Yorkshire IV


Ben Richards, Dave Wilson, David Wilson, Ellie Pizey, Chris Hayes, Jan Kożuszek, Astrid Rao, Julien Jean, Laura Temple, Kevin Sohn, Janak Subberwal


Thanks to a booking mix-up, the minibus wasn't in the parking lot, it was instead, en-route from Wales! Oh dear. The geologists responsible were apologetic as they handed over the key at 7pm shortly before we shot off for peteborough. On the way we were quite bored and took part in some "events" for our entertainment (these shall not be explained). For some weird reason the A1 was shut, and in a desperate attempt to get back on, our navigators bravely tried driving the wrong way down the sliproad... THRICE! Eventually, after driving around a roundabout twice only to take the wrong exit (Jan later explained, the executive descission was made to simply leave the roundabout and try again) we made it to ASDA were Davey was waiting impatiently. Pushing onwards, we arrived at 2am in the NPC and went to bed.

Chris H

10pm and we’re only getting to Peterborough as we only got the bus at 7pm and then we got hit by tactically placed roadworks. While Ellie and I were trying to direct Kevin, the back of the bus descended into complete chaos with [REDACTED] and many primal screams. At some point Julien loudly announced that he’d just been vibrated.

As I’m typing this Astrid has just [REDACTED] into the [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]. Let me reiterate we’re only now getting to Peterborough, this will be a long drive.

Still here we’ve done two loops around a roundabout and left the way we came in.

11pm we’re out of Peterborough and Davey is driving. I’m no longer in the front but the insanity at the back has waned. Ben dropped his sausage and then flashed Astrid though.

Midnight we are learning knots

1 am we just passed the sign for Tropical World, tantalising in its vagueness. Sleep is slowly taking Chris.

I seem to have initiated a general programme of hydration.

2:15 am we’re here and so are all the sheep and the full moon I’m going to sleep

Addendum as verified later it wasn’t quite the full moon, as that would happen the following night.


I had initially tried to write up the GPF report but this quickly descended into [REDACTED]. Janak did an amazing job of protecting the cake with his life. Julien did not leave his seat throughout the [REDACTED] or the [REDACTED] or even, shockingly, the [REDACTED]. What an amazing bus journey.

Going multiple times around a roundabout meant we performed what can only be described as a "re-peterborough", after which David started driving and things eventually settled down in the back. Thank goodness for the photos.


Snow still visible on the top of Ingleborough.


Bull Pot: Dave Wilson, Julien Jean

I think Julien and DW went to Bull pot for rigging practice, but there's a small chance this was some other typical West Kingsdale rigging cave. Regardless they didn't write anything about their trip. Sadness.


Marilyn -> Bar Pot: Chris Hayes, Laura Temple, Janak Subberwal

A very pleasant day to hike up to Gaping Gill.

After a delicious breakfast was prepared and those still asleep awoken by Chris testing the new whistles to make sure they functioned properly, talk rapidly began about the day’s caving. It was decided that a three way Gaping Gill exchange would suit our needs wonderfully, the entrances chosen were Bar, Stream and Marilyn; despite Chris’ insistence that we should attempt DRYhedral. Ellie described Marilyn as some SRT followed by a long, grim, wet flat out crawl - right up my street - thus the team of Chris, Laura and myself was assembled. Faff ensued and rope was packed, I say faff, it was actually remarkably efficient.

We reached the car park and immediately began changing into our caving kit, much to the amusement of the onlooking hikers, a couple of whom offered to join us on our endeavours. We then began the hour long hike up the fell, once reaching the top we split into our individual groups of three and proceeded to Marilyn. Laura began rigging the first pitch and was followed by Chris. I went last as I tried not to decapitate myself with the heavy metal gate as I closed it. The first pitch was descended fairly easily, despite it being just a little tight, though I could not have imagined rigging it due to the four rebelays in the cramped conditions.

