|Lancaster Hole - Stake Pot Series||Bull Pot of the Witches||Sell Gill Holes Wet Route||Deaths Head||Marble Steps Pot|
|Large Pot, Red Herring Series||Wanderings on Penyghent||Brown Hill Pot||Langcliffe Pot||Nidderdale|
|Sell Gill dry route||Tatham Wife Hole||PNISS03||Top Sink||Hurnel Moss Pot|
|Sunset and Hardrawkin||Kingsdale and Leck Novice tour||Hammer Pot||Aquamole Pot||Cape Kennedy, Lancaster Hole|
|Notts Pot||Brown Hill Pot (bottomed)||Sell Gill||County Pot|
Well the weather was dull with low cloud and fog everywhere but 3 of us were mad for it. Alice and Pete were waiting outside Brookhouse when I got there with a trail of smoke behind. (The handbrake was stuck on, but with the 4.0 V8 up front I hadn't noticed!!) This set the pattern for the day, the Cafe was late opening but we finally got in for the lard feast from Sara. Then off to Daleswear to pick up an SRT bag Pete had ordered. They were shut, should have opened at 9-00 eventually opened at 9-45!. Pete got his nice new bag, didn't take it underground, guess he might have got it muddy. Alice nearly bought a bag as well, but thought better of it.
Lanc Hole resembled a spiders web, some twit has put a few extra anchors in (no its not bicep boy), so people put y-hangs in the narrow bit at the top. Bloody students of course. At this point I realise my SRT bag is still in Ranger, but there is nothing important in it (spare carbide, pulley jammers, sling, drink etc), Pete said share my water and we can carry on. Down the hole I go and soar like an eagle to the bottom, well more like a vulture landing with a thud! Swiftly followed by Alice and Pete. At this point ( last one) I realise the survey and write up for Stake Pot series is in Ranger as well. I did own up but blamed Pete for hiding it under his kit in the back of Ranger. (He disagreed for some reason)
Undaunted we set off down the cave, through to Fall Pot and down the traverse route. Up over the climb helped by a dodgy bit of tat and on to Stake Pot. Quite noisy at Stake Pot, obviously a lot of water running in the Main Drain. Our decision to stay in the high level route now justified. Down Stake Pot and traverse over and head towards Bobs Boss. We are looking for an opening on the right and one appears, it goes around several corners and appears to end in a pit. We reverse and carry on the high level checking out nooks and crannies in the right hand wall. We pass Bobs Boss, (where the rope climb is Pete) miss Painters Palette and eventually reach Scylla the first bloody great hole in the floor. We agree we have gone too far but it was a nice passage anyway, plenty of pretties. Back we go and head for the passage we first looked in. Caught Painters Palette on the way back as well.
Back in the side passage Pete disappeared down the pit, which is into the Rabbit Warren, I notice the passage carries on to the left over the pit. I head down some hands and knees stuff with Alice in tow and Pete emerges from the pit like some monster from the deep. We step over another pit and wriggle under a boulder and we are over a streamway. A bit further on and yes, you guessed it, a bit of a squeeze. I let Pete and ALice climb over me and off they went. I had a choice of stripping off or soaking my toes in the stream. So I cooled my feet.
Pete and Alice carried on until they reached Canuck climb and the iron ladder. ALice wasn't impressed so Pete went up for a look around and then called it a day. I felt better when Pete told me he had to take off his SRT kit to get over a rock! Time to go, so out we came, finally through all the spiders web at the entrance which had multiplied since we went in. With all those boulders at the entrance for natural belays why would you put 2 eco anchors in one of them!?!
Total fog cover, so we felt our way back to the farm to complete a good day, 6 hours underground, not bad for the 1st PCC trip of the year.
2nd February: Bull Pot of the Witches - The Tiger Report
Once again the day started far too early. Ranger Ron Cook insisted that the Weaner and I be at Ranger HQ early doors as he not only had to be back home for a chicken dinner but today he had to pat babies on the head. Weanski was nursing a hangover from having drunk a bottle of vino and a pint of director’s ale. He’d managed to duck out of the other one on Saturday night by running outside the pub to speak to women on his new mobile. I was knackered from having to fight crime and corruption all day Saturday so it was a relief to collapse into the sofa like embrace of Ron’s Ranger.
All too soon we’d arrived at Brookhouse. Cold watter Pete and Paul the Stranger were already making headway with the belly grow. We joined them in the lard and listened to Paul’s tales of Angora goat fancying during his time with the Dudley Caving Club. Paul had to leave the club when Keith, a welsh beard caught him in a compromising situation with one of his finest angora’s. There was much talk of Slovakia for Pendle’s 2003 expedition – Ron made promising noises which really ort to be backed up with a £100 non returnable deposit. The clubs finances were discussed. Several members have not yet paid their 2003 subs. You know who you are, you bastards.
Soon we were full enough of tucker to head for the thief. Weaner had money burning a hole in his pockets and spanked out for a set of knee pads and a calendar of worldwide beards, which as Ron pointed out would have meant him not eating for a week not so long ago ! Anyhow we prised him out of the shop and hurried up to Casterton Fell before the rain turned to hail.
A swift change saw us keen for the cave. After an arduous trek to the cave entrance we were soon amongst it all. Weanski rigged up the 2 pitches amid heckling from Ron. And without too much faffing were were at the bottom of the entrance series. Paul decided that he would have a crawl alongside the sump at the bottom of pitch 2 hoping it would make him famous. Unfortunately he left his SRT kit on and quickly became jammed tight. In true Pendle team spirit the others had fucked off into the cave and I had to coax Paul back by making bleating noises.
We then caught up with the rest of Pendle who’d turned right in the 1st rift passage and followed it to it’s end. An about turn took us swiftly the other way before we came to the free climb into the stream way. The tigers were first into the wet stuff which was as cold as you like. Pete ever keen for cold watter followed close behind. Weaner and I headed off as it was bloody freezing. We naturally assumed that Ranger Ron and Paul the Ever Stranger would be heading down for a look. Anyhow we pushed on – way past the sensible turn off to dry passage until I found the duck. It was a cheeky one all right, not so much the lack of airspace as the sensation of having snow melt water hit your caving pants and their contents. Nasty old business. We pushed on until hitting the sump. There we basked in the mud and cast aspersions on other pendle member’s abilities to get cold and wet for no good reason. We were then surprised by Pete who’d played it like a man with some sense and had bypassed the duck staying warm and dry for much of the way. We celebrated with an impromptu spring AGM during which it was decided that Paul was indeed well on his way to being the new Pearshape. It’s a position that badly needs filling despite the promise of a late 2002 return of the original. A motion was passed that Catholics were to be heavily taxed to push up club funds. Any other business decided that Webbo was a C**T and should pay £5 more subs than anyone else for that reason alone.
The three of us then headed back ( the dry way ) on route pausing to explore what looked to be someone’s dig. We all managed the free climb with a bit of chuffing and abuse from Ron who’d decided that he should save the surplus energy from the Brookhouse brecky for the big walk back from the cave to the Ranger. Paul said he’d been down but had headed right instead of left and had quickly hit a the sump, his 2nd of the day. He’d not tried to crawl down this one and as a result had not died horribly. He then tried to tell us that you should only move as fast as the slowest member or some such rubbish. Bollocks mate get down the gym more – Pendle tigers wouldn’t have done the Couey Lodge with that attitude. No sir it’s death or glory and casualties are acceptable.
We all decided the up ways was best ways and that the Inglethief café was calling. A swift prussic up the pitches saw all members out. Luckily it had started to snow for the change back at the motors and Weanski found his wet socks in the boot of the Ranger. You could have used them in the stream way mate !
Thuggo (Tiger Two)
Present: - Ron, Andrew, David, Peter, Paul.
We met at the Brookhouse for lunch, due to the Tigers general youth and arrogance they were extremely late. This meant that Pete and I got a chance to touch and stroke some young pussy (called Martha). We ate our breakfast like an elite team of the apostles (St Ron anyone?), then took turns in committing heinous sins against one of Mr Doulton’s shiny porcelain appliances. We told Pete that the rest of us would just nip to Inglesport for a minute, Ron to deliver rigging guides and me to purchase wellie's, foolishly he believed us and had to wait at the meet 45minutes or so whilst the Tigers tried to find a book without words so they could understand it. (Dave did buy a calendar but he was going to remove the numbers as they spoilt it).
We descended into the cave hurrying past the plaque remembering someone who had died in there. An interesting climb down eventually led to a pitch which Dave rigged and descended, like the true international-caving-tiger he is and the rest of us followed. It was a nice cave climbing down following the stream way and after the second pitch and its horizontal deviation we ended at a sump. Dave said that was the end of this bit, but I had read in the description that the passage continued around the sump, unfortunately this was the wrong sump and I pushed through increasingly low squeezes, which I did not mind too much but my SRT kit wasn’t too happy, eventually I realised I could not go any further without the removal of the said SRT kit, going backwards also seemed a bit daunting and I had a momentary rush of panic. Luckily kept my head and devised a cunning plan, I shouted "I’M STUCK", this caused Andy to crawl behind me and talk lovingly at my bottom which did the trick and I inched out backwards cursing every recent pie and chocolate cake.
