Strangle Pot – AKA Dinny’s Attempt to Retire From Caving
Saturday, 3 May 2014
All I can see is mud. Lying flat out I try and push the large blob that was formerly a tackle bag forwards along the tube but it wont budge, firmly cemented in the peaty porridge. I try and lift an arm out of the cement-like slurry out in front of me but nothing happens ‘ entombed in mud. More strain and a trunk shaped blob of a heavy arm slowly sucks out of the mud. Gradually I manage to roll the bag one revolution before having to slump down again from the exertion. I sluggishly wriggle along the tube, up to the bag, pushing an ultra-slow-motion bow-wave in my wake, trying not to dip my face into the thick mud. There would be no way to wipe mud out of the eyes here when the entire body is coated in an inches thick layer of slop. This is the most squalid place I have ever been. A few minutes before, at the start of this horrible tube, Dinny has seriously contemplated turning around ‘ only the threat of a barrage of abuse for years to come from Beardy has compelled him onwards into the repulsive delights of Dementia Crawl (this being, after consideration, his preferred solution to this problem – narrowly beating the only other feasible resolution of murdering Beardy)
The journey progresses as such, intermittent periods of intense physical exertion to move the tackle painstakingly along a little further before lying panting in the putrid mess to recover a little for the next push. I lie still and listen to the sounds of exertion intermitted with sucking mud and cursing behind and am happy in the knowledge that everyone else is struggling just as much as me. A fit of chuckling starts from inside at the sheer absurdity of the activity we wilfully subject ourselves to. Finally everyone is through, arms trembling and weak from the exertion ‘ surely this shouldnt happen on the way IN to any normal cave.
Those who remain after this “early test of resolve continue, the rigging progressing down the caves remaining pitches in a ground-hog day repetition of tight rift rigged from precariously balanced scaffold bar, backed up to insignificant belay. To ensure the misery is complete, two low ducks guard the last two larger pitches, also rigged from scaffold or the odd ancient plate bolted to the wall.
The cave ends at the bottom of the largest 9th pitch where everyone is impressed by the excessively large well youll just have to go and see.
Upon return to Dementia Crawl, it is clear something has changed. A formerly dry section of tube near the end of the crawl now has 20cm of water in it. The drain appears to have blocked, and digging under the water at the corner where it used to be cannot locate the grill. Going for it is the only option, freezing water with a few ducks requiring a partial facial dunks, adrenaline pumping at the prospect of a non-passable section blocking the way out, but the passage gives up with a single short section of floating on the back. The water at least has aided by floating the bags above the grippy slurry. There is no water pouring into the crawl, just the usual trickle, and it has not rained ‘ a strange phenomenon, maybe I imagined the raised level, but the others agreed it was higher.
Now freezing, up three more pitches and this is it ‘ crack open the champers, Dinny has completed all the trips in NFTFH and can retire from caving. Hurray!!
It appears Dinny has made a FALSE claim, sparking a influx of angry letters from disillusioned fans everywhere. Only the traditional trade-route part of Cow Pot has been descended previously by the claimant! Not to mention Woodhouse Way… put that champagne away…
All in all, Strangle Pot is a horrid place, pretty physical, cold and perhaps not entirely worth the struggle of dementia. But a good tick nonetheless, at least we wont have to return. Perhaps the best anyone could do for Strangle Pot is to roll the big boulder in the shakehole over the entrance so that no-one else has to subject themselves to this level of depraved squalid misery ‘ but then, you love it dont you, you filthy little potholer.
Note to all applicants: Furry and thermals may be insufficient….