soon realised that they were not cavers, as even we can't talk that much pointless shite. The students left after a few minutes for the palatial cottage, leaving us alone with half a dozen funny tasting local pints for very local people.
Retired to our accommodation, very thoughtfully cleaned and heated by the Croydon CC, much to our disgust, to engage the students in heated debate about the issues of the day. Unfortunately, the students had all gone to bed except for a tough minority, who finished their hot Horlicks, polished off a couple more rich tea biscuits and bade us goodnight. This bizarre behaviour convinced us that they certainly weren't cavers and even worse, they weren't even students !!!!!! Needless to say, we stayed up late, talked shite and then went to bed.
Woken up early (7am) by the student freaks cooking their breakfast, so in an attempt to get rid of them, Andy kindly emptied his very full bladder out of the fire escape past the kitchen window. Squeals and yelps of disgust floated up, but within 5 minutes the smoke detectors were going off again and the slumbering PISS were disturbed again. Finally left our crofting village just before lunch and headed off to Dragon to hire some lamps. Found Dudley talking shite to a bloke buying gear to abseil down things and scramble back up, sounded like he needed a life, but Dudley convinced him he needed 200 quids worth of kit and rope !! We got our lamps and the race was on to get to Draenen. First though a lunch stop was needed, so we drove off towards the closest town. No sign of a café, so we asked a local creature,
"Is there a café open round here mate", enquired Pendles hungriest tapeworm,
"Not at this time, they are all shut", said the creature,
"What, lunchtime?" retorted the tapeworm,
"Yep, they are all shut round here mate" replied the freak.
"Fuck that then, you creature", came the reply and the PISS shot off at warp speed for Merthyr Tydfil and the only hope of some tucker.
Thug and Weaner eventually found a nice Asda café, breakfast only £1.50 each, so tucked in sharpish. Webbo and Swampy found the Asda as well, but they immediately drove out of the car park as Thug and the Weaner waved their intention to chow-down in the café and drove off to the cave. This caused some confusion, so we hunted round the car park for them then left to go to the cave, thinking they have either been abducted and reamed by aliens, or worse, Welshmen! Sod them, we are going caving.
Arrived at the cave to find Webbo and Swampy enjoying a nice plate of chips and coal slag, amazingly they had found the cave car park without much trouble. So much for guide books !!
Good trip in Draenen. Saw lots of rocks, rocks covered in mud and muddy rocks. Got to Megadrive after taking the wrong turn for Gilwern, then eventually found Gilwern and had a look up that. Poor old Swampy was a bit concerned to find that Thug and Weaner cave as fast as Thug drives so got left behind at every turn, kind old Webbo supported his puffy mate throughout the cave, but we took the piss as often as possible to keep his spirits up !
Eventually got down to the pub, expecting a huge "John Wayne Special", but the pub was dry, food wise anyway. Left in disgust and got some cold chips in a shitty village close by. Got back for a couple of pints of finest Welsh Smooth, luckily less the cider aftertaste, talked some shite and retired to the cottage to bait the students. Luckily some of the students had fought the urge to go to bed at 9pm, so we swapped stories of exploring caves for their tales of exploring Pen-y-Fan, which they swear wasn't there the other day before they had discovered it, them being the "Nottingham University Explorers Club". We regaled them with tall stories of caving exploits and their resident freak told us his joke. Needless to say the joke died on its feet and so Andy and Simon threw the silly fucker out of the cottage. His mates seemed pleased with our interjection and so drank all our beer.
The night gradually became drier as our beer supplies ran out so we attempted to get the students to drag out their stock, but were told that they didn't have any. A veritable tea-drinking-fest followed and we retired to bed after the last student at 4am a bit excited on caffeine ! However, before retiring to our pits Andy wrote a note to the students threatening them with PISS urinating through the floorboards into the kitchen should they wake us before noon. Amazingly they were absolutely silent and Andy and I woke up fully refreshed at noon !! Fantastic ..
We then decided to tab over the hill to do Little Neath River Cave as it looked pretty good. Got there after a wander across the barren Welsh wastelands to find the shagging thing full of cold rushing water. Andy bravely went in for a look as he was the only one stupid enough to bring a wetsuit while I stood on a rock in the river shouting "Death, death, death !" every time he made a move towards the low water filled passage. Needless to say, the madness was eventually overcome and we did Bridge Cave, which was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon.
A ruby in Swansea finished the trip off a treat and we were lucky enough to get in to the restaurant before a huge party of buxom students in diaphonous blouses arrived. However, we were not lucky enough to get to order more food on the "eat as much as you want" deal because the cheeky Fergals took so shagging long to bring our first trough load out. Nevermind.
