Given the very dry, settled weather, we decided to visit Juniper Gulf on the Allotment. Aiming for a very causal start, myself and Caroline tried to look busy, myself in particular moving one wellie at a time to the van, while Matt threatened not to cave: a silent protest on the sofa in a dressing gown.

Midday found myself and Matt in the chapel packing rope (where was all the 9mm hiding?) whilst Caroline bought breakfast. We retrieved Luke, for some inexplicable reason went to Bradford and then joined a parade of gypsie caravans. I was confused, because I thought we were supposed to be caving.

When parking in Crummack Dale, the walk to the cave is gentle, but about 45 minutes long. Matt easily found it by following an OS map as far as a field boundary and following the river until it sinks into the rift. The water level was very low, although we found foam much above head-height later in the cave.

The cave is characterised by relatively long, sometimes exposed traverses, four with rope. Sometime after 3 pm, Matt began rigging the first pitch, we traversed over the cascades (essential in wet weather) and dropped the second pitch. The Bad Step traverse is a crawl with sharp scallops that welcomes knee pads, which sadly Matt was lacking.

Matt takes a strong anchor position while rigging the first pitch.

The third pitch can become impassable in wet weather. Due to prior conservative rigging, we used the traverse rope to drop the pitch after a Y-hang, although this left Matt bobbing too many meters from the floor. Too lazy to come back up and refusing to requests for more information, he waited whilst Luke dropped the next rope down for him to changeover onto. After collecting the unrequired rope at the top of the pitch, Luke descended, leaving me and Caroline to review the bird’s nest of rubbing and crossing rope. After a bit of modification, we descended beyond the ledge; a few meters from the true floor and explored a wet puddle for a way. A free climb gets you back on the ledge for an exposed traverse. Caroline paused just before me, potentially to remind us what a nice life we’ve had so far.

Deciding to go on, the fourth pitch is an impressive 50m deep, in a wide (10m) shaft. We put a sling on the last climb down towards the sump. After discussing in an awkward rift that it was a nice trip, we left, myself derigging and leaving some items of ascending gear dotted around the cave for extra adventure and hardship. #Doubledaylight #doublesunshine

Lessons:

  • There’s a lot of rope (270m) for not a lot of down (128m).
  • Consider attaching hand jammer more permanently to self.

With the false promise of George and SUSS members, Luke forced us to turn our back on everyone at GG and the dump. A good trip before expo for carrying lots of rope and that one big-ish pitch. Thanks to Matt for driving, rigging and confidently finding the cave.