The second pitch was where the trip started to take a turn. I heard a terrifyingly loud crash as a large rock decided to hurl itself down the pitch in front of us. Laura proceeded down the pitch, dutifully rigging as the topo showed, one deviating about halfway down the pitch, however upon looking up, noticed a significant amount of rope rub, Chris then followed along with more rocks and tightened the deviation, he also added a rebelay lower down for good measure, and thus began the beautiful hybrid of Laura and Chris’ rigging, half done on maillons and half on carabiners, a delight for anyone following or derigging. Anyway, I followed cautiously trying not to send any rocks down the pitch despite the landing area having been quickly evacuated, only to find that Chris had not merely “tightened” the deviation, it was tighter than a violin string, I am sure it could have played a note. After five minutes of flailing about in space bemoaning my lack of arm strength, I made it past this obstacle.

Pitch three should have been much simpler however when Laura had a perfectly good bowline invert and slip up to the bolt on her, Chris retied it and we moved on - yet more hybrid rigging. At this point, we realised that if we wanted to meet the others at our specified turnaround time of 17:30 we would need to pick up the pace. Chris rapidly rigged the last two pitches and we proceeded into the main event, the low wet grim crawl.

We powered through the crawl without stopping for breath once, this may have been a blessing in disguise as it meant we never had time to consider our situation. We reached the squeeze at the end and it was navigated with relative ease despite being a helmet and SRT bag off job for me, a water bottle was immediately presented to me as I exited the squeeze and it was relayed that we would have to dash through the final sand cavern series to avoid turning around and facing the crawl though this time tired and wet. A mad, mainly stooping dash through sand caverns ensued and with sublime navigation from Chris, we reached the waiting Bar crew with mere minutes to spare, our ordeal over we caught our breath and enjoyed some cave food, waiting anxiously for the Stream crew to appear with their reverse Marilyn descriptions, allowing them to navigate their way out. And appear they did, at the very last second.

The magnificent main chamber.

We all then proceeded to the main chamber, a sight I was anxious to see having read and heard about its amazing grandeur and waterfall, some pictures were taken and a cave sausage demolished before we all proceeded back to the relative warmth of sand caverns. The group exiting out of Stream rapidly departed and thus the Bar and Marilyn exiting groups were left. We all departed together and a spontaneous race started, I’m not sure why, I suspect it may have been because someone didn’t want to carry the spare maillons out. When we reached the base of Bar we began discussing what we would do when we got out as we had the shortest exit, the options were: change at minibus and go to the pub, change at the minibus and stay there or do not change at the minibus and hike back to the NPC to begin dinner preparations. I was most in favour of the pub, however sense won and we decided on the final option. Laura proceeded rapidly up the free hang and then sent her pantin down on a makeshift zipline, I then began my much slower ascent and having never used a pantin before, I was unable to make best use of it. Having reached the top, I sent the pantin back down but was unable to identify the way on so waited for Chris, he found it immediately and then we moved onto the slab and the final pitch, after struggling with the final squeeze I was greeted by a chilly Laura. Chris followed soon after and having left the obligatory descender at the top, we began the hike down hill, passing the Victorian folly and questioning the entry price for the nature walk, we reached the car-park in no time.

SRT kit was dumped, we collected our warm, dry kit and a couple of ciders for the walk and the route planned, Laura’s wild guess of a half hour walk turned out to be correct. A lovely passerby offered us a lift in his car, however we declined due to our state of muddiness. Upon reaching the NPC, we got warm and dry and then started on supper, pasta bake with two cheeses, how fancy, with help from DW and Julien who had returned before us from their rigging trip. A while later the group exiting out of Stream return and Davey exclaimed that the Marilyn group would have to walk back, I stared at him in horror before he explained that they would be a while yet and that either he or Kevin would return to pick them up. The rest of the evening was spent eating pasta bake and the delightful cake that Laura had baked, which had miraculously survived the minibus journey up unscathed. Overall, a productive and enjoyable Saturday of caving.