So finished another packed PISS trip with the last remaining tigers in the
club. Tip: Don't throw ReadyBrek at your muckers on the motorway without ensuring
you have the ReadyBrek in a bag first, as throwing it out the window directly
causes most of it to come back in again, defeating the object of throwing it
at your mates !!
Well, with the opening of Stoney Middleton it was about time to get some caving done. All concerned were contacted and the Denton Disciple was approached with offerings, but to no avail ! Those available were two of the original pre-Fearsome Foursome Tigers, Rhino Ron and the Boy.
A stealthy approach was made via the V8 Ranger and Streaks Pot lower entrance was taken completely by surprise, actually my surprise as the crawl was absolutely stuffed with huge flies that seemed determined to fill my suit and there was no way that Ron was gonna follow. So defeat admitted, I exited and we struggled on up the valley to Lay By Pot.
Ron rigged like a true hero and we were down, battling through aeons of Derbyshire's finest mud. Crawl after crawl after crawl in muddy water followed until we gained some relief in the form of an aven. Taking it in turns to stand up was pure luxury after the endless muddy crawls and we were glad that John had recommended such an exquisite cave to us.
Ron saw a pretty, but after closer inspection it turned out to be a twig that had travelled in on his boot. I struck out through another crawl in quite deep water to a smaller crawl in a bit less water. With Ron on my D I was soon through the tight crawl and into a rising crawl to the highlight of the cave, a chamber !!!!!
We both stood in awe as our lamps penetrated the darkness to illuminate the roof, towering approximately 4 and a quarter metres above our heads. The chamber was the largest we had ever seen it and Ron had to be restrained from swinging the pigmy cat he had brought in a BDH around his head in glee.
We pushed on after a meal of fritas and port, cleverly preserved in white port from Mad Bobs bidet, to the final chamber where I made short work of the climb and Ron resorted to a bit of prussiking to remind himself how it all worked ! After another short crawl, which trapped Ron and his bag for almost three minutes, we exited into bright sunshine and retired to the stream for some kit washing action.
Sorted out a trip for the bored boys and girls of Pendle into the back end of Ingleborough Show Cave. Thought it looked vaguely more interesting than some shite hole in Derbys and we could have a Brookhouse breakfast served by the delightful Sarah.
The day dawned bright and fresh, then it started raining.......bugger. Thankfully all was well by the time I reached Clapham to find the men of the Bloom (New Houses Division) family sat around a table chewing various food and nonfood-stuffs. Sam was making short work of a napkin, Steve was polishing off his first breakfast and June was trying to keep them all entertained. Eventually the Ranger arrived, as did Alice. The crack team was assembled and battle could commence, but first Bloomster needed another breakfast !
We were due at the cave for 10am, Ron had already booked his chicken dinner and the clock was ticking for a timely return ! After a struggle both myself and Ron were suitably dressed for the Wallows section of the cave, while the others braved the icy watery depths with furries......burrrr. The walk up was long and hot, but nevertheless pleasant after a long-time-gone. Arriving at the cave, it became apparent the the Yorkshire Dales National Park (YDNP) had opened up a load of paths in the Three Peaks the night before and we would have been free to be the first down any GG cave ! BUGGER !! Still, onwards to death or glory
The cave was dark and full of sand, high quality sand if you believe the hype, but I found its quality marred by its abrasiveness as it worked its way deep into my wetsuit and settled in for the monster thrutch that is the Far Eastern Sloppy Bedding Plane. Ron was less than amused as he fell for yet another Tiger-sized trip and even less amused at the duck in the Wallows. Being hydrophobic after the incident in Serendipity he declined my kind offer to immerse himself in cold water and duck his ear and chin into it for the good of the club. Alice also declined, but with the PISS (Portugal) tiger essence still coarsing through his veins, Bloomster went straight through without thought, his belly keeping him warm in lieu of a wetsuit.
The rest of the cave was brilliant, well worth the effort. Big impressive passage, crashing water, huge formations and more high quality sand led to the perched Terminal Lake. Shame it was over so soon.
A quick exit, marvelling at the number of coins in a lake in the Showcave saw us out and bathing in the river, much to the amusement of passing tourists. A quick shop in Inglesport and it was all over.
Well, all was set for a monster trip into Simpsons after the f'n'm restrictions had been lifted on West Kingsdale. Due to the collapse at the bottom we thought it wise to rig the trip for SRT and not a pull-thru as is the usual manner.
A crack team consisting of two Full Tigers, one Half Tiger, a hopeful tiger yet to fill his forms in and two new chaps assembled for the obligatory breakfast in Brookhouse. Sarah enlivened us all with her diaphanous trousers and lack of shreddies, which Steve assured us was normal behaviour round these parts on a bank holiday weekend. A monster lard fest ensued and eventually we were all on our way to Masson Gill, the path up to Simpsons from Kingsdale shut by some errant farming type.