We met up with the others who then headed off downstream whilst I explored the bit they had just been in. I caught up with Ron who was waiting above a downward climb and squeeze, descending downwards I got wedged, however with a clear head I formed another plan this time I yelled "I’M GOING TO FALL". This caused Ron to try to cuddle me but I luckily found a foothold and set off, unluckily I did not find the other’s and despite exploring round the area twice I had to return to Ron wowing him with an acrobatic climbing display. With the return of the other’s we all set back to surface with the Tigers suggesting complimentary animal names to reflect my caving prowess, Panther, Puma etc. (Ed- Actually, we suggested he could be an ocelot).
As the other made their way up the final climb Dave and I explore a separate entrance to the cave which was huge chamberlike and quite impressive, there was an interesting way on up a climb but Dave’s lack of kit and my lack of bottle stopped us from going further. Dave headed off home whilst I very knackered by now looked down some more passage and headed out very sloooooowly, this was not unnoticed by Peter who asked me in a low voice why I was so slow . "Cos I am old, unfit and shagged" was the succinct reply". The other’s headed off to Inglesport for refreshment’s, whilst I headed off home to hang my head in shame and spend a pleasant evening listening to the new Donny Osmond CD and the Osmond’s greatest hits with my partner and daughter as penance, as we are going to see him in concert at the Manchester arena in March so no doubt I will see you there Andy.
2nd February: Sell Gill Holes Wet Route - The Meaty Tiger Report
Well seeing as Misery couldn't play out I postponed Bull Pot in favour of Sell Gill (wet route) and Red Moss. Trouble was everyone else was busy as well, couldn't be because I mentioned subs in my e-mail!!
Oh well. off I go in the rain up to the dales, C5 today its cheaper, all the rivers are swollen and huge puddles everywhere, it pissed it down last night. I skip breakfast, my token gesture to becoming part of the Tiger Team (or is it scrawny team) and park up well past Newhouses so I can walk up the back path. (Don't want to be mugged by the Bloomin' highwayman squire of Newhouses) Its a lot of rope for one so I take a short one for the entrance and a 50m to get me half way down the cave. Its stopped raining now and its a pleasant if cool morning.
My cunning plan to skip breakfast pays off as the cave is empty of students and Derbyshire people who tie knots mid pitch. The stream is fair flowing down the entrance but I'm only going for a wade so off I go. Tie in the handline and slither down into the stream, cor its bloody cold. Soon at the first anchor so time for some proper rigging.
Traverse around and then the short drop to the first rebelay, water is fair rushing past below but I'm not in it.(yet) Ab down and stick a deviation in off flake, I'm not going to get wet. Ab a bit more and then grab an anchor next to the bedding plane, tie on and crawl through, I love the crawly bits. Drop down at the other side and there is another y-hang. Good abseil this time to another y-hang, bit of a problem now, I've run out of string. maybe next time I'll bring a porter to carry the other bag. Up we go and back through the bedding plane. Up to the deviation all nice and smooth, take it off, and shit I've swung straight under the water, down the back of my neck!! Excitement over I exit the cave just getting my knees wet on the way out.
Still no sign of students and Derbyshire people, so I take the rope for a walk to Red Moss. Pass Jackdaw hole on the way, remember ripping my crotch (of the TSA suit) last time I was there! red Moss is still hiding over the wall, wonder if access is still denied by the landowner? What he doesn't see.........
Slithering down the entrance and I'm in, leave the rope here, it needs a rest. Down the little climb into the streamway, cor its wet in here. Down the passage and its cold and wet, nice passage though, you forget don't you. The sump seems a lot nearer than I remember, maybe it is, the water is up to my nads now and its cold. I think I can hear my chicken dinner calling. Back on the surface and the sun is shining, better get off home before the bumblies come out. I've had a quiet day, didn't see anyone else on the fell, thought some cows were going to chase me on the way back down, but they thought better of it. I eat steak as well as chicken!
The Tiger with Meat On, Ranger Ron
16th February: Deaths Head Pot - Tiger Ones interpretation
I wasn't there, but Tiger Two, the Ranger and Cold Watter Pete went, maybe Alice went too, but I'm not sure. Anyway, it was a long way down and there were lots of ropes. Andy looked at Les Sykes' dig and described it as "a pile of gloop that no-one in their right mind would spend more than 10 minutes digging as long as there were still pubs in the world". There was lots of prussiking to get out and Webbo should have been there to haul all the ropes out (the man has square hands for fecks sake!!).
Andy then inserted himself down the first few cheeky metres of Big Meanie (apparently). I'm not so sure the fat BTP rozzer will fit, I'll have to give him another tiger stripe if he can prove it !!!
Tiger One (and not even present on the trip)
9th March: Marble Steps Pot
It binned it down on Friday and Saturday, didn't look promising for getting down Marble Steps. None of the Tigers turned out so we went it alone. (I guess they were scared of teaming uip with us!). Meeting up at Brookhouse for the lard feast, Alice, Pete, Paul and the Ranger.
Bit windy up at Masongill but we changed and went off up the Turbary Road. Its in a bit of a state now, you wouldn't want to take your car up there these days. Down into the gully and, hardly any water, its really odd. Like the old Tiger I am I rig the gully with a few rebelays and a deviation and down we slide. The Upper Main Chamber is very loose, As I rig the next bit I kick a few hundred weight of loose rocks down. ( Dave a hundred weight is about 50kg)[Cheers Ron!] saves them dropping on someones head later. Next the rope climb which I make a mess of as usual. Through the 240 foot rift which is dry as a bone and on to the next pitch. I'm just a good fit through this and drop down above the intestines route. No we aren't going that way, more sense.
Top of the 90 now and bugger, even after loosing half a stone I'm having trouble with this. Still I was a stone lighter last time I was through here. Anyway Pete steps in and rigs a nice low Y-hang and slides off down the cave, followed by Alice and Paul. I hear some splashing and a few shouts as they bottom the cave. Not long after Alice reappears at the top of the pitch, how do I get off she says, looks OK so I grab the rope and heave and she is through the slot! No problem.
Next Paul comes up and so I try the same trick, trouble is, he is porky unlike Alice. (No, I'm not porky like Paul, I am well built!!) Anyway Paul has a shuffle around and pops through the slot blaming me for his earlier demise!! Lastly our hero Pete comes up, derigs and pops through the slot, or was it the other way around.
After this we have a fairly uneventfull exit from the cave only complicated by another team wrapping their string around our ropes. Marble Steps a wet weather cave!! Some years ago I saw the upper Main Chamber impassible, the water from the wet route was shooting straight across the chamber making the place like a wind tunnel.
'Til the next time
After a night out on the beers at a local pub where the Weaner Boy had finished a pint off for Thuggo, we were up bright and early for a rope collecting mission to the Rangers. Ron seemed pleased to see us, but not keen at all for the Tiger caves we were planning for the weekend.
At the Brookhouse, Pete hadn't got my last e-mail saying 0900, so had arrived at 0830 as originally planned. Andy and I were feeling quite pleased that we thought we were only 25 minutes late as we rolled up at 0925, Pete wasn't as pleased. Good breakfast though, plenty of lard, toast and tea.
Off to the cave ! Tiger One on point, Tiger Two as wingman and (newly appointed) Tiger Four mopping up the remaining resistance at the rear. The first pitch was sparsely rigged, then through the slot to the second pitch. Had a bit of trouble rigging, what with there being hardly any space, but soon enough a rope was snaking its way down the pitch, through the slot. Sticking my descender on a cows-tail, I popped through the slot and descended to a ledge to put my descender on properly.
Rigging across the shaft to put in a deviation to avoid a narrow section at the bottom, I spied what appeared to be a solid looking flake. Chucking a sling over the flake and clipping the rope, I put my weight on the deviation and started descending the remaining 7m or so of the pitch. Suddenly I was flung across the shaft towards the opposite wall where my left upper leg took the full impact of the surprise pendulum (see photos). I looked down and saw the flake at the bottom of the pitch with the sling still attached to the rope ! The flake wasn't quite as solid as it had looked and was in-fact held to the cave wall with marmalade, similar to experiences in Magnetometer (see Archives section). Luckily my, now bleeding profusely, hand had been in the way to deflect the rock away from my knackers, otherwise it could have been very nasty !
Impressive eh ?
I donned my gloves to contain the bleeding and continued rigging. The next pitch saw us in Thornton Hall, where I had hoped for chocolate, but instead I just tended to my wounds, the worst ever suffered by Tiger One. Life at the sharp end, it's danger, danger, danger.
Onwards ! 4th pitch was a beauty, 24m freehang of sculpted limestone cutting from dark to light and back to dark limestone. A classic pitch indeed. The 5th pitch was short and sweet and followed by a section of rift passage to another beauty, 15m of freehang in very dark limestone. At the bottom some more rift passage, another short pitch/climb, then more rift passage in white limestone this time to another pitch.