Low quality evidence of us reaching the main chamber.


After repeatedly asking to do dyhedral, I at least got to do Gaping Gill. Marilyn, Stream, and Bar were chosen, with a 5:30 main chamber turn-around. I opted for Marilyn as it sounded the most fun, taking Laura for rigging, and Janak for the ride. Food was eaten, rope was packed, faffing was done, and we left the clappham car park at 1pm.

Finding the Entrance to Marilyn is easy, it's just behind Bar, and it cannot be missed. First bit of rigging for Laura was very easy, then it got tight, and she met her soon to be nemesis... the in-situ. Cursing came to her aid, as she furriously rigged her way down, and started on the second pitch. Stuff took a turn here as Niagara (the second pitch) is named not for the tiny stream on the left wall, but for the larger stream of rocks that flow continuously down it. Faff happend, rope rub happened, and misunderstanding happened, but we all made it safely down in the end. Laura finished the third pitch and kindly taught us a valuable lesson in tightening knots!

The teams met just before reaching the main chamber.

It was around 4:15 by now, and we were very keen not to leave the way we came in. Deciding to run, I took over rigging and somewhat recklessly descended the final two pitches (which were far easier much to Laura's annoyance) and found the streamway beneath. Fortunately the route to Bar was well described as we had no time for error. Dashing left at the junction, we crawled at record speed through new Henslers and escaped through a gentle squeeze to the bottom of Bar. 30 minuites to go - we started running. Finding the sandy caverns was easy, and the breeze guided us through. "She's calling us!", "can't you feel the pull?" I shouted - I was delireous. Soon, we hit the Stream junction, and I knew the way. Bounding and galloping, we made excellent time throught the tunnels and met team Bar with minutes to spare. We did it!

Team Stream arrived a minute later, looking similarly exhausted, and joined us in a trip to the main-chamber as team Bar headed out of Stream. As always, the main chamber was awesome, but we soon got cold, and turned to leave. For reasons I can't remember, both teams raced to the bottom of Bar, and panting, we parted ways. Janak, Laura, and I realised, we could be back at the minibus in 2 hours if we wanted. It just so happens that we did want. Tactically, we all made use of Lauras pantin (technically Ellie's pantin?) for the bottom pitch, and soon made it out. Bar is dissapointingly short - very sad. (yes Jan, your rigging was lovely)

Of course, the walk down was a massive slog, but we were first out, and feeling good about it. Knowing we likely beat everyone by an hour or two, we decided not to change at the bus, but to walk back to the NPC to shower, change, and cook. (Definately do this in future! it's so convenient! Bar doesn't have to wait around, and everyone else can have a long trip, and eat as soon as they get back!!) It was a lulled evening as everyone was rather tired, but dinner was good, and Laura's cake was great!

Chris H

Hiking up the fell.

Bar Pot -> Stream Passage Pot: David Wilson, Jan Kożuszek, Kevin Sohn

Seeing as I’ve somehow managed to come down with covid in the year of our lord 2024, I figured I might as well use the newfound free time to write up my Y4 reports. So how did the trip continue after such an eventful journey?

Much to my consternation, I awoke on Saturday to find myself completely alone in the Alpine room. It transpired that there was no other group at the NPC, and everyone else went to sleep in the other rooms, which I had never been to before, but which were in fact a little bit nicer. Over breakfast I learned that the plan was for (almost) everyone to head to the famous Gaping Gill, albeit via different routes. Ellie chose this opportunity to indulge one of her favourite recent pastimes: gaslighting me. Namely, she attempted to convince me that I’d already been to that cave with her, before coming to the realisation that it was some other tall caver whose name started with a J. That predecessor of mine had apparently had a horrible experience, becoming exhausted well before emerging back onto the surface. What a cheerful thought to have before following in his footsteps.

