Pool Sink to Wretched via many Straw Chambers
Sunday, 6 November 2016

We have a very strong group of freshers this year who have displayed much keenness and willing to push themselves and improve. Therefore, I decided that we needed to branch out from the usual drudgery of freshers trips that it is all too easy to get locked into and instead head to somewhere I had never been before. Pool Sink is an entrance to Easegill which fitted these criteria and also offered the chance to visit the elusive Straw Chamber.

After a long day on Saturday (up at 7 for digging then out watching tent metal til late) I was quite tired on Sunday. A very healthy number of freshers had been assembled for this trip so it seemed that many groups going to different places would be a good idea. CSJ, Kristian and Amy headed to Lancaster to do the high level traverse (with some stream mixed in), Panties and the Stalker headed to County to go through to Wretched and myself, George and Nadia headed to Top Sink with Typhon, Zoe and Lilla. Our entry to the cave was delayed by people deliberately faffing and by Lilla having a welly that was far too small, so she had to return to the hut to get a welly 6 sizes too big and the wrong foot (and yellow). Nadia was coaxed to the entrance with promises of it not being very far from the people on the horizon.

It was pretty cold and windy on the fell, and it was raining a bit, but Pool Sink was in fact very dry. I rigged the first pitch, but on arrival at the bottom I discovered that the ropes had been packed in the wrong order so had to reascend. By this time, everyone was present so I got Nadia to rig this pitch, which she did very well. I rigged the second and third pitches as by now it was half 3 and getting on a bit, then Zoe rigged the fourth pitch. It was dry enough that only 3 of the bolts were required rather than a full traverse to the Y hang. Nadia almost got me with a very naughty trick in the waterfall. The passages between pitches were extremely satisfying stream canyons. A great entrance, far superior to Lancaster Hole and with only 1 technical piece of SRT (deviation on the first pitch).
Then we were off and on toward the Main Drain. We had soon navigated past the Bacon Slicer (follow your nose) and then crawled under a large block in the stream (hands and knees) after some winding in fossil canyon passage. From here, crawl onwards and then turn right in a crawl towards a larger sounding stream. At the T junction with this stream, turn right (upstream) and continue for 15m then head into a dried up cobble floored streambed. Climb upwards and back on yourself to enter a large higher level chamber with some nice pretty straws (this is not Straw Chamber). I think this could be Easter Grotto or Thackrays Passage?

From here, stay to the left of the chamber and traverse along til you get to the Main Drain at Holbeck Junction(?). Turn left (downstream) and climb up high over a boulder slope to reach the extremely impressive and vast Straw Chamber. We stayed and marvelled at this for a bit, and I felt much better, now knowing where I was after being a bit lost before due to discrepancy between what I found and the description I had written in the minibus. We then continued to head downstream via the high level boulders til we got to Stop Pot. By this time, it was about 5:30 so we decided not to push time by taking the more complicated route out of County and instead to go out of Wretched. We still went up the ladder to show the freshers the High Level traverse and flod escape route direction via the Manchester Bypass turnoff at Main Line Terminus (and also because I misread my description and forgot briefly how to get to Wretched). Main Line Terminus was jokingly touted as another candidate for Straw Chamber, with Nadia giving me a rather testing time.

We then exited out of Wretched via the dry route (not going to Ulrika Jonsson). The dry route was particularly dry and Lilla got quite thirsty, her extra-large welly not helping her on the climbs. I was heavily berated by George for going the wrong way out of Wretched at the climbs, for which I admit there was little excuse. I then headed back down Pool Sink to derig while the others headed back across the fell. Soon we were all back and finishing Newcastle’s leftovers from their weekend at the farm (I scored a whole bottle of wine!) while we waited for CSJ to return.
Excellent trip. Thanks to CSJ, George and the Stalker for driving.