Arun Paul, Ben Honan, Cecilia Kan, Dave Kirkpatrick, Dave Wilson, David Wilson, Jack Halliday, James Perry, James Wilson, Jarvist Frost, Rhys Tyers, Zaeem Najeeb, Matti Mitropoulos, Alan Deacon, Ellie Pizey, Linus Thümmel
Brown Hill: Cecilia Kan, Dave Kirkpatrick, James Wilson, Rhys Tyers
Lost John's cave: Arun Paul, Ben Honan, Dave Wilson, David Wilson, Jack Halliday, James Perry, Jarvist Frost, Zaeem Najeeb, Matti Mitropoulos, Alan Deacon, Ellie Pizey, Linus Thümmel
Incredible preparation via email meant that we had already decided on Lost John’s cave, hence only needed to pack rope and decide groups. Two were to go down centipede, one heading in earlier to rig, and I joined Jarv, Ben and Ellie down Dome. We were so efficient, we even managed to get underground before midday; luckily the centipede team got lost on the 1 minute walk from the car park so they weren’t in the cave till a couple minutes later – we narrowly avoided the wrath of the gods, as per usual.
The stream leading into the entrance was no more than a trickle due to the previous dry spell so we weren’t expecting much water inside, so we decided to wet the ropes at the first opportunity since we weren’t sure if there’d be another. Jarv and Ben shared the rigging out between them so it occurred without hiccoughs, and the hop through the window was as fun as the stories had promised.
Our horrendously efficient prep paid off again at the junction, since candle and shistol, battle-axe traverse and Final all required the same length of rope, so each of the three teams carried one 30m rope bag, and whoever arrived first could begin rigging immediately. We arrived first, so we began rigging immediately. Soon after, the centipede teams caught up, and we crossed the battle-axe and descended into Valhalla.
Unfortunately this was where our planning ran out – there was total chaos as people arbitrarily decided when to turn around, but couldn’t communicate this to people already down the pitch, so people waited for others who never came, those at the bottom didn’t know what was derigged etc. I descended down Valhalla, listened to Jarv’s crazy stories of past trips while waiting at the bottom, before following Ben down to Final. At the very bottom a handful of us walked the short way to the master streamway (super low) and turned around there. On the way up the derigging was shared quite equally – I did Candle and Shistol – and we all headed out.
The evening featured a particularly competitive pot and sling with NUCC, and the cardboard box game, where I discovered I could go a lot lower than I expected, but also head butted a NUCC member and a table in the process.
I found the SRT much more enjoyable this time round, maybe I’m starting to get the hang of it?
The group was quite large so there was a fair amount of waiting around where we learnt about the best way to drink your own piss and had a sales pitch from Perry about his knee pads. Dave Wilson appeared at some point.
Some people eventually got bored of the waiting and turned around but a few of us went down to the streamway and walked along a little. The streamway was not as interesting as I had been led to believe and there was a distinct lack of water but it was fun nonetheless.
That evening I was introduced to the painful but rewarding world of caving games. Cecilia and I won pot and sling by a combination of size and relative sobriety. Some of our competition was taken out by mitigating circumstances (something, something “toilet fucked. Send champagne”).
Later I made the fatal mistake of getting into bed in the dark in order to cause minimum disturbance which led to me falling over an NUCC caver who was asleep in the middle of the floor. Sorry!
Notts Pot 2: David Wilson, James Wilson, Jarvist Frost, Matti Mitropoulos, Ellie Pizey, Linus Thümmel
An unknown alarm woke me after too few hours sleep, and I couldn’t get back to sleep so descended to assist the eggy bread and bacon’s heating. The cave options were Shuttleworth and Notts 2 – I had never been to Notts 2 and had heard many stories about its ridiculous entrance so was keen to discover the rare vertical yet SRT-less cave.
Davey brought down some buoyancy aids to float down the canal to the sump, but on the walk down we met a cave diver who asked us not to go into the sump as he was diving there and so didn’t want the gravel plane collapsing on him, or something like that.
The entrance ‘pitch’ lived up to the hype – the crazy scaff, bricks, foam and random shit lining the walls was very fun to clamber around in, and the tightness made it feel quite safe despite the potential long drop down. Once inside the actual cave we followed the water upstream to hopefully reach the canal Davey wanted to explore. The cave diver and friends we had met near the entrance overtook us on the way as we were exploring the occasional branching passage and admiring the stals and straws, and hence met them waiting at the start of the canal. They had gone in a little but turned around once it got to chest height. Davey, James, Ellie and I cautiously waded in, getting to chest height quite quickly, but pushing on a little until the water became quite shallow again, eventually turning into walking passage again. At no point did it exceed neck height, so the buoyancy aids were not required and all of us made it to the end. We arrived at the sump just in time to see the diver emerge from the murky water – first a faint orange light appeared, getting gradually brighter and brighter until he ascended out in a flurry of bubbles. We kept our word and didn’t enter the sump, instead having a look down a side passage, that seemed at first to be a bypass to the sump but ended quite abruptly at an old dig. We turned around.
We followed the master streamway downstream, past the way up, to get to the downstream sump. I had kept the buoyancy aid on and it was surprisingly warm and comfortable – noticeably so as I was completely soaked from the canal. I slipped on a climb down a small waterfall near the bottom as I was getting a bit tired and fell onto a blunt knife edge of rock. Normally my chest would have been quite bruised, but my buoyancy aid provided a thick layer of padding which meant I was completely fine. They didn’t serve their intended purpose, but helped out in unexpected ways. I might just buy one and bring it to some SRT-less caves; it made everything so much nicer.
I said I wanted to cave and then promptly zoned out of any cave discussion so it was only in the car park when I was told I didn’t need SRT kit that I thought to ask what cave I was going to. As soon as the entrance was described to me I knew I’d been to Notts2 before. It had previously been one of my favorite caves and this trip did not disappoint.
A recycled haiku about the entrance from around 3 years ago (it really doesn’t feel like three years, damn you Covid):
What’s that over there?
Climbing down the scaffolding
Could be asbestos
Davey brought buoyancy aids (“you pervert!”-Jarv) but the water level was lower than I remembered and I managed to stay dry for a surprising amount of time. This also meant that the buoyancy aids weren’t strictly necessary and I managed to go through the canal without quite getting up to neck height. This was my first time seeing cave diving in action and it was fun to watch the little orange light turn into a full person.
Notts 2 is very beautiful and the entrance is a lot of fun. Would highly recommend for anyone looking for an SRT-less trip in Yorkshire.
The journey back was pretty smooth, featuring a weird radio 1 programme, the difference in the toilet advertising between men and women’s bathrooms and a well timed Bella Ciao despite coming from a different direction to usual.