Juniper Gulf by Adele Ward

AKA Juniper Gulp: Ian Cummins, Fay Hartley, Leif Andrews, Adele Ward (11th November 2017). 

A Club trip to one of Yorkshire’s finest SRT trips were the words Ian told me. Homing in on SRT trips…..  “so how big is this pitch mate?”

An 8am start from The North East Squad saw us descending on The Penyghent Cafe to meet Fay. A big day lay ahead of us. Noting the altitude of Juniper gulf, I quizzed Ian as to the location of the cave that made me think of gin.  Was this to be a Langcliffe-like slog up a fell?  I was relieved to discover that height was gained by parking at the agreed farm.  We began sorting the ropes required, SRT kit bags and grub and such like. It was apparent we had too many bags for the available amount of travellers. We left a polite note to the farmer and headed off.

Ian takes off full tilt, following the track. Walking up wasn’t too bad, the area’s beauty is enjoyed by all. Further progress led to a fair bit of messing around which basically entailed us all furiously scoping out the moor.  Ian hadn’t visited this place for 10 years; Fay has previously visited and offered reassuring words of “it’s over there.”  Arriving at an entrance we quickly decided this wasn’t our said target, surmising it was Long Kin East. It’s a tricky place to find – it’s no bother, all good fun.  Further efforts were spent looking for a sinking river. Ian keenly spotted such stream. A feeling of being perplexed occurred to me. Is Ian trying to have some personal contest as to how many times he can cross from one side of the stream way to the other?

Arriving at Juniper Gulf made me take a big gulp. This looks big ….deep joy. I spent a lot of time prior to writing this report thinking should I gloss over the next bit, but that would be pointless.

Ian enthusiastically rigs the pitch and suggests the order of progress. This is for my benefit, all of the party apart from me are happy and confident with SRT – Ian, Adele, Leif then Fay. Watching Ian enjoy rigging and heading off it’s my turn.

So what goes wrong … I’ve been practicing SRT, it had seemed less horrid. Leif offered words of encouragement, which are totally ignored. Problem is, this is all irrational; I’m not usually irrational. All that is required is to lean out on my cow tails and grab the rope …. but an epic is detected!

It looks a long way down.

Finally grabbing the rope rigged to the right stress levels are fairly high.  Not sure if this is much fun, it’s going to be a right pain getting out to this pitch. Announcing to Leif that I can’t be arsed at all with this, and that I’m happy to sit above ground for the next few hours – he tries to talk me round. Im Determined that’s that for the day, i head up the traverse line and words are offered to Leif  “under no circumstances let Ian come back up this pitch 2- just crack on”.  Ian has now been faced with many of my “ tiny tears” moments and has developed tactics for talking me round. At this point all that is felt is that responsibility for being a pain in the arse lies with me. Frustrated reaching for a smoke, the line is noted to be twitching; Ian is heading back up….. this is only going to end one way.

With a blunt …. “what are you doing back up here mate?”  I chuckle when Ian responds “well I just popped up to have a little chat with you mate”.  Curse you Cummins! Following a chat… somehow the pitch head doesn’t seem so bad. It’s so frustrating, as soon as I have my weight on my devices, it’s a winner. Meeting Leif at the bottom, he looks a bit chilly which I feel bad about. Ian and Fay are quickly down the pitch and climbing down into the stream way seems good fun; moving forward, a short section of traversing is followed by a small pitch; the water levels in here today are sporting. Everyone is going to get nicely soaked – best not mess about.

Feeling more confident, we are down a further short pitch to a chamber where the water begins to sink.

Ian nabbing my bottle of Pop !

Ahead is a traverse that I was hoping to see a bolt or 2 on. Pulling a grimacing face and hot on Ian’s heels, we traverse to an area called The Bad Step. A rope has been rigged for my confidence, this makes that task at hand a lot easier, it’s actually quite a nice little move, grab onto a flake at eye level, and use this to move forward on. As Leif always says “you’re safest on a rope” so hopping over to a muddy scoop on the opposite side didn’t seem like a big deal until my feet are sliding off, emitting a squeak, composure is regained.

Heading towards the next pitch, it’s becoming clear that the big pitch is going to be an issue. There is a lot of water here today, it’s getting late and we all have a date night in Horton to see Fay’s slide show of her trip to New Zealand. Fay heads off at what is best described as a speedy pace. Geez does she never feel tired?  Hauling her tackle bag of 50 m rope, as always she is off up the pitch like a rocket, kindly waiting for me to join her. Fay is keen to haul Ian’s bags up for him too! Waiting at the bottom of the last pitch seeing my friends at the top, determination sets in that there is to be no further epic. Exiting to the last rays of sunshine, we best move fast if we want to make the pub!

An excellent time was had at the Bradford Pothole Club’s slide show –  Fay was in great spirits; I wasn’t driving so enjoyed a bottle of cider or two.