Gaping Gill, Small Mammal Pot by Dennis Bushell

Gaping Gill, Small Mammal Pot: Denis, Faye (29th August 2015). 

Faye and I met at Clapham Reading Room café at 10 a.m., where Faye introduced me to her son, up from ‘The smoke’ – London.  He did not cave but helped us carry the load up in 2 rucksacks, being a good son, allowing Faye to walk up load-free.

It was a bright sunny, warm day and upon arriving at ‘Small Mammal’ entrance, Faye suggested I kitted up whilst she would log us in with the CPC and arrange a place to meet her son after the trip.  I enjoyed slowly getting ready in the warm sunshine and awaited Faye’s arrival.

Faye entered first and within minutes shouted back that it was rigged, which we did not expect, since this is not a trade-route such as Flood or Bar.  Just a matter of following the rope road down to the Main Chamber with all its visitors from the winch meet?  Alas, within five minutes we were totally lost.  I had not done the trip and Faye only once and we had 2 different write-ups – both conflicting.  Luckily for us we could hear voices ahead beyond a bedding plane.  It was Patrick Warren and team, so we knew we were in safe hands, with his verbal description of the route to the Main Chamber being spot on.  I would not expect anything less from Patrick, a hero of mine since his leadership of the 1994 Berger expedition.

Once down the large pitch, we de-kitted and set off for the Main Chamber, meeting lots of people on the way, but this is still a special place for me with all its noise and excitement.  We looked out for a couple of CPC digs and then set off out, with Faye leading the way.  Faye started up whilst I arranged my ropewalking kit – another design to play with on this ideal test pitch, although still not completely happy with it, I set off up, with Faye wanting a quick exit to catch up with her son.  I suggested the ‘Bar Pot’ route out, which I agreed democratically as Faye ascended the final pitch.  I took a look at the connection with ‘Small Mammal’ whilst awaiting the call ‘rope free’.

Back at the surface we returned our wrist bands to the command tent manned by Patrick Warren and Pete Gray.  Faye and I made good time back to Clapham village, staying high to avoid the crowds of winch day-trippers in Trow Gill.  After a quick change we were back to meet up with Faye’s eagerly-awaiting son.

Great trip – Denis.