|Sell Gill Holes||Dowkabottom Pot||Marble Steps||Large Pot||Lancaster Hole|
|Little Hull Pot||Mendips||Magnetometer Pot||Hunt Pot||Outsleets Beck Pot|
|Gouffre de Couey Lodge||Meregill Hole||Ireby Fell Cavern||Deaths Head Hole||Nidderdale Meet|
|Haytime Hole||Bar Pot||Top Sink to Lancaster||Rumbling Hole||Mistral|
|Hell Hole||Notts II|
Well the day started well, visited Inglethief to deliver CNCC handbooks and buy one of those new Fractio harnesses. It is a gaudy red and yellow and has a funny strap around the back!!! Anyway stayed just long enough to find that the Petzl oversuits are now selling at £75 instead of the £90 I paid 3 months ago!!
Jumped in the Ranger and went down to Settle for an expensive breakfast in the Naked Man Cafe. (Ranger is happy now by the way with its new £400 Electronic control unit!!!) Alice and Pete were already there. After the lard feast we decided we were it, so it was off to Newhouses.
The usual laybye was full of people from Derbyshire so we went further down the lane. This gave us the opportunity for an alternative walk up past the uninhabited Fawber Farm. Sell Gill was full, Crewe CPC were rigging both entrances, Ralph John suggested we use their ropes, save having knitting everywhere. We agreed and set off down the wet entrance. After all it is a cracking shaft, just a bit disappointing when you get to the bottom. Met some guy outside the cave, he was from EPC, said they were planning a dig on the big end of Pendle Hill.
All was well until the pitch after the bedding plane. The rigger had decided on a mid pitch knot to join the ropes!! Alice thought she could deal with this but ended up doing some knitting of her own. I decided to carry on down and go up the dry route and come back down and drop a rope down and pull her up. At the bottom the CCPC were having tea, one of them (who looked and sounded remarkebly like our Chairman) offered to shin up and untangle Alice. This is where things started to make sense. Alice was just hanging around waiting to meet a nice young man!!
Anyway Matt untangled Alice and she continued to the bottom, unflappable as usual. Pete was then able to get down from his perch above, I thought he might be turning into a gargoyle by then! After all the excitement we exited via the dry route and I derigged the CCPC ropes as the CCPC guys were all cold and wet by now. Back outside it was raining and it did so all the way home.
Met up in Settle for a monster lardy in the Black Sheep pub only to find the bugger had stopped doing breakfasts in the wake of foot and mouth. So, off to Morrisons strode the Weaner, resplendent with his new car keys; Misery Mason, struggling to keep up as the inactivity over the past 8 months had caused his tiger muscles to waste away; and Ron Cook, striding with gusto as he caught a wiff of bacon. It was frying time down at Morrisons and the original Pendle Four (less Pearshape of course) were back in a caving styley
Three greasy breakfasts later we all piled into the Ranger to make our way to Plan A, Scrafton Pot. One long drive later over several dales and through plenty of hickey villages we arrived at the bridge overlooking the cave. John, who had never been down it, said that even with all the water in the river it would be ok, but on finding the entrance somewhat submerged but a foaming brown torrent he decided to leave it for another day. So, off to Plan B.
Plan B was Dow Cave. Not the best plan in hight water, so we ditched that and headed for Plan D via Plan C.
Plan C was Sleets Gill and needless to say it was so chocka full of freezing cold water that it had backed up three quarters of the way up the entrance ramp ! We sat there for a while listening to the gurgling and slurping from the cave and decided to brace the foul weather outside and get our arses down Plan D, Dowkabottom Pot.
A pleasant walk in lashing rain and wind with the occassional passing hurricane up the fell to the cave entrance, cunningly disguised as nothing in a featureless landscape. Tiger One leapt straight into action and a rope was half-thrown, half-rigged down the entrance climb. Jelly Legs Mason followed and almost wept in joy at being underground for the first time in 8 long emotionally draining months. The man was embarrasing, but I felt some sympathy with his plight, the inane banter of his wife driving him slowly to doubt his own sanity. Still, he was now in the comforting busom of a top cave and was rightly overcome with emotion (that last bit is a complete lie!)
We struck out into the darkness, its darkiness enveloping us competely with only our lamps to guide us on our way to glory (or death!). 5 minutes later we were at the lake of doom with the duck of death guarding the rest of the cave from the ungodly. Needless to say the Weaner was straight in, following Misery and his new found enthusiasm. Strangely John lost all enthusiasm (and feeling in his legs) after 30 seconds in the ice-cold water and refused to go across the deep bit without someone checking it out first. Being the lightest I floated across and stood astride the entrance to the duck beckoning the other members of the team to join me.
Ron sensibly decided not to get wet and kept his distance, but John followed and soon we were both ready to battle the duck of death. The last time I was at the same point the water level was somewhat lower and the duck didn't require helmets off and chins in water, however, this time it did and after a false start I ploughed through, enhancing my standing in the tiger stakes and proving that I really was a stupid as I looked. John completely immersed himself and made towards the duck, intent on overcoming its icy grip, but his tiger stripes had faded in the intervening months and he refused point blank to go any further. I even told him that there were dancing girls on my side of the duck, but he wasn't having any of it................
So, without back-up I dashed off to piss in the sump, determined to do justice to the effort of getting there. No monsters hindered my progress and within a few minutes I was casting a golden arc of Pendles finest urine into the murky depths of Dowkabottom, safe in the knowledge that at least some of Pendle would see the bottom of Sleets Gill that day !
All that was left was to remove the jolly boys from the entrance series and set back to civilisation, only we had a look up the other side of the cave at the end of the entrance shakehole and found a nice little cave with plenty of graffiti from years and cavers gone-by. All very interesting and John vowed to return with his camera to record the signatures and send it into Descent for inclusion in the marvellous "Images of the Past" feature.
Teacakes and hot chocolate followed in Settle and a quick dash in the new red peril saw me back at base in time for Thai green curry, nice.
Well the weather was crap, wet and windy, sleet and the rest
Met at Brookhouse Cafe for the usual lard feast. Only Pete the mountain goat and the old Ranger were brave enough to turn out. Sara at the Cafe was so impressed she took our photograph, apparently for her collection of favourite customers which is accumulating on the back room wall. Although I was a bit worried it might be for some other reason when I spotted the picture of the Bloomster on the wall.
Anyway after the David Bailley shoot, Pete threw his gear in the back of the Ranger, only to discover he was short of a lamp, helmet and wellies!! No fear, off we go to Inglethief and with help from Deanne we have the necessary bits on hire, £3 the lot, not bad for a day trip. Even got an order for 30 rigging guides.
Off up to Masongill, should we drive up? Up we go, low box, through some serious mud and then theres a hole scoured out by the stream which runs down the turbary road. Oh well, I don't want to loose the exhaust or something so its back down to the pumping station. Park up just in time for a sleet shower!! It soon passes so we change and set off. Bumped into some lads from Black Rose CC who were off to Ireby. Wonder what the water will be like. Noticed some flowers on the corner of the lane, guess they were for the 2 guys who didn't make it out from Ireby..... We expected serious water so we weren't going down the 90' if we could even get that far, besides we had 130+m of rope as it was between us.
Got to Marble Steps and set off down the gully, no water at all!!! The Upper main Chamber was dry so down the next bit to the lower main chamber. Continued down to the top of the 90' and still nice and dry, this was strange. Anyway we had a steady exit back to the gully to find water coming in. An ever so slight trickle in the streamway! Back on the surface it was raining and the snow was melting but still very little water going down Marble. Going down the Turbary road there was a steady stream of water, more than in the cave!! Back at the Pumping station the Black Rose guys were there, they had got as far as Bell Pitch in Ireby and had to turn back.They said the water was shooting straight across the shaft, not clever even with the deviation.
Quick change and then back to Inglethief to return the wellies and stuff, have a brew and some sort of nutty cake you could have used to shore up a boulder choke and then off home for a chicken dinner(in my case!!)
Thats all for now, 'til next time, Lancaster Hole.
A big monster PISS weekend was long in the planning, so Thuggo and I expectantly raced up the M6 on Friday night with our hearts full of potential brave deeds, our generators bulging with carbide and our wallets crackling with freshly laundered beer money. Large Pot was affoot and we needed a ladder............
