Mistral. 27.9.87.

Party: Dick Wade, Neil Pacey, Paul Saville, Frank Hardy, S. Ogden, Gary Monaghan, and Chris.

It was Sunday morning and the start of yet another rescue? Yes a “Grip” search. The first place we looked was in the bedroom, but you can’t see anything from inside a pit, so we had to get up. Into the bathroom ... no luck, the stairs were riged and the party decended into the kitchen. Things looked promising and a full scale cook up was organized, but still there was no sign of any “Grip”. Eventually a second group battled their way down to relieve the first team (Gary and Chris got out of their pits). The full scale cook up was under way.
By 11.00 ish the search was over, we seemed to have found some of this “Grip” stuff. Another successful rescue over we decided to go caving, down the Mistral and to Sour Hall. The team arrived at the entrance, Paul scurrying off down followed by Dick, who had been assured that the ‘ole was “Not tight or wet”; he did not look keen but was coaxed down, with the odd porky! “It’s bigger here, you can turn round if you don’t fancy the next stretch”. “Mind you, if you get past this bit the rest is easy”.. He managed with ease and some additional help from Neil, who told Dick that he was still “Thinking fat”. This thinking large was later to prove useful. After arriving at Dusty Junction several people began to nominate various passages as the link crawl, but Frank put them right. “To Sour Hall” was the shout, Dick and Neil followed Paul, who immediately went wrong at the first junction, (curses). It was Frank who led the way to Gour Hall. Gary was the teams compulsory ‘stinky’ with that familiar “clunk” every ten seconds to ignite his portable sewage works.

At Gour Hall, Frank, Neil, and Paul went to look at the dig and after a good thrutch they rejoined the others. They then set off to visit the Hall of The Mountain King. Just after Cross Hall Paul took a wrong turning! He went through a narrow squeeze, followed by Neil, “You can get six sheets of paper through there Dick”. Dick, who was of course “thinking big” decided that something wasn’t right, so he stood aside and Frank attempted the squeeze. “Uh I think yul av to give me a push”. After much grunting he was through, helped by dick’s boot. The three went to a large chamber and down some side passages, it wasn’t the way. On their return Frank found an old pic—axe head. “Uh - we’ll dig some stuff out wi this”.

Paul went through the squeeze first, but could not dig any of the floor away, it was flagstone with a smearing of mud. After a long thrutch Frank emerged from the squeeze. Dick looked more relieved than Frank, after all by his “thinking” he was a telephone directory and not six sheets of paper! This was the last straw the route finder was given “the sack”. (Double curses).

Just before the Hall of Ten, Gary, Chris, and Graham headed off out leaving the Z team to carry on. In the Hall of The Mountain King Neil and Paul decided the best thing to do with the mud was to have a mud fight! with “no prisoners”. Eventually a truce was called and we descended to the bottom of the chamber sliding in mud rivulets. Dick the “truce breaker” narrowly missed Paul with a SAM (special airbourne mud pat). (I’d earlier been treacherously shot in the back, and that’s my excuse. Ed.)

We were soon at the bottom of the Cigalere inlet, a fine series of cascades beckoned. Paul turned and gestured above the noise of the water that he would go up the inlet for one minute and return. After climbing several cascades he was surprised to see the others:
following. “Must’ave changed their minds! Oh well on we go”. He’ thought.

Cigalete Inlet is initially a magnificent streamway, but this eventually becomes a hands and knees crawl in the water, the passage floor being a series of ‘pockets’, like small plunge pools. This seemed to go on for an ‘age’. Dick was beginning to mumble, then curse as to who’s idea it was to come up here. Eventually we reached the canal and then it was about turn. After Paul had absorbed many curses from Dick, who got very wet for “an ‘ole that’s supposed to be dry!” they arrived back in the streamway

They then scrambled up into the crawl that connects to the Pipikin streamway, which was low and “yes Dick - wet”. Although by this time we had begun to grin at our lack of sanity. Through the crawl we slithered down into the Pip streamway and all were soon back in the Hall of Ten.

Neil produced some Kendal mint cake which was quickly noshed. It was then that Paul noticed that he had lost a tape sling with two crabs. They were back where the nasty squeeze was. Neil volunteered to return with him and Dick added sarcastically “You sure you won’t get lost now!”

It wasn’t far back to the spot and as Paul and Neil re-entered the Hall of Ten they could hear Frank and Dick’s “cave noises”??? After a few shouts to make contact we set off out, and in no time at all were out of Mistral by the gill.

After a shower and brew we began to discuss the trip. Jim Newton wistfully grinning about Paul’s navigational expertise. A good trip was had by all, and next time Dick, if someone says the hole is not tight or wet you know what to do


Paul Saville.


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