Another Fine Mess You Have Got Me Into. - or - Faulty Steps Into The Unknown.
years had been spent, with some success, around
Saturday found, not huge groups, but myself all alone — no one else had turned up — not even Pete. A few hours later as two female cavers and a man who were R.R.C.P.C. arrived by chance, they were intending to visit Brakenthwaite cave. We went off to explore the new stuff, it was easier to travel underground than through the wood, but in true caving fashion we ignored about ten reasonable holes and looked at an insignificant clint in a low ten foot high rise above the ‘fen lands’; about the most cave less place that you could think of.
I think I picked it as it was the only one that didn’t have a bed of nettles in it! Unexpectedly a bit of digging and we were into a walking size chamber. I’d found a CAVE!! I dug a low arch out and entered two odd bell shaped chambers, quite unlike any normal cave — finding caves in silly places like this was getting like Rupert Sear tales. Then after moving a rock, there it was — you could see a real virgin white walking size passage. Side passages could be seen and the floor was unmarked, and there was one hell of a draught!
excitement we rushed in; a four way then a six way appeared, the main passage
still walking size, all this
never seen before, yet we were in a low rise only ten feet. above marshlands,
it was mind blowing. We decided to get out before we got lost.
On exit, the fact that two women were about, made me change in the entrance, as well as the fact that a Peeping Tom farmer kept popping up from behind a wall looking at us. A bit of a cheek, after all we were only just feet from the public footpath and Pete had got permission hadn’t he? I though nothing of it as I wandered happily along the country lanes towards the bus stop and home. Suddenly my world went from Heaven to Hell — A landrover screeched to a halt and an extremely agitated farmer said; “Get into the back, or I’ll set the dogs onto you”. The dogs looked and sounded like the hounds of hell. So I thought that I had better humour him; I got into the back.
“Do you know that hall the Westmoreland police are Looking for you?
I saw you with them others hide in that hole and change from boiler suits into ordinary clothing. You’re one of them — we caught two last month”. Oh God I thought. The farmer paused with anticipation; “You’ve escaped from yon open prison, Bela, they’ll lock you up now”. He stopped at a junction, he used a telephone to call the police. I looked at the dogs, the dogs sneered at me. We waited. Eventually one policeman complete with car, arrives; “Well what’s all this ‘ere then. We’ve not had any escape. What were you doing — out with it”. I told my tale. But the farmer said; “ Bugger off, I’ve lived here all my life, used to play hide and seek down that yon hole, there’s nothing there. You and that other man were down for hours!”
This really put the mockers on, I hadn’t even got a helmet to show, that I was a caver. Desperate I croaked: “I’m in the Red Rose, they help the cave rescues”
“Name some “. Said the copper. Well, have you
ever tried to remember names? Especially when you have just joined a club.
Eventually I remembered Jim Eyres and Jim Newton. (A wonder you weren’t immediately arrested. Ed.). A radio call to
Next Friday it was a club AGM and desperately in between nominate this and amend that, I got the message across, but not the permission problem. Well the next week I could not go, so yet again no one asked the farmer for permission, after all it was only feet away from the footpath. This time half the club goes. On their exit from the cave they looked like chocolate biscuits, due to the mud. The farmer, who just happened to be there was hysterical. “Bloody hell, why didn’t you ask if you could go in, it’ll kill you!
“What will, that little hole!” said Fred, eating his sandwich, with some odd looking dust on his hands. h
“That will — RAT
POISON!”. Said the farmer pointing to Fred’s dusty hands, who promptly chokes
on his sandwich and goes deathly pale! “I reckoned with that cave I’d found the hiding place of all
me rats so I put poison down. Now it’s all over you lot!” This plus the
incredible mud put most people off the cave. Indeed on this trip a ten foot wide crawl known as the M6, as everyone rushes to be in front, was
found, that led to a chamber with an almost unique phreatic bridge. Our
scientist in great joy, leapt towards this, his joy turned to horror as he sank
rapidly in the (ten foot deep?) mud, it was just like a horror film. He
clutching the bridge for dear life! Naturally Things happen in threes; a
certain Roger, who didn’t bother asking for permission, on exiting head first from
the hole was con-fronted by a horrified voice — Bloody Hell — I thought you were
a -fox ! and saw inches from his eyes the business end of a twelve bore shot
gun! How embarrassing that could have been
”FATALITY. ONE CAVER SHOT — MISTAKEN FOR ANIMAL!”
on, not without more interesting incidents! On one trip Duncan was in a ‘bell ‘
chamber in a state of such terror that he was almost immovable and was
violently sick — it turned out that he was surrounded by huge spiders, -for
which he had a phobia (indeed that cave has a special place in British bug
sites.), I thought it was quite funny to see him in that state — but he had his own back.
There was at one spot two ways on — either a wet two foot grovel into this chamber or a six foot climb up and through a window and a drop known as the Lobster Pot. Encouraged by
It was quite
draining down ‘aint pleasant. The foregoing not improved by hearing your mate saying “I ‘d get wet, I‘ll pull you up by your trousers — oh dear! they seem to be coming off!
Soon after threats to murder him, I decided to knock some sense into him, and every time he got to the top of the climb, I kicked him off. Eventually squeezing up for a better kick I got an arm free then with a push and pull suddenly got free and shot down to the floor like a sack of coal. Lying exhausted in the mud I opened my eyes to see a body about to fall on me and a voice declaring — “It’s a lot easier feet first”.
started to prospect and the Kendal had found
Our final triumph expedition trip mess was to get the whole club to the 200ft Fairy Hole at Witherslack, that turned out to go no further than the guide book description. It’s mud duck was special, but so was the four foot deep mud bath which literally you could not get out of without the aid of a human chain! A chorus of ‘Mud, mud, glorious mud’ did not go down well that day.
The Hazel Grove and Hale Moss systems were formed under a post glacial lake near Beetham — the open prison is now disused and both caves are about a quarter of a mile long. A lot of the Hazel Grove system is now under a caravan site. As phreatic network caves they are insignificant to Deub Hole, one mile long, or Knock Fell Caverns two and a quarter miles long, or optimistically 100 miles long .
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