Expedition rigging took over and the pitch was tightly rigged from two bolts, descending into a chamber where foam had been noted 4.5m up the wall after heavy rain....eek ! At the bottom, about 200m of hands and knees, sometimes stooping, well decorated passage followed. In one pool in the crawl, some tiny white leeches (10mm x 1mm) were noted, along with shrimps and various other wildlife. We were careful not to let the blighters anywhere near soft flesh ! The last thing you need on a hard caving trip is being drained of blood by killer cave leeches.
After more crawling, pretties and a thrutch under a calcite blockage, we were at the head of the final section of pitches, rigged par-excellence as usual. The pitches ended in a large chamber which shrank to a short crawl, then opened up into a final approach to the sump pool. The sump pool was crystal clear and pretty deep. It looked impressive as I sent a golden arc of Pendles finest piss cascading into its depths!
Fast exit by the new Tiger Team, the second pitch causing a few difficulties, mainly due to the presence of the ladder, which was decided to be a red herring (!). Tiger One was first to exit as the sun was setting over Morecambe Bay, a truly classic view. Back at the car, fish and chips were deemed to be the order of the day, so off to Ingleton for a sit-down fish supper.
Gunning over to the YSS to secure our fetid pit for the night, I trundled into the pub to get the keys. The sight of the Hellish Pit completely packed with beards and students started wild thoughts racing through my brain ! I doubted that we would get in to the YSS and would have to spend the night sharing a bunk, or worse, pretending to be members and sleeping upstairs with the wailing children ! A cunning plan took hold, we'd jet over to the bunkhouse at the New Inn in Clapham to see if they had room. So, we dived over and I enquired about the availability of space at their bunkhouse that night with a barman. He looked puzzled and said they had never had a bunkhouse, but that there were plenty of plush rooms available at the hotel.
Being somewhat confused, we went back to the YSS to check the situation out properly. It turned out that most of the freaks in the pub were from the Craven and had just been over to chin-wag with Greybeard, who, unsurprisingly was resident in the Pit as usual. We secured bunks and headed back to the Pit for some drinking. Andy managed a couple of pints, as did his mate Ant, but it was the Weaner and Tiger Four that held up the image of Pendle, retiring to bed at midnight as the Pit disco began and the freaks came out to play.
Pete kindly treated me to a cup of tea and a slice of home-made cake back at the YSS. Thanks must go to his breadknife for making such a good cake.
After a night broken, by a couple of drunken creatures arriving back at 2am and later on, ear plug penetrating serial coughing (had a sheep broken in?), we drove over to Clapham for the gourmet delights of Brookhouse. Unfortunately, the sunshine and fresh air experienced whilst breakfasting outside (and the sight of his own breakfast) gave Andy's mate, Ant, the chance to display all the colours of the rainbow before going to look over a nearby wall for Hughie. He couldn't find him, but didn't give up, as later, at the sight of the Little Chef, he made me stop the car, only this time he asked some sheep. Without more adieu, we reached the YSS, wedged Ant in his car, pointed it in the right direction and pushed it out of our minds.
What next? Little Hull Pot? Brown Hill Pot? or tea at the Byre Fold café? As the sky was blue and the sun burning down, plus Tiger 1 moaning constantly about his bruised leg, it was no contest. Off to Byre Fold café it was, via Penyghent. After a most delightful stroll and being shown the site of an earlier epic Pendle trip (Haytime Hole) we arrived parched but happy at Byre Fold. Bloomster himself wasn't there, only the management, who treated us to tea. Sam treated us to a run around the lounge (daddy does this all the time!) and Jack showed us how to sleep (and probably how fill a nappy). Also we were offered large bribes to take Stevie to Slovakia with us; "Can't you make it longer than a week?", asked June.
A swift walk brought us back to the YSS for tackle sorting and showers, followed by a ruby at Bentham where we stumbled across the Bloomster himself. This was pure luck as although he had thoughtfully left a message on Tiger 1's phone to say he was at the curry house he then had the forethought to turn his phone off so we couldn't tell him that we were on the way. Still, all was well, it was a good meal. Back to the pit for more anaesthetic, although Tigers 1 & 2 didn't need much, the young today!
Antony Roy adds his two-pence worth:
D. Kestell wrote:
> Hows yer head ? You missed a nice wander up penyghent in the
> sunshine on sunday. Would've sorted you out no end.
Well - I've a few theories on that one... The first, and most plausible one, was that the beards that run the place had dosed the beer with some cavers poison, the antidote to which can be found in the festering mud of any limestone hellhole you might choose to enter. Which of course in my case were none... A ploy by the establishment to keep decent folks out.
The second theory is more recent, given that I'm currently in the throws of some kind of flu, and have been having stomach cramps, aching joints and headaches all week. The theory is that I was already coming down with the flu on Sunday morning.
The third theory as proposed by Helen, is that in fact it was (shock - horror) *alcohol* that did it to me, and I am in fact a shandy lightweight who can't handle a couple of pints of local pisswater without an immense hangover.
Going by the parting memory of old greybeard trying to tell you lot that caving was the only option on such a glorious day, given that sunlight rots the clothes (?!?) - I still hold with the first explanation.
Ant (climbing monkey, scared of the dark........
Brown Hill Pot - The Cave of the Mythering Bleeder
All was set for a big push down this classic cave. This was attempt number three for the Weaner, attempt 1 with the original Pendle Four in 1998 failed pretty quickly (I got to the first pitch) as did attempt 2 with Maddy Harris some weeks later. However, the crack team of Tigers One and Two, with the Horton Hippo as ballast, were keen and able, kitted and suited. Lock and load boys, we're going in !
Tiger One had a tackle sack with the first two ropes in, the rope for the bottom pitch and all the rigging gear, i.e. It was full ! Tiger Two had the rope for the main pitch. i.e. It was full as well. Bloomster carried a small bottle of water and a flapjack. All was set.
Straight into the jaws of the beast, down the rusty pipe into the squeeze, Bloomster already floundering, "How far is it ? How do I get through ? Dave, can you see my feet ? Dave, can you take my bag?" This, it turns out, was the theme of the trip...........................
The first 100m of the cave comprise a narrow immature streamway with 3 squeezes, ending in a pitch where the cave opens out into a linear rift. This was explained to Bloomster BEFORE the trip, over BREAKFAST and on the WALK UP TO THE CAVE. I also read the description to him BEFORE we went down the cave and after the FIRST squeeze. A three-toed sloth would have remembered the phrase "100m of tortuous passage with 3 squeezes", but not Bloomster !
The narrowness of the passage demanded that we traverse in the roof round the first squeeze. This was bloody hard with a full tackle sack (as Andy would agree), but Bloomster demanded constant attention, reassurance and prodding to make the slightest headway. He also demanded I wait for him at every corner (I was ahead, Bloomster in the middle, with T2 behind) as he hauled his belly through a tight bit. This was extremely tiresome as the bag, tugged ever downwards by gravity, also demanded constant attention to stop it disappearing into the rift.
Traversing this 100m of passage took 3 times as long as it should have down with that mythering bleeder chuffing along behind me asking where he should go, what he should do, where he should put his feet, hands, arse etc, even though I was barely a meter in front of him! He was lucky I could barely turn around, otherwise he'd have got even more abuse.
Eventually I reached the pitch and rigged it with difficulty on the dodgy divers bolts. Bloomster (although he could see me!) continued to ask questions about what it was like, should he go forwards, backwards, up or down, should he still be at home, would I take his bag etc. He then decided that having done the hard part, he would stay where he was and wait for us to return. I suggested that he go out and get changed as he was fuck all use to us and if he wasn't coming then he would be better off outside in the sunshine, but he said he would wait.
I told him we would be at least 4 hours and that a draughty cave was not the place to be for that length of time. He decided otherwise. Andy squeezed past him with difficulty and we descended the pretty impressive pitches (well it was good to be able to turn your head!). Bloomster then decided he was coming, took one step and returned to his original plan of staying put.
Having wasted more time than was sensible (AP had to be in work at 9pm and we still had to get back to Manchester), we struck on down past the impressive inlet of the Galerie Pas Mur, and tried to find the climbs down to the pitch. After a bit of traversing and messing about with huge tackle sacks we eventually returned to the Galerie for a re-think.
Bags were ditched as time was getting on and a lightweight Tiger Team set out. I pushed on down a climb we had previously discounted as too narrow into the stream. This lead on to more traversing, which lead over a 9m pot (scary stuff on slippery calcite) into a crawl which opened out into a big black nothingness. I had found the Puits Ian Plant, a 50m monster split by a large obvious ledge halfway down. My light could just about reach the bottom and the pitch comprised a monster open shaft with impressive flowstone all around.
Looking about I could only see one bolt, which seemed somewhat less than required. But I expect that once you have thrown yourself into the abyss, the bolts appear everywhere and there is no need to get very scared. Actually, the NCC found it and they never put in sufficient bolts (see Strangle Pot!), so maybe a bolt kit is required next time....