Powered up the gravel road to park out of the way around the corner from the pump house up at Masson Gill and disturbed a caving beauty getting changed into her furry, wobbly bits asunder ! Whoops ! Steve popped his eyes back in and I reversed at full speed into the path of an incoming Ranger !! Arrghhhh death from all sides ! The trip was beginning in style !
Hot long walk up to Simpsons where the new LED lamp came out and Tiger One was in with the hirsute Horton Halibut hacking behind hauling his hazardous heathen hob-nailed halyards behind him. Pitches were rigged, ducks were ducked, all dangers were swept behind as a slick team confident in their own abilities descended into the depths. Then suddenly, out of nowhere came the realisation that it had all gone Pete Tong with the rope ! We were a rope short and still had 3 pitches to descend, including the main objective, Slit Pot.
The last pitch was attempted as a climb, but even the chief Tiger with heavy weight backup couldn't clamber up to get the rope and the next pitch was too far to climb, jump or even try some Cowboy tactics, bugger !!! The rope we now needed had been put on that little climb after Bobs Pit as a handline for those with jellylegs and/or no upper body strength...................
So, dejected we continued on our way down, only three of the six bothering to go to the top of Slit Pot and only two of those, Pendle International types btw, pissed through the slit, sending a golden, steaming arc of Pendle International certified urine cascading into the dank depths. Luxury !
A smooth exit saw us up on the fell gazing into the distance at Ingleborough and Whernside in one direction, Lancaster, Morecambe bay glistening in the sun and the Lake District in the other direction. Stevey and I decided another trip was in order, so we had a quick look in Rowten caves, very good indeed, refreshing, clean washed, big and unspoilt. Arriving at the gully we had a look into the depths of Rowten Pot, but nobody was to be seen.
A very pleasant day except for the cockup with the rigging, but another day eh?. Why was there only us and another group of caves out on Bank Holiday Sunday ? Probably all off climbing as it was such a nice day, or are we about to get the caves all to ourselves as people leave caving behind for more genteel pursuits following the Foot and Mouth Plague ?
Until the next installment. Tiger One signing off, grr....
Well it was up to the Old Ranger to fly the flag!
Everyone else was too busy, too far away or just too lazy to get out of bed!
Well the day started with the usual good breakfast from Sarah at Brookhouse. Next stop Inglesport to deliver some Rigging Guides, must have been an odd caver out who bought some!
Passed time of day with Jonny and Deanne and then bought one of those posh 4 hour rechargeable batteries for me and a large tackle bag for PCC. I think I must have succumbed to some fancy sales talk!!
Anyway off to Chapel Le Dale, quick change and off up the fell for a Solo in Sunset. The fell was quiet and the cave was empty, hardly a trickle of water and no people. I ambled down the cave rigging all the climbs and the final pitch. All nice and safe and good practice. I managed to use about 70m of rope and other assorted bits.
I exited the cave to find 2 guys ready to enter and then ambled off down the hill. Hell I think every walker in the area was out there. It looked like bus loads of bumblies and every group asking me the same silly questions!!
Ah well back to the car 3 hours after leaving it, not bad for an old Ranger. Another quick change and off home for steak and chips, bottle of wine and play with my new battery!
This is the only report I got from Ron after last weeks trip (Ed)
For the record last sunday I went up to Sunset Hole (again) and followed up with a good soar down the super pitches of Hardrawkin Pot. The first one is highly underated and deserves a much better write up in the Northern Caves. I was ably assisted by Pete Bann, Alice and the new guy Pete.
Well it was a beautiful Friday afternoon as two happy chaps set off from the deepest South East intent on a monster caving weekend, would their cheeky grins last. No chance. Every man and his dog had decided to take to England's motorways for the day. Despite some cunning route planning it was an eight hour marathon before the Weaner and I crawled into the darkness of the YSS hut. Luckily our man in the know El Misery of Mason had recommended the members section for it's palatial and comfortable accommodation. Up we rushed, only to find a one large piss resistant mattress covered in grey pubes. Whatever the YSS members get up to on their weekends the Weaner and I weren't keen to join in. Shame on you Mason!. We quickly dekitted in a area less suited to golden shower activity and decamped to the Helwith Pit. Weanski insisted that it was the place to be and be seen these days now the wicked witches were gone. I remained skeptical!. And rightly so. Upon entry we were greeted by the usual collection of Bill Hicky Mexican staring locals, closely resembling extras out of the Star Wars bar scene. Anyhow Crazy Coll the landlord sloped out a couple of pints of hairy ale and the boys sat down to await the arrival of their Mucka Stevie Bloom. Bloomski duly arrived having suffered a hellish journey of about 3 miles drive. He appeared to have joined the medical profession since I last saw him, as he was nursing a pint all evening. Bloomster informed us that he would rather put his financial welfare in front of any desire to cave with us over the weekend, but that if we could delay our journey home for 5 hours we could take him down Sunset on Monday morning. After an unsuccessful attempt to secure accommodation at Hotel Bloomster, Stevie disappeared into the night before any of the Werebeasts of the Pit could get a scent of him.
After an uncomfy night on the YSS bail hostel mattresses we awoke ready for another top breakfast at the Brook House belly-gro factory. There to meet us as the crofting legend that is Simon "Pigshafter" Webbo. Webbo looked even worse than us having been involved in a nocturnal Narwhale harpooning session. He informed us that his harpoon was now bent and shafted. Anyway after the allocated 30 mins of faffing it was decided that Juniper Gulf was to be our cup of tea for the day. So off we went. A monster walk up to the Allotment ensued. The three of us having to carry up more rope than could possibly be good for us, due to the lack of interest from other Pendle types. On the way up when questioned as to our range of beverages for the journey ahead Webbo advised us that there would be no coffee nor hot ribina as he'd rather have cold watter. As we neared our destination we saw a huge sink hole filled to the brim with rotting sheep offal that some guardian of the countryside had kindly left out. Nice!
Once at the cave the Webbo was tricked into rigging in the wrong place, a move calculated to make us about 30 mins late for the pub food later on. Weanski took over and banged out some rigging. This week in the style of Dave Salt ! Off we went through pitch upon pitch; rift over rift. No mud in the cave was a nice touch I can tell you. Eventually we happened upon the 30 m pitch which was close enough to the waterfall to concentrate ones mind a little. Weanski went onto the 45 m number; rather him than me. Not a place to forget how to rebelay either. With all the boys at the bottom a Pendle sump pisser was needed. However the forces that be had decreed that this cave be filled with Herring Jizzam all the way to the sump. In a scene reminiscent of an Ibiza foam party, sans semi naked girls, fizzy lager, drugs, loud music etc.In a scene reminiscent of David Atto's Blue Planet Herring Jiz shot; you know the one with the bear and all the seagulls lapping up the batter, we all had a splash around ( Webbo may have done a bit of lapping too ) Quick turn around and derigg saw us hastily retreat. Weanski engineered a Pendulum of Doom to ensure my exit was a little cheeky but this was quickly over come.
With all of the tigers now prowling the open air of the Allotment thought turned to food. A quick tab through the darkness saw us back at the motors, but a check of the watch revealed that it was 2130hrs already. What a day, but would Ingleton's finest pub still be serving scoff ? We were also due to meet the Denton Disciple for a few scoops and Dr Mike Swampy was tunneling over from the Kendal area to update us on quaint Cumbrian customs. Well we arrived to find that any chance of tucker was well and truly gone. Misery Mason couldn't be found, but the Swamp Thing was getting well into the local folk night where a load of other bearded freaks were present. Pendle's finest still needed a feed, so set off to scour the countryside for fodder. It was a grand no show on the food front, so it was back to the Pit. There we were offered a choice of paying extra to turn the oven on so to sample their wide and varied menu including the customer's favorite of Pig-Liver-Veg. Luckily they also had something my stomach could process. A night of hairy ale and talking shite ensued, upset only by knowledge that we'd missed John by 10 mins. Arse! After the ale started to flow the Swampmeister revealed disturbing revelations that shocked and horrified all tigers present. These things should not be mentioned on a family website suffice to say that the man has issues and his new sobriquet is Dr Brownlove. Nuff Said. Webbo the little poppet couldn't take the full extent of Crazy Coll's version of English licensing laws and went for a kip in the car, whilst Swamps kept Tiger1&2 feeling gippy with more of his strange ways. Col kept on opening the door to more and more freaks, we however finally made a run for it by about half midnight. I'd like to say we had a good nights sleep, however it was back to YSS hell for another rustling night with one eye kept open against the Pit's Werefreaks and Swampster's Fists of Fun.
Well the next morning dawned bright and clear, Tiger One and Two checked themselves out and found they hadn't been reamed in the night by Dr Brownlove..........all was well with the Pendle Tigers and caves awaited !
