Saturday 28 February 2009

27th February 2009 - Top Sink to Wretched Rabbit

After a couple of weeks break for half term it was time for the TNC to get back into action. John had also returned from South America after an epic 3 month expedition and was chomping at the bit to get back underground.

Having spent the afternoon getting his gear together, John was suddenly called away on business and though he met us at Devil's Bridge, he wasn't able to join us on the trip. The look of disapointment on his face made all our spirits sink. He had been waiting for this trip for so long and had now had it cruely snatched from him.

The low cloud engulfing the moors on the way to Bull Pot farm did little to dry out our dampened enthusiasm, but at least it wasn't actually raining as we changed outside the farm. We took the well trodden path across the moor and were soon passing the familiar entrances of County and Wretched Rabbit. Top sink though, as its name implies, lies far beyond these and we located it's covered entrance just before night took hold.

Walrus Pitch

Dropping down the entrance climb brings you into a fine meandering streamway whose proportions keep passage with a tackle bag interesting. The first pitch, Walrus, is well formed too, with an interesting move around a corner onto the pitch head and a well deviated hang to avoid the water. Once again the way on is along the streamway before the second, Penknife, pitch. Once along Bradshaw's passage the route finding becomes more interesting, though fortunately Tom always remembered the way on at the trickier points.

Bradshaws Passage

We stopped to take photos of the huge perched blocks in Nagasaki, I hadn't been expecting caverns of this size this far up the system. Back in the more defined streamway we soon found ourselves looking down into a chamber I finally recognised. There was the rib we'd climbed a few weeks previously on our visit to Easter grotto. Another short climb brought us down into the Assembly hall and the well decorated Whiteway that links it to Thackray's passage.

Nagasaki Cavern

The water level in Thackray's was much higher than on our previous visit and we were initially unable to locate the slot through to the dry oxbow that allows further progress down stream.
Having found it and carrying one set of SRT gear, on arriving at Holbeck Junction we decided to exit via Spiral Staircase passage to bypass the lower reaches of Wretched Rabbit.
Though Tom probably didn't see what all the fuss was about, I was definitely glad of the security of a pair of jammers on the second climb. Almost happy to be drawn into its confines by a tight rope rather than fearing being pushed out of it had I been relying on chimneying up it.
The streamway that followed was reminiscent of the passageway below Top Sink, though we were also rewarded with some fine formations.

You think it's been a long week when you find yourself slithering back down the rope on the final climbs out of Wretched Rabbit and you know it's been a long week when your companion has to point out to you that you can stop crawling as you're outside the cave.

A really good trip out and highly recommended, especially with the exit via Spiral Staircase.

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