Andy, at this point, was back at the top of the climb down, so I headed back by myself to encourage him down. Without to much persuasion, he got me back up (hard work!) and we decided to leave it for another day. To be honest, my leg was killing (see photos) so I was quite happy to leave. The pitch was a beauty and I'll get down it one day ! Back at the first pitch Bloomster was still waiting. We had been 3 hours, but he was still there, singing and mumbling to himself. I prussiked up the pitch, took all my SRT kit off and squeezed myself through a very tight shortcut rift back to where Bloomster was.
Having been left with the only potable water and Andys food, Steve had drunk most of the water and was keen to tuck in to the flapjack ! !! ! I ate half of the flapjack as Andy and myself had shared mine further down, and had a mouthful of water, conscious of the fact that neither of us had had a drink for a while and Andy might appreciate some. Steve then took the bottle off me and swigged the remaining water ! Pointing out what a cheeky man he was, he then proceeded to fill the bottle back up with water coming in the cave from a small inlet above our heads. So, Andy, tired and thirsty eventually got to drink some lovely cave water ! Nice eh ?
The journey out of the cave was as fraught as coming in, except Bloomster mythered even more ! What, where, how, when, stop, go, up, down, help, push, take my bag, let me stand on you, where, where, what's it like, what's it like, what's it like, where, where, where etc etc. Steve eventually got Andy to carry his bag and his SRT kit, leaving Steve with only himself to get out.
However, even that was too much and we had to haul the bleeder up the shagging oil drum, leaving him floundering like a landed halibut at the entrance. Shagged, dirty and relived, we gathered our knacked belongings up and headed back to the cars. The cave had destroyed two tacklesacks and almost been Stevies tomb ! It was a bastard alright and no place to take someone who can't look after themselves !
Next time eh ?Top
It was a perfect bank holiday weekend; the sun was scorching hot and the mood was jolly. Four of Pendles finest had said they were keen for a monster caving trip of epic hardness - 1 was outright lying and the other 3 were just stupid.
Tiger’s 1 & 2 rose as early as can be expected after 12hr early turn shifts and late night drives from oxford respectively took their toll. A quick call to the Ranger warned him that the plans may be a few minutes out. Cold watter Pete could not be contacted as he was already in situ at Skiptons Morrison outlet; such was his keenness for the action.
Eventually we all RV’d and ate some very mediocre lard. There was mucho B.H. traffic on the way up with assorted bumblies and people wanting to shite in chemical toilets blocking the road. This was explained to Pete but he still looked glum.
Then off to Kettlewell which was chocker with rambling types. We got a parking spot at the bottom of the footpath near the cave and tried to persuade the Ron to drive us all up there in the ranger. It would have purred up the hill but Ron was having none of it. Plan B then. This one was particularly cunning. As access to the cave was blocked by stinging farming tossers we were to approach the cave entrance dressed as bumblies. Pete did us proud and looked the part complete with rucksack and beard. Weaner donned caving wellies, extra short shorts, a tackle sack with protruding caving helmet...mmmm...could do better. Ron decided that he’d had his breakfast and we could all piss up a rope if we expected him to go down a cave with 2km of crawling and stooping in cold watter. ( bastard ) I looked resplendent is a natty pair of shorts and slung the rest of my kit in an oversize Nepalese kit bag. The only downside being that it had one handle.
Soon we were off and tabbing up the hill, or dragging a shagging huge blue bag in my case. Ron kindly walked up with us to burn off half a Morison’s lard sausage. A bit of searching found the cave entrance and it was good to go. We waved Ron off to go and enjoy his picnic and hairy ale with the rest of the bumblies and then down the pitch.
Weaner rigged off decent anchors and headed off. The pitch was a beauty; rebelay half way down with the top illuminated by the burning midday sun. OK 1.30pm sun to be exact. Sadly the pitch was to be the greatest thing about the day and the fun soon ended as you abseiled into a rotting badger at the bottom...nice....
With all members at the bottom we headed off down the 1st 200m of flat out wet crawling in gravel stream way, it was bloody horrible and even more so when you had to crawl over stinking rotten frogs and toads.the cave then opened out into more crawling and stooping for about 600m this was still horrible but slightly better. Eventually we got to the stream way which was pleasant. Boulder obstacles and wide passage made it reminiscing of welsh caving.
This carried on for about 1.2 km before we hit the boulder choke about ½ way into the cave. Pete went 1st and got wedged. This choke was supposed to be loose and unstable with plenty of danger of death alerts...not nice.....Luckily Pete got out OK and Weaner went through the squeeze, reporting back that it was horrid. I elected to believe him and we headed back.
The stream way was still very pleasant but all the team were tiring, before too long we started on the nasty stuff. Crawling and stooping - this was a right bastard but the worst was yet to come. The final 200m of crawling seemed to have been stretched 10 fold and it was bloody disgusting, the frogs stank even more, the water was colder and the gravel harder. Pete decided not to have gloves and wet-socks for the trip and I really felt for him ( not enough though to lend him mine!) eventually though we were out and Weaner headed up the pitch, followed by Pete whilst I de-rigged.
As I got out to the surface Weaner looked like a startled rabbit and was lying down in the grass. I soon heard why. A rural retard in incomprehensible Yorkshire was ranting at us from over the way. The bucolic buffoon came closer and began haranguing us for moving his stones by the cave entrance. Each rock weighed about 2 tonnes but he insisted it was the sort of thing cavers did. He then did the usual farmer’s bit and said "GET OFF MY LAND" and made noises about trespassers. We neglected to inform him he was a walking cliché and told him a pack of lies about who we were before heading off.
Back at the ranger we met Ron who’d had a good day bumbling and talking to men about Gore-Tex. As we changed in the setting sun another crofter approached this one on a hickey quad bike towing a load of his girlfriends in a trailer. The bailer twine belted buffoon started to rant at us and didn’t believe we’d been out walking " WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM A FUCKING IDIOT" were his exact words I recollect. Avoiding the obvious retort we carried on changing whilst the cider addled agriculturist vented his spleen informing us that the cave was shut on the orders of the Chief Constable of Yorkshire. Mmmm.....Right Oh mate, and we’ve all got to get back for dates with girls from Atomic Kitten.
Anyway it was a bloody hard trip and I’m never going back to the cave again unless gold is discovered in it. But I’m glad I did it....probably....
T2....aka Simon Webb to farming types.
This trip was too scary for the Tiger Team
What about these excuses, Dave was in Cornwall, Andy was working , the Bloomster has hidden his SRT in a tackle bag, so it's lost in my garage, Pete was playing with the tin shed and so it went on!!
Anyway we met up in Pately Bridge at Kits greasy spoon, the one with the smoke from the burning toast billowing across the dining room. Alice, Pearshape (just for a walk, like), Paul (the return of the Stranger) and the old Ranger.
After a big greasy breakfast we head off to Lofthouse, check out the reservoir, pretty impressive and water level well below the overflow, back down to the pickernick site and get sorted. The river was dry so we are OK to go. The Stranger pointed out that when he moved up here he had no mates and lived in Goyden for a while, so he volunteered to give us the guided tour.
Off we go down the main entrance, the flood debris is everywhere, even well into the cave and at high level, tree trunks roots and everything, even a telegraph pole with the nobbly bits on where the wires used to be connected!
Paul took us all over the place, wet bits, muddy bits but all Ron sized. We did Mud Hall, 5 ways, Main stream passage and all sorts of other places I don't know the name of! The streamways were good with cascades, got rid of the mud off the suit.
We came back out and went back in Church Pot, a climb down a bit like Notts 2 but shorter and with much better ladders. This brings you back in the streamway after a climb down an oversize bog chain. Back out again and then in another new entrance which joins the new streamway, a muddy hole, this after I have got washed off! What was worse we couldn't get out the bottom as the risk of drowning was high, so out we crawled. Alice was obviously being perceptive she decided to go and get changed instead.
Pauls last idea was Bax pot, another entrance into Manchester just over the wall from Goyden. I watched Paul disappear down another manhole and decided to get changed myself. Paul wasn't far behind me as the duck into Manchester had sumped.
Only a flock of bumblies to watch us get changed and no crofters and hicks complaining about cavers. Next stop Howstein, Some pimply kid with a money pouch wanted to charge us for visiting the caves at Howstein, we declined as the Tigers weren't with us and settled for cake and coffee before the ride home.
The weather was crap so Tatty Wife was abandoned as it would have been too wet. The rain frightened everyone away except Alice and me as well as the Pearshape who came along for a walk in the rain.
Lard feast as usual at Brookhouse and then off to ,,, Sell Gill dry route. Dry route, there was loads of water going down. We had a look down and Alice took some photos of the not so dry route. Gave up on the last pitch as I still have an aversion to SRT under waterfalls!! Maybe we should have done Bar Pot instead.
