Yorkshire Winter Tour
Arun Paul, Ben Honan, Christopher Bradley, Dave Kirkpatrick, Dave Wilson, David Wilson, Ho Yan Jin, Jack Halliday, James Perry, James Wilson, Jennifer Ryder, Louise Ranken, Rebecca Diss, Rhys Tyers, Zaeem Najeeb, Ana Teck, Lucie Studena, Sharon Lin, Matti Mitropoulos, Rio McElvenny, Eve Chaddock
Saturday 14 Dec
Notts Pot: Arun Paul, Christopher Bradley, David Wilson, Ho Yan Jin, Jack Halliday, James Perry, James Wilson, Rebecca Diss, Rhys Tyers, Ana Teck, Sharon Lin, Matti Mitropoulos, Rio McElvenny
A classic Notts 1 trip as a warm up for winter tour. I made sure it was a warm up refusing to pack rope for the Left route and instead stealing the deep rope when we got the Leck Fell. I say refused, it was more like sabotage. I wandered into the kit room at the back of the NPC and found Jack who was not on my trip and had nothing to do with rigging Left. I asked him if he was packing the rope for Left. “Yes” says Jack. I, being a trusting person, assume he’s not lying and don’t think again about the rope for left until I’m trying to find it, fully kitted up, on Leck Fell. It turns out Jack had nothing to do with Left or packing the rope for Left and so told a filthy lie. See Perry’s report for an exact distribution of the blame for this cockup (spoiler; its mostly Jack’s fault).
We decided that the rope for the deep stuff looks quite a lot like the rope for Left so we stole it and all was well. We did a Notts classic by sending a prerigging team to rig the first two pitches, who confidently walked straight past Notts towards Ireby Fell. We were glad they heard our whistles and turned around in team to arrive at Notts just as the rest of us did. After a brisk wait on the surface we were in.
Chris began the rigging but was having a bad day so did not finish the rigging. I took over and did finish the rigging finding all the other groups arriving in the meeting place. It was extremely dry and it was a shame that someone had taken the deep rope otherwise it would’ve been a perfect day to bottom it. I gave everyone a tiny portion of the cheese Santa I brought into the cave. I also impressed everyone by becoming a massive fascist and telling everyone what order to leave in which worked well as I had to organise some flash slaves.
On the way out I took a photo I had thought about for a while, looking from Adamsons into Left. Unfortunately it wasn’t as grand as I remember.
Having skipped Notts on Y2 because the weather was just too good, we decided to start the tour with all-in-Notts. Cunningly, none of us on the left team actually packed our rope, so we commandeered the rope which had been packed to get to the bottom. I very cleverly packed elbow pads instead of kneepads, PVC which was too small, and a headtorch that was about as bright a slightly excited Casio. Things were going great.
Davey rigged the entrance pitch and I went down to begin rigging left. The bolt placement was confusing to me, and I quickly began to feel a bit out-of-it, but I very slowly rigged the short traverse to the first pitch. Abseiling down, I saw an in-situ traverse line on my right. It seemed like this was probably not the way, so I continued to the bottom of the chamber, missing the very obvious bolts on the left (and the far-wall, and all over the chamber, really). At this point I was sufficiently demoralised, so went back up the rope and asked someone else to take over. Rhys complied and before too long we were with the other groups at the meet up spot.
I went up centre with Rio, Diss and Ana. Apparently Davey went this way too, though he was sufficiently far ahead that we never saw him again. Rio's harness was causing him some greif so it was a slow ascent out. He needed a break to relieve the harness' tension from his neck, so we swapped places and I merged with another group at the entrance series to head back to the bus.
