Sunday 14 April 2013

11th April 2013 - Tactical nuclear penguin

First of all this was a light and lucky, fast and free trip so you'll need to have someone read the following to you, while you close your eyes and imagine the trip...

To go caving you need your caving gear and having had a great few days away, Dick offered to take me
 home to pick up my stuff on his motorbike.  Spending most of my time driving a heavily laden van, acceleration isn't something I'm used to and so it was with slightly fraid nerves we arrived at our house.  For some reason my key had let me lock the door behind me when we left, but it was not for being unlocked.  I've now a strong feeling that some of the things you see in films aren't actually true.  Whereas in most films, locked doors fly open with one kick, this just doesn't seem to be the case in reality, or perhaps it was just the tight leather trousers I was wearing.  Finally having gained entry and picked up my gear we headed back to Dick's.  Despite all the protective clothing, I still felt very exposed in the outside lane of the M6, though the available acceleration does make joining the motorway north of Lancaster slightly less fraught.

A chill wind was blowing as we headed over the moors from Bull Pot Farm, where a couple of tents in the garden signalled the presence of a few hardy folk.  The gill was dry as we dropped down to the County pot entrance and only a couple of short sections further up stream, had water flowing.  A great set of instructions from Descent soon saw us at the surprisingly snowy entrance to Boundary pot and for the first few metres we could make like penguins and slide on our tummies over the snow floored passage, so much better than crawling.  A daylight shaft brought a change to more conventional caving techniques, but the excellent guide continued to allow us to find the way on without any difficulty.

Fortunately the last few weeks of dry weather meant the passges of the entrance series were almost completely dry and the first real water encountered was in the impressive chamber, just before Fusion cavern.  Stepping across in front of the cascasde is quite exhilerating and the climb down into the chamber that follows maintains the interest.  After Fusion cavern the way on became slightly more aqueous before we imerged into the dry, silent, vastness of Hiroshima.  Crossing this, we soon arrived at the very impressively built Manhattan connection and the way through to the main Easegill system.

The short traverse and walk through Far East Passage led to our only navigational glitch on the whole trip, with me first beginning the scramble up to Nagasaki to early and then when we got there turning to speak to Dick and futilely arguing that "left" was in the opposite to his "left".  The description really is incredibly clear and you have to be a bit of a muppet to make either of these mistakes.

With each passing footstep now the route became more familiar, Easter grotto, the Assembly Hall, the White Way, Thackray's passage, Holbeck Junction and finally Stop Pot.  Now we just needed to return to the surface by Wretched Rabbit.  No matter how fit I'm feeling, this always seems hard work and I always head up the wrong inlet, so it's great when the smell of fresh air reaches your nostrils and today this was accompanied by the glow of daylight too.

Caving in the day definitely has it's downsides.  First of all the walk over the moor seems to be longer when you can see what you're doing and secondly it was too early for a pint.

Huge thanks to Sam Allshorn, Mike Cooper and the others involved for making this trip possible through their digging efforts and also for the truly excellent description.

No comments: