Langcliffe Pot: Beth Cummins, Adele Ward, Ian Cummins (26 September 2017).
How many times did I say to Beth and George ‘just a few more minutes’, or ‘just round the next corner’ when they were younger? It felt the same today as Beth, Adele and I headed up the hill towards Oddmire Pot, with the succession of false summits eventually leading to the promised plateau. Thankfully, our previous visits had enabled us to go swiftly to the correct shakehole for once and we changed for the trip.
Dropping into the mucky, dribbling hole, I was disturbed by how such little water can cause so much discomfort, the ochre-coloured shower finding its way inside my wetsuit to soak my back. With the ladies safely down to the rubble slope, I followed and we discarded our SRT kit for the trip to Boireau Falls Chamber.
Travelling light, with only food, drinks, survey, camera and bivi-bags in a dry bag, Beth led off at what can be best described as ‘Denis Pace’, finding the twisting trench section of Strid Passage to be to her liking and we eventually popped out next to the Langcliffe inlet from Stagger Passage, which was marked for the return, as was the junction with Skirfare Inlet. Progress was good and we were soon at the dry oxbow of Kilnsey Boulder Crawl, that we had previously found to be not particularly interesting, so after a quick consultation with Adele, the wet way was taken – a first for me – with the initial low section yielding to sideways walking and an easier section in waist-deep water leading to a dry choke at its end. How to get up and out? A crawl to the left led to a tight exit, whereupon the ladies were found to be already above, having taken an easier route that they marked with a rock pile.
The journey continued along the never-ending Langstrothdale Chase, where upon each turn I would repeat my mantra to a wearying Beth, eventually leading after the umpteenth bend and boulder pile to the spot at the start of the crawl to Boireau Falls. We elected to stop here for a drink and chocolate, together with a few photos taken to remember the occasion, when we also had a clean-up of some vintage litter including a self-heating food can that must have been at the spot for decades. Adele was keen for us to sample some filtered cave water via her Lifestraw; we preferred Raspberry Lucozade.
Seeing that Beth was tired, having been a bit weary before the trip anyway, we elected to turn round – the objective of seeing if the Boireau Falls Choke had been vandalised by drilling would have to wait, rather than endure its grimy, draughty surroundings and spoil the day.
We had a leisurely exit after reminding Beth that we had done at least half the distance of the full trip, but only about a third of its obstacles, since I have always found exiting from Boireau Falls to feel akin to leaving the cave! With our markers doing their job and removed as we passed, the odd cry from ahead from Beth enquiring as to the correct route emphasized the nature of the slog along Strid Passage, with a more excited shout from Adele as frogs were spotted. Not 1 but 3! The marooned amphibians were carefully bagged and we paused to take more pictures by the flowstone archway that precedes the rise to Slaughter Aven.
As we geared up in the miserably dribbling situation, Beth was ready and on the way out, followed by me, then by Adele and I watched the ladies negotiate the awkward climb onto the exit ledge, when another lost frog caught my eye. This little devil was hard to catch and with no other container, it was stuffed into my glove and inside my welly as I carefully free-climbed the last 10 feet.
Beth released our haul into the nearby soggy bog, well away from any sinks and we bagged the SRT kit to trudge down the hill in the twilight. After coffee and pies by the car a pleasant hour was spent in the Blue Bell, with the a rather curious encounter with some American seniors lamenting the lack of restaurant service at the village pubs, wishing they could find a 7-11 for provisions!
Dropping Adele and then Beth off, I was finally home by 11:30 to have a quick gear sort – what a great day out with 2 super, tough companions.