Sadly this first trip was hemoraged by a lack of competent leadership. No rope was packed for the left route. Despite this, we used the rope intended to do the final pitches and used them to rig left. A successful threeway exchange trip to kick off the festive tour. Blame allocations were decided democratically by Rhys and I, they were approximately :-
Rhys = 2.5% Perry = 5% Jackhal = 81.5% Chris = 10% Sharon = 1%
Rhys had spoken to Jack in the morning and asked if he was packing the rope for left route. “Yes” replied Jack, who was not packing the rope for left route. So whilst Rhys had done a good job of making sure the rope was packed in the first place, he never double checked with the person he asked whether they had actually done it. Rookie error. I have taken up more blame than Rhys since I never checked with anyone whether the rope was being packed, I only saw “rope” being packed and assumed we would be fine. Doomed from the start with that attitude. Jackhal’s utter incompetence at hearing words has landed him with the majority of the blame. Chris was the rigger, he ultimately had a greater responsibility to check the rope is packed. Sharon earned 1% of the blame, primarily to teach her never to trust her Leaders.
I hardly saw Rhys, Sharon or Chris as we smoothly made our way through the system. We were Joined by Rio from Liverpool (LUPC). It was great to be able to demonstrate what really is a bit of a classic trip for us, to a club that has not caved there before. I’m hopeful that a couple more LUPC members joining us on the odd trip will help to safely expand their cave repertoire.
I went down Centre with Jack, James and Matti. I was told Notts is a pleasant cave and is friendly for rigging practice. I thought rebelays would be hard to rig (I have the fear of descending too far down, missing the bolts and having to faff with a changeover) but armed with a Fenix light (which David has kindly temporarily entrusted me with), bolts were quite easy to spot and were in places I expected it to be. On the descent of the last pitch, two possible paths emerge, and I took the one that looked the least grim. As Jack was descending, he noticed the paths as well and checked the description, thankfully my choice was right.
I headed out Left and was Rhys' camera subject in the window photo he dreamt of. He went up the right route (Adamson's), and I stopped prussiking when I saw him and Jack. I had to repeatedly kick off the wall to be in frame. Rhys seemed disappointed that the photo was not as awing as he imagined it to be.
The hail on the walk back was quite grim.
Sunday 15 Dec
Crescent Pot: David Wilson, James Wilson
Simpsons Pot: Christopher Bradley, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Matti Mitropoulos
Having had a bit of a meltdown the previous trip, I was a little apprehensive of another trip, but I'd never done Simpsons and it looked exciting. The ground was covered in snow and the road ungritted, so we parked the minibus a bit up the road. Diss and Matti went to rig Valley Entrance, while Ana and I headed up the hill to try find the entrance. We were a bit unsure of ourselves, but we found it without too much difficulty: head up to the turbury road (which is not easy to see in the snow) and follow it through to a gate on the right, into the next field. 100m from the wall, head uphill and eventually there's the entrance. We waited here for a short while and Diss and Matti caught up, our snowprints having led them directly to the cave.
We had four bags between the four of us. Ana rigged the entrance series of many tiny pitches and I rigged the second bag. We were quite dry, though a bit chilly at points, and were nervously anticipating cold embrace of the duck. The pitch immediately before the duck, storm pot, was very intimidating initially, with lots of water crashing down from the ceiling and it was unclear to me from the top where the way on would be. I was afraid that there would be no dry shelter before the duck. It turned out, the pitch keeps the rope very close to the wall so we managed to stay relatively dry, and you can land in a dry region at the side (on the right, looking out from the pitch above facing into the chamber), where you have to go to anyway. Here, the duck is almost directly below you, and you have to climb down a little bit before you can see it.
We entered it feet first. It was very short and exhilarating.
With the duck no longer looming over us, the rest of the trip felt quite relaxed, and Diss was now doing the rigging. We'd been relatively slow to get here, so at the top of the final pitch we decided to turn around. Matti and I took two tacklesacks and raced out, while Diss and Ana derigged. The entrance series was a bit annoying on the way up, several anchors placed inconveniently close to the floor, but eventually we escaped onto the cold windy surface. Our footprints still remained and we followed them to Valley Entrance to derig. IMO it's actually quite a nice passage, though its stoopy height gets a bit tedious after a couple of minutes. We emerged from Valley just behind Diss and Ana, and at the same time the King team arrived. The road was now gritted and the creasent crew had moved the bus closer a couple of hours before, so we quickly changed and headed home.
