Aleeza Janmohamed, Alex Herriott, Clare Tan, Dave Wilson, James Berg, James Kirkpatrick, Jana Carga, Jarvist Frost, Jean Maillard, Kate Smith, Mustafa, Niko Kral, Steven Pool, Thomas McCarthy-Ward, William French, Yvonne
Biblical floods were predicted, but by the time we had reached Birmingham the clouds parted, at least for a while. During the night a good 6 inches fell (observed scientifically by Dave Wilson utilising a pint glass left outside). So we were expecting it to be rather damp....
County Pot: Jarv, Steven, Mustafa, Kate, Alex
It had been a good few years since I'd made it down County last! We were in the way of a gang of York Uni cavers so I shot ahead to the pitch to get it rigged and left the freshers to find their own way, which they did. The pitch was duly dropped, and they went off to clamber down into the little streamway. Once everyone was together we skipped through the shower-bath and down the rather well washed cascades. Spout Hall wasn�t actually too bad, so we took it directly rather than making use of the bypass. Poetic Justice was rather a challenge, as it was pretty well lubricated with drips, and my PVC Meander was pretty slick! So after I got up we rigged a little bit of 9mm off a stal boss and the rest self-lined. The short crawl was wriggled along and some fairly nice black rope was found in-situ found rigging the Y-hang. Our little bit of 9mm formed a traverse, as we dropped down to the little rivers.
First we went upstream from the junction, the stream and cascades really quite pretty, and the white line chamber really quite impressive with the amount of water coming down. We headed back to the junction and stopped for lunch, before following Kate downstream and quickly finding ourselves in the big complicated wet area. Eureka junction was quite spooky - with great fluffy wreaths of foam collected in the scallops in the ceiling.
Still, the water levels were quite low, so we headed down and then upstream to wriggle through the rather unpleasent not-quite-flat-out crawl into Stop Pot. Loitering at the bottom of Stop-Pot, we noticed lights coming down from up-high. Assuming it was the Yorks lot coming through from Lancaster, we were rather surprised when Dave turned up. He headed out while we popped up the ladder and went to Main Line Terminus, to get a bit of boulder hopping practice in.
The way out was smoothly completed, we were miraculously in between showers for the change back at the van in the gathering gloom.
Wretched Rabbit: Dave W, William, James Berg, Aleeza, Jean, Yvonne
Lanccaster: James KP, Jana, Thomas, Nicolas, Clare
Bullpot (Kingsdale): Jarv, Jana, William, Steven, Aleeza
I had never actually been to the bottom of Bull - prior trips either turning back before the Slot due to high water, or failing to find the entrance entirely either in the hill fog, or the fog of incompetence. The entrance was already rigged, so Jana put our rope down on the opposite side of the shaft.
The other party turned out to be on some kind of leader training program, so while they practiced rescue haulage on the slot we slipped by them down the alternative third pitch and continued. The bolts are rather more minimalist down this alternative route, but a few Ps and the odd stainless Petzl permanent thingy found us back on track. The fourth pitch was dropped with a minimal number of P-bolts being used, as we were by now short on both rope and maillons! A long sling and a fairly alright deviation saw us to the bottom, with just enough rope spare to tie off to the bottom P-bolt. Something like a 32/56m combination saw us without a break from the top of the 2nd, via the alternative 3rd and down the 4th.
Way out was really smooth and quick, everyone out while it was still light and prussicing up the shaft while the trainee leaders learnt ladder technique. Back at the van shortly after the Yordas lot (minus James the derigger), which was nice, as they had the van key and it started raining.
Little bit of a wait for the Aquamoles to return (long after dark), then a quick hut clean and then back in the van to zoom back to London.
Yordas (Middle --> Bottom): James KP, James Berg, Jean, Clare, Thomas
Aquamole: Dave W, Alex, Kate, Yvonne, Mustafa