To get to the Gaping Gill system, one has to hike up for about an hour from Clapham. Not only that, but the most convenient route is prohibitively expensive, and so the entrepreneurial caver must instead trek along the slopes of the valley, jingling merrily with all their kit along the way. Normally this would be quite annoying, but in a twist unprecedented in the history of Yorkshire Februarys, the weather was excellent and we all completed the walk in high spirits. Soon it was time to split into three groups of three cavers, going to three different entrances to the system: Stream, Marilyn and Bar (other options include the greatly named Small Mammal and Rat Hole).

It was to be a three-way exchange trip with rather complicated rules. All three groups would rendezvous in the Main Chamber at or before 5:30 pm, where they would swap routes in a cyclic manner and leave the system. However, to provide everyone with an emergency route out, the group exiting via Bar (the simplest of the three routes) would not derig it. Instead, the first two groups to get back to the surface would leave one descender each at the top of Bar, so that the final group, upon seeing the two descenders, would know that everyone was out and could safely derig Bar. Of course, this would require them to go back underground, providing a strong incentive not to be in the last group to get out of the cave. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

I was put in the Bar pot group, with Kevin and Davey, and tasked with rigging. Several people had warned me that the first pitch was very tight and quite tricky to rig, so I was apprehensive as I walked down the entrance shake hole, looked for the last time at the clear sky, and disappeared underground. Much to my relief, the possible awkwardness of the rigging was completely negated by my simply possessing long arms, and the squeeze down did not cause me much trouble (though I imagine going back up that way would be a lot less pleasant.)

At the bottom of the first pitch the cave opened up to us for the first time, as the route led underneath a stone arch, like a side gate to a wealthy dwarven realm. After a short walk down we found the traverse around the main shaft, which I rigged while Kevin and Davey lay on their backs, commenting occasionally. Descending all the way down I realised the rope was completely dry, and my descender became Extremely Warm by the time I reached the bottom.

We now found ourselves in a tall, spacious cavern, its high reaches disappearing in the dark. Davey pointed where he and James once waited several hours for rescue after their intended route became flooded. Without dwelling on this too much, we scrambled up some rocks and emerged in an even larger chamber. I was already then thinking that this was one of the cooler caves I’d seen – despite, in retrospect, having seen nothing yet.

Davey prevented Kevin from going completely the wrong way, and for about ten minutes we half-walked half-crawled in a winding passage until we got to a nice T-junction. Here we could turn right and head straight for the main chamber, but it was still early, and we’d have to wait for ages until the other groups turned up. Instead we decided to figure out the way to Stream Passage now, to save on time and avoid getting lost later, and so we went straight ahead, soon reaching Sand Caverns, where the route description specified we should go up a slippery mud slope and into a crawl. Of course we found two places that matched this description. I went into the first one, to discover a slightly uncomfortable squeeze emerging directly on top of a narrow rift. Davey disappeared down some passage on the right hand side, while Kevin decided to go back and check the other exit out of Sand Caverns. I hung out by myself for a minute or two, before various more-or-less verbal noises from the right informed me that that was not the right way. I went left then, through a surprisingly well-decorated passage, only to bump into Kevin, as our two routes connected back together.

One of the large chambers on the way to Stream.

From there we entered yet another huge chamber, dwarfing us with its size, with a stream cascading loudly into some unknowable depths. Avoiding carefully the gaping hole to our right, we entered the streamway and went up until we found ourselves at a waterfall. Here, through the pure instinct to avoid getting soaked, we went right and discovered a series of straight, mostly walking-height passages connected by little climbs through windows. While interesting, this was not the right way. We went back to the waterfall and this time found a passage to the left, where we found yet another waterfall. Davey authoritatively declared this to be the bottom of Stream Passage, meaning we could head back to the main chamber. There was no rope here, meaning that we were somehow still ahead of the group descending this route. (We would later learn this wasn’t actually the correct shaft, as that was one short climb ahead. But the rope was probably not there anyway…)

Retracing our steps went smoothly, and on the junction after Sand Caverns we now went left. A short walk and some crawling later, I saw the passage end, opening into a chamber. I looked up, and lost my breath. You see, I’d known Gaping Gill was famous, but I had never checked exactly what for. It’d been a very cool trip up to this point, but now I finally knew what the fame was about.