A monster faff then off to Brookhouse for some top tucker where Webbo revealed his desire to leave his muckers at the cave entrance and return to sharpen his harpoon for more narwhale exploits. Needless to say we were horrified, but there is little one can do in the face of juicy barnacles on a bed of sea-cous-cous. Then the cheeky Swampmeister decided he needed a sleep after a night of firtive sheep defiling so also decided enough was enough. That left just Tiger One and Tiger Two to battle the forces of darkness on the battlefield of limestone, the holy place that is known throughout the world as Hardrawkin of the Pots.
Accoutrements were gathered, wet kit was donned, photographic kit checked and double checked, metal at the ready and the off was sounded..............brum, brum ! Sauntered down the road, amused at the number of cavers tramping across the fell to do the same set of caves to bump into the one and only, praise-be-to-his-refulgent-brow, Les "Bicep Boy" Sykes, leader of the very band of Hellifield Witches that almost snared the Weaner into their politikin madness. He seemed pleased to see me, but that might just have been wind, its difficult to tell when you are talking to someone else about forthcoming adventures.
Arriving at the cave we found a huge group of ill-equipped Freshers waiting for their leader to show them the way to Death or Glory. Thankfully their leader wasn't gonna take them down our cave, so we strapped up, said farewell to our muckers who were prancing over the pavement looking for Bills Crane or something, I think he must have dropped it, but how you loose a 30m articulated crane down a grike I don't know, and dropped in to the entrance. It was the biggest / wettest / darkest I had ever seen it and I was looking forward to getting down it for the first time.
The cave started well, plenty of walking in an excellent trench, all Ron-sized I thought. Then the crawling set in and I became concerned that Ron was taking the piss and hadn't been here before. The crawling ended after a bit and the passages ahead drew me on, the roar of watter tickling my ears, the darkness beckoning, the voices calling, "Fist-of-fun, fist-of-fun". Arrrgggggghhhhh!!!!!!! Swampmeister had taken over our brains and was transmitting his filth through the very rock in which we were travelling. We were doomed and there was little hope of rescue.
Luckily, my Tiger instincts took over and I realised that he was using a Molephone Mk2, which has a range of 20 metres in Great Scar Limestone but that Black Reef Shales attenuate the signal by a factor of 1000. There was a shale band just in front of us, an obvious inception horizon if I say so myself, and judging by its spectroscopic properties (I always carry a mini electrospectromagnetoscopiograph) it was a Black Reef Shale of the Carboniferous epoch, just the stuff we needed. A quick dash through and we were safe, the ongoing task of descending the cave could continue.
It was decided to get some shots of the shale band that saved us, but as usual my slaves went tits-up and we abandoned the idea. Soon the pitches were apon us and very wet they were too (it had been raining, ney, pissing it down all night). I rigged like a Tiger, using my knowledge of 3 body kinematics to suspend us well out of the watter cascading down from above. The pitch is a biggy and with lots of water, its a bit cheeky, so we scamped onwards to the next, descended in usual style then back up again as there was fuck all to see at the bottom save for some diving kit and a big frothy sump poo, sorry, pool.
A quick retreat and a wander down got us back at the car as the heavens opened again and we got soaked in our dry clothes, so off to the Thief for some kit-buying, tea and cake and a chin-wag with the chaps on point. A meal in the Marton Arms was the order of the day after Saturdays debarcle, so we settled down to a pint of Pendle and a big ruby (or pork things in Andys case). Retreating to the Pit in lieu of an invite to watch Steveys tele, where we found a *huge* widescreen TV all to ourselves. Settling down with some more beer, crisps and pork ring-pieces, we cranked up the volume as the bastards in the bar ruined The Usual Suspects by playing shite music at ear drum penetrating volumes. Bastards. We were well muntered after our adventures and needed a nice quiet evening drinking and watching the tele, but instead our peace was disturbed by local types banging their heads on the wall of the bar, ordering "one expensive pint, Col", discussing the merits of descending Sunset on a Saturday rather than a Sunday and staring at us every time they went for a piss (and there were lots of them). We decided we had just entered an alternate universe where the common form of greeting is a good stare followed by a bellow, and moved closer to the tele in an attempt to hear the film.
Back at the Pit, we were faced with the prospect of spending the night alone in a haunted caving hut, ugh! Thankfully the pissing rain, howling wind and creaking floorboards kept them away and we slept like logs, until Andy shut the window stopping the door from banging, the floorboards from creaking and I went back to sleep to mutter about whatever nonsense was in my head, thereby denying Thuggo a quick return to the land of nod. 10 hours later it was still raining so we went to the Three Peaks Cafe for breakfast, how happy were they to see us !!! Bloomsters pad next to see the clan, then back off home, arriving in Oxford after a short trip lasting a mere 6 hours. Blessed be the M6 !