King Pot: Arun Paul, Ho Yan Jin, Rhys Tyers
I woke up this morning to the sound of "look there's snow!". Rhys, Arun and I ventured into King Pot while David was finally fulfilling his lifelong fantasy of going to Crescent Pot and recruited/forced James along.
Most of the description of the cave sounded pleasant (pitches were nice and easy) and doable (a lot of hands and knees crawling with some short low crawls). But the T-shaped passage had been hyped up so much that I was quite worried about it.
I struggled to put all my limbs on the horizontal bit and kept slipping into the vertical bit. I was very afraid of falling in and not being able to come out (have heard many stories!). For future advice for someone with shorter limbs, maintaining horizontal was very challenging and felt unstable, and I felt that leaning over to one side, having one side of arm and leg wedged in while letting the other side dangling slightly worked better.
I've learnt not to trust Rhys (I know, it's rare!) since some of the cave was so insignificant and easy and he forgot about it Me: "is there anymore crawling before the next pitch?" Rhys: "no" Crawl of significant length emerges Me: "didn't you say there was no crawling?" Rhys: "hmm I don't remember this bit"
At the bottom of the last pitch is an unspecified length of hands and knees crawling. I was surprised that Rhys hadn't gone all the way, and he seemed to want to. This crawl lasted for a very long time, and at some point Rhys turned and said "It's times like this that I ask myself what I do with my free time". The sump at the end provided some sort of reward for a lot of effort. We uneventfully turned back, with the climb up to the T-shaped passage proving difficult. I was exhausted and cold, so didn't really speak to anyone.
An ambitious trip into King for me, Arun, and Yan Jin. Neither Arun nor Yan Jin had been in King before and I had a plan to get all the way to the master streamway, where I had not been before.
The previous night saw a decent layer of snow fall and we were treated to a beautiful but long walk to King because we chose to park the bus at the top of the hill leading to Kingsdale as it had not been gritted. The fell was spectacular, with long views, moody skies, and pristine white snow everywhere. Though I think we were all glad to descend into the warmth of the cave.
Arun did the rigging and I did a bit of tidying behind and we made it quickly through the first few pitches. I confirmed that the crawl before the T-shaped passage is exactly one Puff The Magic Dragon long. We pysched ourselves up for the crawl. I led the way with most of the metal, Yan Jin went in the middle as the most apprehensive, and Arun brought up the rear with the rope as the most foolhardy.
I think King and the T-shaped weighs heavily on people’s minds but I have never found it to be particularly uncomfortable or scary despite (or because) having spent quite a long time in it in less than ideal circumstances. There's not really any points until the very end where you can’t just wedge yourself and completely relax. I’m not sure if that’s a size or strength thing either. It helps as well that I didn’t have the rope bag this time.
We traversed through slowly. Yan Jin was nervous and asked “What do I do now” quite frequently. I mostly gave the extremely high level advice “Just keep wiggling forward” and Yan Jin mostly managed to convert that into the twists, rotations, and wedges necessary to make forward progress. I assumed Arun was fine as long as I heard the occasional grunt or scrape.
The end of the T-shaped is a real bastard. A squeezy bit, immediately followed by an open section with a big drop, and you have to beached whale yourself over a corner. We managed though.
The rest of King is a breeze though I always forget quite how much crawling, and wet crawling at that, there is. At least half the time in King is spent crawling.
We got a speed boost from using the in situ rope and just dumping ours at the top of each pitch. Apparently it is from Eurospeleo and it is on every pitch apart from the first two (the handline and the drippy pitch). We didn't know how far it was rigged though so kept carrying what rope we had forward.
Finally we arrived at the familiar spot at the bottom of the final pitch. We had made good time and were in high spirits. Arun had taught us the “Alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic” song and that was all Yan Jin was willing to say. Taking this as enthusiastic consent we pushed on for the master streamway.
