Saturday 27 November 2010

26th November 2010 - Pool Sink

In the bacon slicer

With poor Tom unable to join us having fallen off his bike earlier in the week and Phil and John otherwise committed, it was a slightly reduced team that set off onto the moors from Bull Pot farm.
With temperatures in the last couple of days having fallen well below freezing we followed a ribbon of ice over to a very dry Easegill, Pool Sink seemingly a misnomer under these conditions.
Entering the cave was like stepping off a plane in Southern Spain having boarded it in England, the exertions that followed adding to the rise in temperature too.
Once through the entrance S bends, the sink opens up into a fabulous meandering passageway before the first pitch is encountered. Given the complete lack of water, the initial Y-hang gave us the desired free hang with no need to deviate and use up one of our precious krabs. Gearing up at the car we had realised that most of the maillons must be with Tom, but by cobbling together all the krabs taken off bags and found in the car boot, we hoped we had just enough.
While the way on lay down stream, we deviated up stream to have a look for Magpie Grotto. It felt like we were very close to the surface again when we stopped in a small chamber, presumably the Grotto, decorated with stal but with boulders and a large of amount of mud spilling into it.

Dick in Magpie Grotto

On again downstream before a traverse over a couple of deep holes led us to the second pitch, split by a small pool.

Rigging the second pitch

To gain the third and final pitch we needed to make a rising traverse up "Jacob's ladder". A brilliant final pitch in this classic Ease gill entrance.

Heading up Jacob's Ladder

Following the water down from the base of the pitch we were soon in familiar territory, the unforgetable "blades" of the bacon slicer cutting into the passageway. Mindful of the return journey through the entrance passage with our tackle bags, we set off back up our ropes towards a stunning star filled sky and the sofas in front of the fire at the Barbon Inn.
John you'd have loved the last bit.

Saturday 20 November 2010

20th November 2010 - Coniston Copper Mines

Friday night. Caving season. Heading AWAY from the Dales and its cave riddled limestone.
They say though that variety is the spice of life and we were heading towards Coniston and its historical copper mines. John had arranged for the TNC to meet up with some friends who actually do cave on a Thursday and a member of CATMHS to be given an intro (or refresher for some) to the possibilities for trips in the workings.

The first level we looked into gave us the chance to look down into a shaft flooded by crystal clear, blue green water. The level was terminated at a set of workings. While the ladders looked sound their exposure to air and decades of dripping water excluded further exploration for us. On returning to the surface we headed up hill again and into the higher entrance of Hospital level.

Dick in the entrance passage

Before long the nature of the workings became apparent as a collapse in the false floor allowed a view down onto further false floors and the remains of their stemple supports. Fortunately the volunteers who have done so much to gain and maintain access to the mines had provided us with a secure bridge over the collapse.

Looking down towards Deep level

Further passage and chambers led to a tunnel, complete with railway lines that followed the miners optimism towards further deposits. These never materialised and the tunnel finished at a dead end.

Stemples high in the stope
Returning back to the entrance gave us another opportunity to admire the green and blue formations, a change from the pristine white of calcite that we are used to. Before returning to the entrance a quick detour took us to a Temple of Doomesque passage with railway lines finishing in mid air over a huge void.

Phil admiring the green formations

Our thanks go to Mal and Brian for their company, Mark for being a superb guide and John of Barrow Mountaineering and Ski club for the post trip cup of tea in such comfortable surroundings.

Saturday 6 November 2010

5th November 2010 - Bull Pot of the Witches

An Enthusiastic (you must be joking) team assemble for the start of the new season. Last years first trip was a tough outing to Fire Hydrant Chamber in the depths of Easegill, this year we bumbled about Bull Pot of the Witches for an hour or so before retiring to the pub! Pathetic!
We still had time to get a few nice pictures and Alistair was keen to test out the new Firefly flash slave units - they will take a bit of practice!

John points out subtley that even this short trip has gone on long enough.
The time is now: Timmy Taylor Time