Ben Honan, Dave Kirkpatrick, Dave Wilson, Fiona Hartley, James Perry, Jennifer Ryder, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Ruth Goh
We met at stores at reasonable time and drove to Peterborough to pick up a Diss plus food from Asda. Lots of snacking and some singing occurred on the bus. I kept getting pita bread that I didn’t want - presumably to hold but no one (Jack) would take it. Max did a horrific thing and bought sliced cheese, which was actually quite tasty.
Ana ft. Diss
King Pot: Dave Kirkpatrick, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck
DKP, Diss and I set off for King earlyish (compared to everyone else). After hiding the key, we hid some slings under Dave’s car because we were too lazy to retrieve said keys. There was a slightly big puddle on the road to the farm, but we had wellies.
We then met a very friendly farmer (“is he the farmer?” “of course he’s the fucking farmer”) and lots of cows that made creepy sounds. The walk involved some steep hiking up. It took a while to find the cave - after the gate on the right, at the base of the next hill, King is the one to the left of the cave with a tree. We located the right cave and Diss’ light decided to be fewer lit. Fancy light construction things involved cable ties and a bisun hanging off the side.
Everything is rigged except the first two pitches, which DKP rigged speedily. Route finding was easy, and the description is good. Some slightly scary traverse had one rope that looked deadly on a dodgy bolt and one rope that seemed better (recommend clipping into both because it’s hard to tell which one is which at first). Eventually we reached a pitch on a boulder slope that required leaning out quite far to reach the y-hang, but was less intimidating that it seemed. No one fell down any letter shaped passages - Diss made angry sounds, I was briefly upside down. There was some walking in a streamway after going down a rope. Another rope led to more streamway with some small boulders wedged at inconvenient hights – too low to go underneath and a little difficult to get up and step across onto the next one.
The last pitch was “well good” says Diss. We got to do some acrobatics on a spike and a swingy rebelay. The rope stayed out of the water, but then the way on was through the water. This led to a free climb over an inconveniently placed rock wall with rope attached to a short but fat stal hanging down either side. This was totally legit.
A lot of crawling.
At one point we could stand near formations and noticed the water line above our heads (slightly worrying). Some pristine mud was used as a ladder and slide and for art purposes. More crawling.
Dave peed in the downstream sump and we went upstream for a gander of the Middle Sump. We decided not to do the bypass involving a duck and flood-prone crawls because of weather forecasts and the will to stay alive. We turned around and decided to get out of the wet crawls before food consumption. I made a mistake and crawled through a very flat, wet bit by following Diss (who likes water too much) instead of DKP. A star bar and vegan jerky were consumed (the BBQ was better than the hickory smoked). They were both very smelly and infiltrated the pvc for many days.
The elbow deep water crawl was now suited for swimming. In very wet weather it’s probably best to not go further than the last pitch. The streamway was noticeably faster but only a little higher than on the way in. The last and second-to-last pitches stayed dry in water.
Going up more fast streamway we turned around a corner and could not see anything because of the waterfall spray – this was our next pitch. DKP pulled me out of the water because I looked terrified, but the rope did not actually go through the main part of the waterfall. Diss’ backup light decided to also fail halfway up the rope. It refused to turn on with new batteries, so another spare torch was used (Diss possibly made a personal record for number of lights destroyed on a trip). The T-shaped passage now carried some water in the bottom. Everything else was pretty easy. Diss derigged the two pitches, we decided not to tell her about all of the spiders.
It was raining a lot on the surface and visibility was pretty poor, so we did some more or less elegant sliding down the hill on wet leaves. When we thought we were safe, Diss nearly fell. Note from Diss: “nearly being the operative word! Thank you very much”. The puddle on the road had grown so that you couldn’t see the other side, but it was not very deep. A good choice was made not to change, and we sat on towels in DKPs car. We got close to getting stuck in the mud, but high acceleration got us out. Of course, we forgot the sling on the ground.
There was a Fiona at the hut when we got back. Just after we got changed the Marble Steps group arrived looking damp and tired. Fun cooking happened: we made a delicious curry with lentils and coconut milk.
Ana ft. Diss
Marble Steps: Ben Honan, Dave Wilson, James Perry, Jennifer Ryder, Ruth Goh
Diss made some delicious egg fried rice which some of us consumed for breakfast. DKP retrieved the sling from Kingsdale. We managed to escape Yorkshire with all members intact. And then the minibus broke down… cue hysterical laughter. We spent some time standing by the M6 huddled in sleeping bags. Davey’s legs were in trousers, something was clearly wrong. Luckily the RAC was speedy to arrive, but then it took a long time to get home.
The most tired people got to go in a taxi, while Jennifer, Jack, Diss and I went in the recovery vehicle. We got dumped at a service station near Oxford, and were told there were no other recovery vehicles available today, so that was great! We watched some big rats run around the car park. After some phone calls we refused a hire car and got a taxi ride to London. I remember nothing of that drive, it was warm and we fell asleep immediately. Got back to London around 4am. Diss got one hour of sleep before the treacherous journey to work (in Norwich).
An interesting weekend and King was loads of fun!