Yorkshire Christmas Tour
25th Dec 2004 --> 1st Jan 2005
TagLine: You're spending Christmas WHERE?!
Left to Right: Sandeep, Lyndon, Jo, Sarah, Jan.
The Usual + Not So Usual Suspects:
- Clewin Griffith
- James 'Tetley' Hooper
- Martin 'MadDog' McGowan
- Jarvist 'GM-Caver' Frost
- Lyndon Leggate
- Chris 'The Cruel' Rogers
- Joanna 'GI' King
- Sandeep 'SoCold' Mavadia
- Sarah 'Arctic' Johnson
Logbook Trip Reports:
24th Dec - Alternative Caving Christmas
Arrived Charing Cross 10pm on the 24th Dec, and stomped down to Pimlico looking
like a suicide bomber with rucksacks fore and aft. Tetley and Martin weren't in
the pub [it was closed], so dropped off stuff at Tet's and went to an open pub instead.
Saw in Christmas drinking tea in abode de Tetley; slept on the floor while
Martin snored on the Sofa.
Clew arrived with a rather small looking car at 10:30am on Christmas Day; kit was duly
squeezed into every available nook and cranny - violating just a few laws
of physics in the process.
Drove to Yorkshire spatchcocked by a random assortment of daybags + water
bottles, rear right mudflap was scraping along the ground until we got up to
speed on the Motorway. Christmas lunch was a mid M6 penknife prepared Brie +
Bullpot was true cliched Christmas-Card material; car overheating as we
carefully drove up in 1st. Snow everywhere; unpacked + put Duck + NutRoast in oven
and left the capable Martin in charge.
25th Dec - Bullpot of the Witches
1hr: Tetley, Clewin and Jarvist
Escaped at 6pm with 1hr till Christmas Fayre was served.
Waterfall was picturesque in the extreme with full moon reflecting
off the white snow. Climb down was distinctly dodgy - everything iced over.
Odd smell in start of main 'caving' section - turned out to be dead sheep in
the end; but first suspect was Tetley's furry unwashed since Slovenia slowly rehydrating!
Two 2m climb downs [first one traversed for a bit as in stream; quickly lead onto large chamber:
- Right: Open chamber with couple of boulder clambers. Ends with small hole leading
to slit-like vertical squeeze with trickle of flowing water. Possible continuation;
too tight to be pleasent for me!
- Left: Easy mud-floored + dry crawls lead to open chamber with continuation down + along stream,
and a climb up. Streamway was rather wet.
Headed back with dry feet for our Christmas dinner.
26th Dec - Cow to Manchester Bypass
5hrs: Tetley, Jarvist + Gavin [OUCC]
Open-air pot rigged by Jarvist + left to freeze over the next few days.
Played around in old-workings before finding modern clamber along slow
flowing streamway + arriving at traverse above Fall pot.
Tetley rigged from the many ceiling P-bolts; requiring go-go-gadget-legs.
Gavin rigged the big pitch; with a rather disturbing flake / rub point that
had to be carefully avoided on the swing to the freehanging rebelay. Planning
for a trip with the less experienced down here, Tetley added a deviation to
prevent Death of Fresher [DOF].
Dropped through boulder choke almost directly by where rope landed. Drippy
climb down onto streamway; sporting upstream bimble with some waist deep pools
to be sidled around. Easily visible [from streamway] roped climb to left;
followed up into the dry high route. Initially went the wrong way; realised +
followed compass [SE] along enormous boulder-strewn passageway. Old lags
absolutely zoomed aong; exhausting work keeping up.
Minorette's [enetered via tight climb-down on right at end of large passageway]
were amazing - 3 parallel and very pretty passageways connected by unlikely
+ very short tranverse crawls.
Came out in more large passageway; with fairly tedious boulders to clamber
over. Ate cognac-laced Christmas pudding at Terminal Junction - have been won around
by Clew's controversial choice of cave food!
Left SRT kit in pile + dashed across to Holbeck junction via Stake pot,
in order to connect-up internal map. Met 2-guys on a mission of surveying by the
start of the crawl to WR from Stake Pot. Popped back up the ladder to the T-junction
and started on the depraved Manchester Bypass.
Horrid flat crawl led up to right into pretty chamber + then immediate down on
left to slightly more open crawl - but which had a central rift that one had to continually
lift oneself out of.
Fantastically quaint 'fixed' rope ladder, with 1-inch chain sides and welded rungs
18 inches or so. There's a real fixed ladder sitting in Bullpot waiting to replace it
- for shame!
3m climb up sheer wall to wander round to right to 'freeclimeable' [supposedly;
I'd only do it when really really desperate] 5m pitch in County. Climb out county
along tight trickling streamway + an easy entrance Chimney.
Easy wander back across Moor - the bog is so much more pleasent when its iced over!
