Rain! Storms! Death on the roads of Britain!
Perfect weekend to have a caving trip, naturally. Weather was surprisingly kind to us on the way up; though a few exciting swarthy swerve-y moments as we shot up the M1. Felt sorry for the canoeists - heading down to Devon with their enormous sail of plastic strapped to the roof of the van. Though I suspect they may have actually been after booty from that stricken container ship...
Waterlevels were unsurprisingly rather high in the Dales, though most of the rain fell on Thursday. We ended up having two days of Sunday trips; but all were sweet though short.
Comedy Moment for the entire trip had to be when El-Presidente realised he had left his entire kit bag in stores. Managed to scrounge enough stuff off the ever generous Dave W to go caving, except for a helmet which Sandeep hired from Ingelsport for the princely sum of 50p!
Once equipped with the usual bits, the minibus shot off to West Kingsdale, dropping off the simple-SRT'ers near Dave's car for Jingling, before rushing back to valley entrance.
Fresher Trip! Threw ourselves into the entrance (mainly to escape the hail that was every increasing as we walked over the Fell), rather shocked by the high level of water in the early crawls. Soon at the ladder pitch, we met an unusual sight in this day 'n' age - teenagers being taken caving! Whether they were on day release or a school trip I couldn't quite work out, but were nice to chat too, though they spurned our fair choice of malt loaf.
Sent down while they faffed with harnesses, all the freshers zoomed down the ladder, I followed via the permanently rigged static rope around in the alcove.
Streamway was impressive - and great fun. Water came up around the thighs in the rapids, and was pretty damn difficult to force yourself against. Levels were most definitely high enough to go down in a stubby canoe - I wonder if the other ICCC will let us borrow one...
Some more grovelling in increasingly deep water following the stream, we hopped over the Muddy Tunnel to Swinsto streamway. Gabbs was feeling a bit too claustrophobic to do the crawl, so Bela Lugosi and Dan Dare were sent with ten minutes to explore.
Slow exit, with another pause sitting above the streamway to eat some more chocolate, before emerging shivering into the cold air at sunset. Quick change in the lee of the 'bus, just caught by the hail at the end. Faff time waiting for the others was spent checking the fuses to try and fix the van fans. No such luck - motor should clearly be chucked.
Leaning out over
The dreadful precipice,
One contemptuous tree.
Attempted Aquamole; but when faced with faffing cavers wandered off to Jingling. Amiable enough conditions; was Joe JK's first ever cave, the super-keen fresher did the big shaft twice just for kicks!
A few bits of hail while waiting in West Kingsdale, listening to the thunderstorm crackling across Radio 4. Again we missed out on the worst of the weather, and with both Swinsto and Jingling parties exiting almost simultaneously, beat a hasty retreat to the hut.
The delicacy was a fine communually prepared (Lamb or Vegie) Balti; with cumin'd carrots, corrainder'ed mash potato & peaches for dessert. Shockling fed & watered by 7:30pm, we had a quick excursion to the Marton Arms (Teetotal drivers rock). Back to the hut, keeneys set off on a late evening walk on the moor. Spotted three shooting stares and the milky way, but failed to find a footpath. Walking back via the road with helmets & MigLights - a police car stopped to check we were alright!
I hadn't been here before, so I was looking forward to doing something new. We got to the entrance and I followed down at the back, replacing the metal cover as I went. As soon as you enter, there are ladders down almost to the level of the stream-way. It's quite a construction, if you haven't seen it, a mixture of scaffold bars, breeze blocks with holes in for your feet and aluminium ladders held to the wall with electrical wire.
Once down to the bottom of the ladders a few intricate moves and you pop out above a climb which requires a bit of confidence to get down, but once past this we were in the water. It's an excellent river and we went stomping up it. Water came gushing over the cascades, you felt the full force in the shallower bits but tried to keep out of the deeper parts by traversing around the edge.
Suddenly the ceiling was covered with straws - dipping down over a foot, but this was nothing compared to what was shortly to come. Up some cascades and round some bends and we turned left from the stream into Curry Inlet. It was at this point when the freshers found out what a sporting cave was like with the water lapping around our waists! This was probably the second most decorated of cave passage that I've ever seen after Shatter cave.
Some excellent caving followed and a bit of climbing up to an alcove with an enormous snowy-white stalagmite.
(Incidentally, I see from our archives that we surveyed XXX to Grade 4B with the now-defunct UCLSS back in March 1968. Thanks for the survey, us!)
What a lovely cave!
Everything you could possible want; big open pitch with moss & trees scattered along the walls, an impressive waterfall 'rumbling' down the shaft opposite as you swing around. Fairly tight deviation for main drop, and considerable traverse halfway down keep it fairly interesting.
After you finally turn on your light after negotiating a roped climb, you find yourself in a lovely bit of classic small Yorkshire cave (a la Tatham Wife), short crawls, interesting pitch heads, mid-pitch traverses. Turned back just before the last pitch due to having left a rope in the minibus, but peered down it to see nothing particularly exciting.
No problems with leading - just follow the P-hangers.
Rigged by Andy, Jarv was derigeur until Thara succeeded him for the surface shaft, with a little bit of a chat & suggestion on the long traverse.
Out before sunset, sat simultaneously in the golden rays as a hailstorm pinged off my helmet. Top, short, trip - was perfectly dry in my PVC suit, though a little chilled due to lack of thermals. Arrived in Andy's little car with perfect timing, as the Notts II team unlocked the minibus; sat shivering with No Heating until it was time to drive back to the hut.
Where were they hoping to go? Somewhere in the deepest darkest bowels of the Ease Gyll system... Link? Pip? But anyhow, the way on was not enormously clear, and so after a rather long time scrambling about, they exited & came back.
Picked up the lads from Ingleton, where they had apparently been purchasing pleasent & cheap 'pots' (undergraduates today...), refueled and back to the NPC to put it to bed before heading off to London. Anxious worry for Dave W's team, until they turned up just before six. Driving back, the sky threw everything at us - high winds, torrential rain, sleet & enormous sheets of water on the motorway. Back in London by 11, unpacked and off towards our beds by Midnight.
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