Gareth, Jason, Tom, Ray + Bruce Grieve (friend of Ray’s)
With the recent very dry spell, the weather was certainly playing it’s part, so things were looking good for a cracking trip. Tom had decided against joining us in the end as he was due to attend a CNCC meeting in the morning. Gareth, Jason & Ray turned up on time and just about managed to squeeze into some parking spaces. Bruce arrived later and spent the next 30 mins or so driving up and down the road unable to get parked anywhere – he has high standards. In the meantime, Gareth and Jason had set off to start rigging. Bruce eventually ended up parking just short of the Station Inn, with a very long walk back down the road.
When Ray & Bruce eventually arrived at the entrance, Gareth & Jason were just at the bottom of the 1st pitch, having spent some time exploring the dry mere. It was dry, I mean totally dry! One consequence of this is that you can see just how deep it is when the mere is up.
We soon caught up with the rigging party at the 2nd pitch, where an interesting traverse leads to an even more interesting top of the pitch proper. Rather helpfully, Jason fully testing the strength of the y-hang belay by doing an incredible Tarzan swing onto the rope. If he planned to do that then he’s a braver man than I am. If he didn’t then credit to him for not squealing like a girl, like I would have done.
The 3rd pitch (the Canyon) has to be one of the best around, although it is never quite as long as I expect. The rigging is constantly interesting. Jason decided he had had enough at the 2nd rebelay, so started back up. It was a shame, as I think he had passed the worst by that point. Anyway, he made his way out and Bruce & Ray carried on down to pass the final tackle bag to Gareth, who continued the rigging.
The rigging on the 4th pitch is somewhat strange and out of character with the rest of the cave. Whereas all other pitches start with a high-level traverse far out away from the water, the 4th heads straight down with the water, although there is a fixed Tyrolean traverse line to guide you away from the water. But this just makes things quite awkward, particularly on the way back up.
Eventually Gareth arrived at the bottom of the last pitch, closely followed by Ray. Bruce couldn’t be coaxed down the last drop. Apparently seeing the bottom was enough. Why would anyone actually want to get there? Fair point I suppose, given that there wasn’t much enthusiasm for exploring the (extensive) passage at the bottom. Had there not been a very deep pool to cross right at the bottom of the last pitch, I suspect there may have been more enthusiasm. Ray did make a token attempt at exploration, crossing the deep pool and going maybe 100-200m along the passage while Gareth started prussicking.
The journey out and the derigging went as smoothly as could be expected… although there was definitely a bit of language from Bruce at some of the pitch heads.
Apparently Tom did decide to pop down after all. On his way in he passed Jason heading out. Tom got to just below where Jason had turned back, before feeling a bit dehydrated and turning back himself. Good solo effort! Ray, Gareth & Bruce were unaware that Tom had been in at all until he texted to say that he was sorry for missing us.
Once back on the surface, Gareth, Bruce & Ray sunbathed a bit before setting off back. A support stall for some scouts doing the 3 peaks was a great chance to blag a free drink. They even threw in a banana for each of us. A perfect day was rounded off nicely sat outside the Station Inn. Well, Bruce was parked up there anyway.
Thanks to Gareth for his rigging expertise.