As we exited we were met by loads of welsh people talking about doing the first pitch and giving a running commentary on our prussiking and derigging. Are they all like that in Wales???!!? Met up with Pearshape who informed it had absolutely binned it down whilst we were in, he got soaked!!
Back over to Horton and the Penygehent caff for coffee and cake. We thought at first it was shut, no one in. not many people in the Dales this weekend.
Tiger One, Tiger Two, the Ranger and Pearshape the original Pendle freak were out for this classic. Thankfully we had passed over Scrafton Pot in never-never land for a top breakfast at Brookhouse, which was teeming with fat bikers and a stressed Sarah.
The conversation was wide and varied with many topics covered. Pearshape was asked about his opinion of immigrants and asylum seekers. In particular we discussed the proposed BBC television programme in which a panel of "professional" judges decide whether or not a particular person should be granted asylum. Pearshape said "no way" under any circumstances and I asked, what about a world leading academic who had been offered a professorship at Oxford University.
Pearshape said "He should find a job in his own country, like", which laid that conversation to rest.
Inglesport was next, little money was spent (impressed ? I was!), then off to the site of the forthcoming PNISS03, a cracking cottage in Chapel-le-Dale. Then, faffing over, to the cave !
It was hot, bloody hot in fact, so Andy and I donned shorts and thermal tops, and set off up the hill looking like a right pair of charlies. Both in wellies, shorts and thermal tops, we were cooler that Ron on the walk though. Pearshape looked natty with his belly poking out and his ski-poles jutting at a jaunty angle, like.
Built up a sweat getting into our kit and the cave was welcome relief, cool and refreshing. Cracking trip to the very bottom, smoothly rigged by a top caver and back up provided by other top cavers. Excellent team work all round. Ron punched through the duck without any problem, but the cold cold watter on Andy's knackers made him scream like a girl.
Back out to blistering sunshine, tea and cake in the Thief, like, then a very comfy ride back to Ranger HQ in the C5, a suitable substitute for the Ranger, although we were held up on numerous occasions by bloody horse-drawn caravans on their way to Appleby Horse (freak) Fair. Madness.
Good stuff and I can walk today, in complete contrast to that fecking horribly hard trip down Langcliffe Pot last month ! ! (Too hard for the Stranger.......)
Well, for all those that missed it, we had a cracking week in the Dales. Meregill Hole was bottomed by a crack team of Pendle Cavers and the usual piss-taker............ The barbecue was well attended, mostly by midges, but there were also the usual faces and a couple of surprises. Penyghent Pot was bottomed by Tigers One, Two and Four, Rhino Ron was meant to come, but took a tumble the day before (ha ha, he thinks!).
Lake Windymares was drained of all her shrimps during the annual harvesting. We were lucky enough to be taken out on one of the harvesters for a few hours, where Andy, despite his alleged prowess, tried his hardest to dunk us in the brine (Thank feck for Webbo!). Aygill Caverns was taken completely by surprise on Thursday, leaving Hammer Pot to continue to tremble at the thought of us attacking it (when we have stockpiled enough goose-fat). We left a large puddle of water in a Dent tea shop on Friday during our "rest-day" 25k bike ride. Andy remained upright throughout, Pete took a tumble and my tumble ended with a torn and bruised knee. But the true winner of the day was the midges, who's determination to suck our blood wasn't even dampened by the pissing rain.
The lazy Bertie left and the climbing monkey Ant arrived, so off down Swinstos for a final trip. Bloomster accompanied us and complained that we hadn't phoned him every night to let him know what we were doing, or, even arranged our holiday around his work (one day a week Steve !). Still, we were good enough to let him bottom Meregill without carrying any kit in or out and only made him carry the spare rope out of Swinstos from the Valley Entrance pitch.
Speaking of which, at the pitch I again stumbled across the cheif beard of them all, Dave Elliot. Rigging like a true hero, our bolting god suggested we give up smoking (!?) and that Steve, who he remembered from 20yrs ago, was too old to still be caving. Steve, as usual, had no idea who was speaking to him.......bless !
So, thanks to all those that made the trip a cracking adventure/rest. The choice for next year is either Laos, Mexico or Cuba. I suspect it might well be Wales, if anybody organises it ;-)
Keep 'em peeled for the "Offical" PNISS03 website.
It was nearly Tiger 3 and the Pussy Cat, or is Alice Tiger 5 now?
Anyway meeting at Brookhouse for the lard feast we were joined by a late entrant Tiger 4. Pete needed a break from his property speculation and fancied a wriggle down Top Sink.
After one of Sarahs breakfast we cruised over to Bull Pot Farm, not many people around, just a few cars of loafers. Nice steady trip through the system, Top Sink, Walrus pitch gently watered, pir2 passage which I managed to do on my knees like an F** Gnome!! and then got my helmet stuck just before the Penknife pitch. Lot of tat on both pitches.
Easter Grotto is tired but still impressive. Plenty of skid marks on rocks in Stop Pot, wonder if some more has dropped since last year? Out through Wretched Rabbit and a nice bath in the pool outside., got most of the mud off anyway!
Back to Bull Pot Fram and its still quiet, our entry on the blackboard is the only one for the day!! Where have all the cavers gone? Still it was a nice feeling to have been the only people in the Easgill system
Missed a good trip if you didn't come along.
Eds note: There appears to be some confusion over Tiger nomenclature. I feel an excuse for another bit of nonsense coming on.............;-)
Only 3 of us keen for the long drop and Pearshape along for the walk. Breakfast at Brookhouse with extra toast from Sara.
Long walk up the fell with tons of rope between 3 of us. Thuggo thought we should have more club members so they could carry all this stuff!! (Andy arrived five minutes early at my house and disorganised everything!! He paid for it later, it knackered him up!)
Scrappy entrance, but safer than the unstable looking collapse by the entrance. Down the first pitch, bit awkward at the top for a big guy. Alice decided to do some knitting and do the first pitch about 3 times before we carried on. Much easier now on the traverses with the p-hangars, they are well placed and its easy to rig from one to the next. Not much water on the shaft but its still very impressive. Down to the ledge and the second 30 odd meter abseil.
All safely down and a bit of faff at the bottom, not much to see after such an impressive descent. A couple of other guys came down after us, they had had a LUSS reunion the night before (pity you missed that Dave) I didn't think Thuggo was going to come out, he was well away reminiscing with one of the guys, Colin Boothroyd.
Anyway back on the surface after the long prussik up, Thuggos new mate had told us that Pearshape had been back and gone down to Clapham (to eat all the cakes).Fortunately when we found Pearshape there was one cafe he hadn't got to.
Good day and it didn't rain on us either.
Well it looked like it was just Alice and me but a late call from Pete (who returned early from holiday) made it 3.
The weather was supposes to be good but it was foggy instead and whilst we had the lard feast thunderstorms developed!! Anyway off to Inglesport to deliver some Rigging Guides, (must stil be some cavers out there). By this time its dark, the weather is crap. Alice must have won the lottery or something as whilst we were there she splashed out on a brand new FX3. I was concerned she will be scared now she can see where she is going in the caves. Pete and I manage to keep our hands in our pockets and not spend anything.
Off we go up to the Hill Inn laybye to get changed, and its pissing down. Oh well by the time we get half way up the fell the rain has stopped and the sky is clearing, we can see the hills for the first time today. The rain didn't make much difference, Sunset is pretty dry and soon we are down the 50ft pitch. Someone is digging down here, nice new garden rake amongst other things! Back out again and its sunshining, bit too warm now in all this thermal gear!
Down the fell to Hardrawkin and Pete has an urge to be the hero, so he volunteers to rig the pitches. Good job he does too, nice y-hang on the first with 2 good deviations, not much water again but saves us getting wet. Brilliant pitch this one, soaring like an eagle and a wall of flowstone to enjoy. Clambers down to the second pitch and another nice y-hang to the bottom. Uneventful climb out with no mishaps on the day.
Pete explored High Douk Hole which feeds into Hardrawkin, didn't take long as its only short!! Not classic caves but good fun anyway, shame if you missed it.
Next trip Gavel Pot, see you there.
T1 and T1a (the old Tiger One) go caving.
There had been big talk,
"I bet you £1000 you can't prussik up Gaping Ghyll main shaft using only your arms in 20 minutes", said a caver of 12 years experience.
"I bet I can", retorted a cheeky young woman as she watched Charlies Angels do it on the tele.
"Ha", thought the experienced caver, that'll be the easiest money I ever made !
So, on to doing some real caving. A weekend was selected and accommodation was found, none better than the old Brookhouse !
First up, Valley Entrance, some easy caving to a nice little pitch, SRT having been taught in a tree in Oxford four nights before, then some impressive big cave. Seems easy eh ? Well, the struggle to don kit lasted 30 minutes and the cave was much worse than I remembered (from June 03!). The novice didn't seemed that impressed and neither did I. Still, we were keen (??!!) and the Master Cave was calling.
1 hour later we were at the top of Yordas, the trip into Valley Entrance having been judged absolutely shite and not worth doing really unless you are coming through from Swinstos or Simpsons, however, this might redeem it. Plenty of abseiling and not too much crawling, only it had been well over 5 years since I'd last been in !
Not sure if the rope would reach, so I went down first to check and came back up, a nice bit of prussiking under cold watter, then it was the turn of the novice. Down she went under the water and landed safely. Then, into the crawl. It was much longer than I remembered and I came to the conclusion half way that there was likely to be a bit of trouble when we got out.
Nevertheless, the crawl soon ended and the next pitch was rigged, badly rigged by the way, from two badly placed hangers far too close to the pitch head. The pitch is a bit scrappy, but fun if you like deep pools of cold water, which she didn't.
Back at the car, the mood was ominous. Would this be the end of a blossoming caving career, or worse ? Sat in the Marton Arms, the conclusion was that the caves were shite, not impressed....
Morning dawned bright with the promise of a cracking day in the Dales, and I was right, it was raining ! Down in the café, Ron and Pete had arrived early and downed their breakfasts in record time. Short Drop to the bottom of Gavel and out Gavel was on the cards. This was the make-or-break trip !
Tiger One A
Despite having spent the night at the Brookhouse, David still managed to be late for breakfast; which he was able to blame on me this time. Met Ron and Pete over breakfast, both seemed surprisingly normal. Thankfully, the rain seemed to ease off as we drove up to the cave. Parked up, and as I started to get changed I noticed that Ron wasn't enjoying looking at the surrounding hills!
Walked up to the entrance to Gavel Pot and David rigged it for later. Then, off to the entrance to Short Drop where everyone but me was able to relieve themselves (a gender thing). Into the cave for a bit of hands and knees crawling - David leading, me following, then Ron (keep them eyes on the floor!) and Pete bringing up the rear. Soon able to stand up for plenty of walking through narrow passages. A short pitch followed by more walking. The short climb to the traverse was very wet and slippery, so it was suggested that I prussik up it - however, this proved nigh on impossible with the loose harness that had been put on me. Through the traverse, Pete complimented me on my style with his kind words, "like a slug!".
This was the end of the line for me and David sent the others on while he tried to get me to the surface. He went up first and then shouted down instructions. It soon became apparent that without a weight on the bottom of the rope I would be unable to get myself up. Luckily Pete had heard the shouting and returned to help. I was very happy to be out.
David headed back in and did the rest of the trip with the others while I waited in the car. They got back and started to change, therefore I politely averted my eyes - that is until David got my attention and I turned round just in time to see Ron in all his glory! "I'm glad you've seen Ron's" said David later on, "they don't call him Rhino Ron for nothing".
Tiger One (so she thinks - Ed)
The trip to the bottom of Gavel was uneventful, Ron rigged like a tiger and I told Pete all about the monster that lives in the sump at the bottom. He looked quite worried and seemed relieved when I offered to de-rig. Oh, the boulder-choke-slide to get in to Gavel seemed even looser than ever. I reckon CNCC Glenn ought to be sent in there to scour it out with his enormous beard.
Back to Inglesport for tea and cakes, then, the New Inn, a pub filled with freaks and staring locals. Not recommended.
Tiger One A
Plans were afoot for a trip to the Mendips, people were keen and a permit for Cuthberts had been written off for. When it didn't arrive after 8 weeks of waiting, we decided Yorkshire was and always will be, the way ahead and hatched some cunning plans for top trips.
So, Hammer, FOUL, Aquamole, our dig in Aygill and Gingling were all suggested, the following actually took place (shame on those who missed a cracking weekend);
It was a long time coming, but the Pendle finally got around to organising a trip to have a look at Hammer Pot. Pete had been down before, back in his glory days in the 80's (1992 I think he actually said), when the Fountains café was still the choice for lardy breakfasts.
All was set, Tiger 1 was driving up for beef stroganoff, Tiger 2 had his girlf making the aforementioned dish and Tiger 4 was keen, well, keen-ish. Then, it happened. Paul the Stranger phoned and said he wanted a trip. Well, I thought, haven't seen the big freak for a while, so didn't tell him quite how horrible it was likely to be.
The silly fecker actually turned up in Brookhouse the following morning, unsurprisingly not having read the description (me-thinks a lesson would have been learnt after the Cave-of-the-mythering-bleeder), bright and early at 10am. We were late, but Paul kindly provided Curly-Wurleys for T1 and T2, as an olive-branchesque offering to placate our piss-taking.
Up at Neils Ing, the cows were running wild, Pete stared out a large bullock from the safety of his larger Volvo and the farmer asked Paul not to bring his purple car again as it gave his cows the shits. There was a lack of feral dogs snapping at our heels, which made changing quite pleasant.
The walk up was warm in some of the finest weather Yorkshire had to offer. Paul said the reason he hadn't been out for ages was that Andy had inadvertently group e-mailed all Paul's mates calling them goat-shagging-freaks, when instead he should have complimented them on their Andorra-goat-hair-shirts. Never mind !
The cave was quickly located and T2 was dispatched to the front to get stuck in. Rapid progress was made to the top of the first pitch, T1 reading the description before-hand (see The Saga of Large Pot) and taking the roof traverse, whilst T2 thrutched and shoved his way along the narrow streambed. The pitch was short and nicely rigged from a couple of new-ish bolts.
Around the corner from the bottom of the pitch lay the start of the hard bit. T2 pushed on into the rift followed by T1 and T4 with The Stranger bringing up the rear (probably not the best place to leave him). There was much thrutching and cursing as T2, 1 and 4 made their way along the start of the Stemple Rift.
At this point, Paul jacked, dumped the kit and went out. It was all a bit much for his delicate constitution and he had to be at a disco-dancing competition at 0700 in Hartlepool in the morning, dressed as a chimp. We struggled on a bit further making little progress.
Andy rounded a corner and declared that we would be mad to go any further carrying giant tackle sack sausages. He had come to a tight keyhole in the passage, about 3m off the floor, where we would have to squeeze horizontally whilst stopping ourselves and our kit bags from getting jammed in the rift. It was all a bit much for today, equipped to the max as we were. I tried to go and have look, but there was fuck all room to get past him, or even expand my chest fully at one point! (eek!), so we decided to hatch a cunning plan and left to think one up over some fish and chips in Ingleton.
Pete shouted back to Paul that we were coming back and Paul replied, but when we got back to the surface after an uneventful exit (except we were now all carrying more kit) he had gone. We were greeted with a stunning view of Penyghent and Ingleborough on getting out, very welcome indeed.
Expecting to see Paul back at the car, maybe waiting to say "see you next time", I was rudely barked at instead by a feral hound-beast. Paul had obviously been harangued by the said beast, so had left with his rat-tail between his cheeks (yes, it is that long. Ask to see it, it is quite impressive, as well as his medallion).
Our plan for the return trip to bottom Hammer Pot is as follows.
1). Don't take ropes or SRT kits - ladders are king down here,
2). Don't take carbide, do it all on electric.
3). Wetsuits are the way ahead in the Stemple Rift. You'll be better cave-dynamic, stickier and warm at the same time !
4). At no point can the bit of the cave we saw be described as "Ron-sized". Leave your chuffers on the surface, or better, at home drinking tea.
5). Don't take giant sausage kit bags loaded with stuff - go lightweight and fancy-free.
Above all, don't ever expect to be rescued from this pot !
The fish and chips were cracking, as was the pint of Taylors Best in the Marton Arms, but that pub has gone completely to pot. It was a caver-free (and quick service - 10 minutes for 3 pints!) zone and stuffed to the rafters with poshos, numpties and train enthusiasts. We left for the pit after one pint !
So having retreated from the New Look Marten Arms we headed back to the YSS. The YSS had not succumbed to the New Look treatment and was as fetid and squalid as we all remembered it. Pendle members gathered around the toilet and shower area to admire the new growth of fungus and mould since our last stay. Cold Watter Pete offered to show us the foot fungus he had contracted at the YSS upon his last stay but Tigers 1&2 declined.
We were expecting to meet up with our great mates Bloomster and the Swampbeast having let it be known we were in town. First we had a quick brew and devoured some of weaner’s biscuits. The boy has certainly gone up in the world and is now a bit of a biscuit dandy, what with his caramel choccys and jammy dodgers. Time was when he saved up for a month to buy a packet of broken shop soiled from Morrisons.
Anyway, we could put it off no longer; the Pit was calling and as luck would have it Crazy Colin was hosting one of his Zany nights. What a guy. Tonight was his Last Night of the Proms extravaganza, complete with flag waving, Daily Mail waving, patriotic drunken singing as well as the Pit’s own extra - tar and feather the Darky competition.
Arriving at the Pit’s bar area I surveyed the scene. The flotsam and jetsam of the human race lined the place. Quickly establishing that our old friend of "Digging on the allotment in the 50’s fame" - El Greybeard was missing from the pack I sidled up to the bar and gazed at the array of badly kept Real Ale. I was just about to order when I heard some fellow engage Weaner and Cold Watter Pete in conversation.
"Get yourselves some pints of this," shouted the bloke thrusting a glass in their direction.
