LOST JOHNS TRIP
of us assembled in bright sunshine at Leck Fell car park - a far cry from the
‘cast of thousands’ on the last trip down this cave. The party consisted of
Paul, Moose, Cath, Frank, Big Steve, Ash. and yours truly. We set off underground
After negotiation of the new roof traverse, the first. pitch was soon reached and rigged with ladder. Moose claimed to have an allergy to electron ladder and would have to wear gloves for the decent to avoid a rash! The ladder drops about 15’in to a small well formed chamber which looks climbable on the left. hand side. The passage carried on in fine style involving the traversing of a number of holes in the floor to add to the fun.
Out came the rope for the next pitch, along with various bits of ironmongery followed by a quick game of hunt the bolt hole. In the event, only one hanger was neded thanks to a stout natural thread belay and a solid looking stalagmite high up on the left. After a quick glance at my lady bird book of knots we were down Centipede pitch was only a short distance from here, enabling us to rig both pitches with one rope.
Centipede is in my humble view, one of the finest pitches in the dales., with its airy grandeur and super ’bee hive’ formation positioned half way up the wall. Fortunately this fine example of ’stal’ has remained intact by virtue of its inaccessibility - unlike formations elsewhere.
The way on continued as a narrow rift with several small climbs to negotiate before opening out onto the second ladder pitch of the day. More moaning from Moose, who contemplated free climbing it rather than another wrestling match with the wire and alloy contraption .Although only about 30’, it proved quite an awkward decent not helped by being trussed up like a chicken in our S.R.T. gear. A rope was put to good use on. the next small climb.
rift passage continued on to Stemple Traverse, (the stemples have as Jim found
out to his cost, long since gone) The plan was to go out to the far end of the
rift and then descend the 120’. As I had rigged this space walk before I
thought it only fair to allow someone else to lose about two stone in sweat.
Ash, who was still delirious after his Munro epic, volunteered and the spanner
was placed round his neck. Inch by inch our hero trembled his way across the
awful rift to the pitch head. Down he went into Tunderstorm Depot, needing only
one deviation before landing in the stream some 120’ below the ‘y’ hang. One by
one, rather like lemmings, the rest of us followed.
The final pitch was laddered and so on to the master cave with its atmosphere of great age. After a quick discussion with big Steve the party split up, some going for a ramble with Steve down to the sump. while Moose and I decided to take a look up Lyle Caverns.
Two ropes are in place at present:— a length
of orange poly prop (!!) and a length of Elderig. The S.R.T. rope is properly
hung with two hangers at the top., the polyprop however, should only be
ascended by cavers equipped with parachutes on their backs.
The formations we observed up there were fantastic and well worth the effort involved to see them. Throughout these caverns ropes drop down from inlets in the roof at every turn, indicating that a lot of attention has been spent around here over the years.
We would have liked to explore further, but time was pressing on, so rather reluctantly we made our way down to the master cave. The others had already started up the big pitch by the time we arrived there, their lights blinking high up in the roof of the pot. It fell to Moose and myself to de-rig the main pitch and traverse which proved to be quite a time consuming affair involving, having to belay the tackle bag before feeding in the 155’of ‘Indian rope trick’ Aquaguard.
Our exit from the pot was not as quick as it might have been due to some confusion at the entrance. Frank and I used our combined navigational skills to get properly lost up a cunningly placed side passage. It was not until the passage closed in that we were certain that it WAS the wrong way. Back we trudged to the correct passage, and then out into daylight.
Our chums ha already changed by the time we emerged. After dropping of the permit at Bank House Farm the trip was finished off in traditional manner in. the Marton Arms,
NICK TANNER (minor)