The poor weather forecast for the weekend combined with the high volume of rain which had been casting a dark shadow over the dales all week forced me to cancel plans first of finishing the Hammer Pot survey and carrying diving gear and secondly of doing Quaking. I was therefore in search of an interesting trip which was not prone to water hazards. I remembered a similar situation which had occurred in the past when Sam had suggested a round trip in County incorperating the Mancunian Way, so after some research with help from Matt Ewles we decided to go in County and take the Manchester Bypass to the high level route, then onwards to the Mancunian Way extensions where we would descend to Cloughs Passage and then take the Iraqnaphobia bypass to Dismal Junction to return to County (via Hall Hall, Platypus Junction and Razor Passage). We figured that we should be able to avoid the enormous crowds descending upon Easegill during NCHECC in these apparently seldom-visited extensions which sounded like a lot of fun.
After a night of merriment and drunken japery at the Farm I got into the tent just as Nadia was waking up to cook breakfast. I got up around 9 and we started to get ready. Nathan Walker, having had a very early night due to overzealous early alcohol consumption, took longer to get going than usual but soon we were ready to go, having also recruited Sarah and Shakiran to the team along with Nathan, Olly and myself (the original Quaking and Hammer team). County had been pre-rigged so that was nice. Soon down the pitch and stuck into the bypass, which made us all get quite sweaty. Once we were in Main Line Passage, we decided to follow this along to Snail Cavern rather than turn off at Main Line Terminus as we usually do. This was an excellent decision as Main Line Passage is a fine bit of passage, a good one to know. At Snail Cavern I descended first and gave the rope an expeerimental pull where it didn’t budge. We had rigged around the top knob of a big boulder. Nathan did some re-arranging and the rope ran much smoother so all descended.
The Mancunian Way begins with a load of dry, annoying crawling which goes on for a bit too long. This is completely made up for in the Nice Way, which is one of the best passages I’ve been to in Easegill. Soon we arrived at the pitches down to Cloughs Passage, which had in situ OUCC vintage ropes on them that were in pretty good condition. The second pitch is quite tight and shit to do using a stop, and also had a very big loose boulder at the top – care needed. We arrived at the bottom of Cloughs Aven where the streamway was pretty swollen, and headed off downstream, where we found Dismal Junction to be open, though with quite a lot of foam on the roof. We decided here to make a quick getaway to County streamway through with the water, not taking Iraqnaphobia. The water was extremely cold but was over rather quickly and soon we were past Platypus junction and heading up Razor and Mushroom Passages to Broadway. SUSS had conveniently rigged a ladder on the pitch facilitating a very swift exit. Out at 3pm to a very pleasant and sunny afternoon, with the level of Easegill Beck having fallen over a metre since we were underground. Great trip, would do again. Weekend was a banger as well, many thanks to RRCPC for trusting CHECC to not destroy Bullpot Farm.