In and Out.
Ian and Adele.
This was a report I didn’t think I could ever be bothered to write up – simply because I wish I had a delete button so that the memory regarding the ordeal of the bends on the way out could be erased.
Ian texted me asking what I fancied doing this weekend – something fun, something local – something beginning with Hammer Pot…. but the weather looked crap ! As always my response is “well I’m happy with owt mate.” From my comfortable chair at home adding another sentence , “I wouldn’t mind doing something a bit more taxing if you fancy it mate?” Me and my big mouth.
Hammer Pot put on hold – we have previously looked for Peterson on our forays to Pippikin, and had tried to lure Dianne and Simon in for the ride or at least get some info from the ever helpful and cheery Dianne.
Sure we would swiftly locate the entrance, clambering down a muddy slope on the left. Looking around and spotting another way hidden by the trees – I turned to my mate… can we go out that way it looks a bit easier. Ian finds lots about caving easier than me so if a route seems “semi accessible” off he gleefully skips. Looking at the bit of tat in front of us, I’m glad we have some bits of rope.
Our thinking about this cave was to have a little recon mission – the most interesting bit of cave seemed to be Roly Poly passage. The Pippikin connection after that wasn’t the way the original explorers took, Ian being a traditionalist the plan was set, thankfully without ladders.
At the bottom of the entrance shaft looking around, this actually seems a rather pretty place – jagged rock, sunshine, well washed walls, spotting the sheep bones … we can just ignore them. Moving through a hole in the wall to the right quickly leads to the second pitch, that doesn’t have me feeling inspired. Ian loves a climb and relishes opportunities to avoid ropes. Curling my lip up at the look of this, watching Ian climb down, I spot something behind me…. aah an easier way! “Ian just shine your light will ya mate before I hop down here to make sure I can get out.” Spotting Ian’s illumination is the green light to scoot down. A small window with a lovely razor rock on it leaves a lasting impression on my hip – ouch.
The start of Roly Poly passage is illuminated. Ian slides in, this seems remarkably ok, the surface is smooth and polished, dry and rather welcoming to start. Keen to preserve his new wetsuit, careful progress is made, while I adopt a slide and push with my feet. Ian asks me how I’m feeling – “this is great matey, good caving” as soon as the words slip out my mouth, I can feel myself eating them.
Using this report as a navigational aid is never gonna be a winner – as I’m not 100% sure which welcomed resting parts follow.
We wiggle and slide along, in a passage that seems ok until we come to a small standing area. Taking a breath, and looking at the key hole ahead, this reminds me of Hagg Beck Sink…. curse.
Ian is leaning into the entrance; well let’s get this little bugger started. Sideways progression above a rift, whilst initially harder work, it allows movement without too many problems. Now the passage is slightly more taxing with helmet on, so reluctantly it’s one arm ahead one arm behind time, and helmet off. Quickly the fun bit (definitely not on the way out) begins – the passage seems to turn then turn again – never in the same direction.
This can be best described as a series of “Ws “, corkscrewing through the passage, moving from one side to another, aware the odd grunt might be slipping out, it’s a bit of a struggle in places but it’s the old demon sitting on my shoulder that is causing mild concern. Mr. Cooper’s description said 25 mins …. this seems a bit longer. Having a quick rest behind my friend, looking down, for a moment – I think there is someone below me – realising the still water below is acting as a mirror and I am looking back at myself. For a while we squirm along the bends – trying to keep an eye forward as to which side it’s best to be on and lo and behold it’s always the opposite. Moving my helmet ahead is a royal pain in the arse, for several reasons … looking at the rift below and wondering if it’s going to get helmet-slipping size. I imagine the conversation with my husband upon my return home “you know that lovely light you got me for my birthday …. well don’t worry I have a fishing rod.” Ian has similar problems; usually my phone is tucked in my wetsuit somewhere, however today we reasoned it was better in Ian’s Pelicase, which is in his small bag. Progressing, my mood is lightened by spotting someone’s welly far below in the rift – yep reckon I would have left that behind too !
Ian occasionally encourages me on with words of – oh I think its opening up here a bit which leaves me thinking – what the fuck are you on about man ! At some point there is a bit where I decide I can’t be arsed rolling over. I have a reasonably flexible back and dare not think about the horrors of getting tied up with my legs so just push on the wrong way – remarkably, astounded it’s passed, however I did have to give my helmet ahead to Ian and let out a few whimpers.
Ian’s words have been muffled throughout the trip, being deaf as a post I’ve had to say a few times – what you saying Ian ? But he is being a bit more assertive now. Just hold on there chuck ….. Oh fuck what’s this ? I had imagined a place might miraculously appear where I could turn around – and head out. Resting a cheek on the cool rock … where on earth is Ian going?
Popping my head out and realising this is a Dowbergill moment – this ain’t my cuppa tea – but dropping down there, having to get back up sounds worse. Thinking I might use my teeth as some sort of back up, now protruding over the pitch a sling is spotted! Arm hooks over, legs out and then head quickly back in – thankfully that’s done! Later the footholds I thought had been rock turned out to be Ian’s helmet. Now ahead, a rest is nice. It was nice to actually stop breathing at double quick time although Ian doesn’t really look like he has broken sweat.
Feeling super keen for a pint, I suddenly have a renewal of energy. Moving as fast as humanly possible, whilst if seems more familiar heading out, my keenness is leading to me bashing myself. Ian reminds me to be kind to myself and take my time. Arriving at a particularly awkward bit, it kind of looks like the bit I bent my back weirdly on. Now I have to do it properly as the initial bend would be to sharp. Getting jammed up, reversing, jamming up again – thinking my legs might snap, moving my feet a little higher gives forward propulsion – yippee. I still like to chat to my mate -“Ian you know I said I fancied Quaking Pot, I’ve changed my mind – I am not having a good time”. Feeling a draught on my nose feels a delight, spotting the end of the torture is only quelled by my now unfortunate position of having both arms out ahead rather than one, thus slowing my escape!
The tube leading off looks a welcoming site – no rift!
Finally exiting Roly Poly passage it doesn’t make me have much appetite for a return trip. The free climb up doesn’t seem too bad, spurred on by Ian. This is shit mate, never let me say I want to come back. Up the finally pitch… this place gives us both big smiles!
A good obstacle always leaves me feeling happy. Quick pint at the Marton Arms, debrief …. How far to the connection with Pippikin were we?