Tim D, Ray, Shaun (1st KCC trip)… and Tom(-ish)
Mud glorious mud… and a very interesting sculpture.
Was it really an accident, or a deliberate ploy to avoid the mud? Perhaps we’ll never know, but, either way, Tom managed to turn up without his wellies. He did at least get some exercise by walking over to the entrance with us. He even planned to climb down the initial climb, but the flies around the entrance got the better of him. He was last seen running away, waving his arms in a most violent way and swearing the air blue. He taught those flies a lesson or two!
The initial climb down is easy enough and protected by an in-situ handline. It leads to about 15 minutes of easy crawling and squeezing. Back in the day this was a nightmare section of passage, but is now much enlarged following a difficult rescue, so doesn’t pose any particular problem, even for larger cavers. At the end of the entrance crawls we popped out into the Hobbit and things got comfortably big. Through Dusty Junction and Hall of the Ten and we were soon at Hall of the Mountain King.
This is were it all got a bit messy. The mud is deep, wet and particularly slippy. Luckily we all managed to keep both wellies (just!), but I imagine there are a few lodged deep in the mud from previous unfortunate souls. Interestingly, the mud isn’t the most remarkable thing about this area. That accolade has to go to the life-size sculpture. Words can’t possibly do this justice, so I won’t try. If you’ve been, you know. Overall, I think I probably prefer the Hall of the Mountain King in Craig y Ffynnon.
Eventually we dropped down into Leck Fell Lane, where the mud was thankfully replaced by a running stream. A short distance along this, the water crashes down a number of (particularly wet) cascades from Cigalere. Tim and Ray climbed up some of the cascades, but Shaun didn’t fancy it – he’s a very wise man. In the author’s opinion, Ray was very brave indeed to get as far as he did up the cascades, given his intense dislike of water. But even he had to admit defeat at the mere mention of an 8 foot deep canal at the top. So back we went… now almost completely devoid of our muddy coating, if a little bit on the moist side. Lovely!
We continued to the end of Leck Fell Lane, past some nice formations. The passage ends at a choke of glacial fill, which is worth seeing in its own right. There was a climb up just before the end, but none of us fancied it.
The journey out was made much more interesting by now being wet. This certainly didn’t help on the climbs back up the various mud slopes. Tim’s new wellies seemed to make a difference. For every 1 step up, he was only sliding back down the equivalent of 0.9 steps. For poor Shaun and Ray, on the other hand, the equation was tipped the other way. Hmmm. Luckily, a different way was eventually found and we all made it back up. Phew!
By the time we got back to the entrance crawls we were once again covered in a glutinous coating of particularly slippy mud. On the positive side, this made the crawling slightly easier. It did, however, mean that washing our kit wasn’t going to be easy or pleasant. As I write this, 2 days after the event, my oversuit is once again pristine… but my marital relationship may be forever damaged.
No photos this time, I’m afraid. Mistral is no place for a camera!