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.