Hereth end a monster weekend. Thanks to all those that turned out, Tiger One, Tiger Two, Tiger Three, Hippo One, Weaner, Thuggo, Webbo, Pigshafter Webb, Andy P, The Ferret and the Swampmeister.
Well what a day
We met for breakfast at Brookhouse, first Pete (Bann) and then myself all raring to go! Blow me before Sara got the breakfast on, Alice was on the mobile, She is feeling a bit Pat and Mick and didn't feel up to it so she stayed back in Dumfries. We had the usual top breakfast from Sara and started to feel lonely. Nobody else coming along. Peter (brother of Alexander!!!) Fleming was coming but never showed (for the second time!!). Doesn't seem like a recruit for the Tiger team. Pete (Bann) and I thought we would go for it anyway.
First job, repack the ropes from 3 bags into 2, Seventy odd metres in each plus assorted slings, maillons, krabs and 8mm spits. Made for a pleasant walk up towards the gill, Pete seemingly ambling along with the Old Ranger staggering along behind!! We cunningly went via Clapdale (some new windows up there) and avoided most of the bumblies and their silly questions. Once up to the entrance, Wades entrance, tooled up and off we go.
First pitch, a bit tight at the top but straight through I go, down to the rebelay, nice loop and off to the bottom. Pete is right behind, still trying to remember if he has been before! Then its off around the bend and up a crawl. my favourite!! Soon we're in walking stream passage and just when it is getting comfortable, a flat out bedding crawl. Its only short, and then a little pitch, where's the bloody belay. After a while Pete spots it. I must have been stood on it!! Oh well, I soon rig the next anchor and down we go. Another short crawl and another pitch. Two anchors in the roof and a lovely free hang, 50ft or so.
Another passage, stooping, wriggling and walking and we are at the big pitch. 140ft down to the top of South east pot. This is where the trip went downhill!! I rigged the top and abseiled down to the ledge and rebelayed. As I recall from here on my other visits we abbed down through some of the water and picked up a rebelay above and to the Bar Pot side of the tunnel to the Main Chamber. However Elliots guide directs you down the right side of the shaft via 2 deviations, the first being quite steep! I chose to go this way. The first deviation was bloody steep, about 50 ft down the shaft I locked off my descender and pendulumed across the shaft (or was it just bouncing off the walls!). Anyway after a few skinned knuckles I managed to get the fixed sling and hook on a krab. That's the hard bit I thought. Abbed down to the next deviation and hooked into that. I can see that I am on the opposite side of the shaft to the tunnel to MC, don't know where I'll land so I carry on to find out. Then it all goes "pearshape" the shaft wall undercuts and I swing under slightly causing the rope to rub above me!!!! I'm about a 100ft down the shaft, the ropes rubbing and I'm still not sure where I'm going to land! I decide not to land, I do a free hanging changeover and set off back up, all the way to the bloody top. On reaching the top I decide that I am knackered and not to try rigging it again! Maybe next time. Pete didn't fancy rigging so we set off out.
Maybe next time Tiger One will come along to show me the error of my ways. I can see the Elliot way avoiding nearly all water but what about the rope rub! We had a steady exit with the bags weighing a lot more now with all the water, but it was a good workout for the guy who likes a serious walk and a pleasant cave and the masochisic Ranger.
Note for the Duck, "my new wellies were wonderful!
The Ranger will be out on the 11th with a club wishing to join the CNCC, a pleasant jaunt in Bull Pot and Jingling. No rigging and carrying all that nasty heavy rope on this trip ( I hope!!)
A big team assembled in Brookhouse cafe raring to go. The Boy, Ranger Ron, Pete B, Alice, Bloomster and a new guy Paul quickly scoffed a full breakfast in anticipation of the monster trip ahead. All was well with the Pendle and a big team was out to crack off a classic.
Quick scoot up to a balmy Leck Fell, sharing cars so to leave some parking spaces for others (there were none when we arrived!), Bloomster and I in the Ranger and the others in whatever. Quick change, big faff then the hike to the cave. Somehow I ended up with two tackle sacks, but only Pete was able to keep up on the march up the hill. Walked straight to the cave (Tiger ESP I reckon), quick kit up, drew Tiger stripes on Stevey and we were off !
The entrance crawl was the biggest I had ever seen it and it was probably because that Ric Halliwell, Gerrys' dad, had been up before f'n'm to dig the fucker out. Shame really I always enjoyed bending my back the wrong way, inserting a huge tackle sack into the hole and writhing around like a maggot in a carcass (nice!) before popping over the first pitch, usually head first, but often arse first..........But all had changed and Ron was happy ! Well done Ric!!
