Lancaster Hole — Wretched Rabbit.

The trouble with being in the Red Rose is everyone expects that you know the Lancaster-Easegill system and visit it each weekend searching for those elusive virgin passages that surely exist, ‘down that rift’ or ‘under this boulder here’. The real trouble for me was that my knowledge of Lancaster Hole was, to be honest, pretty grim! Whenever someone engaged in conversation on about dig/passage/duck I would scratch my head, bullshit on a while about fossil phreatic tubes and generally look an utter dimwit who didn’t have the brains that he was born with. My luck was in though as when being driven to Bullpot Farm for the bonfire party we met Neil walking up the lane. After he hopped in and exchanged greetings he offered to take me down Lancaster Main Drain and out of Wretched Rabbit Passage; at last!

Despite this lucky break ridding me of the stigma of my ignorance my luck did not hold cut and fate dealt a cruel blow when my lamp decided to fall into numerous fragments. Bulbs flew, wires broke, and harsh words flew around the changing room. I resolved to ask Santa for an FX2, and use the pilot light which miraculously (check your spel check Paul - Ed. ) had not broken, with my zoom as a back up.

Meanwhile Neil had become super efficient and gathered up the necessary gear for the entrance pitch. By dividing up the jobs as equally as possible we were soon underground, though not before my stop revealed its ‘never let you down’ properties, brand new bobbins and a rough 10.5 mm rope provided a bumpy ride for a nine stone weakling. Neil easily glided down with the grace of a dancer from the Bolshoi Ballet, in comparison I must have looked like a drunken amoeba on a string. Good thing we didn’t have to prussik out!
We agreed that neither of us wanted to wally about but I needed to learn the route through. Squinting at the bridge in Bridge Hall through my feeble light I stumbled down Kath’s Way following the stream passage and soon arrived at Fall Pot where a group of gnome like cavers sat silently in a circle oblivious to us until we tried to talk to them with mixed success.

Down the ladders and through the triangular slot and we emerged at the main drain briefly visiting the sump, Waterfall Passage and Wilf Taylors Passage before starting up the main streamway. Vague curves of rock and formation could be seen in the roof, untouched by the hoards who destroy the passages above. The wide and pleasant sinous streamway seen hung on the walls of the Marten Arms became real and we both marched along past the pools to where the passage lost its characteristic canyon shape and a wide slow flowing streamway emerged. devoid of grit and boulders it resembled more of a swimming pool, we were both pleased it hadn’t been spoilt somehow.

Soon we arrived at Oakes Cavern and climbed into the higher level passages which were more familiar to me. The novelty of the streamway had ended and we set off to tackle the obstacle course of greasy boulders sweating profusely under a thick layer of fibre pile but satisfied when the Stop Pot ladder was reached after which we dropped into Four Ways Chamber from the bedding running above. Heads down and the joys of Wretched Rabbit Passage with its variety of dry tight canyon, bedding crawls, and the more strenuous climbs at the end culminated in a fine end to a popular though unique piece of cave.

A full moon burned down lighting up the fell as we walked clown the gill and up at Link Pot to Lancaster hole, collected our gear and set off back. By now the bonfire was well alight making the barn look as if it was on fire. The heat could be felt at Bullpot of the Witches and was welcome to us and with wellies overflowing we gathered around the inferno of floorboards and furniture. ‘Don’t change there’s a rescue on’, everyone greeted us with. ‘Pull the other one‘ we replied. Fortunately Chaz and Jim Davis had already left for Kingsdale leaving us to get quietly drunk watching the flames, fireworks, and musing on a good trip.

Paul Wilkinson.

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