Deaths Head Hole

Darren, James, Scott, Tom

Freeeezing tonight, with the ground frozen and a reluctant turnout of 4 for this big pitch classic.

We rigged off the dodgy-feeling new ground spikes and Darren lead the way on to the big 64m entrance shaft. We then headed down the dig to the master cave including some efficient rigging from Darren on some slightly too short ropes. 

After reaching the final drop to the master cave we headed back out, no dramas just sweating. Back at the surface it was just very lightly snowing (or frozen mist or something) but the heat we’d made on the prussik back up made this refreshing. Back at the cars for 9:30!

Notts II

Claire, Steve, Tom, Yolanda

Report by Tom

Claire joined us for her second trip with the club, and Steve for his third. Classic trip to see Curry Inlet, with Chocolate Orange and Pringles provided by our leader Yolanda. She needs to lead more trips!

Report by Yolanda

Notts 2 is perhaps my all-time favourite cave. It was one of the first caves I ever did, and I clearly remember the wonder of seeing calcite formations for the first time. Since then, I have persuaded friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and my brother into this cave as part of my Notts 2 evangelism. On Saturday, I added Steve and Claire to my list of converts.

The entrance to Notts 2 is underneath a metal trapdoor a few meters from the road (one of the seldom mentioned perks of Notts 2 is that there’s no need to trudge for miles across a muddy moor in order to reach the cave). Steve looked slightly apprehensive when he realised the first part of the cave involved about 70 meters of climbing down scaffolding, but was persuaded by either the promise of a calcite waterfall and/or a chocolate orange at the bottom of the cave. After the scaffolding, there followed the usual bit of slithering before the cave opened out into a large streamway. We took a leisurely stroll along the stream, admiring the stalagmites, stalactites, helictites, and calcite curtains. Best of all is the calcite waterfall – five meters high, and as white as snow.

Enthusiastic cavers, beautiful formations, a sunny day, and a bacon sandwich from the burger van on the way home… what more could you want from a day out? Thanks Tom, Steve, and Claire for joining me on a trip to one of the world’s loveliest caves!

Lost Johns – Centipede training

Amber, Maz, Rhod, Tom

Another rescheduled trip due to the weather, Smeltmill Beck was rightly called off! We hastily organised a replacement leisurely SRT trip into Lost Johns, with Amber having completed indoor SRT training with Ray and raring to try it out underground. 

After a delayed start from a grim Leck Fell we made the short commute to the entrance. The stream was peaty brown and a little up, but nothing to be concerned about so we headed in to where the routes diverge. An entertaining/spooky traverse in the roof led to the New Roof Traverse, with the worst bits over Hole No. 1 roped up. 

We quickly found ourselves at the head of Hammer pitch, and Amber had a quick recap of how to get on the rope and made her way down like a pro, followed by the rest of us. Onwards to Mud pitch, and yet again a flawless descent by everyone. After a quick peer over the edge of Centipede and switching gear over we started to make our way out, with rain forecast to arrive about 10. Once again everyone performed valiantly on the ascents, and Rhod de-rigged. It was pouring rain by the time we reached the surface, and everyone except me enjoyed a luxury change out of the grim weather in the back of their vans 😑

Notts Pot – Centre Route

Claire, Scott, Tom, Paul

Originally planned as a Bye George trip, Scott then actually read the description a couple of days before and decided against it with the recent weather. A quick reschedule to Notts was taken up by Tom, prospective member Claire (an experienced caver) and, on the day, a nice chap called Paul. He’d turned up for a meet with his club (who shan’t be named for legal reasons) and had grown impatient at their ongoing wining and dining in Inglesport Cafe! We happily invited him, having 4 tackle bags between 3 people – the extra hand was very welcome.

We headed down the first few pitches at breakneck speed with Scott rigging. At the start of the lower streamway pitches however, progress became a little more sedate, with Tom’s promise of rigging the remainder quickly being abandoned due to laziness. Scott took the reins for the first awkward rift rig, but for the second one Tom stepped up and finally put some legwork in. The last big pitch was a really enjoyable rig, and we ambled down the final pitch on in-situ ropes left over from the Three Counties Traverse still in place.

After a snack break by the sump, the long ascent began, with Paul very kindly offering to de-rig the whole cave. Getting off the upper big pitch of the lower streamway into the awkward rift proved a struggle for all of us, but once past this it was plain sailing back up the lovely Centre Route, to emerge into the chilly drizzle. Just over 5 hours in total, and a fantastic trip for us all.

It’s A Cracker

Darren, James, Tom

Just three for this fantastic evening trip to one of Darren’s favourites, It’s A Cracker. By the end of the evening it was one of Tom and James’ favourites too.

We headed in with some of Darren’s site lights for a bit of photography, especially enjoying Park Bench Pitch.

Notts II

James, Maz, Pete, Rhod, Tom

Planned as an SRT trip up and over the bottom sump of Notts II to visit Notts III, we made our way down to find the streamway pretty powerful, which was surprising given there’d been no rain for a couple of days. Shows how much fell last week.

After a couple struggled down the water spout climb into the bottom chamber, we decided to sack it off given the job of getting the rest of the crew safely back up it on the way out, and instead had a long wander upstream to see the classic delights of Curry Inlet. 

On the way out, James and Rhod were dispatched to the flood bypass route for some muddy squeezing while the rest of us met them at the other side, and made our way out to a nippy night.

Rumbling Hole

Darren, Tim K, Tim D, Steve, Ray

Rumbling is always a great trip and this was no exception. Every pitch has something of interest.

