Monday 22 April 2013

History repeats itself - April 21st 2013

Fifteen years ago when Al was just a fresh-faced post-grad (and wearing glasses unlike today because of advances in lazer eye surgery) the TNC were exploring Easegill, much as we still do today.

Caving late 1990's style.  Dick, Tom and Bruce at Bull Pot Farm.

My activity record for 1998 showed that on
  • 23/1/98 - Caving - County, Eureka Junction, Green and Smelly Passage looking for the way into the Borehole.  Tight squeeze but then found the 'easy' way in!  Return.  Tom.
  • 31/1/98 - Caving - Tom/Phil.  The Borehole down to Green and Smelly Passage and link with last week. Returned back up the pitch.
  • It then took us until December the same year to complete the through trip: -
  • 4/12/98 - Caving - Tom and Ray.  The Borehole, Easegill, Eureka Junction, Wretched Rabbit.  Slow trip but good.

How the memory fades and so this week in April 2013 saw Al and I walking across the moor from Bull Pot Farm on our way to Easegill with the plan to explore the way into the Borehole from the bottom again.  My recollection of the bottom end of the Borehole was of a passage behind a fallen block somewhere (that missed out the tight squeeze) near the main drain of Easegill leading after some more blocky passage to the pitch and the Borehole ... how wrong can I have been!

As we were in the vicinity of the entrance of the Borehole in Easegill we decided first to go down and have a look at the pitch head first.  The entrance was an unlikely low bedding in the right wall of the stream but the  passage dropped steadily to the top of a 2m climb into a small chamber of clean, polished limestone. At the bottom we dropped into a T section stream passage and  knee deep pools of freezing water were met meaning wet feet and soon a junction is reached where another stream comes in on the right leading to more deep pools and a tight squeeze through a block. After a a low gravelly bedding plane, 30m of crawling and some more pools we arrived at the 15m pitch and the scaffold bar at the head of the pitch.  So after looking down to the ledge near the bottom, we returned to the surface, passing head high flood debris that didn't look too old.  Not a place to be in a flood!

So off down Wretched Rabbit we went but unlike the 1998 trip there was no need to go to Eureka Junction as Spiral Staircase has been opened up, which leads directly to Green and Smelly Passage.  A quick trip down here saw us at the junction with the Borehole off to the right and GandSP straight on. The route description is spot on for the Borehole but our interpretation was not.  As the passage we entered lowered to a flat out crawl and Al took off his helmet to progress I was trying to fit the image of this awful looking place to my memory of this 'walking size passage'.

Eventually, after admitting defeat and retreating to our last known point we found the way on to be underneath where we had been looking.  There followed what seemed like an eternity of crawling, flat out bedding, scrambling up and over mud slopes and through boulders until after a winding passage we suddenly saw a ledge on the right and up above in the light of Al's powerful Scurion head torch, the scaffold bar that we had been to earlier that evening.  We had linked the parts of the cave but not as my memory had recollected it, a quick walk up a passage with blocks!

Coming out of a cave never seems as long as going in, possibly because one is surer of the route.  Back at  the rift that led directly to the floor of the low wide chamber below Spiral Staircase Passage we knew that we were back just a few tens of metres from the WWP entrance.  Heaving ourselves up the fixed ropes at the top of the Big Rift was hard work as we were tired  from two quite strenuous trips but we were soon out in the dusk and the walk back to the cars in the light for a change.

Back in the Barbon Inn we enjoyed a pint in front of the open fire that the landlords have replaced the old gas fire with and discussed how in the next dry period we would link the two trips together and drag the camera kit down there for some photos for the blog.

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