Saturday 13 December 2008

Bubbles down Ireby Fell Caverns 12/12/08

Bubbles ... soft, light, colourful, floating on a gentle breeze... who the hell named a narrow small stream passage 'Bubbles Route' someone called Bubble I assume. Well, this recently opened route led Tom and I down into Ireby Fell Caverns on a wet, cold night. Descending the bottom pitch of Bubbles we turned right to go down to the mainstream way and Dukes Street.

'I don't recognise this' said Tom after we had crawled for a few minutes through a muddy though well decorated passage (it turned out later to be an area called the Glory Holes) that ended in a dig. A few photos later we decided to return to the main passage to find another way on when below us through the rift we heard voices, we were in the roof of the stream way in a fossilised stream passage.

Tom in the Glory Hole area

Dick sitting over the rift where the voices carried up from the lower stream way

A couple of minutes later we dropped down where we had previously gone on and were in the stream way heading for the large passage of Duke Street.

Just upstream of the sump in Whirlpool Chamber (previously reported and photographed in the annals of the TNC) we caught up with the other cavers as they were ascending the electron ladder to the roof entrance of the newly opened link to Ireby ll (bypassing the sump). This had been broken through last Sunday following an epic dig led by the Misty Mountain Mud Miners. Easy crawling through well excavated passage led to a closing down of passage size as markers on the walls showed progess towards Ireby ll. When the breakthrough area was reached the ferrets who opened it showed their size as it was a bit squalid and small and lacking moral fibre I called Tom to a halt and we retreated vowing to return another time when we would bring more courage to push on with.

The return was quickly completed, the decision made to come out via the main route (which was rigged much to my relielf as I didn't want to go up Bubbles thrutch!) Getting to the bottom of the first pitch was interesting as we could see the rope but the way on was a slot that was quite snug! We climbed over the top and did rock moves rather than the squeeze, only to find a cobble crawl under the wall that we had missed in the streamway!

A while later and we exited the well engineered entrance pitches into the rain once more. We will return soon to explore Ireby ll (when Ali gets out of his Bubbles Route bed duvet and joins us once more! Get well soon mate!).