"What is it ?" enquired the Weaner, expecting some new Pit delicacy.
"Carlsberg Export," replied the strange fellow. "It gets you REALLY PISSED "
Behind me I could hear the shuffling of feet and it took it that Pete and Weaner had made a tactical exit. I settled for a pint of Pomp and Circumstance that Colin was selling under the trade name of Lightning ( belly ) Summer Ale.
Selecting a table away from the screeching of crones singing and tattooed flag waving quarrymen we settled down in back room. No sooner than we had made ourselves comfy when the nutter from the bar appeared and in a classic Greybeard moment invited himself to join our table. Sadly Swamps and Bloomster had failed to turn up and there was a spare stool. In a classic tactical move Pete and I conducted a sensible conversation with one another whilst Weaner was forced to converse with the nutter.
The man was a scary sight. He had boggle eyes which pointed in differing ways; the dilation of his pupils suggested the use of strong intoxicants a scale up from Danish lager. Son of Greybeard then went on to talk to Weaner about how he was on medication because he was allergic to sunlight. ( Pendle research has since shown that the man was in fact stark raving mad and dosed to the eye balls on anti nutter drugs; reaction to sunlight is a known side effect. Speaking in a professional capacity I can state that strong anti nutter drugs and high strength alcohol do not generally mix too well and most imbibers of both substances are Not Mad Enough! )
The crazed loon then noticed that my pint was finished and attempted to thrust a tenner in my hand to get a round in. Weaner’s eyes opened wide as the student in him wanted to reach out and accept the offer. Pete and I however saw it as a trick from the devil himself and I wisely turned down the offer. I should have taken the tenner and fucked off back to the Pit, but where would the team spirit be in that ( eh Paul ? ).
Pendle’s finest then came upon a cunning plan. We would simply bore this man away by using THE POWER OF CAVING. A combined weight of decades of caving experience ( most decades from Pete ) were brought into play. After a ten minute didactic assault the nutter was beaten. He slunk away from the table like a wounded beast and making his farewells. Hurrah and long live the Pendle spirit.
Knowing that this loon was still loose somewhere in the Pit ensured that Pendle pints were quickly scuppered. It was not to be an infamous 4am pit night tonight. We strode away from the hell hole to another level of purgatory the YSS, vowing ( once again ) never to return !
Bright eyed and bushy tailed (remember, it had not been a late night) we were woken by Weaner's alarm (although Andy looked set to sleep all day, dreaming about rescuing cats from trees - and how grateful they are). Wasting no time in the squalor of the YSS we fuelled up for the day at The Brookhouse.
We were keen for Kingsdale (who needs carbide?), changed in a trice and leapt of up the hill, heading for somewhere near Jingling,. The survey said that Aquamole Pot was the other side of Jingling but the huge pile of rubbish and a hinged grid set on blocks said otherwise.
What a posh shaft (but not overly large) with neat breeze blocks for 30-ish vertical feet. Rigging from everything in sight, p-hanger, bolt and scaffold bar Weaner disappeared down the chimney, hanging our pristine 9mm down the narrow, kinked shaft (not really ideal to use 9mm, but that was all we had).
I followed, leaving Andy to bring up the rear (at a safe distance with his cold). Dropping the last 60 ft of this 60m entrance brought us to the Rabbits Graveyard (no bones ), they must have been reburied, and a neat, zigzag crawling passage taking us to the 10m pitch. Having got fed up with rigging (and noticing that their rope was in reasonable nick) we continued down in double quick time and shortly came to the top of the 40 buttock clenching metres of Aquamole Aven. Here again discretion (their 11mm)(?) overcame the valour (of our string) and sending Weaner first, we were slowly deposited (the rope was a bit furry) at the bottom of the magnificent aven, next to the sump decorated with old divers kit bags (perhaps there were old divers in them?).
Short of time (and sub-aqua gear) we sent Weaner back up the shaft whilst we marvelled at the determination (and questioned the mentality) of the chaps who dove through the sump time after time, to bolt the enormous aven in the first place, (managing 6-8 bolts per trip). Out in record time and back down to Inglethief for tea, cake and carbide before rushing Dave back down to Manchester (amongst the Sunday bumblies) to catch his train.
A cracking pot. A nice contrast to Hammer.
The morning dawned bright and foggy, I was mid-Cheshire-sh-shire and in need of some lard. 10 minutes of frenzied scrapping and I had a windscreen again, would it be any warmer at Bull Shit Farm ? Would it bollocks !
Arrived at the Brookhouse after a very comfy ride in the Ranger to find Paul the Stranger (PTS) was going to be late. Never mind, more time for sensible chatting with Ron and Alice before the freak descended upon us. And descend upon us he did. Within 30seconds of his arrival he had told us he was in a team of bottom-fancying disco dancers, who's outfit would comprise the following at the forthcoming competition at the Blackpool Cottage: Black jeans with the buttocks cut out, red fish net stockings, a pearl thong, diamond stilettos, nipple tassels and a feather boa.
Ron and I left PTS and Alice to it and went to seek sanctuary in Inglesport, where Johnny told us that in his opinion it was madness to go caving before midday. I had to agree, but Ron just looked confused (What about me chicken dinner?).
Up at the farm, all was quiet, everyone was sheltering from the howling wind. A man on a tractor came past and I donned my Chuffy hat. The scene was set for a top Pendle trip. The objective today was Cape Kennedy, a very pretty chamber located just off the 88ft pitch into the Lancaster-Link crawls. It required some speed to get there and back before darkness set in.
At the pot, some numpty had festooned the already adequately bolted pitch head with at least 10 more hangers, therefore creating the potential for even more knitting. The group before us had rigged a y-hang in the tight bit (WHY FOR FUCKS SAKE??!!) causing Ron some difficulties in de-tangling himself - madness indeed.
At Fall Pot, I rigged off the handy new hanger and created a masterpiece, Dave Elliot himself would have been proud. Paul even complimented me (although I did think he was taking the piss). At Stake Pot Alice got lost between the bottom of the pitch, Paul and the top of the climb into the high-level. Not entirely sure how she didn't see myself and Ron stood above her, but eventually we were all de-kitted and ready for the trip to start properly.
After many many twists and turns and climbs and squeezes (Ron was a bit of a tiger on this trip) and sit downs to look at the survey, we arrived at the low crawl into the Maple Leaf Aven series. The team took a bit of a blow as Ron physically couldn't fit through (which was a shame), but the squeeze up in to Cape Kennedy was ok as was the wobbly boulder climb.
Cape Kennedy itself was magnificent. 6ft pure white stalagmites adorned the chamber, with a number of multi-coloured flowstone cascades to add to the interest. In the next chamber, Fire Hydrant chamber, there was an aven coated in pristine stal and the fire hydrant itself was impressive. Onwards into Straw Chamber, keeping a close eye not to break any of the pretties above us, we were rewarded by a passage even fewer people bother to visit than the one before. It was superb and well worth the effort.
Alice decided that she didn't want to crawl to see the aven at the end of the chamber (missing the entire point of the trip I think !!!), but The Stranger and myself pushed on. It wasn't worth it, but we did both need a piss and there was a bit of running water! Back in the crawl, Ron was busy examining the insides of his eyelids, but once he heard me cursing as I twatted my leg on a handy rock, it was all hands on deck and good time was made back to the entrance.
I had a quick look in Slug World, which is extremely pretty with the largest helictites I've seen in Yorkshire, then pretty soon I joined Alice, shivering on the surface watching a very impressive sunset. All out ok, then head for home. Back to Oxford at midnight, which was pretty good going.
A cracking trip and shame on all those who missed it (get your priorities straight - says the man who lives 5hrs drive away !)
Woke up bright at early after staying at Johns for our annual curry. A thick head greeted me after my two pints, one in the Shite House (it has gone downhill since my last visit – strange, but true) and the other in someone’s front room, a pub known as the Stamford. Snowy the rabbit was also awake, probably because some bastard had robbed his water bottle, but it did mean I got some sleep without the sound of the telex machine (Snowy, mummy loves you Snowy – went the screeching……….)
At Ron’s I was late – bugger. That tosser Philipson had beaten me to it, but only by going to bed at 9pm, the big girl ! I had been up reliving Miserys glory days until 1am. Hemp ladders and stinkies etc. There was crazy talk of caving, but I think it was the coffee talking (strength 5 – caffeine level bloody high !). Anyhow, the comfy Ranger was calling, so we settled in to the mobile sofa and headed north, along will all the pissing rain ! Fuck my boots, there was lots of water around !
At Brookhouse, Sarah was pleased to see we were sans The Stranger. No one offended her, only her toilet. My orange juice was very refreshing, worth 90p I reckon. Up at Leck Fell the rain abated and the sun came out. It was still fucking freezing, but our clothes weren’t getting wet and we had a good view of Morecambe Bay.
