Katnot Cave

Darren, Emma, Vikki, Alec, Maz (3rd KKC trip), James (2nd KCC trip), Ray

A short novice trip, fearlessly led by Darren. I’d never been to Katnot before, so I was looking forward to this one. The clocks had changed the previous weekend, so for the first time this year we were changed and at the cave entrance in daylight. It was still a bit cold, though.

The trip started in a most unexpected fashion, with Darren leading us straight to the entrance! And what a nice entrance it is too. Unfortunately, after the recent rain, it was a bit on the wet side, which was a bit of a theme through the whole cave. Darren led off with his train following. The main passage is a good size and liberally decorated with flowstone of various colours, red being the most common. Careful not to touch it though… it doesn’t half stain your oversuit. Progress was a bit difficult at times against the fast flowing water.

It’s quite a photogenic cave and we stopped at various points for Darren to take a few snaps. We passed a few side passages, but didn’t take any of them – perhaps we were leaving them for the way out. Vikki and I did stick our heads into one, which looked quite nice (dry, anyway), but we didn’t go far as we didn’t want to lose the others. Eventually the roof lowers and the main passage continues as a (very wet) crawl, with the main flow coming in from an inlet a short distance in. Even after the inlet, the main passage was still very wet, although the flowrate was much less, so progress was easier.

With the roof getting progressively lower, various people decided to turn back at various points. Only Darren, Alec and James made it to the bitter end. Well done guys. Everyone was now thoroughly soaked and getting a bit cold, so we beat a hasty retreat… ignoring all the side passages in our hurry to get back to some dry clothes.

The trip didn’t take long at all, so it was still half light when we emerged. As we were getting changed, who should drive by but our Chairperson Sophie. If that wasn’t the perfect reason to stop off at the Station Inn for a pint I don’t know what is.

A great evening. Cheers Darren!

Photos by Darren.


Rowten Pot

Darren, Helen, Sedgey, Ray

A great trip down a classic Yorkshire pothole. Rowten is one of my personal favourites – technical SRT in some very impressive situations. And it can be done whatever the water levels.

Unusually for this year, the weather was kind to us. A bit chilly, but sunny, which made for a pleasant walk up the hillside. As it was a Sunday, there was none of the usual Wednesday evening rush to get out at a sensible hour. So the first (surface) pitch was rigged at a leisurely pace. For the first 3 (surface) anchors I prefer to use maillons, which led to the usual barrage of abuse. I was first down, followed by Darren, with Helen giving Sedgey some moral support (as he hadn’t done anything quite this serious before). He did very well indeed, so he’s well on his way to being an expert!

The 2nd Y-hang rebelay over the edge of the first pitch is always a bit awkward as there’s nothing to stand on to remove your short cowstail, but everyone seemed to cope ok. At the bottom of the first pitch, you land on a ledge above an even bigger drop, from where you teeter across a rock bridge to another ledge. The 2nd pitch starts at the far end of this ledge and is certainly not for the faint hearted. There’s a rebelay just over the edge, then you have to swing (awkwardly) into a rift. This rift is challenging for 2 reasons: (i) it is narrow, and (ii) the bottom is about 40m below your feet. Traversing along this rift leads to a very well-placed Y-hang for a stunning descent down into the Main Chamber.

Helen took over rigging for the 2 pitches below Main Chamber. The first of these requires abseiling down exactly the right distance to find a Y-hang rebelay hidden around the corner. This isn’t easy to pass, as Sedgey found out… although he did a great job of it.

After that, there’s another awkward rebelay and then onto an interesting traverse to the final pitch… all expertly rigged by Helen.

All arrived safely at the bottom, but it was a bit on the wet side to get to the sumps. So a relaxed retreat was called for. Darren “2 bags” McKenzie did all of the derigging. We tried my new MicroTraxion for hauling bags up the big pitch, which worked a treat. To cap a great trip, the sun was still shining as we emerged triumphantly.

Notts Pot

Darren, Chris D, Tim K, Gareth, Sophie, Sedgey, Ray

It was AGM day and Sophie had tried to arrange a day of fun in Chapel le Dale, with trips to Sunset and Meregill. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas, so we settled on Leck instead, with parties going down Notts, Notts II and Shuttleworth. Aren’t we an active club!

The plan in Notts was to rig 2 different routes down to the Lower Streamway, then recombine for the lower pitches. I rigged down to Threeways Chamber, where we all reconvened for a discussion of who was going where. I ended up rigging down Twilight Zone, with Gareth, Sophie and Sedgey following. Chris rigged Adamson’s, followed by Darren and Tim.

It’s probably 30 years since I last did Twilight Zone, so my route finding wasn’t as slick as it could have been. A few metres down the 1st big drop, I tried to swing over to where I thought the route went. A lot of effort and some very big swings indeed all ended in failure… which is just as well as I was apparently trying to swing over to Centre Route. You live and learn. Further down, I completely missed the passage I was supposed to swing into, instead following the water down. It got wet. It got very wet indeed. An improvised deviation off a natural helped a bit, but lower down it got very wet again. There was no alternative but to prussick back up and, strangely, the correct way on was obvious. All this pointless up & down and swinging to & fro took exactly the right amount of time as we got to the Lower Streamway at exactly the same time as the Adamson’s party. Almost like it had been planned!