A muddy crawl and a nice little streamway brought us to the furthest point I had been to in King, at a four way junction. The way on of course was a flat out crawl in the stream, over cobbles. The description in the black book is something like “A flat out crawl soon improves and eventually becomes walking passage”. This is technically correct. The flat out crawl does improve to a fairly horrible hands and knees crawl in the stream quite quickly but the walking passage lasts for approximately ten paces. Otherwise it is 20 minutes of crawling.
It pops out after an age above the master stream. It looks a bit like the master cave in Valley Entrance, but gloomier and a bit smaller. We stomped downstream to find the foamy and foreboding Downstream Sump. We stomped upstream to the really quite beautiful Middle Sump. I attempted some candid, flashless photos. Then we stomped back to the crawl and began the way out. I think we were all quite cold and wet and not keen to stand still for any length of time. I did the ‘derig’ by collecting our ropes along the way.
The psychology of caving is quite predictable, but I find it doesn't make much difference to how you feel in the moment. Cold, wet, far from the surface, and with not a huge buffer of time before our callout I felt quite worried. I knew my mood would improve the higher we got but that didn't change it at the time.
Yan Jin was not talking much and crawled slowly so I was concerned that she was getting tired and might struggle as we ascended (the T-shaped passage weighed particularly heavily on my mind, where it is not really possible to help people). However my concerns were completely unfounded, and I suspect Yan Jin was just setting a steady pace and conserving energy as she did not slow down for the entire ascent.
As predicted, with progress my mood buoyed and by the time were at the T-shaped passage I was once again enthusiastic. Somehow I tricked Arun into taking the rope bag (I think I muttered something about how cool it would be for him to do King properly on his first go) and we proceeded in the same order as we had on the way in.
Getting the bag across the gap at that end of the crawl is incredibly hard so I was pleased that before I knew it Arun was following along. We repeated the way in, backwards. I led, saying unhelpful things like “It helps in this bit to go forwards” and Yan Jin ignored me and thrutched along. Somewhere in the distance Arun swears at he bag.
Having conquered the main obstacle we were basically out and the rest of the trip was uneventful. Yan Jin derigged one pitch and I derigged the other. Arun tricked himself into carrying the heavy bag through the little squeezes and crawls (honest). I thoroughly enjoyed this final section of the trip.
We emerged on the surface to a cold but dry evening, the snow obviously a bit thinner on the ground. Our walk back was shorter as the snow had melted and the Dubz had kindly driven the bus down to the closes passing place.
I did not cave for the rest of winter tour but other highlights of my tour include an evening spent listening exclusively to covers of Last Christmas. I think we must have heard 40 or so covers. The best was Frank Turners scream version. Also a walk round Newby and Clapham, with a go on the swings, a visit to the pub, and impromptu and probably unwelcome caroling on our way back.
Rowten Pot: Dave Wilson, James Perry, Lucie Studena, Sharon Lin
The snow, whilst pretty, was a massive pain in the arse. We parked very far down the road in kingsdale. The layby before the road takes a sharp downhill right hand turn. The icy conditions meant that we were wary of being unable to make it back up the icy slope. We then decided to make a direct path towards the turbry road and rowten. This was definitely harder and longer than walking along the road
Fun Rigging, fairly deep, but not too much of a challenge. Easy to find; just off the gate in kingsdale as you get to the truby road. Water at the bottom, but can get around a corner to a fairly dry place to stand. I had only previously done a couple of pitches of rowten. Me and chris had gone to “do some rigging practice”, so had left half the rope in the van because we were planning on secretly not really doing any caving. This plan was marred however when another group who had been intending on entering Jingling had bailed on their trip for reasons unremembered and came over to join us. We then had to admit our plan to secretly not cave and head back to the pub. This ended up with quite a few people getting down to the first ledge in Rowten, having a bit of a chat and then heading back out :P
Rough Transcript from a conversation with DW at the bottom of Rowten
DW: “There is actually a ledge just below the surface of the water, you can’t see it, but it’s there.”
Me: Dips toes around in water searching for ledge “I can’t feel one, are you sure?”
DW: “Yes definitely, you can walk across without getting wet”
Me: Falls into water attempting to walk on a non-existent ledge “There really isn’t a ledge there DW..”
