Ben Honan, Carla Huynh, Dave Wilson, Devansh Agarwal, Ho Yan Jin, Kenneth Tan, Peter Ganson, Rhys Tyers, Tanguy Racine, Yuqi Wang
Bull Pot: Dave Wilson, Devansh Agarwal, Ho Yan Jin, Kenneth Tan
Jingling Pot: Tanguy Racine, Yuqi Wang
Rowten Pot: Ben Honan, Carla Huynh, Peter Ganson, Rhys Tyers
Apocalypse predicted we decided to play it safe with our cave choices. Bull. Jingling, Rowten all supposedly weather proof. On top of that a box of shiny new meanders promised to keep all but the most die hard fabric fans cosy and dry.
Just pulling out onto the main road a pheasant darts into the road, sees the minibus and tries to turn round. A thud sounds its failure. A poor omen. Kingsdale is damp and grim. A howling wind rips down the fell. Dave has taken the Bull Pot-ers in his car so team Rowten and Jingling head up together and seperate on the Turbary road. Ben is rigging Rowten so with Peter and Carla I crouch behind a little hillock of grass to shelter from the wind. I helped Ben have a hunt around for the bolts (they are obvious but we wanted to check we had the right ones) and in the 5 minutes it took my wellies started to fill with water running off my oversuit. Tucked in is stylish, but less practical.
It's not long before we get into a storm shelter that we brought along to wait out Ben getting down the first hang. Its surprisingly cosy, Peter even reports being warm despite his thoroughly soaked fabric suit. Some time later, Peter follows Ben. And then a while later Carla follows. Left alone in a storm shelter waiting for a rope. Sheep start to gather around me, mistaking me for some plastic debris. They get quite the shock when I stand up and bolt off up the fell.
As I walk over, I hear an ayeoh. Tanguy is marching across the field toward me. I can see the tip of Yuqis helmet behind the wall. He has apparently had a bit of an epic in Jingling, with walls of water where there shouldn't be any water at all. He looked quite drenched and cold and informed me that he was quite drenched and cold. He was heading back to the van with Yuqi and would drop her at the NPC, and then come wait for us.
I get a rope free conveniently as I get to the shaft. It significantly more pleasant just a metre below the lip, the air so still and warm. However there is water pissing off every surface, down the rope, across the bolts, up my gloves. Grim.
I haven't been to Rowten since my first winter tour and I have absolutely zero memory of it. The first 'pitch' (hard to separate as Rowten seems to be all on rope) lands on a some 25m down. There is a dry patch in an otherwise very damp space. Ben is just prussicking up from a failed attempt to find the way on as I arrive. The way on is to cross a bridge and climb up to a traverse. A dodgy prospect for the rigger. Ben does it with no complaint. Behind us a torrent of water crashes down, poring down the rift and then under the bridge. I think the rigging guide suggests this as a route in dry settled weather. Certainly impossible now!
I take photos as Peter and Carla cross the bridge, Ben rigging in the background. On my turn I derig the bridge bolt on my side, prussick up the first 'pitch' rope a little and pull myself over to the ledge that everyone else is on using the bridge traverse rope. I retie the first pitch rope to the traverse which makes for a saner journey. Its definitely better just to land straight on this ledge (hindsight 20/20 etc).
Ben descends disappears over the edge of the ledge in a small waterfall. Some time later he reappears. He couldn't find the way on. I have a go and find the next set of bolts quickly. They are very high up in a cleft. You need to descend a metre or three at most to get to them, but would be easy to miss if you weren't expecting them there (I had a very vague memory of the topo from the morning). I rig into the cleft and then a Y-Hang at some convenient bolts.
I descend down into the chamber which bellows out. From the gloom the loud roar materialises into a huge column of water. I am quite far from any walls and below me the waterfall hits a ledge and bellows further out into the chamber. Descending into it would be certain death. I hang there, thinking that it is certainly up there with the largest waterfalls I have ever seen underground. I stare at the waterfall, like the pheasant, presented with an almost unimaginable force. Like the pheasant I turn round. Unlike the pheasant I make it back.
In the cleft I giggle nervously with Ben for a second. He had also descended nearly into the waterfall and wasn't keen to go near it again. We agree to bail. Immediately relieved we begin a happy ascent. DW tells me that there is a rebelay somewhere down there that allows you to get to a dry ledge but I saw no p bolts or dry ledges.
Back at the van we see no sign of Tanguy but we pick up a few clues, the absence of his clothes, the drivers seat adjusted to long Gallic legs, that he and Yu Qi have been back. At the NPC the rest of the gang is already there, Bull Pot-ers included. Tanguy had gotten a lift with them I assume as they had also been rained out of Bull (Kenneth describes a waterfall going down the slot pitch!).
Unusually we still have a couple of hours of daylight left and less unusually Tanguy has a plan. He has seen on the os map, somewhere in Dentdale, the word waterfall written a few times. We mount an expedition to the lonely road running along the Lune river and park in a meander of the river, that seems to be about to flood at any moment. The rain has abated luckily and the wind is strong but not unpleasant. There are indeed waterfalls visible from the side of the road, three separate streams that join the river Lune do so here. We hop a barbed wire fence and follow the furthest stream up. It cuts a majestic little canyon and we eventually find it emerging from a cave! (definitely goes in drier weather).
We climb over the top and wander to the next stream across the fell. Again its cut a small canyon, with quite a few waterfalls, every now and then allowing you a spectacular viewpoint or the opportunity to climb down to it. We find a place to jump the stream and wander across to the final stream. We wander downstream, and again this one has a surprising collection of waterfalls and cascades (and what looks like it would be quite a nice ~20m sloping canyoning pitch!).
This one crosses under the road right by the minibus. We hop the wall with varying success (Yuqi had half a dry stone wall fall on her. We rebuilt it and her as best we could with the technology we had at hand , rocks.). A lovely way to spend the last hour of daylight. Tanguy drives us up to the valley head and back round the other side of Ingleborough to gawp at a few swollen rivers and marvellous viaducts.
Lancaster Hole: Ben Honan, Carla Huynh, Peter Ganson, Yuqi Wang
Wretched Rabbit: Devansh Agarwal, Ho Yan Jin, Kenneth Tan, Rhys Tyers, Tanguy Racine
The weather was still poor on Sunday so we opted for a bimble in Easegill. Ben and Peter leading a trip into Lanc, for some SRT and rigging practice, and Tanguy, Kenneth and I leading a trip into Wretched rabbit. The rain began again as we walked across the posted fell. It was a pleasant and fairly uneventful trip. Nice slippy sideways walking down the streamway, pop up into 4 ways chamber and on to the master cave. Wandered perhaps as far as Snail Cavern then turned around. Wind and sideways rain for the walk back.