Valley Entrance: Jack Halliday, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck
A vehicle was acquired from my parents house last weekend and we finally had a booking at the NPC. Caving had not occurred since last October so you can imagine our excitement. I got up early, cycled to the lab, scienced, cycled home and we left for the Dales at around 2 pm. I was the only driver but it went very quickly (also wtf how is Banbury Morrisons only like 1 hour from our house!?) and we arrived at the NPC around 8 pm. The weather for the coming days was predicted to be abysmal but it was lovely this evening so Jack, Ana and I decided to have a swift trip in Jingling. By the time we got to Kingsdale we realised it may be a bit stressful to get to Jingling and be back at a reasonable time so we changed tact and went in Valley entrance instead. Jack had recently (read: at least a year ago) been to a place unknown to me called Toyland which promised a small amount of all the fun things caving provides in little time. Instead of taking a right towards the streamway (the normal route) we took a left. This lead to a bit of pebbly crawling (yikes my knees are sensitive now) which went on for almost too long before opening up. There was then a small climb up on the right which brought us to the bottom of a small pitch (there is shiny in situ rope), with a couple of rebelays. The pitch was fairly narrow but nothing too challenging. There was then a bit of a squeeze, the kind that makes you feel skilled without fearing the need for washing up liquid, before a traverse that had thankfully been rigged since Jack was there last. After the traverse is a moderately sized chamber with some vague pretties. We decided to turn around at the chamber in the interest of sleep and callouts but apparently there is a further crawl that maybe leads to attractive things. The way down was slightly more challenging as the rigging was so tight that descender locking wasn’t possible but nothing too terrifying as it’s a small pitch with little fear. We were all in an excellent mood on the way out, filled with renewed cave fungus and adrenaline. We sang Lead of Mine whilst we crawled (breathing was challenging) and quickly emerged into pleasant darkness.
Lancaster Hole: Dave Kirkpatrick, Jack Halliday, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck
Due to the aforementioned bad weather (wet), we were forced to venture to high level Easegill in the interest of not drowning. Una made the likely wise decision to work at the hut instead of caving, so Jack, Ana and I (plus DKP!) were the humans doomed to mud. Since none of us knew much of the routes in Easegill, we opted to go down Lanc and have a bimble in the general direction of the Minarets, via Stake Pot and Fall Pot. When we got to Bull Pot farm, it was quite rainy and we changed rapidly. Jack went to piss and the wind took an unfortunate turn, leading to accidental optical urination. Another duo of cavers were apparently also going to rig Lanc (but actually go in a different route and this would be their exit) but they left before us so we envisioned little crossover. We trundled over the muddy and occasionally shit covered path, briefly encountering a large number of young cows which gave me flashbacks to the murder cows in Slov, and quickly arrived at Lanc to find the other cavers moving rope around on the surface. They apparently had packed their rope poorly (?) and were sorting it out before descending. DKP was volunteered to rig and the rest of us chilled on the surface, discovering that the other cavers were from Cambridge and were staying with family. Apparently they are not open for non-members at this time. I think we all found it easy to get back into SRT but the horizontal stuff felt a bit abnormal. We made our way to Bridge Hall and stopped off at the Colonnades. This involves a free climb/traverse which I found to be highly terrifying and decided was not worth it. Jack and Dave went to the Colonnades whilst Ana and I questioned whether or not caving was awful.
We then made our way to Fall Pot. I can no longer remember much about the route, but it was mainly mud and excessive boulders. Fall Pot is a large chamber, with two in situ ropes facilitating a climb down to the lower level. Jack and I opted for the classic SRT route whilst Ana and Dave went for the slightly climby route that does also allow SRT apparently. The route to Stake Pot from here was just a tad Fear ™ inducing on account of the frequency of large holes accompanied by slippery mud but no death or extreme trauma occurred. Stake Pot itself is stupid and I do think it is probably worth bringing your own rope for ease. You are basically in a large chamber with a sort of bridge of boulders in the centre (which is lower than you and the passage beyond). You basically descend down to the bridge via rope which starts off as SRT and then has knots in so has to be handlined (this was a bit yucky, but definitely fine when not out of practice). You then walk along the bridge (plus rope) and ascend the other side, which is once again marred with alpines. After this there is more annoying holey floor and then eventually the Minarets is supposed to appear. Alas, we did not find it before reaching our turnaround time.
We made our way out and it was excessively hot and I was overjoyed to reach our shiny rope dangling down from the ceiling. We expected horrific weather as we emerged so decided to split into two groups, DKP and Ana would go first and zoom to car location whilst I stayed with Jack who was to derig. As I reached the entrance tube, I was shocked by bright light, and assumed the others were for some reason there and shining their lights on me. I soon realised this was actually the sun, and the weather was somewhat glorious. The others had waited and we all made it back to Bull Pot Farm together in the glorious not-rain.
An evening of extreme normality occurred and we almost forgot the C word.
Lost Johns': Jack Halliday, Rebecca Diss, Úna Barker, Ana Teck
Seeing as no fresh humans were present, we decided a Sunday trip to Lost John’s’’’ was highly attainable. The weather was quite lovely, although we did have to park in a swamp-like location because the parking spot was filled with doggers. I went for an obligatory Leck Fell piss and my shoes were an unfortunate target. We reached the cave at basically 12 (the caving gods were appeased) and Ana and I dunked the rope in the stream. Yikes water is heavy. We decided to split the rigging, I would take the first section and Ana would rig the final pitches. The water level was good and nobody was defeated by the traverses. Rigging was great fun. Lost Johns is a comforting place, the walls are always so close to you. Why can’t all caves be like this?
Much singing occurred and rigging duties were passed to Ana. We soon realised it was fairly late and decided to turn around, although Ana didn’t really get a say in the matter as she was hiding in a window on the pitch below. In hindsight, this was a mistake as we are way faster at prussicking than rigging and descending but oh well. It was an excellent trip nonetheless.
Yikes, caving is fun. Cannot wait for this to occur on a more frequent basis, and with more humans in the (hopefully) near future!