DW: Has already walked off
Monday 16 Dec
Death's Head Hole: James Perry, James Wilson, Louise Ranken, Lucie Studena
Super fun cave, walk along the wall by the parking spot on leck fell. Not too far from the road (5mins), little but of spray on both routes, big meanie needs a head start and is much harder going out via so not advised for novices who aren’t quite good. Deaths head rigging - go right to the bottom of the first open shaft (off the tree) as there is some deceptive p-bolts which look like your traverse line but this obvious traverse is about 5m above the floor and actually wraps around to the top of the final pitch of big meanie. Entrance to big meanie was hidden under some trees. The crawling isn't actually that bad, just forces you to get water in your wellies. The tight pitch head at the top of big meanie however can be quite the challenge. I struggled for a little while getting through it, I did it unassisted but can imagine anyone larger than myself or not as competent with SRT may take a considerable amount of time trying to get up that pitch head. Deaths head pitch was nice and pretty, my kind of pitch with lots of spray and moss covering the walls with some more foliage around near the surface, looks good in daylight. Big meanie had short but quite nice streamway. Apparently should take some extra rope to go down the mine shaft thing, personally wouldn’t free climb it.
Big Meanie: David Wilson, Ho Yan Jin, Sharon Lin, Matti Mitropoulos
I (and several others) wanted a chill trip, this was however not as chill as I would have liked it to be. The first pitch was quite narrow and I was hoping the exchanged happened so I wouldn't have to go out of it. The crawls were also long and very muddy, I spent a lot of effort trying to keep my wellies on my feet. At some point through the crawl, Matti had an epiphany moment and said "why the f- do I pay to do this?" Indeed.
I thought derigging Death's Head would warm me up, but given that it was an open cave, it made me colder instead. Some of the maillons were very stiff and hard to undo, and I learnt something new from David, which was to use another maillon as a screwdriver to untwist another maillon.
I think I got quite cold on the way out, and got even colder on the walk down.
At the NPC
Spent a very chill day at the hut. Peeled some potatoes, cut some veg. An excellent Christmas dinner was prepared. I ate lots of food and drank lots of other people's wine while some others put on some weird ASMR haircut performance.
Tuesday 17 Dec
Pillar Holes: David Wilson, Rebecca Diss, Zaeem Najeeb, Ana Teck, Lucie Studena
Long Kin West: Arun Paul, James Perry, James Wilson
Great cave, found the entrance using a gps. Certainly was very useful to have the gps for the way back to the bus. The parking is close to the NPC. parked in a lay by between “Cold Cotes” and “Newby Cote” main roads - near “a.c.firearms” on google maps 2019. You then follow the path for quite a stretch up the hill until you are past some limestone pavement. Using the CNCC guides description was hard to find the cave as the “vague path in a shallow gully” was not obvious. I ended up being slightly lazy with my rigging and this cost me at the bottom of the first rope. I got to the stopper knot and the end of the rope was just inline with the next bolt. There was a handy ledge and about 5 p-bolts scattered around however so I secured myself to the cave and got jimmy and arun to feed me about 2m of rope. Rig well or take an extra couple of metres. The entire cave was quite an expansive continuous rift. The final p-bolt I struggled to find (possibly bad caving light as Jimmy found it right away in the very spot I had been staring at..). It is situated at the bottom of the scree slope, on the left hand wall just at the edge of the ledge before the pitch drops for the final time to the cave floor. The large pitch before this, requires a y hang which is heavily biased to the left to prevent rope rub. I really enjoyed this trip, seems like I am not often on trips with small groups of competent cavers. Long Kin West really satiated my desires to get in some solid SRT. It did seem like a cave that could quickly become unsuitable for large groups, especially if any members are slow. The bottom of the cave (which we reached on a relatively dry day) provides little-to-no shelter from the only spray in the cave. I was glad when arun decided not to descend the final 15m in order to start heading out more quickly.
Clapham bounce ft. Louise, Sharon, Rhys, Yan Jin, Matti, Chris.
