Party:-G. Leach, Jim & Jaq.
For several weeks Jim had been talking about a “nice quiet, photographic potter” to Easter Grotto, so, that when we found we had a few days holiday to spend at home Jim decided this would be an ideal time to go. Graham was doing few weeks shift work, (These trainee executives have got to find out how the other half lives) so he decided to come along as well. As is frequently the case, by the time we got to Kirkby Lonsdale the rain was pouring down & I made a determined effort to forget the horrific tales I’ve heard lately of chest deep water & C.R.O callouts! We were faintly surprised to see in front of us on the farm lane, a clapped out Land rover stuffed to the gunnels with potholer’s. Why weren’t they at work? We arrived at the farm to find two members shredding cabbage, de-stringing runner beans & obviously settling in for a day or two - what was happening to my quiet trip . After two more lads arrived, there were more people preparing to descend than there were on a Sunday & everyone was going to Easter Grotto. I, hadn’t the courage to chicken out so I got changed & this is where I made my big mistake, I put wetsuit pants on, then four jumpers, then two more pair of pants & then a boiler suit - I was determined to be warm.
As we started out for County
it hail stoned & I hobbled back for a cagoule. Why did I find the walk over
so knackering? It must have been the ankle deep mud. The first part of the trip
wars uneventful & we seemed to be going at a good lick, I managed he two
pitches without mishap. P.J. climb had been laddered by the party in front, but
Graham climbed the rift in case we
told anyone otherwise.
As Jim is well aware of my pain threshold regarding cold water, he the dry way to Stop Pot & I gladly agreed This way seemed to be mainly low crawls on my stomach trying to follow Graham, but keeping clear of his size II wellies. We carried on to Holbeck Junction & noted that the water in Thackeray’s was rather high. By this tame I was shattered & thinking I should be doing tapestry, not something that a lot of hard men have given up by my age. Jim at last found something to photograph & I sank onto a rock & the blood started coursing back into all the appropriate p1aces. Then on to Gypsum which Jim wanted to light up with a huge flash, but as is sometimes the case, the flash wouldn’t.
The party in front were now in Easter Grotto, all probably breathing heavily & steaming the p1ace up, so we started off back. I was a bit disappointed at not having got there but Graham kept
dropping hints about more crawling which scared me to death, so I thought I’d forgo the pleasure.
I don’t remember a lot about the trip back except the water coming up to my expectation’s & soaking my three pairs of socks, three pairs of trousers & four jumpers which necessitated Tim pushing & Graham pulling before I could put one foot in front of the other. The water had risen & was
bombing everywhere. I had never been so tired in my life but I got back to the first pitch. This is where I discovered what these brown trousers are that one hears about. I climbed the ladder desperately until I just couldn’t lift the sodden mass of sock & trouser high enough & somehow got both feet, one on top of the other on the same rung & I just panicked. Jim told me I kept trying to move the foot I was standing on & he had to climb up & place the correct foot on the next rung. I looked up and saw about ten more rungs & I knew I couldn’t make it. Why was the life line not pulling rue up? Through my panic I heard Grahams voice & Jim swung the ladder round. No wonder the lifeline was running sideways, I was up after this I got a whiff of fresh air & it gave me second wind. Graham pulled me over every obstacle more than a foot high & at last I was out. I sat in the fresh air, looking at the blue sky & hoped that both my companions would be gentlemen & would not immediately tell everyone of my debacle on that “nice little photographic trip”.