Stopped off at Misery Masons bookshop, Denton style, for some class beer in the Shite House at £3.40 for 3 pints, none of your Oxford "That'll be £2.50, please" for a single pint of tap watter, no. This was the good stuff and we were here to stay. John enticed us back to his place with talk of red wine and stories of his glory days in the Ducks. Apparently they used to bottom every cave they every attempted on razorwire ladders and catgut lifelines. I pointed out that they never in five years got off the Elliot Roundabout and John lapsed into nonsensical ramblings about stinkies with 8 inch reflectors and trips to the bottom of Eastwatter Swallet. Johns glory days were well and truely over, but we listened to him recounting stories until 3am when in a stroke of genius I leapt into my sleeping bag and feigned sleep. Ha !!
Woke up 5 hours later feeling refreshed (my arse), and the trip was on, ladder and all. Webbo was meeting us at Brookhouse cafe with the long rope for some lard before the three top tigers battled their way down Large Pot. Plans were laid for an evening in the Marton Arms for tucker followed by shite talking mad'un action in the Pit. As we arrived in Brookhouse we got some garbled message from Webbo's breadknife telling us he wasn't coming, so we wolfed down two top breakfasts and got over to Bloomsters for some rope. Thankfully he was out at a bookfair and June very kindly allowed us to rifle through Steves collection of choice string for the ones we wanted.
In a stroke of genius we decided to dump our kit at the YSS and get changed into our furries as it was snowing like buggery and freezing cold. So, into the Pit strode Tiger One and Tiger Two, unaware of the sight that lay around the corner in the bar. It was 11am and the pub as packed with a variety of freaks unknown outside very local areas. Mad Col, the landlord, was stood at the bar in Rubert the Bear trousers eating a fried breakfast, along with a couple of werebeasts who were tucking into their first pint of the hour (god knows when they started!). It was a loonfest and we were well and truely cornered..............
So, quick change and we were off to the cave, Webbo or not. Drive up to Masongill was uneventful, except for the blizzard which got steadily worse the higher we drove. By the time we parked at the reservoir the car was enveloped in snow and I had little enthusiam to get out and into my TSA. However, Andy donned his Bolivian Chuffy Hat and we were off, battling up the hill in a force 8 gale, lashings and lashings of snow blinding our route, snow leopards stalking our every move. Without the Shrimper we were doomed and we knew it.
At the cave entrance all was calm as we got kitted up and discussed the plan of attack. I thought a pincer movement would do the trick but Andy convinced me that the only way was the outflank the beast and take him by surprise. So, the end had come for talking shite, the only way was down ! First pitch no problem, crawl to the top of the second pitch no problem. Inserting Andy P headfirst down the second pitch......BIG PROBLEM ! In our infinite wisdom we ignored the book and Andy went in headfirst to rig the pitch, only he found he was gonna tumble down the pitch if he didn't have a rope (which he didn't). So, after mucho faffing and scrabbling he had a rope and all was saved. Only, now he couldn't turn around to go down the pitch and quickly found he couldn't reverse the crawl uphill using only the power of lard and his travel-wizened arms. Andy was trapped like Pearshape in a kitshop !
After an hour of this Andy finally turned around (with a knackered back and minus some skin), and got himself out. So duty bound to have a look I fell through the crawl and went down the pitch, much over-rated in my opinion, not that tight at all. Big problem at the bottom, the ladder (and rope) didn't reach ! Being on the wrong side of the pitch and crawl I decided climbing was not the order of the day and reluctantly returned to my flacid companion, who sensibly reminded me that we were well behind schedule and had places to be at 8pm. Bottoming Large from now would result in a very late exit and no big tucker at the Marton Arms. No food was a big incentive and having noticed that Pig Liver Veg was off the menu at the Pit, we removed ourselves and our kit from the cave.
Circumstances were against us, but the hard bit had been consigned to the "Not as tight as Car Pot" bin and we'd come back with Webbo next time to do it.
Second PEN from Thuggo received 18/3/02
THE PEN : Webbo is a **** exclusive
Well with the young thuggo back from his year in the wilderness the time had come for a return to the frozen waste lands of the North to see if he could fit down hard caves before the coming onset of the year 20/10. Well with whom would one wish to embark on such an odyssey with other than those Pendle tigers ; Weaner Boy Kestell and Pig Shafter Webb. All was set for an RV at the brookhouse lard factory on Sat am. The horror before us was to be that death or glory cave. Large Pot.
First though the boy and I had to embattle with the Friday night scumscuckers on our country’s motorway network. Eventually we sort shelter for the night in the pleasant village of Denton, home of our beloved spiritual leader Sir Misery of Mason. John was in fine fettle, what ever that means, and invited us down to his local, The Shite House. Well the good news was that 3 pints of hairy ale costs £3.40 and if you want to know what the fuss is about then move down south. The flip side of this was that the usual flotsam and jetsam of human society were flocked to this great watering hole. Mulleted freaks, shaven headed ferals, screeching women singing Petula Clark’s DOWN TOWN. Madness. A whole bag of madness in fact. We sort refuge in the Denton Disciple’s Domicile and John entertained us with his ability to throw red wine on white carpets. He also got down a shoe box of pics from his glory days and waxed lyrical about the Ducks epic ladder trips. I personally believe John reads too many books about Victorian cavers and needs to get down some in the year of our lord 2002. That’ll learn him. Magnetometer Pot John ????. Anyway at 0300hrs and with the looming large Pot weaner gave John the subtle signal that we were needing sleep. Yep the old into sleeping bag and lights out seemed to do the trick. Fours hours later john was up and at em. The crazy fool, when does he sleep ? We were thrown from our warm surroundings and into the harsh Saturday morning. Next Stop Webbo and Large.
Walking into the Brookhouse I was met by Sarah. Expecting to go caving she cheekily sang. Well I’ve just had a call from Simon Webb’s girlfriend who says he can’t come today. By this time Weaner had made it through the door. Quickly we arrived at the conclusion that Webbo was some sort of a C**T and that we were now 2 ropes down including the much needed 60m. I shall refrain from the full casting of aspirations upon his character till we have had the full debrief. All I can say is that maybe Pearshape was right all along…mmm…stranger things have happened at sea. Not many I’ll grant you. Anyway we needed a mucka with some rope in the local area. Well who better than the lovely June Bloom. June quickly established that her skinflint husband was out flogging his wares and that if we were quick we could come and rob him of rope before he found out. Touch. Bolting our Brook house breakys ( not literally, Webbo was supposed to bring that equipment ) we made haste to the palace of Bloom. Roped up we noticed the weather was shit. Well shitter than normal and it would have been madness to expose the full extent of our bodies to what looked like the onset of full blizzard conditions. We decided to head via the YSS and get changed into furries. Collecting the key from the Helliwith Pit at 10am we were met with the usual late night Billy hicky locals who’d either started early or finished late. One particular feral was already tucking into his first few pints of Old Bombardier for the day. Crazy Colin the landlord was scoffing a full English that would clog the arteries of a blue whale. He was sporting a very natty pair of yellow Rupert the bear trousers ( more later ) So onwards we went to the Pot of large, but not before glancing at the Pit’s menu. Pig Liver Veg was off but tonight’s special was Hedgehog feet cooked in Goose Fat…. Nice.
Parking up we noticed ( hard not to ) that a full on Blizzard with bar and oak leaf cluster had arrived. After a change into the Yorkshire uniform we headed into the white winter wastelands. It was shagging cold and no mistake. Quickly all use of our hands disappeared, followed by my feet. I recalled the advise of my mucka Polar Girl Hartley. Never wear TSA suits where Goose Down will do. And how right she was. Finally we made it to the entrance of large Pot. Now Large Pot ( isn’t ) it was been on the Pendle hit list for some time. I’d actually bottomed it 5 years ago whilst caving with LUSS. Out of a full party 3 of us managed to get our arses through the slot at the top of pitch two. Now with webbo gone, Weanski and I were laden down with far too much kit to be good for us. Weanski quickly sorted out the first pitch, and we both met at the start of the tight sloping crawl leading to the top of the pitch 2. Now having done it before it was decided that I’d rig and go down 1st. Looking back I was either very hungover or still pissed when I’d done it before as I’d not paid too much attention to the strategy of the pitch in hand. With our Pendle fingers still to cold to read the guide ( or did we not bother ??? ) I set off head 1st down to the horror ahead. Thrutching through I eventually found myself unroped dangling over the slot of doom. If I lost any grip and fell forward it was Good Night Vienna. I tried to rig the ladder but the 1st bolt was rusty and shagged. By now I’d decided that the best plan would be to go back and come down feet 1st and possibly with a lifeline. Easier said than done. And if you don’t believe me try it yourself. Gravity was well against me as was the fact that my spine wouldn’t bend backward when reversing the moves. I quickly arrived at the conclusion that I was fucked. So ensured a monster faff. Rope didn’t help. The old spine problem again. Went back down head 1st and rigged the pitch, but it was still death unless you went in with the feet. Eventually I had to dekit big style and make my vertebra do things it wasn’t keen on. Too tall that’s the problem. A cave for Dwarfs sir. ( where was Webbo ??? ) Anyway by the time I got to the end of the the crawl and weaner I was knackered and had to lie flat as back pain was kicking in big style. Weaner went for a feet 1st look. Wise plan. He went down through the slot to make sure he could fit, but by now we’d decided that in the word of Hero’s of Alpinism it takes more courage to retreat than to continue. And I’m sure Misery has a book to back us up on that one ! So quick out to the wide world of the Dales and what a sight. The blizzard had abated and the sun was out. The view was superb. Down to Weanski’s car by which time a hail storm had arrived, just in time for us to get changed in. Tops.
