1st Nov - Tom Howard - SD 6763 8064
I can't say I like Halloween. It's like that pre-warning alarm you set in the morning, half an hour before you actually have to wake up. Halloween is almost the pre-warning before the supermarkets and local shops turn festive and start shoving mince pies down your throat whilst playing 'I saw mommy kissing Santa Clause' on the trumpet!
Anyway, in order to avoid said commercially prompted festivities we had a plan. A plan to visit one of the more remote cavers' bunkhouse's in the Dales, Bullpot Farm. Home to the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club and conveniently sitting on top of the 66+KM Easegill system it provides the ideal getaway and an extremely inexpensive weekend!
Friday saw various travel itineries, Andy would travel the relatively shorter distance from Clitheroe up to the Dales to collect and aid Anton to complete his journey by train from Leicester to Clapham. I would arrive 2 hours later at near 2230 to a quiet hut and only a few people about, unusual for this time of year.
After a few beers, we decided to hit the hay and get a good night sleep ready for what the morning had to offer. Wretched Rabbit to Lancaster Hole.
Woken at 0800, a quick brew and cooked breakfast saw us fit and ready for the day ahead even if we were 4hours early for once. By the time we'd faffed, kitted up, rigged Lancaster (SD664807) and walked to Wretched Rabbit entrance (SD676806) it was now 1100 ... Still too early IMO! We headed down and made our way toward Stop Pot reading from a guide and trying to reverse the instructions to match - this was made slightly more difficult as the guide was to various areas in the system that we'd assumed linked and we had added them to create the through trip. Therefore, once or twice we found ourselves confused as to where we should be heading. May I add, we forgot to print a survey!
It took just short of 2 hours to reach Stop Pot due to a few confused moments trying to exit chambers and work out when the right time was to leave or rejoin the streamway. We emerged from the boulders of the Wretched Rabbit streamway welcomed by the menacing roar of the ajoining streamway from the upstream sinks. The way on was up a boulder climb to the left via a ladder in the top left of the chamber. We decided to take a detour and head upstream (confused by the guide) until Andy thought it wise to express his concern for why we were following upstream when we ALL knew that our objective was quite clearly downstream. A quick U-Turn and we headed back to Stop Pot, where, tucked away we found the short ladder taking us to the beautifully decorated roof level passage and after a few minutes Monster Cavern. From here we followed the guide pretty well and then the rest seemed to follow swiftly without the aid of the guide. It did prove useful at a junction or two, and it helped myself and Anton win arguments in terms of what direction we should be going - I think the guide nearly always would win in all honesty.
At Fall Pot we knew we were less than half an hour to the base of Lancaster Hole and so took some pictures and had a quick food stop and drink. Off up and out we were back in the hut in no time and to be greeted by the singing Manchester Cricket team BBQ'ing all sorts of spicy curried chicken legs. Excellent and most random I must admit!
Beers and food went down well and another tame night followed. Andy was in bed after 3 beers whilst I gave up at a disappointing 0100.
The next morning, we had no real plans as such as we knew we'd be a little tired and achy. I woke to a bad back again and thought it wise to avoid caving (My physio, she's not one to mess with!) and so I waved Anton and Andy goodbye as they strolled across the fell toward Lancaster Hole for their trip to the Graveyard series. You'll have to get a report for that from Anton or Andy, but it sounded good.
I felt a little annoyed that I didn't feel fit enough for a second days caving and so headed Clapham way to see if any of the Earby walkers were about. Just in luck, Clapham Bunkhouse was hosting the Big Earby Breakfast it seemed, and so after a brew and a chat I decided to join Tony, Lugger, John S and Geoff B up at Norber Scar and help dig.
Much more civilised. A relaxed day and followed by a pint in the Bunkhouse I headed home disappearing into the thick fog around 1930.