Saturday, 21 December 2019

19th December 2019 - Return to the mines.

Coniston with Dick.

12th December 2019 - A Cumbrian Holiday.

Coniston with Mike, Pete and Tony.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

5th December 2019 - I'm struggling for a title

A settled period of weather had me thinking.

Ever since Tony and I had managed to sneak between Death's Head and Notts II I'd wanted to go on another through trip taking Dick along with us. The perfect trip for this would be Death's Head to Lost John's, but of course it requires dry weather in order to traverse the master cave.

It hadn't rained for days and looking ahead there were clear skies... until about 6pm on Thursday evening when the heavens were due to open, typical. A phone call from OfStEd though meant that Dick was made unavailable so the slightly squirmier and not as weather dependent Boxhead to Notts II was on.

5pm and a larger than usual team assembled at Devil's bridge before driving up through the dense fog to Leck Fell.

28th November 2019 - Simpson's

'oversuits are so last year' - Tony. A quick through trip with Mike and Tony.

Friday, 22 November 2019

21st November 2019 - Lost John's, the wet way.

With Tony and Pete.

Sunday, 17 November 2019

14th November 2019 - Aquamole

One arm bandit pitches with Tony.

7th November 2019 - Bull Pot

With Dick and Tony to sumps.

31st October 2019 - Aquamole

Aquamole, normal route with Dick

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

August 2019 - Shetland paddling

Saturday, 3 August 2019

2nd August 2019 - Lovely Leven

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

19th March 2019 - A night off

I'd been wanting to try taking pictures of pitches for a while and as it's very, very wet at the moment (have a search for pictures of the current state of Hull Pot) and our options were limited, I thought this would be a good opportunity.

When I explained to Tony what I wanted to do, there was almost relief in his voice, "a night off!", he declared.

It's not often we cave on a Tuesday and on arriving at Bull Pot farm we realised why. The place was mobbed.  Everyone else was planning a trip from Lancaster to Wretched Rabbit, so we offered the use of our ropes to make life easier for them and headed to rig the pitch.

Tony set off rigging and in almost perfect timing I set off down as the hoards poured over the hill.  Rather than seriously disrupting proceedings trying to photograph the pitch, we headed down into Bridge Hall as the others descended.

As I tried to set up the shot Tony was suffering. Trying to get my ageing flash guns to work with my poorly described instructions, all while trying to remain firmly on the bridge. From the pictures it looks quite big, but it's a bit of a chossy mess and actually quite narrow at the top and instructions to "move a bit to the right", weren't greated too enthusiastically. 

With the others past us and on their way to Wretched Rabbit, we returned to the pitch and tried to find somewhere out of the "rain" to set up the camera.  Tony then once again was in the unenviable position of trying to follow while my instructions as the rope conspired to twist him in the direction he didn't want to go.

Every day's a learning day and I definitely learnt a lot (I need to give my flash guns some TLC for starters), but I'm well aware this came at Tony's discomfort, so huge thanks are due.

The return over the moor and the drive to Barbon was made more hazardous than usual by the need to avoid the hundreds of amorous amphibians (we're not sure whether they were frogs or toads because we can only tell the difference when they either walk or hop and walking/hopping was definitely not what they were doing).

As ever, there was a fantastic fire going in the Barbon inn, the warmth of which was also present in the welcome you receive. It's a grand pub that serves a great pint.

7th March 2019 - I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Friday, 15 February 2019

14th February 2019 - Alt Aquamole

Our first daylight change of the year

Beginning our descent as the sun sets

The head of the second alternative pitch

Derigging at the head of the first alternative pitch
Dick on the first alternative

Almost back at the surface

Out into the night air

Friday, 8 February 2019

8th February 2019 - One arm bandit

Browsing the forums on ukcaving, I spotted that a new route in Aquamole had been recently re equipped with nice shiny bolts.  As the weather was a bit wet for our other plans and it's one of my favourite bits of cave, a bit of investigation was in order.

80m of, as the Starless River website would put it, "nylon highway", brought us to what is described as a "gloomy crawl" in the description.  Not sure whether it says more about the current state of our lives, or the caves we've been going into recently, but we both thought that the fine streamway that followed was actually quite a nice bit of passage.

The second, short, water sprayed pitch brought us into a chamber with a beautiful white calcite feature and also marked the point at which we needed to start following instructions for the "alternative" pitches.

Beardy's description on ukcaving is completely accurate, but the oft quoted "not for the blind obedience of fools" is particularly apt in this case.  From the bottom of the pitch we followed the obvious stooping way on, until after a few metres you enter the chamber from which you can drop down into the streamway to the head of the usual final pitch.  Our instructions said, "a crawl straight ahead", so I headed off down a crawl which sort of was straight ahead, on the left wall of the chamber.  Within a few metres my brand new, shiny red caving suit was coated in the aqueous mud and I was questioning my route finding, this was about as far from the glitz and glamour of a Los Angeles casino as it's possible to be.  Fortunately the ever lower and ever muddier stream/mudway lead to a small terminal chamber in which I was able to turn round, reverse my route and explain to Tony that this wasn't the way on.

Back in the main chamber we went straight on and in the far wall found a slightly squashed circular hole, leading to an obvious squeeze a metre or so ahead, just like in the description!  A clue is definitely in the name and after a few botched attempts to align myself with the hole, I assumed the one armed bandit position and squirmed through.  Tony as is always the case, then glided through with no effort whatsoever!

A hole in the floor lead down to the One-armed Bandit streamway and we headed up it to find the head of the final alternative pitches.  We stared down into the gloom and looked forward to coming back with Dick, who loves Aquamole as it is and so hopefully will enjoy this variation too. It was then back downstream, passing the hole we had entered by until the streamway ends quite dramatically at a short pitch to the ledge on the main pitch of Aquamole aven.

As Tony descended onto the ledge, I began up the last few metres of the main pitch rope sprayed by exceptionally muddy water, the product of my earlier wallowing. A few metres later we were back in the starting chamber after a fascinating little loop.

A bottle of non-alcoholic beer served as a fine thirst quencher and allowed more time to be taken over a fantastic pint of red ipa, lengthening what is actually the most pleasant part of the evening.  The Marton Arms are making a real effort to entice cavers back, with a warm welcome (I'm sure given to everyone not just cavers), caving photos on the wall and a display of caving gear that is probably meant to hark back to some long forgotten era.  Worryingly it looks in better nick than our gear!

Friday, 25 January 2019

24th January 2019 - Lost Johns'

Rigging one of the fantastic traverses

Looking for the rebelay to avoid the water - Pinnacle pot

The sump pool - free diving not advised

Tony derigging Pinnacle pot

The horizontal sections are just as exciting as the vertical

No dragging of tackle sacks in here, plenty of room for them to hang free

Better not hang around too long

Dick stepping out into space on the superb Monastery pitch