We then headed off for the Martyn Arms where we were due to meet Ant Roy a grit monkey from harrogate and Dr mike swampy brownlove a grade B freak and Webbo’s whipping boy for the evening. Ant made it. But swampy had been warned off. Not fancying the menu at the Pit we got some decent tucker in then headed off for a squalor of Pit life. Arriving there the place was in full flow. The usual suspects were out and about including the loon who’d been on the hairy ale for about 12 hrs now. Well it all went downhill from there really. Much shite was talked late into the night and early morning. At 0200hrs Weaner, upon observing crazy Colin and the Pub’s biggest pisshead dancing to YMCA at full volume decided enough was enough and threw in the towel. Ant and I still had many weighty issues to discuss. None of which I can now remember now. At 0400hrs it was decided to beat a retreat. Once again takes more courage to retreat than it does to continue. Anyway I had to get another 3hrs kip before a fry up and a days caving with the full Pendle contingent, and Ant had a fry up and a day sat in the warmth of his house reading the papers and putting more logs on the fire. Sadly the 3hrs of unconciousness passed all too quickly and Weaner was once again shaking me from the lovely land of nod to the cold reality that is the YSS hut. We at least I didn’t hear the screaming children that misery assures us haunt the place and for these things one must be thankful. I shall let Weaner continue the tale as my fingers hurt.
After a fitful nights sleep in Yorkshires finest flophouse we were raring to go. Thuggo took the usual 20 minutes to rouse from his deep alcohol induced sleep and after a quick pick-me-up of real mans tea and cold watter we were off to meet Pendles finest at Brookhouse.
Arriving late (as expected) at Brookhouse the sight of a crack team of Pendle wildlife greeted us. Rhino Ron, the Horton Hippo and Pete the bearded mountain goat had gathered for a graze and we were joined by Paul, a lad from somewhere closer to the Dales than Oxford.
Unrushed breakfast and we were off to do battle with Lancaster Hole, Lancashires prime repository of leopards fanny batter, akin to our experiences in Portugal. Bloomster thought he was up for a lift, but what with my new shiny car and the lack of space he never had a chance. It would cost him fuel and that would hurt !
Luckily it was lashing with rain as I got changed, thankfully the whole of Pendle didn’t see me get my arse out either, but what can you expect ? Sarky comments or caving pants, the choice is mine............
Crowded round the entrance to Lancs we rapidly froze as the gale blew from the hill and out of the cave at us. As well as us some top diggers were out scouting for activists for their latest project. One of them looked familiar and his wry smile as Paul berated him for not having his Croll at the ready convinced me he’d been a student caver at some point. Turned out to be non other than Mad Colin Boothroyd McMad, top LUSS caver and pioneer of doing P5 with your SRT kit on (like). He had the wild eyes of someone who has caved with LUSS and survived...........
After an age we were all down at the bottom of the pitch and Rons cunning plan took shape. So, off to the Graveyard for a bit of a wander and a chat, a thrutch in some horrid side passage and back to Bridge Hall for some cold watter. At this point Ron binned it so we went for a look down Wilf Taylors, with the weather being what it was, completely dry and passable with even Bloomster.
Doh, had I not been hallucinating due to a lack of sleep and over familiarity with Bombardier, I would have noticed the rain had lashed and lashed all night, soaking the counties of Yorkshire, Cumbria and Lancashire and that the cave was chocka full of cold, rushing, foaming watter, watter of the coldest and most wattist watter ever.....It was death to even consider the round trip. Bloomster was keen though ! Bless !
So, back to prussik HQ for a bit of queuing followed by some tangled de-rigging and exit into, yes, more rain. Ah, it’s grim up north...........
5 hours, two curries and one discussion about Middle Eastern politics later we were back in the bosom of the south relieved but also disappointed at our antics.
Ugh ! I forgot to say that after Large we went back to the YSS for photos, tea and flapjacks where Kinky John aka Alan Speight presented himself blackened with mud in his furry suit looking like a black and white minstrel to us, talked about digging and then striped down to his caving pants in the front room of the YSS. This was very disturbing as you can well imagine..........
Recieved 18/4/02. This is as recieved, apologies for the lack of editing. DK
Present:Ron, Alice, Paul.
This is my first report for this esteemed periodical so here goes. I am a newish fully unpaid member, this was my third trip. Each time I come out with the club I am usually unfit, knackered and convincing myself this is a training trip that will get me fitter - it never does, because I don’t do anything afterwards.
I am not getter any younger or thinner (though at this stage I only rate as a three on the Ron Gutometer). However suitably deluded that this time would be the beginning of a concerted effort to get fit I accompanied the above. We met at some café (of which the name escapes me) somewhere in Settle. This it has to be said was a disappointment; it was not like a real caving café at all, the staff were young and pleasant, our waitress in particular was really fit looking. (Its ok lady readers that was the obligatory gratuitous sexist bit).The room was bright and cheerful, the food arrived promptly and apart from ourselves none of the customers looked like they would be on wanted posters.
Ron explained the plan for the day saying that we were to do the first pitch of Little Hull Pot as the climb up to the second pitch was difficult, the real message of, I am the only competent caver there is no way I am going to deep in a cave with you lot was very competently hidden. We headed of to Horton and got changed in a public car park; Alice very wisely kept herself hidden in her car, whilst Ron and I proudly displayed our manly chests which unfairly have slipped behind our belly buttons.
We headed up the hill to the cave, a rather steep walk in full kit, Ron and I had our the top halves of our oversuits around our waists and our furry’s open, I had a tee-shirt on but Ron rather fetchingly displayed huge swathes of chest hair, though I am sure I saw the top of a hair curler poking out from under the suit zip.
On reaching the fell area in which the cave is situated, Ron explained it was in that direction somewhere. I had nightmare flashbacks to a visit to Ogof-y-Cynnes in South Wales that involved 3 hours walking around a hillside, and then finally dropping through the entrance onto a rotting sheep. However I needn’t have worried as Ron found the entrance straight away.
We kitted up and headed off, neither Alice nor I had been in before and it was quite pleasant, we head down a stooping crawl which became flat out for about fifteen feet, before it became hands and knees then a nice size walking stream passage. The water was non existent and the cascades virtually dry. Ron rigged the first pitch, then Alice went, I had been keeping the rope bag I was carrying in a pool at the lip of the pitch, I picked it up as Alice descended and unwittingly sent a torrent of water on top of her. On this pitch you need to swing across to a window and then traverse along before the abseiling down. I had not done this sort of thing for a while, so Alice would have been soaked again in a different fluid if I hadn’t sweated so much going up the hill.
We had a look at the second pitch, and then headed out. I attempted to de-rig and had fun at the rebelay. Ron assured me that I really was supposed to swing violently and bounce from wall to wall, swearing.
Once out we headed to Hull pot. This is a chasm in the ground, which appears to come from nowhere; you do not see it until you are on top of it. Ron rigged the pitch, there were no P bolts and the spits were guncked up with age and no doubt sheep spunk. Whilst Ron was cleaning them out with bits of grass. A large crowd had gathered to watch us. We pretended to be nonchalant about this, but Alice did her makeup, Ron pulled his furry suit zip down further and breathed in, whilst I shoved my descender into my underpants. People got bored and drifted away, then as he finished and started to descend, children cheered and grown men wept, women offered their hands to Ron and I in marriage, young men threw roses at Alice.
The cave was a fifteen foot climb up a slimy rock face from which resurgence was peeing its merry way. After a few attempts we bottled it, it really was slippy - honest. I found an alternative ground level entrance, which ended up in a body sizes tube in a flowing stream. The roof of this tube was decorated with lots of rather fetching foam. I got to a chamber, but no –one followed me!!
That was about it, after frightening several children with our appearance walking down the hill, we had cake and drinks in the café and wended our merry way home.
Next time I am going to get really fit.
Just to keep you all amused, I thought I'd relate a sad tale of toothless tigers and a trip that never was
It all began a few weeks ago with an attempt to get some more caving done before we left for France. There was big talk of bottoming Mendip Classics, Thrupe Lane Swallows and Longwood August Horatio. Staying at the Wessex we would prove just how tough we were by drinking Buttcombe and talking shite with the locals.
However, with the nasty weather that was forecast this weekedn a last-minute reprieve was had. Thank the lord ! We wouldn't have to filter our ale through our beards and talk shite about radon and other southern caving problems
So, I thought I would give you a quick run-down of how the w/e *would* have gone !
Arriving at the Hunters to meet a Wessex lad with the key for the pit, it all went horribly wrong and we got very very drunk. Andy fought a local sheep in the yard of the Wessex hut and the Weaner chucked up ad-naseum in view of the copious quantities of hairy local ale he has mistakenly consumed
Big lardy breakfast in Wells and we were off to battle a Mendip Classic, Louis Thu-rupes Lane Swallet. So, with hangovers and the shakes we set off to deepest Mendip.
It was the wettest we had ever seen the cave, but being tigers we struck out and pressed on down. Dave dutifully rigged each pitch, while Andy just stepped over him and jumped down. It was the deepest we had ever seen it and after 40 long minutes we were at the bottom. Soaked to the skin in cow shite and reeking of Buttcombe. The cave was a Mendip classic alright, but we had a stomp to go to !!
Back at the car we found some stinger had broken in and tried to rob all our clothes. Needless to say we were expecting this and hid all our kit in the engine compartment. Well, bugger me ! If they hadn't already thought of that ! The cheeky monkeys had robbed the engine as well ! Thank fuck I hadn't brought my car !
The local farmers wife saw our plight and offered to kit us out with some spare clothes of her husbands and lend us his tractor to got to the cop-shop, so off we sped at up to 15mph down to the local rozzers.
The police were already on top of the situtation and had brought in a local worzel to beat up. He immediately confessed and handed over our prized possessions which he had cunningly stashed in his straw-like hair. We were back on track !
Off to the pub to celebrate our good fortune followed by a monster ruby. 6 hours later Andy and I stumbled back to the Wessex hut where Andy attempted to rob all the caving books to give to John Mason and I set about cleaning the kitchen. It was the dirtiest I had ever seen it alright ! Eventually got to bed when the pepper vodka ran out and eventually got to sleep as the first cockerels started crowing as the room stopped spinning !
Late start, but nice lardy breeky, then off to Longwood for some cold watter. Andy was the champion in this cave as he had bottomed it in flood barely 5 years ago. So, the challenge had been set and Tigers One and Two were off.
15 minutes later we were at the bottom and chewing Snickers bars. It was time to leave the glorious caving region of Mendips and head back to our respective lives, one as doley scumbag living in a rusty Metro and the other as a capitalist oil baron living in Kensington
Please note: This report is entirely ficticious and bares no resemblance to anyone, anywhere or anything that has actually, or will ever happen. As for my spelling, well I can only apologise and hope that someone puts a spellchecker on Notepad one day.Top
Time: 1900hrs. Place: Oxford.
Just finished a sumptuous tea of lasagne followed by home-made chocolate cake with double cream and the call to action came. John was keen for a night in the Pit and there had to be a stop to the faffing. 10 minutes later we were steaming northwards in a Fiat Punto, ears being assaulted by 70’s prog-rock at 110 decibels.
Time: 2200hrs. Place: Denton South Central.
Quick pit-stop to check that Johns house was intact, then off to see our muckers, Thuggo, Webbo and Bloomster who were all waiting for us in the Hellish Pit, pints of Bombardier at the ready. A night of madness was on the horizon and we were both well keen (not).
Time: 2300hrs. Place: Blacko, Pendle District.
Some silly bugger closed the road over the fell necessitating a huge detour via Settle. There was no chance of getting through, the crafty buggers had erected a huge fence to keep piss-taking sign-ignorers out ! Bugger !! However, we just continued rocking to T-Rex and Nazareth (mate!).
Time: 0000hrs. Place: Hellish Pit, North Yorks.
Finally arrived to find Bloomster had shot off leaving Webbo and Chuffy talking huge amounts of shite to each other. Not a nice thought after a 5 hr drive. I was keen for a pint before bed, but was roundly abused by my so-called muckers and forced to buy them 3 pints each. Typical Pit madness ensued, John almost got dragged off into the newly created night-club section of the Pit, whilst we three others fed local pork scratchings to a very local sheep dog.
Time: 0230hrs. Place: As above.
Thankfully the noise from the nightclub died away and we could actually hear each other. This resulted in a mass exodus back to the YSS to sleep off the combined effects of talking shite, Organic Ale, Seabrooks crisps and not enough sleep the previous night. Andy had kindly scored us the best dorm, so we all settled down on doubled mattress’ for a well earned kip, only John had to go and sleep with the ghosts of sobbing children in the grey pube infested members section. He’d paid his YSS subs and nothing was going to stop him taking full advantage of its benefits……
Time: 0830hrs. Place: YSS Hut.
John kindly woke us up and brought us a cup of tea. I felt ok, but a little ill, whereas Webbo looked like complete shite and Andy just looked his normal hungover self. So, off to meet the Ranger in Brookhouse before leaving John and departing for the netherworld.
Time: 0930hrs. Place Brookhouse.
As usual it took us ages to get going, but we made it and breakfast was superb as always. Luckily the weather had stayed nice for us and it was a typical fine Yorkshire welcome to the morning. It was pissing it down and we were in for a soaking ! Cunningly got changed at the YSS and scooted over to the farm, where Ron braved the snarling, gnashing dogs and secured us a shitty corner to park the vehicles.
Time: 1100hrs. Place: Magnetometer Pot entrance.
We were keen and the weather had cleared, so with the Weaner on point, Rhino Ron as his wingman and Webbo and Thuggo bringing up the rear, the cave had little chance of escaping. Ron found the crawls to be particularly enjoyable and informed me of his love of cold watter, small passages and industrial strength grit. I kept my distance in-case he chinned me !!
Soon enough and we were in the River Styx. It was nob-chillingly cold as usual and I still found myself wary of the monsters that lurk in its depths. Thankfully they had recently been fed and had little interest in my scrawny body. Easy Passage was easy and Caton Hall was still there. Webbo, ever keen for glory, started dreaming of continuing his climbing exploits, but Andy kindly pointed out that it was death, death, death.
After rigging Caton Hall with the aid of the superb bolts I placed about a year ago, we were down and ready for some Rough Crawl action. Well, I was and Webbo kindly agreed to come with me, whilst Ron and the ever "Talks a good cave" Thuggo prussiked straight back up again (like).
Rough Crawl was comprised of crawling, flat out and hands/knees, on sharp, fretted, knobbly limestone, interspersed with pools of freezing cold water and deep blue pot holes. An interested place. Progress was hampered somewhat by my SRT kit, but I had my image to think of and pushed on regardless.
After maybe 30 minutes of absolutely lovely passage, but absolute madness we decided enough was enough and left it for another day. A piss in the Rough Crawl sump will just have to wait. Best plan would be a wetsuit as I have loads of bruises from its rather tortuous nature. Tigers only please !
Time: 1700hrs. Place: Magnetometer Pot Entrance.
We were out, and all in good shape, except maybe Ron, who wasn’t quite as keen on the flat out wet, dry and wet crawling. Some pictures had been taken and Rough Crawl looked at, a fine day indeed. Some mating owls caught the Shrimpers’ eye, luckily though he was too far away to observe the member status, flaccid or erect. A strange man indeed !!!
Time: 1800hrs. Place: Settle.
Ron was in danger of missing his chicken dinner, so he shot off in his gas-guzzling arm chair, so the remaining Tigers discussed PISS 2002 and enjoyed a monster ruby, surly waiter and all……………..
Time: 0100hrs. Place: Oxford.
I must get a job up north as soon as possible !Top
Well, for a change we met at the Penyghent Cafe in Horton in Ribblesdale. Its a bit expensive and the service or food isn't as good as Brookhouse Cafe. Never mind it was a change, pity the shop was full of Bumblies in their designer gear!!
I guess nearly everyone was on domestic duties or they didn't fancy the walk because there was only 3 of us, Alice (time she had a nickname), me (the Ranger) and Pearshape. Yes, Pearshape is alive and well.