Tim was having a bit of back trouble and decided to head out via Twilight Zone, so at least he managed the exchange. Gareth took over rigging for the lower pitches and all were soon at the bottom… apart from me. I decided to forego the pleasure of the last big pitch to speed things up a bit. There were already 5 people down there!

Everyone exchanged on the way out. Darren & Chris derigged Twilight, Sophie and I derigged Adamson’s. While derigging Birthday Pot, I managed to get the rope snagged, so had to down prussick to free it. Poor Sophie got the job of derigging the nasty little down climbs near the top… with virtually no whimpering at all. She carried on derigging the entrance pitches from Threeways. I think I may have detected some language when one of the ropes got snagged, but luckily I was mostly out of earshot.

On the surface, we were vary surprised to find everyone stood around waiting for us, including Tim. Personally, I would have buggered off to get changed. An almost perfect day was rounded off by too much beer and food at the Station Inn after the formalities of the AGM. I’m already looking forward to next year.

County Pot

Rhod, Maz (2nd KCC trip), James Benson (1st KCC trip), Ray

A great little midweek novice trip. The weather was uninspiring to say the least… decidedly wet and windy! The long walk across the fell was directly into the wind too. Definitely one of those trips where you’re glad to be below the surface. Given how wet it had been, Easegill Beck was remarkably dry. It wasn’t even that wet underground.

The chosen route was a short roundtrip via Platypus Junction. I had originally planned to go anticlockwise, but opted for clockwise instead, out via Razor Passage and back via Spout Hall. I didn’t want to get all the way round to Razor Passage, only to find it impassable and then have to come all the way back. As it turned out, there were no issues with water levels at all.

We made good progress to the pitch, which we laddered. The climb down into Broadway caused the usual fun and games, but nothing too serious. Then on to Platypus Junction, where we took a short photographic break. Rhod led us out expertly. The spout in Spout Hall was spouting a bit too much to climb up comfortably, so we bypassed it to the right. More fun and games on the climb back up out of Broadway. James somehow managed to get his left leg into a most uncomfortable looking position. I’m still not sure how he managed to get himself out of that position, but he did. Everyone managed the climb back up the ladder without incident. Maz had been a bit concerned about getting back up some of the rifty climbs in the entrance passage, but needn’t have worried as he seemed to fly up them all.

Thankfully the wind was behind us for the walk back across the fell. It was a relatively tough trip for novices, but they both seemed to cope well. They even want to come back for more!

Photos by Ray.

It’s A Cracker

Darren, Helen, Ray

It really is a cracker! After quite a bit of stomping around on the surface, we (well, Helen) eventually managed to find the entrance – an interesting hatch in the side of a shakehole. Bunker-like, as one description has it. It was my 1st time in this particular hole and I wasn’t disappointed. The description mentions an awkward wriggle 1m above floor level to reach the head of the 1st pitch. This may be necessary in wet conditions, but it was quite easy (even spacious) to crawl through on the cobbled floor. All 3 pitches are very nice indeed. While swinging for the 2nd deviation on the 1st pitch, my SRT kit issued a rather disturbing bang and I fell a very short distance (probably only a few centimetres). It took a while to work out what had happened. The fabric loop on the side of my harness, to which I usually connect my braking krab, had broken. Luckily the lock on my descender hadn’t come off, especially as I use a Simple! I decided to quickly complete descent of the pitch without clipping the deviation.

The 2nd pitch (Park Bench) is particularly scenic. Helen’s blood sugar monitor started playing tunes, so she stopped at the bottom of this pitch to eat in an attempt to raise her levels before prussicking out. At the bottom of the 2nd pitch, the trick is to stay as high as possible, climbing up and over some large blocks until the way on is a slot doubling back against the right wall. Then the famous wedged scaffold pole facilitates rigging the 3rd pitch, dropping past the Kendal Flyover ledge (the way to the Tate Galleries) and landing at the bottom of Boxhead. An exchange with Boxhead would make a great evening trip, taking no more than about 2 hours, I reckon.

We had a very brief look around at the bottom, identifying a miserable hole that Darren had been down previously (not the way to the Tube), the actual way to the Tube and the low-level route to Fourways Chamber, avoiding Crest Run. Helen and I (with Long Bob Reilly) had previously pushed this from the other end, deciding it was a bit too low to call fun.

Then it was back out the same way, with Darren derigging. Helen was still prussicking up the 2nd pitch when I reached the bottom, having failed to raise her sugar levels. She managed to make her own way out, accompanied by some particularly catchy tunes on her monitor. It later turned out that her monitor wasn’t working! Darren made short work of the derigging and we were soon back at the cars. Darren followed Helen home to make sure she was ok. All in all, a great evening out… sugary issues aside.

Photos by Darren.

Bull Pot Kingsdale

Chris D, Ray

According to the meets list, we should have been doing Notts Pot, but we decided Bull Pot would be more practical with just 2 of us. A lightning fast trip to the bottom, with me rigging and Chris derigging. Water levels were thankfully low, so there was no need for a wall of death leap to get to the 2nd deviation on the 4th pitch. It’s quite a few years since I’ve been to the bottom, so I’d forgotten how awkward the top of the 5th pitch is. A frog sat at the bottom of the last pitch was probably quite surprised to see us. Having just returned from a hard ski touring trip, I was definitely feeling the strain on the way out, being chased up every pitch by Chris. Total time underground: just over 1.5 hours!