Sunday 30 November 2008

Kerplunk 27/11/08

-2 degrees, frost getting harder and light snow on the ground. Must be time to go caving again. A reduced team Sharon, Tom and Dick changed in the gathering dusk to make a descent of Notts II.

The two minute walk to the well engineered shaft entrance was bitter but as soon as we dropped below the manhole cover the temperature rose to a balmy 8 Celsius. For those of you who have never been down Notts II the first 150 feet is a dug shaft expertly glued together with a mixture of expanded foam, concrete, breeze blocks and scaffolding bars.

The bottom of the excavated pitches brings one out at Mincemeat Aven where my namesake Dick Gerrish made the famous breakthrough into Notts II after years of digging (read about it here) where a short walk bring you out of Inlet 13 into the mainstream way, previously only accessible to divers from Notts 1.

Walking upstream we arrived at a muddy bank, the start of a crawl to Estonia. Who would have thought that such a small, muddy crawl would bring you to a pristine chamber with beautiful flowstone formations. Long may they remain such spectacular formations and not befall the vandalism that so many Yorkshire Caves have suffered by foolish cavers who destroy the very features they go to see :(

Back in the mainstream way more wading upstream led us to Curry Inlet and more spectacular formations that the TNC had visited earlier in the year .

At the far end of Curry Inlet we followed a muddy tube that is obviously being pushed by those troglodytes of the caving world, those strange beings who spend the twilight hours between the end of work one day and the start of work the next day digging in the mud. Through gloopy liquid mud, through a flat out section in said mud we arrived at a vertical tube up into the the floor of a mud chamber. Technical bridging up the muddy tube led to a flop into the mud chamber with a small muddy passage leading off under the wall. Tom's sandbag was that the formations were as beautiful as Estonia, we fell for it!

Once back into Curry Inlet the water ran muddy as we tried to clean our gear and then take a photo of a beautiful thin white fin of calcite that ran off the wall only centimetres from the mud bank.

The return down the stream way was accompanied by the muddy water we had made. Several side passages were explored but no new pretties were found so at Inlet 13 the turn out was made to start the re climb of the shaft know to the TNC as Kerplunk (you know that game where balls are held up behind bars wedged across a cylinder ... see the imagery?).

Back on the surface, out from the balmy warmth of Notts 2, well, enough said, the temperature was even lower! A quick change and then off to warm up in the Snooty Fox in Kirkby Lonsdale.

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