Quick soar down the first pitch, then off to battle the Twilight Zone with my crack team of troops, the Horton Hippo and Paul the new guy, leaving the others to do Center. All was going swimmingly until it came to finding the vital deviation on the first pitch, vital in that it took you over to the y-hang lower down and vital because it eliminated any rope rub. So, I'm spinning around, looking for the p-hanger/natural of hope, but I can't see it and neither can the Hippo. So, balls to that, its Plan B or death !!!!
Luckily Plan B was only to miss the deviation out and get Stevey to jiggle the y-hang to minimise the rub, all being well we could still beat the others to the bottom !! Such hopes were cruelly dashed as I realised that I would have to rig the cheeky traverse of death to the y-hang, my cunning plan being to miss it out and just step across, forever in the arms of the Gods of Fate, but concern for my heinous heretic halibat loving chum, the Horton Hippo, forced me to rig the bugger so he wouldn't get scared & the reds on his dial wouldn't light.
My lead had gone and we were relegated to second place in the New-Houses-Homes First Division Speed Rigging Notts Pot Championship Cup. Bugger. Still, nice big drop to reach the other bit of Twilight, more big swings, actually a huge big swing (fantastic fun!), then dropping through a little hole, down a pitch then down another where our more svelt chums were chewing the fat of the day.
Due to kindness or a desire to bolster the flagging confidence of the Weaner, Ron offered the golden chalice of rigging the lower streamway to our team, which was gladly taken and thrust aloft. The Twilight Zone team could redeem themselves, all would be well with the Pendle again. So, with the Halibut astride his polished generator, all tears in TSAs fixed, rescue gear and rigging metal work jangling against eachother we struck out in search of glory or flagulation, whichever takes your fancy.
Soon the combined armies of Pendle heavies were at the bottom of Notts, pissing in the sump and performing the other rituals associated with bottoming a cave, but Ron had chosen to remain above, ready to spring into action should we need him. I think he had a secret flask of coffee, but didn't want us to rob it, fair enough, I wouldn't want Bloomster drinking out of it and infecting me with his TB again. Ugh ! The sump was the wettest I had seen it and Steve agreed. He also said that the rock was the shiniest he had ever seen it but I refered him to a time long ago when the rock was more shiney, but he said he probably wasn't there but had definately read about in in the papers. I promised to record the refective index of the rock the next time we were down there and record it on a piece of waterproof paper for his perusal at a later time. He was satisfied and allowed me to ascend before him.
Back at the bottom of Center and Twilight routes it was left to the Weaner to de-rig Center and Pete and Ron to de-rig Twilight. Soon we were separated in our own little worlds, concentrating on the procedures for prussiking and/or de-rigging. Each re-belay bringing us closer to the safety of the surface, but yet closer to the end of our time underground. Bloomster was out before I arrived at 12 Ways Chamber, but Paul had stopped to help haul the rope bags. Soon we were packed up and waiting for the others. I sent Paul out as I feared for Stevies life what with him being an easy target, ripe for eating, four reds were lit and the Beast of Leck Fell was out prowling, looking for succulent juicy flesh to feed its growling stomach. Stevey was in danger and I could do little to help him........... Never mind eh ?!
Had a bit of a thrutch in BT Route while waiting for The Ranger and Pete to exit Twilight. Found it to be in complete contrast to the rest of Notts, i.e. full of batter, quite small and short pitches. Maybe next time eh ? No fat boys though................looks a bit cheeky for the portly among us!
After some tackle sack acrobatics the three Tigers were out and we could set off back to base, confident that we had soothed the God of Caving with our offerings, kind words and thoughts and with our speedy trip. We had lived to tell the tale.
Back at the cars it was all hands on deck as I had to get back to Manchester in half an hour then set off to Oxford before 8pm or I'd get back at silly-o-clock before getting up for work the next morning. Ron was sympathetic as he had a chicken dinner to go to, so we jumped in the Ranger and headed straight for Clapham to grab my car and drop off Stevey. Only that wasn't Steveys plan. Being a cheeky tightfisted chappie he had got his missus to drop him off at Brookhouse in the morning, then hoped against all hopes, even though I told him I couldn't at Brookhouse, that I would take him the 6 miles home in the complete opposite direction from whence I came. If we had done a small cave such as Long Churns it would have been lovely to go and have a cup of tea, but I was in a hurry from the moment we got in the cave. Ron was tentitively asked if he would drop Stevey off at home as he was too tightfisted to drive his own van over, but Rons reply was "You can walk!", before we both jumped in our cars leaving a cold and dejected Bloomster shivering in the chilly Clapham night.
Needless to say, I doubt very much if Steves wife June was impressed at having to pack her small child into a car at 7pm when he should probably be asleep and go and pick her pisstaking husband up !!! Sorry June !! Still, I got some tucker and got home to Oxford at 1am, up and ready for work at 8.15. Nice !! I suspect Steve was still in bed then, so theres no sympathy from me !!!