Pints of Tea + Pasta Bakes for Veggies + Meat Murderers alike.
27th Dec - Faff at the Farm + Sell Gill
Day 3 on the farm. Day 2 of the mystery earth-shattering snorer, current suspects:
- Martin MadDog McGowan
- Farm Ghost
Weather turning mild, so all the snow+ice starting to thaw - thus flooding
all our caves - ensuing decison making process turns into a long and
protracted faff / meta-faff [if you are Martin]. James 'cave tart' Hooper
gets himself onto a Notts Pot megatrip whilst the dregs:
- Jarvist 'Golden Retriever'
Descended SellGill, only when realising that our intended destination of
Rift Pot [Allot.] had a crawl which flooded in moderately damp weather.
This was only realised when we popped into Inglethief to find a guidebook
to check the cave's location. Impressive waterfall at bottom of wet route,
large cavern, christmas cake + malt loaf, yum.
Stomped back to car and blagged our way into the just-shut Penyghent Cafe
for pints of tea and cake.
27th Dec - Night Trip down Bullpot of the Witches
2hrs: Jarvist [Leader], Sarah, Jo and Sandeep
After an extremely large amount of faffing to find 4 sets of club caving
kit, we headed off to Bullpot of the Witches; notcing that a very large
and overflowing stream was heading the same way along the path. Walk down
to the cave entrance was past a memorial plaque.
Once in the cave, there was a fairly tight climb down. Jo got down to
the bottom with no trouble; Sarah followed but it proved a rather
challenging first-ever-climb. She aborted + came back to the top. Sandeep
made his way down with a little bit of difficulty; followed by the
refreshed Sarah. Jarv dropped in with a controlled fall rather than climbing.
Short climb onwards to the main chamber was easily negotiated by all;
leading along some easy passageway to the massive open hole + enormous waterfall.
Way on down a climb in the waterway was blocked by the enormous volume of
water flowing through. Any evidence of dead sheep would have long since
washed away. Everyone exited with no trouble and returned to
Bull Pot Farm to drink copious amounts of tea.
28th Dec - County to County - Jarvist
5Hrs: Jarvist [Leader], Lyndon and Sarah Arctic
Stomped across the moor after a false start [Sarah had no descender - doh!].
Efficient descent down the OUCC rigged pitch, entertaining clambers along
the Showerbath passage. Arrived at a T-Junction in the streamway with
pretty formations [believed to be aptly named 'Confusion Corner'], followed
stream down to ever tigher crawl. Decided to take other upstream route,
ended up passing through Spot Hall + Battle-of-Britain chamber oblivious to
After many exploratory clambers in regions with opposite-pointing carbide
arrows, and a tasty Christmas Pud later; accepted a path of Ignorance-is-Bliss
and looped around back towards County, assuming we were actually looping the
other way towards WR.
Butterfields passage + Innominate Sink were pushed to their WET terminas
in the belief that they might be WR. Butterfields had a hand-rope climb
attached to some odd pre-ECO Resin permanent bolts that must predate my birth.
The end of the knotted rope was absolutely pulped in the stream. Butterfields
terminated in a wet chest-in-water wriggle before arriving at a stream trickling
through a cold and draughting tiny boulder choked roof.
Innominate was very impressive, beautiful dry aven before a wet crawl
eventually positioning you behind a 6m high waterfall. Dashing through the waterfall
you find yourself in a large chamber with highly unstable and draughting
boulder choke opposite the free falling water. Would be very enjoyable, if not
for the severe icecream headache from the dousing!
Noticed that we'd passed by the free climb up to County on the way back from
I.S.; exited smoothly
A rather miserable trip for Sarah's first proper journey!
28th Dec - Sarah's fresher musings
Very quicky faced with descent + interesting/crazy bits where you had to throw
yourself down a drop with support only by elbows! Slowly confirming belief that
cavers are strange insane beings. Moderately worried by suggestions of roof
being like to cave in, arrows pointing in opposite directions every few
meters and exits becoming dead ends after ever tighter passageway. Still
unable to compregend Jarvist's succesful yet taxing 'just throw yourself down'
technique. Blessings to the guys for various shoving + pushing at 'hip' moments.
Particularly enjoyed the xmas pudding break - genius.
Four hours later wearing trainers, I still feel like I'm wearing wellies
full of water - where is the squelch?!
P.S. Jarvist is communually agreed to be a genetically modified cave being.
P.P.S. Wouldn't have made it in or out of cave without Jan 'The SRT Man' 's fantastic
tremendous teaching on a tree in the hail this morning.
Sarah Arctic [AKA Sarah Johnson]
28th Dec - Cow to WR - Jo
Jan [Leader], 'GI' Jo and Sandeep
Jo Says: Quality faffing before we set off for our short stomp to cow. I was feeling a bit
dubious as to how good two left wellies [Choosen by Jo herself!] in different
sizes would be, but they served me well. Pretty OK first descent and little squeezy bit.
