Top Sink - Pippikin

Party: A. Hall, P. Llewellyn, H. St.Lawrence, C. Wiloox & F. Hardy.

A couple of weeks of fine weather since the Easter Meet and the Pippikin to Top Sink trip was on; at least thats the way Id intended going, never having been one for strenuous exits. However, some easy persuasion by Andy & Hugh at the Heifer on Saturday evening and I found myself opting to come out of Pip. Anyway come 7:30a.m. on the Sunday morning, some unusual things were happening at the farm, people were getting up, the kitchen was beginning to fill, and by 8:00a.m. there wasnt even space to get a can of beans on. Even stranger, by 9:00a.m. the changing room was packed and most of those changing were going Top Sink to Pip. Not wanting to get stuck at the back of the queue for Walrus Pot, I hastily changed, grabbed some tackle, and legged it across the fell, close behind Andy, Pete & Hugh whod had the same idea. Looking back at the long line of cavers strung out behind us it seemed wed done the right thing.

We were soon at the head of Walrus pitch where much frigging around & shouting ensued, with the ladder changing from wet to dry hangs and back to wet again. But once down we were off at breakneck speed (something to do with Andy being in front.) and were soon at Limerick Junction. I had hoped to get my route finding sorted out to Fairy Steps as Id been some pretty unusual ways before, but Andy was off and it was the best I could do to keep up.

Everything was going really smoothly, although getting a bit overheated, and we soon reached the Minarets where Pete promptly disappeared down a shortcut to appear in front of a slightly bemused Hugh. To save time we (Andy) had decided to go the high level route to Stake Pot which was all very well but there wasnt much water to drink up there. Stake Pot was reached in just over two hours whereupon who should we meet but Frank Hardy who had abseiled Lancaster hoping to join up with one of the parties. So we were off into the Earby Series and on our way to Wormway & Link Pot, stopping only to gulp refreshment from any small pools of water. The trip was still going smoothly because everyone knew at least part of the way. We dropped down the pitch to the lower streamway, this unfortunately seems to be the half way point as we soon met Paul Seddon & Co. on their way from Pip to Top Sink. Jim Newton and party following close behind were not so lucky and the two parties met at the pitch.

But we were well clear and soon at Echo Avon, a fine 80 foot pitch, all the better for being dry. The lower streamway was not the most popular place and not an inspiring passage to hang around and wonder why the roof was covered in mud. The worst moment of the trip was soon to follow as unfortunately I had to get rid of some gear, which meant a diversion to Link entrance pitch, and there it was, sunlight streaming down, you could really smell the fresh air, but it wasnt to be. So ridding myself of a woolly jumper, just in case Id grown a since I last did Pippikin three years ago, and taking a last look at the blue sky it was off into the connection. This was my first tine through from Link and never before have I seen such a sordid bit of passage, but good for the thrill. We were soon on our way out through Pip and surprisingly seemed to have lost most of the mud before the long roof traverse - the first of the horrors. It certainly helps having some sort of friction with your wetsuit for this section. The start of the traverse was the last Pete, Frank & myself saw of Andy & Hugh. They exited after 6 hours & 10 minutes with the three of us some way behind due to a few blockages as Frank wedged himself in one or two of the squeezes, but we were soon out, and exiting from Pippikin was a superb end to a great trip. None of us seemed as tired as wed anticipated and although its a long trip it isnt psychologically hard as we were all familiar with the system and theres three entrances you can cop out at on the way if anything happens.

We were soon back at the farm to be signed out by Peter Muckalt, who was doing a great job as controller, and off for the Hartleys. My thanks to the lads who rigged it on the Saturday, it certainly made the trip easier. . . C. Wilcox. Back To Contents