I stood on a shelf in the wall of a gigantic chamber, great and dark like the inside of a Gothic cathedral. Above – far above – water was entering, still carrying with it the blue light of dusk, before cascading with a roar one hundred metres down to the cavern floor. Neat the waterfall were two more, lesser but still huge, each with its own white-blue glow near the top. Like in a trance I descended down from my vantage point and wandered, watching the water scurry around the far sides of the chamber before disappearing into small passages, tight cracks in the solid rock. We then sat down, the three of us, and simply watched the water for several minutes, without saying much.

It wasn’t even 5pm yet, though, and we had to wait there for the other groups to appear. To avoid the cold, we hid ourselves in a bothy (according to Davey, I give off far more heat than Kevin). We endured 20-30 minutes like this before getting bored and deciding to head out. The other groups would have to take the corridor we came in through anyway. They had very little time left, though, and we were slowly beginning to think we’d have to go back out via Bar, when suddenly, the Marilyn group appeared from the other side, exhausted as if they’d been running for the last 30 minutes (which they had). Not five minutes later, the Stream group also arrived.

The endless spray from the mighty main chamber waterfalls.

This meant that we now had to go out via Stream Passage – theoretically, the longest of the three routes. Determined to avoid having to derig Bar, we left the other groups to go and marvel at the Main Chamber, and fully sent it down the route we’d found before. The preparation paid off, and in no time we were prusiking up. It is incredible how much more SRT there is in Stream compared to Bar, presumably as a result of the long descent on foot that one can do in Bar, and the fact that its entrance is lower compared to Stream.

Davey derigged at the back, while Kevin and I hauled the newly refilled tackle sacks ahead. This went smoothly, barring some strong words from Davey about annoying deviations and the like. At the top of the third pitch was the only horizontal part of this route, a long, narrow, tall streamway meandering through the rocks. Having got through that without getting stuck at any point, I found myself at the bottom of the final pitch, the smallest of the four, and I thought all troubles were over. Kevin then warned me that there was some tight squeeze near the top, but that turned out to be easily manageable by just pushing my body further up. But then, at the very end, was what Davey introduced to me as the final boss – the Tube. For reasons which elude my understanding, the entrance to Stream Passage consists of a vertical pipe so narrow that I could barely bend my knees while ascending inside of it, culminating at the top with a horizontal bar on which one must almost perform a pull-up to get out. Surprisingly, getting through the Tube did not actually take me that long, and Kevin gave me a hand at the top, and we were all out under the night sky – and little more than two hours had passed since we left the other groups at the main chamber. Soon we were back at the Bar shake hole, and Davey and I held our breaths as Kevin went down to check how many descenders were left. Yes! – there was only one. We had beaten the Marilyn group, and could safely walk down to the bus. In fact, we had so much time that we could drive to the NPC and chill before someone had to go back and pick up the Marilyn gang.

We then had some excellent pasta bake and some (even more?) excellent birthday cake that Laura made for Davey. It was a mostly calm evening, and soon I reclaimed the Alpine room as my own.


Ellie and Laura both looking shockingly happy.

Stream Passage Pot -> Marilyn: Ben Richards, Ellie Pizey, Astrid Rao

Chris yet again raising the bar in cave fashion.

