Manchester Bypass

John, Miranda, Tim D, Tom, Will

It was about time that the Manchester Bypass – the flood escape route from Easegill which often gets neglected from regular trips because it’s a shithole – was re-familiarised and the knowledge passed on. 

For whatever reason we decided it was best to do it both ways to double the suffering wholesome knowledge. So across the moor we headed and slipped down the County entrance series like nobody’s business. When we reached the sharp end at Battle of Britain Chamber, Tim led the way on, closely followed by Tom who had insisted he would never fit through after an attempt earlier in his caving career, even more so the day after getting back from an all-inclusive binge of a holiday. But through some optimistic and knowledgeable coaching from Tim, there were no particularly difficulties. Not to say that it wasn’t tight and horrible, but it was good to be able to finally see this route. 

On reaching Main Line Terminus, we sat to collect our thoughts, get a few nice photos and admire the vastness of the high level route from a different angle. Miranda, Tom and Will headed back a little and into the lovely Main Line Passage, a lesser-visited spot as it’s not a through route but with plenty of nice straws and a few helis. This terminates high up in the wall in Monster Cavern, so we turned back and headed to the Terminus. 

There was some talk of avoiding the horrors of the bypass for an easy exit via Wretched Rabbit, but we realised that Miranda had helpfully left some clothing halfway through the bypass, and also the impracticality that we’d left all our SRT kit at the bottom of the County entrance pitch so would have a hard time getting it back from the outside. So we dove back into the bypass for a thrutch-fest in reverse. Some difficulties on the way in became easier in this direction, but new struggles replaced them from nowhere. 

We were all quite knackered on getting out, and John enjoyed getting up close and personal with a welly-thieving bog on the walk back, but we all lived to tell the tale, and pass the knowledge of this grubby route on to future generations to suffer.

Photos by Will and Miranda

Boundary Pot – Spiral Staircase

Dave, James, Tom

Dry Gill was on the list, but once again the weather decided it wasn’t Jason’s day, so we decided to get to Easter Grotto having failed with high water a couple of weeks ago itself. 

Water levels were nice and low, we got into Boundary no problem, surprised to find the wet entrance bits not too bad at all; I’ve only done Boundary in dry summery conditions. We made our way down the sketchy climbs, Fusion Cavern and past the crystal Grand Canyon map and found ourselves at Hiroshima in no time, and down the Manhattan Connection to Nagasaki. It’s always surprising how thirsty Easegill makes me, but we’d left our water bottles by the entrance of Wretched in an effort to travel light, and were pretty sweaty by this point. 

Thankfully we had Easter Grotto to distract us and take a breather. Dave got a few photos, then we headed on our way downstream and out through the speedy shortcut that is Spiral Staircase. Bursting out of the entrance pipe to our water bottles, we drank deeply and once again I promised myself I’d always take water down with me on Easegill trips.

Photos by Dave

Wretched Rabbit (damp trip)

Dave, James, Maz, Tim K, Tom

Really damp week, so we had to be more realistic about reaching our plan of Easter Grotto. The Gill was flowing when we got down to it, and after negotiating the entrance climbs we took one look at the hole down into Spiral Staircase and thought ‘sod that’. Instead we made our way down WR passage, through the flood escape of Fourways and into Stop Pot. The water was churning and we headed a short way upstream before being stopped by the low bit that spits you out at stream level just above a churning deadly chaos of streamway. We turned back at this point and headed back out the same route. At least we got a decent bit of exercise in the assault course that is WR

The Magic Roundabout, Lancaster Hole

On a chilly but dry Saturday morning, Yolanda and I set out to tackle the Magic Roundabout series. Despite passing this bit of Lancaster Hole plenty of times, I had never investigated further. To be honest, I had never liked the idea of committing my life to the unknown qualities of the in-situ Arson Shaft rope, but as it turned out my fears were unfounded.  The rope and anchors are excellent!
From the bottom of the Lancaster pitch, we took the direct route through Montague East to Stake Pot. On the other side, I started to ferret around for the window into Arson Shaft, finding the other route towards Link and Cape Kennedy in the process. The initial step above the drop into Arson Shaft actually wasn’t too bad, and the rope hangs against the wall all the way to the top, where there’s a step into a shallow parallel shaft. Two more short pitches upwards brings you into the well-decorated Old Kent Road. At this point we had a break while Yolanda dispensed with some of her Arctic Layering System (well, it was cold outside!)
Old Kent Road is a bit of a crawl, whilst trying your best not to break the floor-level straws. I forgot to find the turn off to The Chocolate Box (one for next time), and we soon ended up at a short rigged pitch down. Across the pit is apparently the route to The Pristine Way, but it looked like a serious undertaking (anyone done it? Are there some spit threads hidden in the wall somewhere perhaps?). Down the pitch, and we joined a stream which led us to the 23m Aquarius Pot. This is easily rigged for pull through with a 50m rope, and has a bit of tat at the bottom ledge to get down the next short drop.
The next section follows a washed out shale bed at floor level, then stay high to access a pre-rigged 9m pitch. A few Swinsto-esque cascades brings you to a chamber at head height. This is apparently the way up to rejoin the base of the Arson Shaft, or alternatively squeeze out next to Bob’s Boss. We opted to stay in the stream, and a couple of minutes later were debouched into the Main Drain just upstream of Stake Pot.
We felt like we’d prusiked enough for one day, so opted to upgrade the trip to Mega status by exiting from Wretched Rabbit. The upstream section from Stake Pot passed too quickly, and soon we were at Oxbow Corner. In the past, I’ve always followed the water at stream level through the boulder choke, but today we spotted a handline on the left, which led us easily up through the boulders. Top shortcut!
A series of large muddy caverns followed. I ruefully spotted the place where Sophie had plied Tom and myself with mulled wine and mince pies last time. But alas, it was Christmas no longer, and the eternal night of the cave cared nothing for my tears. Onwards to Stop Pot, then Four Ways Chamber.
The usual struggle up Wretched Rabbit brought us to daylight. At some point, it had occurred to me with dismay that Lancaster Hole, which still needed derigging, isn’t really on the way back from Wretched Rabbit. Yolanda had left her keys in my van, and my keys were hidden somewhere near the farm, so she bravely kept me company on the beeline slog across the open moor to Lancaster Hole. The day’s struggles were not over as I unknitted our rope from two student club ropes (with the aid of lots of swearing) in the Lancaster shaft.
All in all a very good trip to a different bit of cave. Thanks again to Yolanda!

