Serendipity — Do — Da.

Slowly consciousness started to return. My body ached and my head throbbed with pain. The van was gently rocking and a hot flame was burning, its heat hurting my face. Noise, lots of noise, ”God I’ve crashed the van” I thought. More noise — hang on — that’s Chaz. shouting; “Get up you lazy shit!” Relief, I’ve been asleep in the van, its Sunday, the sun’s shining through the window. It is the morning after the bonfire party and I feel ill. Still I won’t feel as ill as Neil. Serve him right for cracking raw eggs on his forehead, eating them, and then following them with uncooked sausages and a stale beer chaser.

Out I stagger. It’s a lovely day at Bullpot Farm. A team forms in the kitchen. The “lets do Brown Hill’s” set from the night before seem to have lost their grip and a distinct lack of enthusiasm prevails. Eight brews and three breakfasts later a large team is formed for an alpine start to go down Link and into Serendipity. As it’s now dinner time we have one more brew, then it’s off past Lancaster Hole and a queue of fifteen people. “All got permits?” We ask, to be met with embarrassed looks! “Going down anything good?” says a waiting student caver. “Dig X” Says Chaz, and then we head over to Link, trying to look hard.

The “we”, by the way consists of Chaz, Neil, Paul, Andy, Hugh, Ann, John — alias streaky, and me. We arrive at Link and Chaz descends. I followed, brain still fuddled from last nights amber nectar. I forgot to put my Petzel stop on my short cows tail, to stop it jamming between me and the wall. Consequently I got it stuck and struggled to get to the bottom. “You should lock it off with a crab” says Andy, and I jumped down the hole with it locked in. Ten feet later his helmet cable snags on a spike, he let go of the rope and — whoosh — down he goes. He ended up hanging from his helmet emitting sounds like a screaming pig. Meanwhile the rest of us were rolling about in agonies of laughter. When Andy appeared he tried to kick us for laughing at him, but we scurry out of range of his lashing feet and even more dangerous tongue.
Off we went down into Hilton Hall, Chaz, Neil and myself taking the Bypas Pybus — the rest going the long way around via the bottom end of Hilton Hall to join us at Squid Junction. Then onto Night Shift Chamber and a crawl, across the Canyon and right into China Dog Chamber to step back across the Canyon and down the chain into Tigers Inlet, with just a bit of wallying about. This area looks very interesting with some great shaped passages. We passed the turning for Handpump Hall on our right and carried on in a low wide passage to reach Cairn Junction.

From this point all the alternatives unite into a crawl which brings you out in the roof of Serendipity. Here a fifteen foot pitch dropped us down to the stream and Chaz and Hugh started to look for belays for the seventy five foot pitch down into Easy Street. There were cries of “What no red bolts?” and “Is that ladder hung sale?” But n the end the pitch was rigged quite satisfactorily by mean of one bolt, one ladder ring and a natural. Down into the spray we went to the finest stream passages I’ve seen for quite a while — 2000ft. of stomping, well decorated streamway — a marvel of nature.
As we started to crawl on our hands and knees we became aware that we were down to three — Chaz, Neil, and I. The rest had slipped back. We shouted “Wimps’” but got only laughter back. Alter about 100 ft. of crawling we reached the first sump which gives a dive of 175 ft. a crawl of 90 ft., and a dive of 260 It. to bring you out in a waterfall chamber in Pippikin. Needless to say we turned back and raced after the others, catching them at the bottom of the 25 metre pitch. Here Chaz and I slipped in front and headed out so as not to get caught up in the antics on Link.
Outside it was a still autumn evening with hardly a breath of wind to disturb our carbide and we walked back to Bullpot Farm for a brew. A very good day with plenty of laughs and good companionship which to me makes caving the fine sport it is.

Keith Wright.

 

 

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