Gaping Gill! Yay! At last I got to go in different entrance to Bar Pot, hooray. Stream turned out to be incredible - up there as one of my top Yorkshire trips, regardless of the main chamber at the end. It's large, fun, pretty and at times made me wonder whether I'd accidently gone caving on the continent, high praise indeed. Before setting off I had time for a quick fashion shoot for Chris, modelling his latest line of custom designed undersuits, which did look spectaculor. Lovely weather as we hiked up the hill and we were at the top in no time, with snow still visible on Ingleborough.

None of us knew exactly how to get to Stream, but luckily Astrid's phone saved the day (once again, I should really start bringing mine) and we wandered over to the correct shake hole. Astrid started rigging down, with the backup stake apparently becoming de-rigging for the team coming out, making the entrance tube considerably harder than it was intended to be. The next sections were surprisingly tight, and comments were made about how much fun the other team would have coming out this way, especially those de-rigging or with a long disposition.

Astrid did a brilliant job bombing down the first few pitches, and we swapped over a few pitches down and I started rigging. Ellie was in a no-rigging-please phase and so sat back and enjoyed the luxurious effort free ride, while also carrying a tackle sack. We also spotted some very funky sideways stals in the first traverse that Astrid was rigging, presumably formed over thousands of years of continuous strong draught. Very cool.

I had fun rigging a rather weirdly bolted traverse over the top of a large hole, and had some great pitches to zip down afterwards, while desperately looking for various deviation and rebelays. I almost spotted all of them, with Astrid fixing one additional one for me, which seemed only fair given I'd spotted a bonus one for her a few pitches beforehand. We finally dropped down a pitch next to the foretold waterfall which one must sprint through. Sprint through this waterfall we did, and from the other side the headlights of Astrid and Ellie looked absolutely amazing. I'd love to go back and get some photos of this, the water falling from above and the spray all around made all the light beams completely 3D and the narrow exit from the bottom of the pitch cast amazing shadows. Next time, for at that moment we were in quite a rush.

Astrid rigging an epic traverse.

Time was ticking on, and although we'd finished the SRT, we now had to escape this section of the system to which I had never visited. Looking at the surveys and descriptions we bombed out and for the msot part found our way, entering huge chambers en route. At the end of one we took an incorrect turning, and although it turned out Ellie had then gone on to find the correct path, we turned back out of hesitation and took an age doing so. This meant that we'd almost given up on being able to meet up with the others, but we sped on regardless on the off chance of bumping into friendly faces. Zooming through the sand caverns we then bumped into friendly faces, exchanged derigging advic and topos before showing the uninitiated their first visit to the spectacular main chamber.

Much of the crawl looked a bit like this.

I zoomed off to the other end of the chamber in order to try and get some photos, but people rapidly got cold and wanted to leave, so my flashes stayed put in their bag and the photos were of a lower than average quality. Sausages were consumed and Laura produced a tuperware of digestives, in typica Laura fashion, before we all sped out and the Marilyn team went to great lengths to tell us just how awful our upcoming exit would be. I then tried to dump my spare maillons on Chris, who responded by giving them back before zooming off towards the exit in order to escape my re-clipping them to his harness. Much fun. Nobly, given his incredibly easy route out of Bar he did take them off of me, and pointed us towards the endless crawl.

The crawl actually wasn't that bad at all. A little muddy in places, and you had to crawl in the stream for a while, but with my PerryPro(TM) knee pads, I hardly felt a thing. Before we knew it we'd entered walking height passage and took a quick detour down a stunning part of the system in what I believe was the Hensler master streamway (?). We stopped for a photo here, which the website seems to have squashed all resolution out of, with Ellie standing majesticly looking towards the weirdly flat and beautifully coloured roof. More exciting things lie beyond here, but we turned around and headed for the exit.

The magnificent streamway.

Heading up the other route from the stream junction we quickly found the pitch. We zoomed up this one, found some very cool water spout tube things at the top, and then headed on while spotting everything from fosilised corals to melting car batteries. This lovely bit of cave then rapidly got worse when we reached Niagara, which we we only found out was terrifying for loose rocks having double checked the description earlier, checking the correct way on. Full of loose rocks it was. I stayed at the bottom and took over de-rigging from Ellie, and managed to get completely caught up in the in situ like an absolute novice before finally breaking free into the freezing, clear and star covered night sky.