We had the expensive snack and then got changed for the walk up the fell in the bright sunshine. Pearshape donned his walking boots and rucksack, he was just here for the walk and a few pictures! We soldiered up the hill in the bright sunshine, wading knee deep in Bumblies, nevertheless we reached Hunt Pot and got down to business. Pearshape went off up to the top of Penyghent having a chat with Howard Beck on the way.
The Ranger belayed to a big rock and jumped over the edge!! So he could put the Y-hang in just below the rim of the hole (not completely mad!) A quick AB followed down to the deviation and then down to the ledge, bolted in a spit and waited for Alice and the other rope. The Ranger waited for a while, well quite a while, out of view Alice was practising knitting at the pitch head. After knitting the other rope Alice arrived safely at the ledge.
For the bottom section there is a hanging rebelay so to avoid Alice doing some more knitting we aborted at this point, But not before Alice took some great photographs (I hope) of the shaft in the spray and the sunlight. For the record the pitches have Petzl anchors in now, don't know who put them in though. As I neared the surface I was greeted by Pearshape with a big grin and his video camera!! I guess I may be finally immortalised on celluloid prusikking and derigging the pitch.
We had a huge audience of Bumblies watching us stowing the ropes and taking off harnesses, obviously they had nothing else to do!! Oh well it was back down the hill for a drink and an expensive piece of cake.
One final twist, Pearshape paid his subs, in cash too.
Most people had an excuse to avoid Outsleets Beck apart from Alice and the Ranger. I turned up at the Naked Man Cafe after delivering stacks of rigging cards and rigging guide books to Jonny at Inglesport. Alice was hanging around the cafe door waiting for it to open, desperate for eggs and beans.
The usual expensive, but tasty breakfast was had and we were just about to leave when Paul rushed in. He decided at the last gasp he didn't have a good enough excuse to duck and so he rushed over from Keighley. Paul scoffed his beans and off we went. Next stop Penygent Gill, no sunshine and a cold wind, well it is mid May!
After a pleasant walk which seemed longer than the last time we reached the beck, plenty of water running down, that was a good sign! Off we went Paul in the lead, thrutching through the entrance guarded by spiders and wriggled down to the 1st climb. Paul decided the rope would be useful so as there was no room to pass, he did the decent thing and laid down in the passage so I could use him as a rug and walk to the front.
I rigged the rope climb and slid down and carried on wriggling along down to the next climb, after finding the natural cunningly hiding behind Paul I rigged the climb and we slid on down. Around the corner we are greeted by plenty of water flowing in from an inlet on the left. This got me worried, visions of a flooding Serendipity crept in again so when we reached the pitches I decided to call it a day, the pitch was very wet. On the way out we checked out the inlet with spider man Paul (in his glue suit held together with neoprene) in the lead, nice little water fall before the passage goes to small. Any way out we go, the entrance seemingly smaller on the way out!! Alice had a good trip carrying a rope for no apparent reason, 'cause we didn't use it!!
We look down stream to see where the stream disappears, it is what I later discover to be Corner Sinks. The larger and currently drier ones we explore, Paul down the first which looks straight forward but is quite cosy, he enjoys a wriggle on the way up after deciding it doesn't go anywhere. I go down the second after Paul kindly removes the nettles, Alice had more sense, a bar belay provides the anchor and I brave spiders again, only to find I 'm gonna get stuck if I go to the bottom, but again it doesn't go far! Just to walk back now through the sheep and Lapwings to find my chicken dinner.
1hr 10mins to -249m, then kit off for a fairly arkward tight crawl. Camera gear jammed at every opportunity. This was followed by meandering passage with climbing, traversing, avoiding water etc, to a pitch which Webbo rigged. The P11 was followed by more meanders to emerge in the large Salle du Rechaud at -304m.
Cave took on a slant, about 15 degrees, with lots of boulders and mud, but with handy reflective tape to mark the way. Followed this through fossil and active passages to a pitch (fixed muddy rope), more passage of a similar nature, followed by a muddy traverse to another muddy fixed rope pitch in a bigish chamber.
This was followed by yet more meandering passage, but traversing at high level to a roped climb down. Walking streamway followed, clambering over boulders, which lowered to a 15 degree headfirst, downwards crawl to a roped traverse over a cascade into the Salle Brosset. The main Couey Lodge river joined here and we descended another pitch (our rope) to get us into a large river passage. Very impressive.
The first section of easy walking passage major river passage followed, but it soon ended at a deep pool, just about traversable, through a 1m square arch (the entire river flowed through this ! ! !) and down a steep slope into more large river passage.
This went on for a few hundred metres and ended at a huge calcite blockage, river flowed underneath and we had to go over in a hands and knees crawl. Climb up was no problem, roped on both sides. Howling draft through the small gap and a stream running onto us from the top of the formation.
Descent into a neck-deep pool on the other side. I used the ledges at the side to avoid a soaking, but Webbo and Andy dived straight in ! More meanders followed in a low river passage worn from dark brown limestone. More traversing and clambering over breakdown (a pitch/climb at some point), then the Salle des Deux-Sevres, sloping down at 15 degrees on scalloped rock, then onto large boulders and hard packed mud banks with the first significant formations in the cave.
Went to the bottom of the chamber, but if closed down, so re-traced steps to the way on through the floor into a parallel lower passage into a boulder choke after ~100m. Through the boulder choke, down a pitch between monster flowstone into 10m high, 3m wide river passage.
This led to an easy climb down a huge boulder in to an extremely atmospheric huge chamber, the water roaring down at one side, in hard black limestone with a deep swirling pool at one side. Passage shrank after a few big potholes (5m diameter) to a twisty rift, ~3m wide at most, in jet black limestone with white calcite veins, river flowing deep blue through many deep potholes (2m deep), a couple with ropes, most traversible with care ! Fantastic ! ! !
Some roped traverses over deep/wide potholes, more twisty streamway to the finale, a 15m diameter, at least 5m deep, clean, deep blue sump pool with the obligatory orange dive line leading the way to more adventures. A truly superb end to an amazing cave.
Hands were shaken, photos were taken. 4 and a half hrs to get to the bottom at -625m. The exit could now begin. What a fecking long way ! Feast of ravioli heated over fire-lighters and Granny bars at the Salle des Deux-Sevres warmed me and filled my belly, but every vertical meter had to be fought for on the long slog out.
Crawl to bottom of pitches wasn’t too much of a problem for me, but the others found it more of a pain. Welcome break of oranges before prussiking out. Very, very tired at this point. Camera gear seemed to have doubled in weight since 4 hrs ago at the bottom.......
P55 was long, P65 was nicely broken up, but still too far. Had a mare on the short pitch with the gravel trap, exhausting causing moves requiring thought into mini nightmares, each vertical metre gained requiring vast amounts of energy...
Slogged to entrance pitch, gloriously warm with the smell of the forest and Andy’s grin greeting me as I prussiked up the final metre. The stars were out, well, the whole universe had come to greet us in the clear Pyrenean air. The time was 0030, we had been underground for 14 hours and covered about 6km of streamway between 300 and 625m deep.
Back to beard HQ for nosh at 0200. Chilli, vino, port, then bed! ! !.
There was big talk of a Pendle International de-brief weekend of caving, drinking and talking shite, but, as usual it came to nothing and Andy and I were reduced to one night in a stinking Todmorden pub surrounded by ferals and their doley-scumsucking ways...... It rivalled a night in the Pit as it reinforced my sociopath ways and feel quite ill from the horrid beer, but we weren’t 20 minutes from Brookhouse, so a late night would have to be followed by an early rise.
At 0730 I awoke as Aileen pushed me out of bed to turn the alarm clock off. At 0735 Andy Phillipson was roused from his slumber and at 0755 we were off ! A usual quick start from Tigers 1 and 2 !
Brookhouse was a welcoming sight as we battled through Lancashires, then Yorkshires, then Lancashires, then finally Yorkshires finest weather, pissing rain, on our journey from Littleborough. Many unexpected sights greeted us as we entered, amongst them Pearshape ! The king of kit ! He was fine, like, and busy at work, like, but all was good and he had come out for a walk over Ingleborough, like. It was good to see the little chap after all this time, and good to know that he hadn’t changed at all, like.
Breakfasts were scoffed, then off to Chapel-le-Dale to kit up and ship out. The rain held off as I got my trousers off in front of a Discovery packed with people, but thankfully started again as I put my furry on. Stevey got changed in the back of Junes car, oblivious to the cold wind and rain that was lashing his small son who was sat in the back of the car craning his neck to see what horrors awaited him as the Bloom genes kicked in several years down the road.
Eventually we were all at the cave and raring to go. Tiger 1 headed straight for the Aven Entrance and rigged like a hero. Ron took over for the second pitch and rigged on the newly installed p-hangers, except some tosser hadn’t stuck enough in and an 8mm spit was used as the back-up.
