Redmire Pot: How to wish you were smaller by Adele Ward

I first hear the word Redmire discussed by Ian and Simon – it seemed like hard work at the time it was way above my level of competence. Not being able to help myself from doing a bit of research on the place excellent account from Julian Griffiths was found. Not a lot else seemed to be about other than Northern caves 1. My eye was drawn to the notice that this cave should only be tackled by cave drivers… my friends are cave divers, my interest pricks up.

Ian is a person of focus, having come to realise this is a similar trait in all my caving friends – my want is to help my mate achieve his ambition. Ian has talked several times of soloing Redmire to have a joyful reunion with his dive gear. This idea didn’t sit well with me, if caving is about mates and having a laugh, having a bit of an epic at times, surely that’s best done with some help. The beginning of 2017 held several well documented trips for Ian with Simon and Beth, Ian has left some gear in Redmire which required recovery. I recall early discussions regarding Redmire …. can’t say I was feeling inspired.

So fast forward from beginning of year – Ian dive gear still is amiss. We are on a mission to recover it, several false starts are encountered.

Attempt 1) Dales are under water – Foss Gill followed by Dow Cave Cascades ​​ followed. Can’t say Foss Gill was appealing.

Attempt 2) another wet week – Fossil pot was enjoyed.

Attempt 3) here we go, EEEKK

Ian is on fine form today, my keeno mate is feeling super keen today, this is a long talked trip has seen a long narrative. Driving over it’s been a while since I have felt nervous about a non-SRT trip. Ian has explained the nature of what is ahead…. I feel slightly sick. Having had several attempts, we are determined to get this sorted. It’s been wet in the dales – there is still evidence of that on the drive over from the North East. Arriving at Buckden there seems to be a quite a group of tourists in the car park. I revert to type and begin smoking furiously. Checking kit, Ian is more pensive than usual, however still holds a glint of excitement. Kitted up walking up, this is a happy time. This time is going to be monumental.

The cave entrance is located swiftly… you can hear this baby before you see it! Removing the bucket from the collapsed entrance Ian gleefully recalls tales of boulder rolling, offering particular personality to certain boulders. “that one over there …..heheh that rolls” followed by “you see this blighter”. Taking my time kitting up, wanting to be sure all the elements are in place to make this as smooth as possible. Everything is perfect, I feel prepped, its best to reframe the physical feeling of anxiety as excitement – cos really they are the same. For the first time ever Ian tells me where he is hiding the car keys in case I have to come out alone. Bollocks to letting that thought run away with me. Caving is fun – this is going to be great!

Looking at the muddy hole, that Ian is crawling backwards into. I can’t quiet focus as much as I want to, the noise is overwhelming. “Come when you’re ready mate”. Wiggling into position the backward crawl is commenced. Relieved that this isn’t too tight, spotting my nemesis – spiders. My usual course of action is to squish these arachnid devils – they are so big I’m sure one is spotted using dental floss. However wishing to keep good karma on my side, it seems better to just turn my light down and pretend they ain’t there. Surely the caving gods will be kind if its occupants are looked after?

The noise is growing; Ian instructs there is a bit of a down climb ahead. Wow it seems so sensible crawling back over a drop I have no clue when is going to appear. Trying to cast an eye over my shoulder isn’t proving helpful, Shit – I wish I had smaller shoulder. Whilst unable to see the down climb, the water is spotted! This is an impressive place; water erupts from an inlet on the other side of the chamber. Best not linger too long here or folks are gonna get cold. This underground jigsaw puzzle needs to be taken slowly by me, which takes place on different levels – the stream sometimes close to my face, slithering along, sometimes way below, when access needs to be regained by an entertaining squeeze. The route is familiar to Ian.

Arriving at a suitable area for me to wait for Ian, he heads down for a happy reunion with his kit. So I don’t have any cigarettes, what to do? I don’t have the camera to take silly selfies which is my other way of keeping bored at by. Hmmm there is something else I usually do at times like this – ah yes, clock watch. Lacking said item a fleeting thought occurs, did Ian say how long to wait? Surmising that if I have my main Fenix on full beam I know it starts dropping functions after 4 hours, it’s always on full for shorted trips, that might help. Well there is always counting, but I have the concentration of a goldfish at times so quickly discount this idea. Best just appreciate the place. I am feeling lucky to see such splendour. Finding different resting places seems to be constant. The draft blows on my back that way, but the blood can flow to my feet. Beginning to feel a little stiff and cold, there is another noise detected. Hope the bangs that are noted are Ian on his return. As per we are bellowing to each other before I see Ian. Clutching the cargo Ian is back with me. Did someone say a pint and sausage and mash! Leaving this underground world is always a quicker process. Spotting some spiders, and reporting my aforementioned contemplations – Ian adds, how don’t worry I squished them all on the way in – didn’t want ya getting freaked out mate. Well that what mates do ain’t it – make sure each other have the best possible time.

Cracking! (Photo – Ian Cummins).

Walking back to the car is the best of times. We have lots to talk about, lots to plan. Feeling knackered, heading to the pub I am aghast to discover there is a lack of bangers and mash, but they have cider.

Fell runners out of shot arriving back having recovered from hypothermia (Photo – Ian Cummins).
Misson acomplished (Photo – Adele).