However, the second pitch proved rather problematic [*]. I faffed on my way down
slowly, but I think Sandeep must have had a snooze on the rope on the way down
(that, or he got a tad stuck!).
Sandeep Adds: I faffed on the rope for over an hour, Jo had a nap at the bottom
of the pitch while Jan whistled to himself.
Sandeep Corrects Jo: [*] At the head of Fall pot, there was a traverse slung from
the ceiling. Jo thought it was a good idea to clip in and jump off the roof; the second
time this happened she [**] fell down about 3m [0.5m really!] onto her long
cow's tail / descender and sailed straight into the rock on the opposite side with a thud.
Jo defends herself: [**] Carried out a spectactular Tarzan impression,
but unfortunately there was an insignificent lump of rock on the far side in the way (it
was all perfectly intentional of course).
Jo continues: After the lovely long pitch [Direct route into Fall Pot], we
ambled along 'muddy rocky cave' (guess who had no ideal of where we were...). We had some
lovely breaks where Jan and Jo made stunning mud pictures of Rabbits and the Sun
[very 'Watership Down'!]... Remember to look for these in 10years time!
Sandeep concludes: After what seemed like many hours jumping over boulders followed
a dodgy traverse and more boulder jumping, which Jo was adept at doing. However, at one
point I had to eat my own words when I mocked "That's not a squeeze!". I ended up with
a very sharp piece of rock inbetween my legs, causing me an immense amount of pain.
Meanwhile (sadistic) Jo was laughing her head off (be warned Jo, your time will come!).
Exited smoothly out of WR; poor Jan having to lend a fair bit of assistence.
Joanna King and Sandeep Mavadia
29th Dec - Top-WR + Rescue - A fresher's-eye report from Sarah Arctic
Having made a rather late start we trundled off into the mist to Top. I
geniously tripped on a tuft of grass landing flat on my face (nice spongey
grass though) and distinctly remember Jarv commenting that this was good
In we went down the entrance chute, and unbelievably, only steps into the cave,
water running off the back of the chute made its way down my suit to my
pants, no way, not at the start! Lots of tight twisty stuff followed, during
which my FX3 battery ran out (luckily had a second one), and on which I
continuously got stuck and moaned rather a lot (pathetic fresher). Jo has
since pointed out that I had all my SRT stuff on my front and should move it
round to the side next time. Onwards to a 20m descent of a waterfall,
stopped a bit too much on way down in effort to stay out of water and
achieved opposite effect - decided momentum is the way forward with these
things. On the next descent however, forgot to look down to where I was
going and only remembered to stop about 6 inches from the floor. Everyone
else zoomed along fine, a bit more twisty stuff and crawling until phew, we
made it into more open territory. [Limerick Junction - Ed]
From here there was increasingly more stepping or climbing over rather big
holes. Sandeep really didn't seem to appreciate these and would stop and
look into each one for several minutes as if expecting it to swallow him. We
were progressing very slowly and poor Jarv had to hoist and drag us up and
through pretty much everything that appeared slightly difficult - notably a
climb up over a big hole in a bit of a narrow spot
[Holes in rift passageway above Assembly Hall - Ed]
, I took absolutely ages
here as I really wasn't getting it. Jarv deftly attached his cow's tail to
my harness, reassuring, but pretty sure he would have just come down with me
had I fallen. After much pushing, shoving, squirming and standing on toes, I
eventually made it up there and across. While waiting for Sandeep to follow
I got to explore Easter's Grotto - its absolutely amazing, very pleased I
got to see it, made my day.
Onwards through the Assembly Hall, via a
couple of handrails we had to clamber down, guided always by patient Jarv who
seemed to literally glide over everything (still can't work out how you good
caver people do that!). Unfortunately on the handrail climb down into the White Way
Sandeep crashed onto
Jarv pretty hard, which I think is where Jarv hurt his back. Wading and
crawling through various streamways ensued, but the stream was rather higher
than usual, up to my chest in places, and rising. We were having
difficulties finding the direct way out to Stake Pot or something like that,
as the river was too high where we needed to go. We searched up and down the
stream, which was surprisingly strong, I had to yank a weary Sandeep out at
one point when he got his foot stuck. We climbed in and out of the water,
Jarv tirelessly searching for alternate exits. The water and the stopping
and starting however were making us all cold and tired, particularly
Sandeep, and my teeth were merrily chattering while we were in the water. It
was also very very late at this point and getting very close to our call
out, as Sandeep and I had been so slow previously. Backtracking and exiting
via Top wasn't really an option as it would involve going back over the
difficulties on the way in, and two very wet SRT climbs. Added to this Jarv's
back was getting more painful, and us two weren't going to make it out
without his help. With us all getting cold and tired it was a risk that
someone would trip and injure themselves or get dragged under in the
streamway while searching for a way out.
