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!

Lancaster Hole

Originally planned as a Wilf Taylor’s trip, this had to be switched to just the top of Wilf Taylor’s with the water levels. A smooth descent from all (a big trip for our newer SRTer Maz, and Jason’s first real test of his new BMS micro rack) saw us down into Bridge Chamber and on our way down to Montague. 

Great sightseeing as usual along the route to Wilf Taylor’s and Waterfall, with pauses to admire the formations before heading up to the upstream sump of Wilf Taylor’s and a look at the slightly spooky amount of flow in Waterfall Passage. 

On the way back we took detours to look out from the top of Fall Pot and a quick glance at the Colonnades, before an efficient prussik back out of the entrance. 

The Mistral

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!

Lancaster Hole

Scott, Tom, Vikki, Ray

A jolly little trip to Lancaster Hole on a reasonably nice Sunday. Tom had originally suggested Magic Roundabout. I thought that may have been a bit much for Vikki, so countered with Wilf Taylors. In the meantime Scott had signed up as well, so we ended up doing a couple of different routes… neither of which involved Magic Roundabout. Mental note: must do Magic Roundabout!

It was lovely weather on the surface, so 3 of us lazed around while Tom set off rigging the entrance shaft.

At the bottom, we all made our way to Montagu West/East where we parted ways. Vikki and I turned left to head to Wilf Taylors, while Sott and Tom turned right to head to the Craptrap, which they were going to descend for the first time. Wilf Taylors was its usual fun self. There’s always a lot to see, with some nice formations and some beautifully sculpted passages.

As we were descending Double Decker, Tom and Scott arrived at the bottom, having had fun descending Craptrap and looking up Waterfall Passage. We then joined forces for a trip to the downstream sump and then back to the rope dangling down from the roof of the main streamway. So that’s where Craptrap comes in! Scott, Vikki and then I returned up the Craptrap rope, while Tom opted for climbing up via Fall Pot. Interestingly, Tom arrived at the top of Craptrap before Scott… and he was even carrying a tacklebag. He headed straight for the entrance pitch to make a start on the long climb to freedom.

Scott, Vikki and I arrived at the entrance pitch just in time to hear Tom declare that the rope was free. Perfect timing! Thankfully the prussick out was uneventful and we all emerged to a pleasant afternoon. The day was rounded off with a trip to Seasons bakery in Ingleton for hot pasties.



Aygill Cavern

Tim Donovan, Darren Mackenzie, Steve Physick, Alec Hunter, Tom Calpin, Scott Nixon, Ray McGarry

A classic Tim D trip – tight, damp and full of surprises. If anyone wants to write an in-depth trip report, I didn’t get past the squeeze between the first and second pitches, so I can only assume that fun was had beyond!


Aygill Caverns

Tim D, Darren, Tom, Scott, Alec, Steve, Ray

Aygill is one of those caves that I’ve never been able to work out. Although it isn’t very long, there seem to be a maze of passages. Luckily our leader, Tim D, knows his way around… well, mostly… there was the small matter of missing the climb up on the left not far inside the entrance, but we can forgive him that as he led us through the rest of the cave without a hitch.

The going is fairly cramped until the 2nd pitch. Immediately before this pitch is an awkward little section with a tight left hand bend. This proved too tight for Tom, but he gave it a damn good try. Unfortunately all his effort was in vain and he reluctantly headed out for an early bath. To my mind, the best way to tackle this awkward section is feet first, left side down and stay low. As far as I could tell, those who attempted it head first had a more difficult time, as you then have to somehow swing your feet under you to approach the pitch the right way up.

Anyone expecting a nice stomp down the streamway at the bottom of the 2nd pitch was to be disappointed. It’s a mixture of crawling (mostly in water) and climbs down some entertaining cascades. Some of the wet crawls appear to be bypassable, but it’s hardly worth it as others aren’t so you get a good soaking either way. Despite grumbling in the ranks, Tim did a great job of urging us all on, largely due to the promise of “the most scenic sump in the Dales”… or some similar dubious claim. To be fair to him, it was quite a nice sump, the best bit being the ability to stand up in the sump chamber.

After a few photos we headed out. Some of the entertaining cascades provided even more entertainment on ascent. There was general agreement that the awkward section at the top of the second pitch was easier on the way out. I personally put this down to the fact that most people tried to approach the pitch head first on the way in. All in all, another great mid-week trip. Thanks Tim!