Ron had a good swing around and some spectacular acrobatics were seen as the Ranger swung left and right trying to find the last p-hanger. I pointed it out to him with my ultra-beam, but he still couldn’t see it from where he was, so we just waited until he did.
As 2IC I was down next and found the Ranger flaccid on the floor of the cave. He had had enough of rigging for the moment and was keen to let someone else have a go. Needless to say, after the Couey Lodge I was keen, so struck out with the Ranger as my wingman.
Traverse to the top of the Canyon pitch was a fecker, but there were nice p-hangers all the way down (except for the second re-belay for some reason?!?!?). Down the little drop into the canyon, then to the head of the next pitch, unfortunately not festooned with the blessed hangers of p.
Watches were looked at and I felt we had prevaricated too much to bottom the beast that day. I had to be in work the next day and a 3 and a half hour drive from Littleborough loomed. So, Meregill was binned so we could go to Stevey Blooms for a cup of tea, get some food in Littleborough and I could get home at a reasonable hour.
De-rig went well and I went out Aven and rigged the Mere as it was well down, the furthest down I had ever seen it (except for the summer of 95). Ron came out via the Mere and I then went back in to get a bag from the de-rig team. 3 huge bags were then clipped on the rope in jest as Paul started hauling, but the silly bugger pulled them all up to teach us a valuable lesson ! Expect the unexpected from the man who lives in Keithley ! Apparently it’s a local proverb, but I think it’s a warning from the local clap clinic..... Pendle International members kept their distance...!
I then went out and threw the rope to Andy who had climbed the P101 inlet and found it somewhat green and slippery, but never-the-less didn’t want to loose face by climbing back down and having Bloomster call him a shandy ! He was soon out followed by Bloomster !
All was well and a reasonable trip had been done, well sort of ! Back at the car the rain was lashing, so I quickly got my clothes out of Andy’s car and hid behind the Ranger to get changed. Andy then called me over as I was removing my suit and demanded to know why I had shut his boot with the keys sat on the parcel shelf.
"Well, to keep the key and your clothes dry, you ungrateful lout", I replied.
"You fecker", he said, "You can’t open the boot without the key and the central locking isn’t open yet. The keys are locked inside and I can’t get changed."
"Well", I retorted, " You should have a sensible car with proper central locking, shouldn’t you."
This didn’t help and so I eventually got hold of the AA and after an age they arrived and in 2 minutes (literally) the car was open ! Still, we had spent an enjoyable 30 minutes in the Old Hill Inn drinking Dent Bitter, the best bitter in the world, so all wasn’t lost ! Cheers to Ron for staying around and helping Andy not get hypothermia with his Sub-Saharan-like heater in the Ranger !
Got to Littleborough at 8.30pm, left Andy asleep on Aileens mums floor as we headed back to Oxford at 11pm, arriving at 0210 for 5 hours sleep before work. Should have gone to the bottom of Meregill anyway ! ! ! !
Well, you missed a good one folks. Underground for about six and a half hours, going all the way to the bottom of Ireby Fell and back. Ranger, Tiger One and Alice turned out for this one. The adventures started with the Tiger venturing into unknown territory (a.k.a. Bernie’s Hole) and emerging with some ultra posh rubbery French wellies, unfortunately not hard enough by northern standards, they had to be left to toughen up.
After a long sweaty climb we reached the cave and got changed. Ron was looking very stylish in stripy new cow’s tails and a shiny blue super skinny foot-loop. Another group had beaten us to it and the entrance was already criss-crossed with string. However, it ran out after about the second pitch; the Men-dippers in front had packed it in as the place wasn’t nearly squalid enough and there were complaints about all the upright walking. So it was down to Pendle to do the biz, lead on by Ron’s and Tiger’s dazzling new LED lamps. Several pitches and one gut-wrenching slot later we reached the bottom - probably one of the vilest looking sumps ever, with a length of blue nylon rope vanishing into the scum!
The return journey was full of fun, first lots of pogo-ing near the bottom, followed by dousing under a little waterfall, then a couple of surprise swings and lots of bashing into the wall. Ron made light work of it all, zooming up with his new micro-foot-loop. As usual Alice shimmied up with the aid of her prehensile buttocks (or so it felt the next day!), leaving de-rigging to the Tiger. And finally to the entrance where we were greeted by an outsize dragonfly, and just waiting for a T. Rex to appear round the corner!
Big plans were afoot for a monster w/e. Thuggo had talked it large about getting the Friday night off work and I had booked the Monday off, so there would be three days of adventure and no late night dashes back down south at 2am.
The plan was Brown Hill Pot on Saturday, Ireby's NE Inlet on Sunday and a look down Haytime Hole on the Monday. Needless to say it all went tits up as usual.
Andy was denied leave as he has too much time off and his muckers at the filth-shop were sick of him gallivanting around, then his rest day on the Monday was rudely removed by a requirement to attend a stinking court to tell some feckless magistrate that the skin-head, tattooed freak in the dock was just that and he should be lacerated to within an inch of his life with a cutlass then beheaded. There went our weekend !
Still, went down Ireby Fell and rigged the Shadow route to avoid some dim Mendip types. As they were half way down the Ding-Dong-Bell pitches I started rigging traverse at the top and as they were still half way down their pitches I touched down, very amused at their complete ineptitude. Still, at least they were really polite and friendly on the surface......not ! Tosser southerners me-thinks !
Tiger Objective of the day was NE Inlet, so after a bit of a climb and a thrutch I was in. Had a look at the first 50m, fairly narrow, with some pretties, but decided it was something to do with a slim and lithe team, not the Ranger and Alice !
Good trip to the bottom, but I think the entrance should be made much harder. I recommend an extra 150m of pitches, with some desperate rigging (ie. Couey Lodge Moonmilk traverse) and the blasting out of the sump so we can have a bit more caving. I'll get Ron to suggest it at the next CNCC meeting. I'm sure they'll be keen !
Tricky one this!! The Duck had the permit and it was friday night. Sent him a text message and found he was still knocking back the San Miguel in Malaga. Anyway he flew back immediately on the saturday like any good Meets Sec to dig out the permit. I met him outside a pub with loads of half dressed girls going in and out. I wonder why he chose there?
Anyway sunday morning and the usual drive up to the Dales, collecting Pearshape on the way. Quick call in Inglethief to deliver some Rigging Guides and catch up on any gossip with whoever was in. Had an interesting chat about another proprietor in Ingleton, stories of what a tosser he is. But then we all knew he was the biggest tosser in Ingleton anyway!! Having confirmed what we already knew, we rushed off to Brookhouse Cafe to meet Alice and eat one of Sara's breakfasts
Off up to Leck Fell for the abseil into the Death Head. John Gardner and the Yoredale Ferrets were already in Lost Johns by the time we got to the car park. Quick change and off down the fell, just Alice and me going underground with Pearshape going for a walk, muttering about grouse and pheasant, wonder what his rucksack was for?
Once at the shaft Ranger sprang into action, belayed to a handy fence post and began to slide down the grassy slope. I told Alice I would be gone sometime so she settled down for a spot of sunbathing, whilst Pearshape disappeared into the long grass. Alice, by the way, has a new system to stop her harness falling off, the D-maillon is so tight you can't undo it!
Reached a handy tree, big enough to hold my weight so I chucked a couple of slings around it for another belay. Abbing down now and into the shaft proper, first one rebelay and then another, where is the bottom of this hole? Abbing still further and the first rope of 50m is near its end! Ah, 2 anchors for a Y-hang. Some tossers left a rusty maillon on there, pity I haven't a hacksaw. Tie in the second rope of 32m for the y-hang using extra maillons to avoid knot rub and ab on down. Shout for Alice to come on down. F**k where's that deviation, a bit of swinging around and I find it. Long sling required but it does the job, nice free hang to the bottom of this superb 60m shaft. Looks really great looking up the shaft to the sky.
Alice having finished subathing slides gracefully down the rope bringing the rope for the last pitch. Lots of loose stuff here so I kick several tonnes off the pitch head, don't want any accidents. Down we go into the final chamber, full of loose stuff and rabbit bones. Then we are off back up the shaft. Alice goes first to catch up on the sunbathing and maybe catch Pearshape skulking on the fell. Little does she know its raining up top! Anyway up I go derigging on the way, still wish I had a hacksaw to remove the rusty maillon. Anyway back on the surface and I am met by Alice and a big grin from Pearshape.We bag the gear and go back to the cars to get changed, in the rain of course, not unusual. So that was it until next time. Was Pearshapes rucksack fuller on the way back?
