Meregill: A Classic Cave The Proper Way! by Gary Rhodes

Meregill Hole: Abby, Alan, Steve Warren, Gary and Gareth (9th July 2005). 

Where were you all??? We need new ladders, so off Steve Warren and myself go and spend many a long hour making ladders, then up comes a perfect opportunity to put them to the test and nobody comes along to play! But to the test they were put down the watery depths of Meregill.

So on Sat 9th July not Sunday as in meets list, which was a damn good idea due to the heat on Sunday, Abby, Alan, Steve, myself and Gareth, a poor unfortunate sole grabbed to help drag all the iron up the hill set off. Gosh it was damn hot! Well, when we got there it was discovered that the Mere was well up and so out of the question. So to the aven entrance we went. And yes you could hear lots of water pounding down that dark hole. So how far could we get? Only one way to find out. Soon after with plenty of cursing grunts and ripping of those plastic over suits, tackle and bodies were all down apart from Steve. It was tactically decided that he would be best deployed back to the car to bring up emergency supplies of Guinness Carlsberg and crisps.

Now at this point I don’t have much to report on apart from the fact that each pitch was overcome even though it seems the cave police have taken it unto themselves to remove dangerous belay points left in for the old ladder routes.

S.R.T. hangers aren’t much good when they’re 20ft above your head. As said each pitch overcome, with the cooling gentle trickle of water pounding on your head! Progress was made down to the top of the last big 100ft pitch. But here we had to stop to take in a sensible view of the wet stuff. After deciding that the main drain and the sump will still be there and wont bugger off on any foreign holidays, we set of back out. You know, there is one thing about ladders. You cant arf get up them a lot quicker than rope stuff. Mind you, I don’t suppose that you are inclined to hang around with a waterfall tipping down your neck just to take in the view! However poor Alan might as well have as under the instructions of Abby I was commanded to build a damn, and upon order……….. Well you know, he got a bit damp.

After wringing out his beard and cursing speed was made until we met the Craven on their way in. You have to hand it to them, they know their stuff. The speed and efficiency they work with using ropes and pulleys to move Zimmer frames and spare limbs!

Well this passed and onto last pitch out to daylight, this is where Abby shines as a star. Got a great set up between us lifting bags and ladders up one rope end, attaching to another bit to drag into the sunshine.3 bags 10 ladders brought up in minutes. As I said this is where Abby always shines. Shines for doing something bloody daft! Yep, it was a good one. We were walled in. Exit totally blocked by all the tackle. Some how she got passed this without disturbing it as when Gareth and Alan got to the exit they were faced with a huge wall of tackle to much amusement. However I do have my suspicions that on my exit the buggers had deliberately walled me in!

Now as mentioned earlier, Steve had gone for supplies that were greatly appreciated on such a hot day. Lovely melting biscuits and warm beer. And we took Steve to his word that he would carry all the gear back down! Bless him, he did a cracking job. All you could see of him were two spindly legs poking out of a mobile junkyard.

It was a damn good trip even though we didn’t make it all the way, but a second attempt is in the planning. Probably use string on the next trip. But don’t be fooled, it will be very minimalist and involve a lot of free climbing and staying as close to the ladder route as possible. All are welcome to come.

Hopefully Steve has a few pictures to give an idea of this little trip.