A truly awful photograph of us walking back down the valley from Bar by only moonlight.

Given that we left long after the Stream team did, our more leisurely pace and our endless crawling we knew that we'd make it out last. Ellie headed over to Bar to begin the inevitable de-rigging and Astrid followed after checking I was still alive having taken ages to untangle myself from the in situ. I kept watch over the completely empty moonlit fell, and eventually hid in my bothy bag after giving up trying to take long exposure photos on my terrible cave camera and with no flat surfaces in sight. The evening was amazing - completely still, so cold that the tackle sacks and surveys froze up while waiting for the de-rigging team and a full moon so bright that we hardly even used out head torches for the long walk back.

While walking back down I blew Astrid's mind by giving her one of my electric handwarmers, a new model I was testing out for Slov, which came in quite handy (eh!) while waiting on the surface. We eventually made it back to the car park to find Kevin driving like an absolute maniac around the car park at crazy speeds in the minibus. I reckon he could have done a donut anyway. A fantastic trip indeed!



Jingling Pot: Dave Wilson, Laura Temple

Laura and DW went on what was apparently a fabulous rigging trip. Unfortunately neither wrote anything about it :(


Big Meanie, Notts II: Chris Hayes, Astrid Rao

Last nights Voldemort->Notts2 pull-through plan fell slightly appart, with only Astrid and I on the trip. We didn't know the route so thought it would be wiser not to do it. Instead, we went to Big Meanie to recover some slings. Big Meanie? Naaah, Big Easy! 60 minutes in and out, and we had the slings! We legged it to Notts2 and followed Ben's team in. They went upstream, so Astrid and I headed downstream. We found a dodgy looking ropeladder, and went up it - lots of fun! At the 2m waterfall climb we met Davey, Ellie, and Julien on their way out, so we turned around to go find Ben. On the way we met the team of strangers. We decided not to scream at them. They offered helpful directions in finding the others, as I had never been here before, and hadn't brught a description. We found them up curry junction, Where Ben kindly flashed us all! Keen to finish my Notts2 speedrun, I took Jan and Janak on my quest to find the "nipple deep water". We found it - it was deep, and it was cold! Brilliant! out we go! Great trip, Great weekend! Sleep on the bus, and wake up at Beit. So happy!

Chris H

Notts II: David Wilson, Ellie Pizey, Julien Jean, Chris Hayes, Astrid Rao, Ben Richards, Jan Kożuszek, Kevin Sohn, Janak Subberwal

Wow so many people went in Notts II. Shame none of these people wrote anything about their amazing adventures... :(


Followers of the way of the ZeroFaff.

Notts II, Starting Handle hole: Ben Richards, Jan Kożuszek, Kevin Sohn, Janak Subberwal

Another beautiful day! I spent some time soaking in the sun on the NPC entrance ramp, before being joined by at least half of the trip. Much time was spent deliberating various cave choices before we drove to Leck Fell, where the views stretched all the way to the sea and the Lake District. I followed Ben’s lead down the first parts of Starting Handle Hole, to witness rigging on spits and inflate my cave count. The takeaway? Spits seem annoying and the part of the cave I got to see was entirely unremarkable, except for the sheer convenience of having an entrance right at the side of the road.

The Starting Handle Hole team.

After getting out, we quickly left our SRT kit at the bus and went in search of the entrance to Notts II. We thought we found it easily, but then when Kevin went down he found it hard to believe that it was actually the correct way. We were then joined by Astrid and Chris, who’d just come back from Big Easy Meanie, and decided that it was, in fact, the correct way to go. This included a seemingly never-ending climb down scaffolding, on ladders and bars and cinder blocks, which I still can’t believe was dug from the bottom-up.

