Down Lancaster Hole

After last weeks leisurely sightseeing trip down County Pot to the impressive sight of Molluscan Hall via the delightful North West Passage, I was looking forward to a grovel in the confines of the new extension somewhere in Lancaster Hole. I refuse to give the location on the grounds that it may incriminate me, but for further details ask any passer by at the farm. Driving along the M6 on Sunday morning I was wondering if they had managed to bang the calcite dam, thereby reducing the water level and the severity of the ducks. On arrival I was told that Jim & Mick had gone down the previous evening and carried out the necessary.

Some enthusiasm must have been injected because when I arrived people were actually discussing who was going to do what and not lethargically supping tea, as is usually the case. I retreated to my van for a couple of butties and by the time I’d carted my gear into the changing room, some of the lads were actually ready.

I set off with the second wave and eventually arrived at the start of the extension. As we climbed into the roof traverse we were greeted by a faint smell of old wetsuits & bitter almonds, presumably the after effects of last nights chemical attack. On arrival at the calcite dam I found Andy & Mick furiously pounding away with hammer & chisel, sadly the effects of last nights efforts had not been up to expectations. So it was back to brute force and as every nook and cranny was becoming festooned with various assortments of blacksmiths accessories there was no shortage of equipment.
I had a look at the first sump to check the water level but it was still as high as ever, however I managed to get through without too much trouble, just a couple of flooded nostrils. A first glance the second sump looked impossible with the water level as high as it was. I had a go but my helmet wouldn’t even fit. So it was a helmet off job and with no hood it was rather uncomfortable, but after a bit of a splutter and a quick panic I managed to get my head through, The problem then was the rest of my body, helmet and light were on the other side, so I had to feel my way on till I could drag my light in, The camera box came through last, tied to my big toe.

Never mind I was in, trouble was everybody else seemed too busy to come through, or so they said. I pressed on for a while and took a few photos, but with nobody to pose to give a sense of sc1e the shots weren’t much use. The return trip through the sump didn’t seem as desperate as on the way in and by the time I’d returned to the land of the living. Jim had just arrived and declared the passage unsafe due to lingering fumes, so it was a quick evacuation job. By the time we’d returned to the Master Cave there was a cast of thousands milling about. A group of strangers asked us where we’d been, “Just mucking about,” I said. “What Club are you’’, we asked. “‘Oh, a mixture of clubs, just taking photographs,” they said. A short way on we found almost the whole of the Red Rose lurking with their lights out.

They thought we were members of a rival group phantoming the extension. We were just about to be taken limb from limb when we identified ourselves. There then followed a sight-seeing trip followed by an extended wait at the bottom of the Lancaster pitch as the “Mixture of Clubs” climbed out, with our lot bringing up the rear. I somehow managed to be last up but had a good pull from Dave & Mick who, with the safety line in tow headed rapidly off across the moor. I was hauled upwards at a similar velocity occasionally managing to get a boot in the rungs, thereby completing my fastest ascent of a 110 foot pitch.

It was pitch black and bitterly cold when I surfaced. I grabbed a ladder, rolled it up, then shot off back to the farm, leaving Dave frantically pounding the frozen safety line on the ground trying to get it to bend.

Boyd Harris.

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