County Pot

Scott, James, Dave + (almost, but not quite) Ray

Report from Dave:

Link Pot Another “Not What We Aimed For” Trip Report – County Pot

James, Ray, Scott & Dave headed off for Link Pot, to be thwarted by a rather swiftly flowing, Dave-waist-deep Leck Beck.

We headed on up the valley towards the higher up parts of the system, again thwarted by the beck which was higher than the footpath and up to the wall, in favour of caving another day rather than chancing his knee Ray headed on back to the warmth of BPF. This left the three of us heading to the entrance to County Pot without using the submerged path, with Scott finding it as though he had a built in nav.

Warmed up from the hike and ready to be underground, we made swift work of the entrance series and its squeezes, with Scott quickly rigging the pitch for an abseil. Slithering gracefully down onto Broadway in no time.

From here we explored various areas, Battle of Britain chamber, Spout hall to name a couple (forgive my naivety I was aMAZEd by the complexity of the passages and options), linked with lovely boulder crawls and nicely polished squeezes. The water fall was in full flow and the noise was tremendous as was the airflow as a result. Scott slid though to recce the a potential route but there was too much water so we opted to slide blindly backward onto the scaffold and explore the maze of passages and see some of the formations, sadly my camera was tucked safely and dryly in the boot of Ray’s car! A fixed rope descent took us to the bottom of White Line chamber for a view up the waterfall.

Deprived of a round trip by the removal of another fixed rope, we turned tail and began the return leg and the interesting climbs up the scaffold bar and the dangling sling out of Broadway, working our way up the tight squeezes that didn’t seem that small on the way down, with our SRT kit giving us some nice sounds effects. Before long we were back in the clear night air and heading back towards BPF across the fell, nothing to report here other than the disturbance of numerous Grouse.

A short but sweet back-up trip, underground at 8 and back at the farm by 10, with kudos to Scott for his navigation and a big thanks to Ray for waiting to take James and Dave home. We were certainly in a better state than the 3 Red Rose members who passed us returning from a dig in “not a nice place”. Hopefully we manage to achieve a planned Wednesday trip soon!

Christmas Bash 23

It was a chilly one this year, with frosty frozen ground the whole weekend. 

Welly Filler at Inglesport then on to Bull Pot Farm for a late start. John, Miranda, Chris H, Jason headed to Wretched for a through trip to Lancaster, while Sophie, Tom, Scott and Pete rigged Lancaster for a trip in the opposite direction.

When we reached the big caverns on the high level route (never know which one is which) Sophie cracked out her stove and brewed up some mulled wine which went down a treat. The mince pies had barely survived their journey but were still welcome in our mouths. 

We cracked on, possibly hearing the other team heading the other way in the streamway below us at one point (they were 20 vertical metres away from getting in on the wine!) and after bumping in to a few folks around Stop Pot we made our way out of Wretched. 

We headed back to the farm to warm back up and get some food on. Cracking chili from Sophie, which we shared with some shivering NCHECC students who’d had a hard day of it, and then a feast of sticky toffee cake and Cuthbert the Caterpillar, with Gareth’s generous custard contributions.

Then it was through to the members’ lounge (thanks to Chris’ double agent status) for fireside chatting with tunes. 

On the Sunday Sophie and Miranda ran a chocolate hunt for the young’uns in Yordas which of course went down well and hopefully conditioned the next generation into thinking if they go down cold muddy holes in the ground they might get sweets.

County Pot – Ignorance is Bliss

James, Jason, Maz, Rhod, Scott, Tom, Yolanda

Cracking loop round some of the lesser-visited parts of County via Ignorance is bliss. Super foamy down at Eureka Junction, it had obviously been backed up well into County in the last day or so. Always forget how long this one takes, and ended up just cancelling callout by 3 minutes 🙂

Lancaster Hole

James, Maz, Rhod, Tim, Tom

As it’d been super damp the last few days and with the rain still falling as we kitted up at a dark and inhospitable Bull Pot Farm, we decided to sack off our plan of getting down Waterfall Passage and do a trip to the Graveyard instead. 

Wretched Rabbit

Chris D, Jason, James, Maz, Ray, Scott, Tom

With Wretched Rabbit being newly reopened courtesy of the RRCPC, we were keen to get back into this little classic and decided on a round trip.

After negotiating the entrance climbs, we plunged down the dig into Spiral Staircase, made our way down the grotty bypass and onwards to Holbeck Junction. Quarter of an hour of scrambling down the main drain saw us at Stop Pot, veering into the flood bypass to Four Ways Chamber, before making our way back out via Wretched Rabbit Passage. Minimal drama, good exercise and a nice turnout!