We were a bit thin on the ground for this trip. The Tiger boy was back in Oxford, Webbo was places unknown, Pearshape is still building his shed I guess, The Duck was still playing hard to get out, Pete (Bann) was walking in Derbyshire, Pete (brother of Alexander) Fleming can't be bothered to get out of bed anyway, Paul Our new friend has gone quiet (did we frighten him off?) and the Bloomster was off to a book fair (his bag is still on a tour of Britain in my car) So it left the young guns, Alice from north of the border, Rob newly returned after 18months of studying for his degree, motor accidents etc and the Ranger (Young Gun?)
After the usual tasty lard feast at Brookhouse we headed off to Bull Pot Farm where perhaps the alleged burglar of Notts 2 is hiding! Blow me there was loads of vehicles at the farm. Someone must have let it slip that Easgill was open!! With all those clubs in evidence there must have been at least 8 permits. (Didn't know they issued that many at once !!!) Anyway there was an icy wind blowing so after a quick conference we decided on a quick change and a dash over to County Pot for a run around in there.
We took the official route over by Lancaster to Easgill Beck and then upstream via Cow Dubs to County. There is a nice sign off the public footpath heading towards Lancaster. "Caver Only" The path over towards Link has been "paved" with stone from a derelict wall for quite significant distances. A lot of work has gone into it. It still requires completion with some additional stonework on the slope down to the beck. We were followed in to County by a team from CUCC with one of those wire ladder things! County was as interesting as I remember, Oxford Circus, Platypus Junction, Northwest Passage, Dismal Junction, Poetic Justice ( which Rob climbed to show he is still more agile than me!), Spout Hall, Showerbath Passage etc. Nothing too strenuous, just a warm up for Christmas Pot next time out.
We went back over the Black Path to inspect its condition. The half towards Easgill was in really good condition almost totally rejuvinated. The half towards the farm was still a bit of a mess. There was evidence of people going over the path but not in large numbers. Back to the farm to get changed. Who should come around the corner, The Duck's mate! Jim Newton. He was coming from the Aygill direction, I guess from the hole he got trapped in the other month! I stuck my head in the car boot, as the Duck wasn't there he might have wanted me to dive down some squalid hole for him! He already had some guys in civvies with him. maybe they thought he was stuck again!
I thought this was meant to be Pool Sink.......Ed.
Well this was a pretty long day. Up at 6-00 am and on the road by 7-00.
A nice quiet drive up to Inglesport to deliver 50 Rigging Guides and collect some CNCC documents left for me by Bicep Boy. Deanne, Jonny and Steely were in good form, business seems to be picking up now everywhere is effectively open. Anyway, down to Brookhouse Cafe for the lard feast and met up with Rob and Stevie Bloom, Alice had to cry off as she was playing doctors and nurses with her poorly car which was suffering incontinence or something. We expected our new friend Paul but he never made it. We bumped into Steve (Ropetrasher) Godwin in Brookhouse, he was off to Magnetometer with two more of the Ducks. After the Lard Feast it was suit up and the long Tab up the hill, past all the dwarfs (or were they cub scouts) to Xmas Pot. We were well on target, Steve had his GPS so with the help of the American Military we got within 30 meters of the Pot. With a bit of intuition we got to the entrance!!
The Ranger leapt(!!!) into action and began to rig. Things went well, could have been easier as someone had been drilling for Eco anchors ( later found to be Dave Elliot) but hadn't put the anchors in yet. I had the usual fun at the top of the 3m climb before the second pitch, only just a fit!! Gave Rob a chance to play with his camera!! Anyway, stuffing myself through there and then on to the next pitches. Its interesting from here on, start to use some slings for rigging. Dropping into the Grange Rigg streamway and Rob can get a few more pictures of the pretty stuff. The last two pitches were both using slings for the rigging, all good stuff. Caught sight of a bat loafing about in the roof. I wonder how long that saw has been stuck in that rock at the bottom??
On the way out Steve volunteered to be a hero and derig. It was a pretty smooth exit until the crawl between the 3m climb and the entrance pitch when another bat decided to buzz Rob a few times just to piss him off. On the way up the entrance pitch Rob sent a football size rock down to test my goal keeping, he scored, I missed it! He must have been under orders from the Duck.
Back on the surface and its just going dark, by the time it was dark it was freezing. Just the long tab back down to Clapham and then drive home, I was back eating my chicken dinner by 7-30pm.
Looking forward to the next trip, over to you Mr. Meets Secretary, where are we in January 2002?