Well just a gang of 2 for this one. Pearshape and the Old Ranger.
First Job breakfast in Pately Bridge. A sort of 60's Cafe, plastic table cloths etc, still the fry up was good. Off to Lofthouse then and Howstein Gorge. Pearshape still wants to stay above ground so I decided on a walk as well. Bloody hell they wanted £2-50 each to go up the gorge, so being tight we did a u-turn and headed up the road to Manchester Hole.
Parked up by the old railway tunnel and walked down the stream bed. Quite interesting this place the stream bed is like boulder hopping underground. The Black Sheep Diggers have been busy, there is now a Limley Pot, Church Pot and Zanussi Pot which all have neat manhole entrances and there is a fourth one which has still to be named (its still being dug, A-frame over the entrance, buckets etc.)
We eventually ran out of holes to stick our heads in and called it a day. On the way back we checked out a great old Lime Kiln nr Greehow, it was a huge thing with a flue up the hill with a chimney at the end. Quick stop at Stump Cross for a brew and cakes and then back home for chicken dinner(in my case)
Tiger Weekend: 6th, 7th and 8th September.
There were big plans for a top weekend in the Dales. Many were called, but as usual the only ones brave enough to stay at the Pit were the Weaner and Thuggo.
Plan was Brown Hill Pot on Friday, easy day down Haytime Hole on the Saturday, followed by a monster Top Sink to Lancaster trip on Sunday. Plans eh ? Not likely mate !
I phone Bloomster to check he is still coming out 24hrs before we leave Oxford, "Dave, I have to look after Sam on Saturday, please completely change your plans so I can do Haytime Hole on Friday. I'll make it worth your while and make you a cup of tea...." How could we refuse !?!?!?
6th September : Haytime Hole
So, down Haytime on Friday. A block had fallen from the roof of the entrance crawl and on inspection the rest of the large boulders that comprised the roof were held on with marmalade. So, pushing uncertainty to the back of my mind, I heaved the boulder out of the way and pressed on, being extra careful not to bring the roof down !
At the bottom of the pitch, everything was as we had left it two years ago. Apart from a monster reduction in water levels which let me see down the scaffolded boulder climb which had been mostly submerged before. I tried to force myself around the scaffold, but soon realised that the bar was there to keep people out and had to be removed.
So, we wandered back to Bloomsters to get a large spanner. His collection of tools was limited to Sam's wooden hammer and some plastic screwdrivers he won in a cracker so he went into a neighbours shed and started robbing a big monkey wrench. The neighbour came out and saw Steve trying to rob his shed, but was used to the cheeky man and let us borrow it ! Soon the scaff bar was off and I climbed down a horribly loose boulder chimney, barely body width onto a large ledge. The ledge was on solid rock ! ! ! The first in the cave !
At the bottom was a climb rigged with old ropes for SRT, but we just bridged down the rift and into a large chamber comprised entirely of loose boulders. Steve was completely oblivious to the danger he put us in as he sent huge boulders tumbling towards us while Andy and I stood at the bottom ! Madness.........
After the chamber a nice streamway lead off, cutting down through an old fossil level, down a 3m cascade and into Helms Deep, a large chamber, well decorated with straws and helicites. I dug out two low cobble filled crawls to the sump, which was still there unfortunately ! Our plans to cave our way to Steveys garage had been thwarted !
We explored the dry oxbow series and I pushed on through a crawl into a large aven with a huge sediment wall that eventually connected back to the main streamway. On the way out Steve was having trouble with the boulder chimney which Andy had put his new ladder down. I had purposely not put any rigging down as it was as loose as hell and it was better not to have any obstructions, however, I had cracked on during the descent and Andy had done what he thought was best.
Anyhow, Steve put his weight on the ladder to assist his struggle against gravity and in doing so trapped the ladder behind a very large and loose boulder. He then wanted me to stand underneath him and give him a leg up, but he was told in no uncertain terms what I thought of that idea. He escaped without trouble and I began climbing up. Andy asked me to release the ladder and as I brought my arm up to wrestle with the block, a fist sized lump of rock fell off the wall and hit me on the brim of my helmet. This scared the crap out of me quite frankly as the huge boulder was also obviously keen on squashing me and I could see myself being swept away in a thundering hail of boulders and scaffold. Death, no glory this time....
So, thoughts of death in my head, I look up at Andy who is very quiet and looking concerned. Steve however, is happily moving cobbles around at the head of the climb, which he stops after an expletive filled shout from me ! Balancing gingerly on a what seemed like a well dug-in boulder, I unhook the ladder, which is taken up rapidly by Andy, then as I go to put more weight on my legs to push the ladder-trapping boulder off my thighs, my foothold boulder (approx. 50cm by 50cm) falls away down the drop taking plenty of other boulders with it ! Arrggh !!
A quite well controlled panic ensued and I was soon out of the boulder chimney of certain death ! Not a good place to be, which is probably why the scaffold bar was across it in the first place ! We replaced the bar and left, happy to be alive, but also pleased that we had got to the bottom of an interesting and very pretty cave.
I would not recommend Haytime Hole to anyone, unless they are mad or are intending to secure the extremely loose boulders on the 1st climb after the pitch with plenty of scaffold !
On our arrival back at Bloom base, June very kindly invited us to tea, a huge and gorgeous lasagne she had lovingly prepared. Absolutely superb ! A lovely evening was spent drinking Steve's wine and eating Steve's food. Something all Pendle members who take Steve caving should take advantage of when the chance is given !! Thanks Steve ! The most thanks should go to June, heavily pregnant and with little Sam to look after as well, she made us a lovely tea, set the table, brought us after-dinner drinks, cleared the table and did the dishes, with absolutely no help whatsoever from Steve !
Quotes of the night:
June "Steve, would you like to make everyone a drink ?".
Steve, "I don't know what everyone wants preshie".
June, "Well, you could ask them what they wanted."
Steve, "Well I know what I want and I know what I would want if I was asked, but..."
Steve "That eugenics book from the 1930's has some good ideas in it"
Dave & Andy " WHAT ?!?!?!?!?"
Stupidly after we left the Blooms, we went to the Pit and drank some hairy ale. This left us feeling sick and quite stupid in the morning......Top
7th September: Brown Hill Pot.
Blimey, am I keen for this trip. Two attempts so far, so with Thuggo I reckoned we could bottom the beast and move on to another hard cave next time. But, I had reckoned without Yorkshires finest weather, pissing rain !!!
We sat in Brookhouse and had our second breakfast. Not quite as nice as the first, but still good, and looked out the window at the flood descending from heaven. Brown Hill was off and so were most the caves in the Dales ! Large Pot was suggested as an alternative, but we had insufficient rope and time. So, Bar Pot it was !
Sat in the car reading the paper and a book until the rain eased, then we shot up the hill past Clapdale House (currently being renovated for what I wonder), pausing only once on the steep bit for a chat and a look at the weather as it rolled across the Ribble Valley.
Up at the cave, some bumblies asked if we were going caving or potholing, but they were ignored. Down the first pitch, then Andy rigged the second pitch. Probably not the best place to teach someone rigging, but he did a better job than Pearshape would have and I only had to sort out a couple of the knots !
The Main Chamber was booming, a unique sight in the UK for sure. Very impressive indeed and those Derbyshire types can poke that Titan up their beards !
We met Webbo, Swampy and Webbos Jean in the Marton Arms and felt violated at paying £7.80 for a ruby. But the beer and banter was top notch. I relieved Webbo of some rope and Swampy of plenty of beer money. Apparently the freak is now in charge of fish in Cumbria ! Madness indeed ! Back at the YSS we debated about going to the Pit, but plumbed for an early night as we had to get up to meet Ron at 0900hrs.Top
8th September: Top Sink to Lancaster.
0935 we wobble into Brookhouse, whoops ! Still, it's not that bad. Third breakfast, still good, but I can feel the lard sloshing around inside me now.....
Up at Bullshit Farm, plan B comes into action, Top Sink to County via the Manchester Bypass. A top trip no doubt !
Andy and I quickly deposit a rope down the first pitch in County then the walk up to Top Sink. Ron is first down, ever chomping at the bit to get stuck in ! Plenty of cold watter for Pete and Alice nearly uses the wrong rope to descend Walrus Pitch on !
Nice trip with plenty more to see off the beaten track. Thrutching through the Manchester Bypass was particularly good. I enjoy being thin !!!!
