White Scar Cave: Ian Cummins, Leif Andrews, Elise Ward, Steve Woods, Adele Ward (September ‘17 / Sat Club Meet).
It felt an ambitious move, fitting four members of the club in Ian’s car. All sporting wet-suits and associated cold water protection gear, the car was going to be packed. Offering my friends a chance for a beer at the end of the day I take over driving responsibility in the tank. Thoughts of adventure were high as we drove from Teesside.
I very much enjoy this pre-trip debate and build up. I have a new wet-suit on order at Inglesport, so we call in to collect, spending the subsequent vouchers in the cafe. My new wet-suit has red arms!What could be better? Feeling like a fashion victim, we head up to white scar caves.
Having met up with Steve Woods at Inglesport cafe, the gang assembles in the corner of WhiteScarCave’s car park . Trying to avoid the gaze of tourists and passers by a quick change into wet-suits is had. Steve is sporting a neo-fleece, I think this is a brave option. We are all in extra neoprene for this trip as we head into to the Show Cave. As the party heads underground, Elise in our sights, suddenly leaps a foot in the air (thinking there must be a large spider about somewhere?). We all chuckle, she has spotted the laid out manikin, shocked she nearly jumped out of her wet-suit!
I love caves and I begin to lag behind, enjoying this easy going route looking at the Show Cave. I’m always late. Meeting up with friends at the scaffolding barsit’s over, or through the scaffolding bars. Heading up the stream way,feeling super excited, skipping along happily we meet some water. Heading in, foolishly I’m thinking the depthwill aDow cave moment. I’m wrong. Hmm where did that floor go! Quickly formulating to myself how best this section can be negotiated, thinking stay to the side, there will be favourable footings. Oh how I’m wrong. My feet don’t touch the ground. Slightly bemused by this my gaze is drawn to Ian and Elise swimming off full tiltfront crawl.
I am not a strong swimmer but this is fine, I’m confident in water. Summoning a doggy paddle or rather leisurely breast stroke, progress is made. Did I actually ever get my swimming certificate at school? Various parts of my body inconveniently float to the surface aided by neoprene. We are motoring along. Knowing my club mates are also behind me, it’s enjoyable to chat. It’s rather annoying trundling along with my wellies floating off. Seeming to always choose the wrong side to swim along, the rope is always on the wrong side I choose. The water becomes shallow and the gang meets up.
Ian confirms a boulder choke is next. This looks fun. Watching Ian and Elise heading up first, I feel duty bound to remind Elise of Boulder choke etiquette. Due care is observedbut contortions are kind, there is nothing too taxing. It’s nice to chat amongst friends as we pass through carefully following the person ahead. Excitedly down some final boulders that enter a roomy stream way we are all keen to move along. This is fabulous caving, its easy going. The formations remind me of Grand Organs in Cathedrals.
Ambling along, its nice to have a chat with the gang. These parts of caving I really enjoy; the social bug in me, getting a chance to chat to all about time spent in this magnificent place. Elise obviously ignores my ramblings noting I’m lame. So what’s next? Climbing up the side of the stream way I am quickly deposited back in the deep water… hmm. With Ian now spotting me, regaining composure I bimble up, traversing along, I have a bit of a curse proclaiming, “Ian you didn’t tell me about this bit.” At the end, Ian pops out some sort of by pass….. curse you!! 🙂
Next on the agenda is the ducks, I’m going to resist the temptation to cross examine all of the party as to what they consider water levels to be today – it’s hoodie time! So Helmets off, hoodie on (that makes my face bulge) – check, lets head to the ducks. Well this doesn’t seem too bad. With each party member replicating the path of the head member – we snake through the initial duck. Arriving at standing height passage I proclaim – was that it? Elise grumbles “I hope not” . Party members chuckle – nope that’s the beginning.
The next bit looked a little unnerving on further examination. I can see where I’m going; there is plenty of room. Great times were had passing through this section, its sporting good fun! Arriving at the dive line leading into the sump, we are all excited to relive the experience again, and so to avoid party members becoming cold we turn around. Moving back is even better than heading in – I know there is no “ little nasties lurking” so the time is enjoyed by all.
Returning to the above ground world the Station Arms is calling. I have pork and apple pies in mind.