Jarv got us to climb up higher into Straw chamber where the rising water
wouldn't get us (and right on our route - the nearest safe spot to Holbeck Junction)
and got Sandeep into a survival
bag. I spent a good 10 minutes trying to wring the water out of my wetsocks
and emptying my wellies in an effort to get my feet dry for the wait. Of
course as soon as I put them back on they seemed to have the same amount of
water in them as before I started. I was cold, but remain impressed at how
well furries do their job of keeping you warm when theyre wet, it
definately dried as I sat there and I warmed up. Jarv put gloves and battery
packs at various points in the vicinity to guide any rescuers to our
location. Sandeep was pretty hypothermic and pulled his hat right down over
his face for warmth, was hand-fed a vast amount of chocolate from Jarv's
food stash (we could have survived there for days with that I'm sure!) and
was prodded every now and again to prevent him falling asleep. The true
colours of the ICCC, aka the Imperial Groping Society showed through as a
pile of slowly-turning-blue people piled on top of shivering Sandeep in a
kind of human survival bag knot to keep us all warm.
Several hours of nattering away, and a Christmas pudding later, we finally
heard real voices over the ghostly echoes of the streamway, and Simon from
Oxford appeared with Mark. Jarv crunched a few pain killers and got going
with Mark, and I was very eager to go myself as I just wanted to get moving
off and out and warm again, but Simon wanted us to wait to move till CRO
came, and made us breathe a thing called a Dragon in the meantime (hot air
that kinda warms you from the inside). An hour or so later (not quite sure)
they turned up and force-fed us more chocolate (feeling way over-sugared at
this stage). Sandeep now seemed a bit stronger and went straight off with
them, but I somehow needed the toilet yet again, and this coupled with
difficulties getting back into my harness (probably all the chocolate!)
meant that the cavers with Sandeep got ahead of us, and unfortunately didn't
wait. It soon transpired that my CRO guys didn't know the system and had no
idea how to get out - and so I returned to the now rather too familiar
process of stopping while they check out the route, move a bit, oh no, turn
back, move a bit oh we'll just go check this route then that route etc. My
thoughts were 'you are supposed to be rescuing me!' To make things all the
better I slipped off a rock and really thwacked my knee which was flippin
painful for all the crawling later. Then my second battery died, and as
moving without a light was quite difficult someone leant me a tikka, which
was better, if a little dim.
Eventually we came across a CRO guy who knew the way out, and from there on
it was plain sailing. I soon warmed up when we were moving and we even met
another CRO guy after a while who had a brighter headtorch for me. No-one
seemed able to remember my name though, one guy kept calling me Sally and
the other calling me Clare. With no SRT kit on I slipped round the twisty
bits like a snake and with some pushes and shoves we were at the main
climb in Wretched
Rabbit, which had a rather handy ladder running up it, so all I had to do
was put my hand on the ladder and feet on the rocks and I was away. The
crawl up to the surface was a lot shorter than I expected so I was really
quite surprised to meet probably about 20 people very rapidly after
finishing the climb. I was absolutely sweltering at this point from all the
moving! Lyndon handed me a nice cup of tea, and took a photo (not kind you
know, not kind). I really didn't believe him when he said it was 6am!
Anyways we trundled back over the moor to Bullpot, where there were yet more
CRO people congregating, I said thanks to as many as possible, and then
dived in the hut for a lovely hot shower, various nice people locating me
towels and tea and clothes. Everyone else was back before me, tired but
fine. All were heading for bed but I was kinda past that stage so I faffed
for ages trying to make myself more tired. Climbing into sleeping bag had
bizzare experience of seeing cave walls when I opened my eyes in darkness.
Many people have asked if this has put me off caving. Nah. I just happened
to be on a trip where luck wasn't on our side and a chain of things went
wrong. The decisions made kept us safe and I appreciate that. I also now
know that there is a cave rescue and it is very comprehensive, I was
astounded at the extent people went to help cavers when something went
wrong. Of course I hope never to have to meet them again, but its nice to
know they are there.
I haven't really done enough of caving to learn what it is about, but I like
the fact that it is always a challenge. I think being rescued magnified the
fact that being underground is very thought provoking. In my brief
experience I found that there is something about caving which brings out the
life in you, away from the everyday world's fakeness. Sorry, I imagine that
sounds totally ridiculous. Basically now I just want to take more
challenges, to improve and get stronger. Anyways many thanks to Jarv, Simon,
all at Bullpot and the CRO.
Sarah Johnson [AKA Sarah Arctic]
Some locations corrected by Jarvist