Andy Jurd, Christopher Bradley, Dave Kirkpatrick, Dave Wilson, Fiona Hartley, Jack Halliday, James Wilson, Jennifer R, Rhys Tyers, Úna Barker, Max Stunt, Zaeem Najeeb, Lucie Studena, Sharon Lin, Matti Mitropoulos
It's a Cracker: Jack Halliday, James Wilson, Lucie Studena, Sharon Lin
Brown Hill: Andy Jurd, Jennifer R, Max Stunt, Zaeem Najeeb
Jingling: Dave Wilson, Úna Barker, Max Stunt
Rumbling: Christopher Bradley, Dave Kirkpatrick, Fiona Hartley, Rhys Tyers, Matti Mitropoulos
I was on the best trip of all - the birthday trip. Also would allow me to get to the bottom of Rumbling as I've only been partway down before. I also had the most essential bag – the birthday cake bag. For the record, a half size Daren drum will perfectly take two small cakes from places like the Co-Op and Aldi. Two cakes is extremely necessary because they stop one another from rattling around and getting squished.
I suppose my effort also extended as far as saying for speed purposes a newish rigger shouldn't do the entrance pitch. So Rhys did that.
Rumbling is a proper nice cave. It was much warmer than being outside and very dry. Actually it was pretty good for SRT training (and also rigging practice) aside from the hanging re-belay on the entrance pitch but Matti handled that with ease. I remain the worst at hanging re-belays. This time I rigged my descender through a sling due to cowstail placement. Sigh... Some thought was required on how to stay safe while correcting my mishap!
At the bottom we had the necessary cakes, obviously felt a bit sick because two cakes, and sang songs at Dave. We looked at the masochistic connection to the master cave. It doesn't look like the most horrible thing at the start, but brown water, froth and narrow passages are not that appealing anyway, and especially not on a birthday.
As Matti had now completed one SRT descent it was of course the perfect time to up his training so he was given the cake bag, now two cakes and half a bottle of water lighter. I did the de-rig and stupidly overheated so by the entrance pitch I was a bit tired, but made it up in the end, helped by the fact it was dark so the pitch seemed like I was just in a cave like normal rather than hanging above a well-lit humungous hole which always contributes to my terror. As I plodded back to the car my snail's pace allowed me to pick up Chris's shiny croll which he had dropped ahead of me, so it was retrieved before it ever even realised it was lost.
We were back before we knew it and found Kath and Tiger (Mrs and Mr NPC President) in Greenclose, so the stove was pre-fired and the common room toasty warm already. It was so early there was plenty of time to wash the ropes, thus creating the ice rink in the NPC car park that provides so much entertainment each winter. Soon everyone reappeared, happy with their caving or not happy with their pesky tackle bags, and lovely people made lots of pizzas.
Over the course of the evening Rhys whispered "Illusion" into my ears and though I whispered back that Dr Jack wasn't here, it seemed a plan had been hatched. A plan for fantasy caving anyway, as everybody knows an illusion isn't real; why, that is the definition of the word.
We parked up the hill very close the Rumbling entrance. Rhys rigged off of the fence and a tree, leading eventually to a free-hanging rebelay. It definitely had the capacity to be pretty awkward, and I descended a bit low such that Rhys' helpful sling sat precariously at neck height. This led to the floor and quickly into another pitch, followed by a short amount of horizontal.
I found Rhys sitting comfortably at the pitch head while DKP was rigging below. The next pitch is through a window in the middle of the opposite wall. It has lots of helpful ledges to stand on, which become obvious after you're past them.
We reached the bottom and after poking our heads in the horizontal continuations, we decided they looked too tight and/or wet, and would be a waste of time that could otherwise be spent eating Dave's birthday cakes. We found a nice cake-size rock and dug in.
Bloated with cake we headed out, with Fiona derigging. On the way back up, I found the window to be a bit handsy my tacklesack, but it left me alone eventually. Eventually we surfaced into the chilly Leck Fell wind and before too long were back in the hut.
Brown Hill: Andy Jurd, James Wilson
Heron: Christopher Bradley, Jack Halliday, Sharon Lin, Matti Mitropoulos
Continuing the trend of not Notting, we headed to Kingsdale. Of the bus crew, four of us went to splash about in Heron, while Jimmy and Andy headed to Brown Hill to recover a lost tacklesack. We headed up the hill a little unsure of our direction, but arrived after not too long: follow the Beck upstream for a little while and head up the first dry gulley that presents itself uphill.
We did the high-level route. The cave starts with some classic tall/narrow horizontal winding passage, and eventually reaches a short in-situ rope leading upwards. I went up this and rigged a rope behind me, and continued onto the traverse. The traverse is fairly exposed and a little spooky, though there's lots of large ledges to stand on. It culminates in a pitch straight down and then a lightly decorated horizontal passage. At this stage you either turn around or continue out the lower exit, if it's dry enough. We thought Andy and Jimmy might come up behind us, but as there was no sign of them Jack and Sharon went back up for the derig, while me and Matti headed for the lower exit. We log-rolled most of the way: the crawl is quite wide and the floor smooth, with only the odd spine-rending pebble.
The actual exit is a little bit wetter and tighter, but the water was relatively low so we passed it without any fuss and emerged into the daylight. We arrived at the bus with no sign of anyone else. About an hour(?) later I was starting to get concerned, but eventually saw four figures heading towards us from the cave, Andy and Jimmy had snuck up behind us after all.
We headed back to the hut and were shortly on our way back to London.
Illusion: Fiona Hartley, Rhys Tyers, Zaeem Najeeb, Lucie Studena
Illusion is obviously not a real cave as it does not appear on the CNCC and apparently requires no SRT. No SRT, in Yorkshire? A likely story. Furthermore it is impossible to get 4 people to go caving out of my car even if I do leave all of my shit at the hut. No cave would ever require you to park before passing Keld Head and certainly no caves can be located within 15 minutes of the road up only a very moderate hill.
No concrete tubes containing fixed ladders were found, as such infrastructure is typically only installed on Leck Fell. There were no muddy crawls, no cold cold ducks and no very half-hearted attempts at baling. Certainly there was no thrashing or shrieking in either direction, nobody swallowed any water, and there was no mass whimpering and giggling and bonding due to this experience, because as I've said there was no duck. There weren't any really nice formations or surprisingly massive passage, and any such evidence to suggest there are such things are simply the product of several hours spent creating trick photography shots on a Sunday in the warm dry common room of the NPC.