After the scaffolding was a lengthy walk in the streamway, slowly becoming more and more beautiful, until we reached the almost absurd Curry Inlet. For balance, this ended in an extremely muddy passage that I entered for no reason whatsoever.

The infamous scaffolding climb into Notts II.

We were then joined again by Chris and Astrid. Astrid and Ben then engaged in a lengthy photo-taking procedure, while Chris convinced me to go into a side passage which apparently included ‘nipple-deep water’. Why, you may ask? As with the muddy passage before, for no reason whatsoever. In the end, I had to crouch a little bit to actually get the water up to nipple level, but it was still pretty good. Perhaps it gets deeper if one goes even further in.

The way out was some of the fastest caving I’d ever done, and I blessed a slower group exiting ahead of us at the very end, as that finally allowed me to catch my breath. Outside we took some more time to admire the views, and take photos of Ben holding the Club’s Tiniest Wellie, before heading back down. The cleaning and the journey went smoothly, and we were back at the Union earlier than I expected. Laura did mess up and played the wrong version of Bella Ciao at the end, but other than that, there really was nothing to complain about.


Amazing views from Leck Fell.

The time had come. For regular readers of this publication, you will know that I messed up while derigging starting handle hole and ever since then had been on a mission to return what I had thrown to the depths. Since SHH is rigged on spits, each bolt has a nylon M8 hex bolt screwed into it to stop much getting into the spit itself. A convenient bag had been provided at the top of the cave to keep these in, but I'd foolishly left mine dangling and it had exploded mid pitch, scattering the last 10 or so protectors to be taken by the draught. I had ordered some more online for a few quid, and brough them with me to finally return them to the entrance and next pitch, so that I could finally sleep at night knowing there were no longer unprotected spits out there waiting for my return.

Mission accomplished

Somehow people actually wanted to come with me on this mission, so I popped down and was followed by the rest of the team. This time I tried to actually do the Tyrolean and mostly achieved, but the rope was still way too short despite me packing far more than intended. I believe a 30 should suffice for this second pitch but you could walsy bring more given it's so close to the surface.

Mission accomplished, we returned to the surface and rushed over to Notts II. We zoomed down and were joined by Chris and Astrid fresh from their speedy trip to Big Meanie. I'd been to Notts II as one of my first ever caves, but had little memory of it beyond the notable entrance climb and a big stream at the bottom. I'd never seen the pretties for some reason, and so this time made a beeline for Curry Inlet. I was not dissapointed - this cave is incredble! Winding down the main streamway, Astrid and I ooo-ed and aah-ed as we caught glimpses of enormous formations up above the canyon in the phreatic section of the keyhole passage we found ourselves in. Note to self - should go back there and poke around the top, this is where the photo in the stairs of the NPC of someone looking up at an enormous column is taken!

After much eh-oh-ing at the oncoming group, we found out that it was in fact a guided tour and not Davey and the gang. We later found out that Davey's team had seemingly had a full on screaming match thinking it was us, and so our loud calls were nothing they hadn't heard already that afternoon. At Curry Inlet I stopped to take a whole host of photos, my favourite of which turned out to be of Janak as he cleaned the formation in preparation for the main photograph I was planning to take afterwards. I'd been aiming for this particular formation having been amazed by the similar photo in Northern Caves for the past few years, and was shocked to find it so ridiculously translucent.

Janak cleaning the formation with the spray bottle left in the cave.

I also got a couple nice ones of Kevin further up in the chamber, while the others went and jumped into the ice cold water further into the passage, for seemingly no reason other than sheer novelty.

After this we zoomed out, got held up by the guided tour being understandably a little slow on the way out and emerged into the beautiful low sun for an easy change, a spontaneous photo shoot of me holding the mini welly I'd picked up from the side of the road on D1, an incredibly rapid hut clean and and an effortless trip back to the union. A truly superb weekend!