The cunning plan to rig the BT route and the Centre route was dropped when it became apparent that there were four of us and six bags. By not doing the BT route we saved ourselves a bag (and a lot of embarrassment later!). Across the fell and up the hill, Tiger One struck out in the lead carrying two heavy bags, his kit and wearing a rather natty Chuffy hat. There were streams sinking all over the place, puddles everywhere and a Portuguese proverb going around in my head “When cats and dogs fall from the sky, foreign cavers are sure to die…….” Eeeeeeeeeek !
Up at the shakehole a sizable stream was sinking, but since the CPC had dug out the entrance there was nothing to worry about. Onwards went Tiger One, taking every opportunity to rig like a true hero. In Three Ways Chamber, I eased myself over the edge of Centre Route and was greeted by the sound of a waterfall. Strange I thought, but continued to rig on down. As I straddled the pitch, thinking how stupid I am to live in Oxford which is rather a long way from all this adventure I saw the source of the roaring, a stream pissing out of the side of the Centre Route, causing our normally dry trade route to be a tad more interesting !
A bit of a jumble ensued at one pitch head, and an extra deviation was needed at one point to keep the Ranger well clear, but we made it nice and safely to the bottom where we found the duck into the BT Route was completely flooded ! Onwards, ever onwards, Tiger One rigged until the final pitch……. It was booming-tastic as I slid down, clipped the deviation and looked in awe at the thundering pillar of very cold watter making its way down the other side of the shaft. The Ireby Inlet was up and gushing like a good-un. Could I land ? Well, these wellies were made for caving and that’s what they’ll do, just don’t let go of the rope, you might get swept into the sump !
The final pitch was rigged, water shooting over the lip and thundering into the sump, which had turned from a placid pool into a thundering maelstrom of death. A bit of a swing (and plummet in Petes case) and we were safety ensconced in the static sump, which hadn’t changed a bit ! Andy duly did the honours whilst us others made our way out.
Safe smooth exit into typical Leck Fell weather (a hail storm!), back to the car and fish and chips in Ingleton chippie. Cracking stuff ! Shame on those who missed seeing a Yorkshire classic in high water conditions.
Plans for caving on the Friday (21st) were ditched in favour of eating omelettes and reading the paper. Eventually we did arrive at the YSS and found it packed to the rafters with students, cave divers called Seagull and (unsurprisingly) Greybeard. Plans had been afoot to dispense with the YSS, so on finding out we were sleeping upstairs with the screaming children (ask Misery) we went out to find somewhere else to sleep.
Tried the big green pub in Horton, but there were too many copies of Trail magazine scattered about the place and the bunks were stacked 8 high. Visions of the practical difficulties of needing a piss in the middle of the night presented themselves, along with the outrageous price – 8 quid a night. Feckers. So, off to Blooms, where we played trains, drank tea and were extremely kindly treated to a sumptuous meal with a tasty Californian red followed by pigs in mud.
Back at the Pit a few hours later, we tried a pint of 80 Shillings, decided it tasted like piss, and so went straight for our old favourite, Bombardier, which tastes like shite, but you do get used to it.
Late start, but thankfully Sarah was still serving breakfast. Mucho lard was needed for this beast, which has been probed and poked by almost every member of Pendle by now. Andy commented that he wasn’t sure if I was determined or stupid, as this was my fourth trip and I still hadn’t got to the bottom. However, I was quietly confident that I would get to the bottom. Casualties were acceptable, and my need to see the sump was greater than his.
Quickly through the first set of tight bits, my familiarity with them helping considerably, as well as not having some mythering fecker requiring constant attention. Quickly kitted up at SRT Corner, the only section of the first bit of passage where you could conceivably do this. Squeezed through to the top of the first pitch and after a struggle rigged and descended.
Onwards into the beast, we bravely ducked under some very wobbly loose boulders and I followed my Tiger intuition along a very vague high level part of the rift, which I hoped would open out onto the top the SRT route for Puits Ian Plant. I had seen this 50m pitch from a lower vantage point last time and it was a monster. Imagine the Canyon pitch in Meregill, only bigger! Eeek !
Andy wasn’t convinced I was on the right track, but I pushed on following all the bang marks from the diving bottles and hoping I was on the right track. Finally it opened out (I could turn my head) and there in front of me were some spits with the crashing sound of rather a lot of water falling 50-odd metres below. Andy arrived and I cracked on with the rigging. All the bolts were old and we were on 9mm, so it made it a bit interesting!
The top of the big pitch was rigged from a couple of old spits and a dodgy natural. Easing myself onto the rope over the monster pitch was rather hair raising! Impressive descent in a gigantic rift, with plenty of pristine pretties on the way down. Quick re-belay and another y-hang had us in the next section of the shaft and a huge swing across the shaft got us out of the water and onto the pre-rigged (thank feck!) deviation. Very impressive, enjoyable, scary stuff!
Cracked on down stream, still in a rift passage, the cave continued to be pretty arduous and at no point much wider than shoulder width. Cascades with pretties all around led to the final 20m pitch, quickly rigged from some more ropey spits, took us into a large chamber. Turned the corner and an enormous frothy sump pool greeted us! We had done it at last!
The exit was as hard as the entrance and we were glad to get out, although the oil drum entrance caused some trouble for Thuggo, who I think has been eating too much lard and cakes. We exited into a gloriously dark night with every star in the sky visible. Back to the car and off to the Pit for some late night and well deserved food. It had taken 8 hours to do the cave, which I don’t imagine that more than 100 people have been down. A cracking, but arduous cave for determined Tigers only.
We dined on Frosties and satsumas in the members section of the YSS whilst 200+ cold-looking cyclist milled around downstairs gathering pieces of paper and trying not to catch their lycra on any sharp protrusions. It was a glorious day so we opted to mess about in Sell Gill and spend as much time as possible playing trains with Sam.
Steve had treated himself to a full Brookhouse and so was raring to go. After finding that someone had made him throw all his ropes away and that he had lost all his maillons, we opted to only do the Dry Route and let Thuggo tie all the knots.
Up at the Pot, not a soul stirred. We were very surprised to have it all to ourselves on a Sunday, but then there aren’t any cavers left! Andy rigged on down, with minimal input required. Steve poked about in the Calcite Way whilst I gradually thawed out my kit with my body heat. Soon we were down and looking glumly at the duck through into the extensions. Andy couldn’t give a shite and neither could Steve, so we headed out!
Got out just in time to see a superb sunset and headed back to Steve’s house for some serious tea drinking, train playing and teacake-eating action. A lovely change from the previous day’s ardour.
Ruby in Settle and back to the now heating-less YSS and some serious Greybearding. Apparently the man has been in the Craven CPC for over 50 years and the only caving he has ever done has been on the Allotment – madness indeed !
Without heating at the YSS it was bloody freezing, although Greybeard kindly attempted to warm the place up with his fan heater from the 60’s. He decided the best time to put this on would be at 0600 hours and the only plug he could find was next to Thuggos bed, so it was quite a shock for Andy to suddenly wake up and find a freak with his vest tucked into his pants standing over him in the darkness!
After finally getting all our shit together we headed to Brookhouse, which was shut – bugger. On to Inglesport, where we got a surprisingly good breakfast and decided that the best thing to do was take advantage of the weather and go for a walk up Ingleborough. As we got outside, it started to rain……….typical! Plan D flew into action and we headed back to Thuggos house in Manchester, ready for some more tea and a piece of cake. An enjoyable weekend. I got home cured of my cold and having finally bagged Brown Hill Pot.
The skies were grey and the rivers were full but 3 of us were keen. Well for a while, then Paul the Stranger rang to say something had come up and he couldn't make it, so we were down to 2. Pete reckoned Paul had got up and looked in the mirror and realised he hadn't got the make up off from his last cheek less dancing gig……..
Sara wanted to know where everyone was, I said loafing in bed and Pete responded, Quality not Quantity today, quite right too!! Anyway we tucked into Sara's breakfast and discussed the plan for the day. Pete still hinting on a dig in Aygill finally settled for a look into the Trident series of County Pot.
Bull Pot Farm was almost deserted so we were 1st up on the fell. Just a bit of water running in Easegill Beck so down we go. First off a look up Oxford Circus up to the inlet collapse. Then, Down to Battle of Britain Chamber and crawl up into the Trident Series. Well blow me a bit of crawling and boulder hopping and we are in stream passage. We go up and down over and under and haven't a clue where we have been, we don't know any landmarks!!
On the way out we bumped into Ray Duffy, one of the guys resurveying this area, so we gained some idea where we have been and some of the names. White Line Chamber is quite spectacular with 2 waterfalls coming in. Close to this is a chain ladder and climb which leads to Pierces passage and bypasses the Poetic Justice route. Apparently Splash Chamber, which we also passed a couple of times, can be impassable!!
Most of the system seems to be Ron sized and we thought well worth another visit. There is a lot more to see in this area so we will be back in the New Year. Predictably we finished up in Inglesport for a drink and high calorie cake!! And then off back to reality. I learnt after that some areas are very wet when the beck is running and can suffer flood pulses! Sometimes referred to as the Trident Nightmare! Still worth a return visit though.
'Til the next time