Rumbling Hole: 20th October 2002
Well we finally managed a team of 2, and the walker, Pearshape
Paul came out for a bit of a jolly, so we just did the entrance shaft, entrance passages and the next pitch. That was 2 rope bags worth. Its a brilliant shaft, hanging over the edge to rig the main drop. No water falling in the shaft on sunday morning, (but I bet there was later in the day, it pissed it down) the entrance passage was bone dry except for 3 tiny pools! It was bloody cold up there with a really icy wind.
Anyway after swinging around in Rumbling we sent off to Brookhouse, couldn't see if Pearshape had any pheasant in his rucksack, had some great Apple and Blackberry pie and custard instead of cakes. No wonder I'm growing!!
Mistral; "The Land of Students": 27th October 2002
A crack team arrived at Brookhouse café, braving the pissing rain for breakfast, there was the Weaner Boy, Alarming Alice and Ranger Ron. You could feel the caves trembling……..
It had been hard deciding where to go. Everything I wanted to do wasn't Ron-sized and with the appalling weather, our choices were restricted even more. Still, it would give me the opportunity to have a look in the NCC/RRCPC extensions off Gour Hall and also have a look at the Grand Cascade in the Cigalere Inlet, a trip I'd been meaning to do for ages.
So, off to Easegill in the new Ron-mobile, a Renault C5 that comes with free fuel and as much boot space as you could ever need. The rain eased off as we approached the fell, but the wind was still up to gale force 8. Not a good time to be getting your bits out ! Still, I had my caving pants on and was changed in double-quick time.
Strode over to the beck, wearing my new French wellies, admiring the new path laid across the muddy bits by Andy Walsh et al. Down to see the beck roaring away, very impressive !
As we stood around looking at Link Pot, a gaggle of student-types arrived and hurried over to Mistral, stupidly we didn't give chase quickly enough and soon they had festooned the climb with a rope and were standing around in their cycling gloves and torn oversuits about faffing like nobodies business getting down the climb.
Ron collapsed on the ground in protest and I took to giving the one with the longest hair my most withering and disapproving look. Needless to say nobody noticed !
Soon enough we were in the Hobbit and off to Dusty Junction, each time we caught the students up we had a rest, which Ron seemed to enjoy. They headed off to play in the Hall of the Mountain King, so we set off to Gour Hall and caverns measureless.
In Gour Hall, I pushed myself through the slot at the end and into another streamway. Try as I might I couldn't get myself any further up the streamway, so poked my head down the drop where all the water went. This was a body sized rift, falling away to who-knows-where with a liberal surrounding of loose boulders. So, being on the wrong side of a non-Ron-sized squeeze, with loose boulders, I left it for another day….. shame !
Back out to THotMK, Alice enjoyed sliding about in the mud then into Leck Fell Lane. Time was against us, so I had a quick look along Wellington Traverse and tried to find the Hall of the Damned. No luck, just a squalid mud and rubble slope leading onto a gritstone run-in, but according to the book, that is the way on. Again, next time !
On exiting, there were even more students and Liverpool Uni PC had rigged a ladder in true student style down the climb (no spreader, rusty maillons, knackered sling etc etc) which hampered the exit no end ! Madness ! It was glorious weather on getting out, the sun was setting over Morecambe Bay and had turned the Lune Valley a deep orange. Also, the beck had dropped by at least a foot since we had been down, quite impressive ! Quick dash back to the cars, seeing the YSS Coach trip departing Bull Pot Farm, changed with a stunning sunset behind the hills and back to Clapham to pick up my oily beast. A class day indeed !
Hell Hole: 3rd October 2002
We managed a turn out of 2, Pete and the Ranger. Began with a Morrisons big breakfast in Skipton for £3 or so. Then off to Hell Hole, no students up this way!!
The stream running into Hell Hole was a bit over the top, well over the grass where it doesn't normally go!! Down we went anyway, got to the crawl before the pitch and decided to kit up in a cramped place for some reason, well it added to the day! Pete sent me off down the crawl rope bag and all. Plenty of water in the crawl so I get to the pitch and go over head first, good job there is a small ledge to stand on. I discover at this point someone has put 2 eco hangars in and a large stud for a ladder. I begin to play with the rope bag looking for the end of the rope with my head level with the top of the pitch and all the water filling my wellies over and over!!
Pete is meanwhile peering down the crawl wondering why I haven't fallen down the pitch, I should point out its a bit constricted at the top, I have elbows on either side. Pete suggested that if it rained the crawl might be a bit of a problem so I stopped flushing the wellies and crawled back out. Ah well next time perhaps when its a bit dryer. I wonder if the new anchors mean someones having a dig down there?
Anyway back on the surface we have a walk around Trollers Gill. Loads of old ore mine workings, most of them collapsed but the biggest of them goes in some distance. We spent a couple of hours looking around the gills and mines before we set off back. Interesting place, obviously a big operation in its day.
Notts II: Three teams, 10km of cave and a Snickers Bar: 7th October 2002
Early-doors start for a monster Pendle trip down the previously divers-only classic dendritic streamway of Notts Two. At the Brookhouse Thuggo and I greeted "Ranger" Ron, "Cold Watter" Pete, "Alarming" Alice and a shock arrival, The Denton Disciple, John "Misery" Mason. A full team indeed ! As well as these Pendle regulars, Paul "The Stranger" had brought some mates and Bloomster was on point for a belly-busting 3 breakfasts ! Unfortunately Pearshape didn't come, which was probably a good thing as we had 3 years of piss-taking saved up, like !
Soon all lard was scuppered and a vast assortment of cars left for Leck Fell. Ditching a few cars in Cowan Bridge our assembled mob took Notts II completely by surprise, but not before Bloomster had locked his keys in his van, consigning poor Alice (who had claimed a giant victory by getting a lift with the lift-sharing-dodger) to a glove-less trip by imprisoning her gloves inside !
Tiger One and Misery set off while Bloomster rang his 9 month pregnant wife to get her to bail him out *again* from a silly situation he himself had created. Descending quickly into the depths of Committee Pot, Tiger One and Misery were soon at the Main Drain and itching to crack on. As guide for the day, I decided upstream was the way ahead and we struck off at a cracking pace, taking in all the sights along the way to Curry Inlet.
Curry Inlet was followed to its sump, well worth the effort, and on the way back Thuggo was met singing strange songs to himself. He had ditched the others and struck out to catch the Tiger Team up. As we sat around re-living our glory-days, Paul and his mates caught us up. They were on a photography trip so we made like the Swiss and rolled !
Our huge team had split along partisan lines into a Tiger Team, a Slugs Team and a Strangers Team ! So, the Tiger Team cracked on, eager to see what we could. Upstream to the inlet sump was the next objective and as Thuggo and I put in some effort bridging the deep pools, the crazy fool Misery swam for his life, swearing and cackling as the cold watter caused vast shrinkage of essential items ! A piss was taken in the upstream sump and we headed off to Inlet 5 for some gloop.
On a previous trip, myself and Webbo had been asked by Andy Walsh not to go too far into the end of Inlet 5 as it was still being explored. We heeded his request and just ventured as far as the decorated pool, being careful not to damage the magnificent formations on the way, but on this trip, with most of the longest straws smashed, progress was possible through the pool of gloopy mud into more of the same. Very pretty indeed and not somewhere for clumsy people !
Back in the Main Drain the Strangers Team was met again, "Where is the upstream sump?". "Eh ?" replied the Tiger Team and took off downstream for the final bout of caving action. Downstream the sump was sump-tastic, diving-line akimbo. Misery and I took a well earned break while Thuggo busied himself in Gour Inlet, another delicate and fragile passage, unsuitable for fat-boys with wild flaying arms.
Inlet 14, marked as "Unexplored" was investigated, but left to another day when we have some scaling gear, as the cheeky bugger was a bit wide for bridging and unclimbable by people without square hands ! Webbo was needed and missed. He'd be stupid enough to climb 10m of vertical moonmilk !
So, back to Committee Pot, where the Tiger Team was out in a jiffy, closely followed by half the Slug Team, Ron and Pete who had no idea where the Stranger Team was or the other half of their team………… Were they lost in the depths of Notts II ? Had Bloomster eaten his way through to Gavel Pot ? Had Paul the Stranger burrowed his way through to Lost Johns ? Well, we didn't really care and headed back to the Ranger, a veritable sofa on wheels !
Back at the car park, Stevey was still locked out, as was Alice. We sympathised, but left after a bit for tea and cake. Thuggo impressed us all by eating a large portion of fish and chips followed by a giant slice of chocolate crunch and Fat Boy Misery caned his way through two slices of said cake. I had only a sip of cold watter and a Granny bar, Couey Lodge style (which by the way John, was fucking hard!).