Ian and Adele 17 April 2019
Having attended the most fabulous Paperless surveying course provided by Black Sheep diggers, Nick and Chris mentioned diving activity – our ears instantly pricked up.
This was to be a three part plan;
1) Post Northern exploration event- discuss the potential of a cavers’ meeting with Nick and Chris
2) Help Cristian dive Beet Root Passage sump by carrying gear in for him (the lad did well).
3) Me and Ian to dive Goyden sumps
Black Sheep diggers are always worth an offer of help.
Feeling optimistic with our time – we carried our gear to the first downstream sump, plus gear needed for Cristian’s dive to Beet Root sump. After dumping our kit, the plan quickly fell apart when me and Ian realised Cristian’s gear needed carrying out as well.
Midweek trips often need to be flexible, with the kids off school; packing is proving tricky for me. My mask had failed at the pool on Monday, so Ian is lending me one. Furiously checking kit as I run it out to the car, I have to go back in 3 times. This faff is driving me nuts. With Ian delayed at work I was still mentally running through kit in my head; has Ian got the weights? Did I pack thick wetsuit socks? Did I bring the spanner and Allen key…Hmm I can’t remember packing fins …. surely I can’t have been that daft. Parking up, the penny drops – I’m a dickhead.
Watching Ian, I sidle over to break the news, catching sight of Tony Seddon’s car parked up next to the Starless River stores. Ian announced he is telepathic and thought last night I would forget my fins- mate next time you have one of these experiences text me.
Quickly formulating a plan, “Ian do ya think tony might have some spare fins?” Ian confirms Tony might be up for lending me a set and Tony to the rescue – many thanks indeed.
Heading towards Lofthouse via Masham the land around this area is bursting into spring. Parking up, the car is bursting with kit. This will be my longest time in a sump. Having done lots of free dives with diving gear on, and lots of practice in the pool, cave canals like Dow and a trip to Swildon’s have proved good practise. I don’t feel nervous, but I feel aware of the potential for hazard. I haven’t told anyone what we are up to day as the “OMG it’s so dangerous”. “Do you know what you’re doing” drives me to distraction.
The conditions today should be superb. It’s dry, there have been no floods since the line was laid, and Cristian has given us lots of intel about the sump – thank you. The purpose of this dive is pleasure and part of the learning process for me, finning better and controlling my buoyancy.
Vigorously stuffing kit into bags, I can feel my enthusiasm will be tested carrying all the damn stuff. Wearing our lead and harnesses, carrying the rest of our kit in bags ….. but it’s a gorgeous evening.
Being the slightly clumsy sort, immediately the weight of the lead and having my 2 cylinders on my back is throwing me off balance which is annoying. Goyden has a spectacular streamway which isn’t hard caving, climbing down in the cascades I’m amazed (horrified) at the amount of dead rabbits, trees, branches, and other flood debris. The water is crystal clear but it’s not cold…. beginning to overheat now, I ask Ian to spot me down a bit to save me overbalancing, I’m lucky to have an understanding mate.
Now in the stream way, constantly looking down, to find stable rocks, I manage to miss a protruding ledge, whacking me on the helmet and depositing me in the stream. Sometimes I scream when I don’t really mean to… a bemused looking Ian appears… well at least he slowed down.
With all the kit by the sump the process of kitting and checking begins. I’ve heard divers go a bit quiet on this bit but what works for us is to help each other and talk to each other. Right what side do you want on first mate ? Ok clipping left cylinder now… this continued to the right so let’s get our hoods on, check lights again, and mask …. putting Ian’s spare mask on …. hmmm. Clearly I have a small face; I can manage to get it to seal but with my demand value in my mouth it won’t maintain. I feel rather upset about this, but no point in expressing my level of pissed-offness to Ian as he can still dive. Ian suggests he dive through sump 1 and 2 then returns and we can swap masks. If he isn’t too cold – yippee that could work, but I still feel slightly glum.
Ian slides off, – I’m going to get bored really quickly so I try lying in the stream with the offending mask on, again it’s ok until I put me reg in. Prob shouldn’t have done that cos now I’m freezing. Suppose I could try and do some press up but it’s going be a challenge. Ian seems to have been gone for a fair while. I usual check the time he leaves, didn’t this time – divvy. Being attacked by what look like midges in the cave, leads me to turning my light off. So sat on my rock feeling a little useless. Having decided that there is no point in keeping my cylinders on any more and taking em off ( which was a bit of a fight ) Ian surfaces looking very pleased – “it’s crystal clear, there’s loads of fish, and I saw an eel, lets swap masks and go through”.
Wishing I hadn’t just finished taken the cylinders off, now having cold hands – quickly we are ready. I will dive first and Ian to follow a short time after. Sinking like a brick with the amount of weight, with the line in my left hand the force of the water is fabulous. Immediately I’m face-to-face with a trout that turns and flicks its tail as if it’s slightly put out to see another human in here disturbing its peace. Spotting the first belay I think to myself it may be a huge faff to get here but its way worth it. I’m supposed to be practicing “frog kick” but I don’t want to lose one of Tony’s fins so that kind of goes out the window. Occasionally I stop and wonder if Ian is within visibility. At some point I can feel that my fin/leg is on the line, stop wiggle, check. The line then suddenly goes up and spotting the mirrored surface, makes me feel a sense of achievement. Floating away from the sump turning to see Ian appearing smiling.
I can be a very excitable person, but I know my failings. Ian’s cold and we are gonna turn around – let’s save the excitement till we are back through. Travelling back through the sump vis isn’t great but with the line in my right hand it’s easy enough to see. I can feel the force of the waters as I fin happily along, and maybe have to work a little more than on the way in. The sump feels like it is heading up; I can’t quite believe my eyes when I surface. With Ian right behind me, both cold now we opt to keep on out kit and stash the other stuff in bags and warm up on the move.
This quickly becomes a royal pain in the arse for me as I feel like I’m constantly on the cusp of falling over, carrying a bag in each hand that kept filling with water, this had me quickly using colourful language. Ian offers to carry one; however I find this hugely unfair of me to burden him with extra bags as he is also carrying 2. However on reflection it perhaps wasn’t fair of me not to let him help as I was going full cursing mode.
All thoughts of bad mood disappear upon smelling the fresh air. Thanks to my mate for his patience and perseverance with helping me, I couldn’t do any of this stuff without my friends’ help.