Saturday, 3 March 2007
The old gits rose again from their comfy chairs to go caving. The trip started in it’s normal fashion, Tim beating down the door of Inglesport, as it opened, wanting to buy shiny gear before a large breakfast. Rob, Ann and Richard turned up shortly afterwards. Two trip members failed to show including the leader. Luckily Rob had all the rope. We were able to query some doyens of the caving world (Beardy) as to the caves location and away we went.
The first thing we did was to ignore Beardy’s advice on where to park. If doing Aquamole it is in the field with the sheep folds in by the road, not the one straight after the one with Valley Entrance in. The other thing we did was drive our cars off the road and onto the very soft grass verge. Leaving getting off the verge as a problem for later we set off up the hill and onto the bench.
After 20 mins of searching the wrong field for Jingling (the landmark for finding Aquamole) we finally spotted the Jingling tree in the other field and headed over. Aquamole was easy to find; although the ‘large spoil heap’ marking the entrance was more a very small pile. We were surprised to find a rope already down the entrance but did not let that put us off. (It later transpired this is left in for the divers.) As it was Robs rope we were using he got to rig. And a fine job he did too. The first two pitches are more a series of short almost climbable pitches separated by re-belays. The rest of us tumbled down behind Rob in a semi controlled way as we escaped from the bitterly cold wind on the surface. The short awkward crawl after the second pitch was short and awkward. We found and descended the third pitch in the prescribed manner and followed the stream to the top of the forth.
Rob was first there. A finer stream of incredulous wonderment and expletives I have never heard. The rigging of the fourth looked like it would need several leaps of faith and wild ‘bold steps’ to complete. Luckily after a bit of prodding and several ‘there is no *$^*()$$!! way I am stepping out over that’ comments Rob spotted the proper way to rig the pitch; straight down through the slot in the floor; rather than over the top to the far wall.) Soon he was zipping down to what can be rigged as either a deviation or rebelay. Rob rigged as a rebelay and the Sam Allshorne for the next. (The rigging guide shows both these as deviations and states the second only needs to be rigged in very wet weather. By having these as rebelays we were able to speed up the ascent.) Next down was Ann who nearly overshot the first rebelay. She stopped in time and after a small ‘faff’ was soon on her way. Richard was down next. Quickly passed the first reblay only to get strung up on the second. This was so bad it necessitated a total restart of the whole process. Tim brought up the rear. He got so totally hung up on the first rebelay that he aborted and went back up. To be fair it would be true to say he did not miss much. The bottom of the fourth pitch is the sump with nothing else to see.
The return was, as the Haynes Manual would say, a reversal of the inward trip. We were all quickly up the forth big pitch and then slowly back up through the rest of the cave dragging an ever increasing amount of rope with us. The surface was soon reached at about 5:15, Tim was not going to make the ULSA AGM at 5:30 in the Tan Hill!
Returning to the cars we were able to drive two out and push the other. Tim and Rob took off up Kingsdale to the Tan Hill. Richard and Ann went back to Ingleton to drop off lights and stuff. Taking their time they went via Hawes and Keld to the Tan Hill where they arrived before Tim and Rob. Sometimes the shortest route is not the fastest.
Trip Casualties: One pheasant on the Ingleton to Hawes road.