We walked to Clapham and back again. We played in the park and had a pint at the pub. Back at the hut, Rhys and I squashed some bugs on the website. After dinner we watched Withnail & I. A good time was had by all.
Wednesday 18 Dec
Corky's Pot: David Wilson, Zaeem Najeeb
Flood: Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Sharon Lin
Stream: James Perry, Louise Ranken, Matti Mitropoulos, Eve Chaddock
Easy to find. Take the main path between bar pot and gaping gill main entrance. There is a fork in the path. At the fork head directly east. There should be a 5x5m shake hole just off to your right at some point. Go and look in it, hopefully you see some oil drums, this is stream, beautiful.
Apparently stream is quite difficult to rig. I was unaware of this and hence my surprise when everybody thought I was rigging instead of louise. I was slightly disappointed with my preparation for this trip. I had not quite grasped the extent of louise and eve’s experience at rigging and caving and perhaps would have have rigged if I was more aware. Sadly we did not make it to the main entrance. By the time we made it to the bottom of the second pitch, we decided to turn around due to the cold. Apologies to Matti, gaping gill is a classic and it just means you’ll have to come back and do it next time.
Events happened in the evening. Definitely felt like an Old Lag and the whole thing was quite stressful indeed. Fortunately there are some very dependable members of the club which kept everything ticking over nicely until the good news rolled in. Well done all involved for doing the right things.
Marilyn: Arun Paul, Ho Yan Jin, James Wilson, Lucie Studena
In the past years, Marilyn has been sold as a more crawly and harder entrance of Gaping Ghyll. The pitches were lovely and pretty. The crawls were okay - either stooping, hands and knees crawling or short sections of flat out crawl. Navigation was hard in the crawls.
We got to the open traverse and met the Flood team, and headed to the main chamber together. Am quite impressed with myself for remembering the grim looking crawl on the right instead of going straight. Main chamber was very dry - there were two small waterfalls, and the floor around the mud bank, which usually has a small stream, was dry. The seven of us sat together in a circle on the mud bank, eating Diss' interesting canned food and waiting for the Stream and Corky's teams. While waiting, James had a poke in the mud hall and saw David and Zaeem at the top of their last pitch. We waited slightly past our turnaround time and the Stream team was nowhere in sight. We figured they didn't have enough time and turned around at a sensible time.
We made plans of routes to exit from, and Arun, Zaeem, Lucie and I were planning to leave from Flood. Standing from the traverse, Flood definitely seemed like it filled up with much more water than I remembered. Up the first pitch, we were prussiking up a waterfall which was highly unpleasant. This theme of going through a waterfall would repeat for the next few pitches. Zaeem and I were waiting for the rest and it took awhile, so we yelled if everything was okay. We saw a red helmet approaching and were very confused, it's a Diss! Turns out the Marilyn team got lost through the crawls (admittedly the description we had was good for the way in but not the way out), so Diss and Arun swopped. We quickly made our way through the cave, very cold, and walked back to the bus.
Thursday 19 Dec
Shuttleworth Pot: Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Sharon Lin, Matti Mitropoulos
At the NPC
I think I crawled out of bed circa 2:30pm. I enjoyed this. I then got very merry and made many pizzas.
Friday 20 Dec
Sell Gill Pot: Arun Paul, James Perry, Lucie Studena, Sharon Lin, Matti Mitropoulos
Most cavers were on a rope rescue training course on the Friday, so the five of us that remained decided to do a relaxed cave to round off the tour. On Thursday night we had planned to go to Heron, but Sharon and I had both been there before, so we switched plans to Hunt Pot and packed all the rope for that cave - after which we realised that the cave was an hour’s walk from the road each way, which we didn’t really have time for. Sell Gill was described as a ‘good first SRT trip’ so we figured it would be good for Lucie to get some rigging practice, and for me to have an introduction to derigging, and hence settled on it. We didn’t really bother changing the ropes from Hunt Pot though, so we had a lot extra, but its quite a short cave anyway so it didn’t matter too much.
On Friday morning we woke up pretty early compared to the rest of the week and had a quick leftover breakfast to finish what we could of the food and prepped the kit. Arun drove the rescue trainees to their course in the minibus, and when he was back we set out to the cave. I was honoured to be given permission to sit in the front of the bus which was incredibly exciting. Whilst changing at the roadside Sharon got very talkative with the sheep in a nearby field and tried to coax them close enough for her to stroke them. Unfortunately they became uncooperative after a threshold separation was reached and refused to come any closer.
Once at the cave, we realised the rigging guide had been left at the bus, so Lucie began rigging from memory with Arun’s guidance. The entrance pitch was a nice sunlit short descent. The lack of a rigging guide and the bizarre number of bolts in the wall at the top of the second pitch bamboozled Arun, Perry and Lucie, so it took two attempts at rigging the wall safely and correctly. During this time, Perry, Sharon and I explored a little side passage at the bottom of the first pitch. It led us through a low stoop/ hands-and-knees crawl, ending in a pretty formation at the end: surprisingly close to the surface and worth visiting. Once at the bottom of the second pitch, whilst Lucie was rigging the third, Sharon and I explored another side passage, but found only some boulders and Perry’s rendition of ‘Jolene’.
At the bottom of the third pitch a thundering waterfall reassured us that we had made the right decision taking the ‘dry’ route down, and we hopped across rocks downstream. After a short while the cavernous streamway reduced suddenly to a hands and knees crawling along the river. Lucie and Arun carried on, but the rest of us decided a chill cave wasn’t allowed to give us wellie-water so stayed behind, and once they had returned, they assured us it was pretty underwhelming so wasn’t worth getting wet for.
Unfortunately, since we were driving back to London that day we had to get back punctually, and there wasn’t enough time for me to derig, so Arun took over. Once at the bottom of the first and final pitch however, it was clear that there was enough time for me to derig that last bit so stayed back and removed the rebelay and traverse.
On the way back we walked through a field of sheep who suddenly showed quite an interest in our group, even though Sharon hadn’t even tried to communicate. They encircled our group and stared ominously at us from the top of the hill. Fortunately they didn’t try to follow us through the gate.
Once back at the van we changed quickly and went to pick up the rescue trainees. I once again was excited to occupy the front seat, this time even the middle seat; though after the larger group joined us I didn’t feel comfortable at the front so relegated myself to the back bench.
The packing back at the hut was surprisingly organised, with people packing the kit into separate bags whilst others cleaned and readied the bus etc. It still took a long time to finally get moving but a minimal number of possessions were left behind, so a success overall.
What a great way to end the winter tour. Whilst 6 of the cavers were catching up on some long overdue rescue training, Sharon, Matti, Lucie, Arun and I all headed up to Sell Gill. A surprise to some, neither Arun nor I had ever been before. We opted for the dry route with a plan to teach Lucie some rigging and get Matti involved in some of the derig.
Sell Gill has a huge surplus of bolts, and I left the rigging guides at the bus… This almost definitely wasn’t as much of a problem as it was made out to be as the rigging was a set of 3 small and very simple pitches with no rebelays and minimal traverses. You would think that by the last day, people would have learnt not to rely on me. I didn’t pack rope for Notts Pot, I also forgot the rigging guide for Rowten, when I entered Stream Pot I had to quickly turn around and raid Matti for spare batteries as I apparently never put any in my light or oversuit. I really tried to look incompetent.
The cave was surprisingly pretty for an easy trip that isn’t too far from the road. As Arun and Lucie faffed around at pitch heads, Sharon, Matti and I kept hopping around the side passages to stay warm and to find some nice stal. A great Sunday trip, with the potential for an exchange with the wet route and also walking distance from the Craven (Balls!). The navigation was easy, parking was up in a lay by down “New houses” just after “Horton-in-Ribblesdale”. And after following the track up a gully, past an old farmhouse, and up the hill until we hit the pennine way, finding the cave entrance was simple as it was right off the track with the streamway going into it.
We were out of the cave before dark!