Darren (our fearless leader for this trip) arrived early and got a head start on the rigging. The Tims followed shortly after, with Steve & Ray bringing up the rear. As seems normal this year, the midges were out in force at the entrance, so it was good to finally leave the surface. A bit of a scramble through the undergrowth at the top and it’s soon down to the famous hanging rebelay. Great fun! And all in daylight above a rather large drop. It’s always worth spending some time on the entrance pitch as there are a few things to see, including the waterfall over to one side and the traverse to the Dead Bobbin Series to the other.

At the bottom of the main hang is a nice descending traverse to a final drop to the floor (still all in daylight). Then it’s underground along an awkward little passage to the remaining pitches. Some have awkward take-offs, others have tight sections, others have both. Tim D decided to turn back before the final couple of pitches as he and I had been there not long ago. The rest of us were soon at the bottom, anticipating the long journey out.

Actually, the outward journey didn’t take long. Once back at the cars, Darren treated us to a nice cool beer. Cheers Darren, who also took most of the photos.

Shuttleworth Pot / Witches II

Ray, Tim K, Tim D, Sophie, Tom

This one never gets old. The midges were out in full force tonight forcing us underground as quickly as possible. A smooth descent down the Diver’s Pitch dropped us into Witches II, a quick look at the House of the Rising Sump before heading through to Painters Alley for the eye candy.

Lost Johns

Tim D, Tim K, Steve, Pete, Bob, Ray

A classic Dome-Centipede exchange, with Tim D rigging Centipede, followed by Bob & Tim K, and Ray rigging Dome, followed by Steve & Pete. All went smoothly and according to plan on the way in. Water levels were surprisingly low, not that it matters once you get past the entrance series. Team Centipede were at Dome Junction first, as would be expected, but they didn’t have to wait too long. Everyone did the full exchange, with Tim K derigging Dome and Ray derigging Centipede.

On Centipede, Steve went first, with Pete in the middle. Getting back to the cars, Ray was most surprised to find a Steve, but not a Pete. There was really only 1 possibility – Quicksand Passage! Obviously Pete must have zigged on the way out, when he should have zagged. There was nothing else for it – someone had to go back in to find him. Unfortunately, as Steve was already changed, it had to be yours truly. Thankfully, Pete was easily found and shown the correct passage.

Meanwhile, things weren’t going quite as planned on Dome. Bob had somehow managed to get lost while trying to locate the short prussic up to the window near the bottom of Dome pitch. The result was that the Tims had to partially derig the pitch and lower the rope to Bob. Bob was also a bit cream crackered for the rest of the exit, not having done much caving this year due to his broken shoulder.

Another great Wednesday evening trip!

Voldemort Hole

Darren, Tom, Scott, Yolanda, Ray

This is one of those caves that didn’t exist “back in my day”, so I’d been keen to have a look ever since hearing about it following my return to caving. Yolanda had also been eager to explore a new way in to her favourite cave (Notts II). Tales of the formations in the Haywagon were also interesting, so this trip had been eagerly anticipated ever since Darren put it on the meets list. It didn’t disappoint.

There was, of course, a bit of faff to find the entrance. Luckily Darren had previously left a pole sticking out of the wall at the appropriate point. Well, not so lucky after all, as the pole had either been removed or we just failed to spot it. Anyway, we eventually found the entrance and Darren set off down. The climb down to the 1st pitch is rather snug, but we all managed with just a bit of huffing and puffing.

At the bottom of the pitch we set off to marvel at the Haywagon… SRT kit off and being very careful! It’s certainly well worth a look, but I think we all felt a little nervous about the potential for damage. It’s probably something that every caver should see once, but only once. Tom then set off out as the Haywagon had been his goal for the evening. The rest of us continued towards Notts II.

Pitches 2 & 3 follow almost immediately. They were pre-rigged (as was pitch 1), so we didn’t bother to rig our own pull-through rope. On the 2nd pitch, it would be easy to continue down to the bottom if you didn’t know any better. Luckily Darren knew that we were supposed to swing off to the right partway down to traverse out to the proper pitch 3.

The passage between pitches 3 and 4 is basically a long crawl. I had been a bit concerned about this, having heard tales of tight, awkward crawling in water. But it really wasn’t that bad at all. The start (just below pitch 3) was the tightest bit, but soon opens out (relatively) to a hands and knees crawl. There’s just enough water to make it a bit unpleasant, but nothing scary. Further on, the passage becomes a bit more rifty and it’s just a matter of finding the right level. Staying low for most of it seems to work.

Eventually, we magically popped out at the top of the 4th (last) pitch (Oliver Lloyd aven in Notts II). This wasn’t pre-rigged, so Darren rigged our pull-through rope. He seemed to get down to the big ledge near the bottom without a hitch, so I followed him down, with Darren shouting some instructions that I couldn’t quite make out… until I saw the issue. While the live end of the rope just about reached the ledge, the pull-down end certainly didn’t. Luckily I was carrying the spare rope, so was able to tie it on as I passed. I still don’t know if this was precision rigging by Darren (with the live rope JUST reaching the ledge) or incredibly good luck that he didn’t have to prussic all the way back up to rerig. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

From the ledge there was just another short drop down into Notts II Inlet 7. Everyone made it down uneventfully and we all set off, with huge grins, for the Notts II main streamway. The streamway was as stomptastic as usual and we were all soon up the entrance climb.

This was a great trip and one that I will certainly be repeating. I reckon it shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours with a small party and you don’t stop to look at the Haywagon. Cheers Darren!