Notts II – 13th Jan 2016

13.01.2016 Notts II          Damian, Andy (Damian’s friend), Gareth, Tim D, Jason

After the recent weather I feared the we wouldn’t get far, but as my last trip was way back on Hallowe’en I signed up.  As it turned out, water levels in the stream were pretty much normal.


Heading upstream, I had to investigate Inlet 6.5¾. The stories were quite true – after about 10 metres the passage is completely blocked with sand. No doubt someone will take this on as a digging project – the sand looks very easy to move, but it’s impossible to tell how much there is of it, possibly many tons!

We continued to Curry Inlet (I think – I’m never quite sure which inlet is which), which was even prettier than I remembered, although a tide mark around head height is visible on some of the stal. There were plenty of photo opportunities for Gareth.

At the far end of the inlet, a dig seems to be in progress, in disgustingly gloopy mud.

Turning back, we had a quick look up inlet 2b (or not..?) giving Gareth another opportunity to photograph Damian up to his chest in the canal.  The accompanying artistic shot is in a drippy bit of streamway on the way back.

Good fun, and nice to be underground after the long break.

Notts II (Inlet 6.5¾) – 19th August 2015

Notts II – Inlet 6.5¾: Tim D, Darren, Jason

The advertised trip was Voldemort, which was why I bothered with the 2½-hour drive from West Bretton where I’d been all day.  But on the way, the rain set in and the prospect of pulling-through to find the snug crawl full of water was a little off-putting, so we decided to look at inlet 6.5¾ instead.

This was some consolation, as I’d never been there.  The water levels were back to normal from the torrent 3 weeks earlier, and we quickly came to the junction on the right of the upstream passage.  Some easy passage soon leads to the sparkling white stal formations.

A little backtracking leads to a left turn which links to inlet 5.  On the way are yet more fine formations, one or two sadly besmirched by a careless muddy glove (a mini conservation project is called for here – half an hour with a bottle of water and a nail brush would make a big improvement!).

Unfortunately, it also involves some crawling in disgusting gloopy mud.  There are compensations, though – as you wallow on your back there are some solution cavities in the ceiling a few inches away.  These contain some beautiful crystalline deposits and helictites.  I was reminded of the Oscar Wilde quote “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Returning to the streamway, we continued upstream to the canal in inlet 2b (or not…?).  A good opportunity to wash the gloop off by avoiding the traverse above the canal and having a bracing wade, and even a brief swim at one point.  We warmed up again by a quick march downstream and out. As a final bonus, it actually stopped raining long enough for us to get changed!

Cupcake to Committee Pot – 28th October 2012

The Cupcake – Committee Pot: Richard M, Tim D, Jason

I’d been looking forward to this trip: the combination of one of the newer discoveries in the Three Counties system, some nice pretties and a through trip was enticing.  But I knew my companions would take some keeping up with, they being well-known members of the species Homo Ferrous Troglodytes.

According to Richard’s informant, all ropes were in place except for the short entrance pitch, which was a bonus, so we were quickly at the bottom and able to see The Cupcake in all its glory

– along with many other pristine stal formations and a host of long straws.  Care has to be taken to avoid these on the next little pitch, and more fine formations follow.  The following pitch is aptly named “Mud” and is a portent of things to come, but the going is still easy although a generous coating of mud does nothing for one’s SRT kit.  Then there’s an upward pitch, short but made longer by having to wipe gobs of gloop off the rope at each prussik step.  The next section of passageway is reasonably roomy but requires great care to avoid breaking or clarting-up some more nice formations.  It’s hard not to see this section deteriorating with more visitors.

From here the trip showed its less agreeable side; crawls in sharp hardcore, then mud, then some tight bits before we came to Bendall’s Dilemma.  We had understood this to be a hard squeeze, but we passed it with only a little thrutching and cursing.  We were rewarded by emerging into the fine large chamber of Hubert Carstairs II.  Following on into Hubert Carstairs I,we were presented by a choice of ascending ropes.  Richard took the right-hand one and after some doubtful mutterings, Tim investigated that on the left.  I thought it important for someone to stay in the middle to relay messages (and avoid unnecessary climbing).  After a while, Richard located a third rope, much shorter than the other two, which was the way on.  There swiftly followed another short ascent in a rift.  Short, but tight and awkward, bloody awkward – at least to me.  Richard cheerfully said “you got your money’s worth out of that one!”

Not long afterwards is the “Inverse Superman”squeeze, a U-bend followed by a constriction with a lump of rock cunningly sited at chest level.  A curious balletic episode ensued.  Richard goes first, passing through like an eel.  Jason makes a feeble and unsuccessful attempt to remove his SRT kit, attempts the squeeze, jams his croll against the lump, retreats, advances, jams and retreats again.  Tim reaches over and manages to divest Jason of his harness.  Jason advances – and passes!  Two sets of SRT kit and a helmet are passed forward. Tim advances, jams and retreats twice, then calls for Richard to push from behind.  Jason lies down, Richard crawls back over him.  Somehow his mere presence encourages Tim to a final, successful push. Then Richard crawls over Tim and back through the squeeze to retrieve Tim’s descender which had parted company from him in the fun.

After that, I’d like to say it was all plain sailing.  I’d like to, but it was actually a long grim crawl.  Not without variety though; sideways thrutching, flat-out crawling in mud, flat-out crawling in water.  And all the way pushing a ball of tangled straps and mud that was the SRT kit.  Eventually – eventually – we reached the top of the pitches at the top of Count Lazlo Stroganoff’s Aven.  At least one could sit up, just, though I found untangling my kit and putting it on in that position took so long that by the time I got to the bottom Tim was considering mounting a rescue.  On the last couple of pitch sections, the noise of rushing water became more noticeable.  Could this be the Notts II streamway ?  It could – it was.  Hallelujah!

Richard had already headed out to derig, so we were faced with the quandary of which way to go.  Knowing the inlet (Sir Digby Spode’s) was between the exit and Curry Inlet, it should have been obvious to head downstream.  But by this time, I was beyond rational thought, so we headed upstream for a bit against quite a sporting current (which cleaned up the gear a bit at least) before Tim decided we’d gone wrong.  After rather more streamway than we’d been expecting, we found the familiar passage and headed out for the jumble of scaffolding, ladders and breeze blocks – and daylight.

I was quite surprised, having felt the trip to have gone so long I was expecting darkness, but it was only 4:15.

So, a trip I’d thoroughly recommend to anyone – as long as I don’t have to come with them!

PS – If, like me, you’ve wondered at the origins of the colourful names of the various inlets and chambers of Notts II, you can find some clues here: