Lancaster Hole - Diamond Hall - County Pot via Manchester Bypass

Team: Giles Barker, Natalie Carter, Liz Daniels, Ray Duffy, Paul Wilkinson.

This was only my second trip underground and very nearly my last. It was a typical morning at Bullpot, everyone getting in each others way while trying to cook breakfast but after a serious amount of bimbling by everyone Ray, Giles, Liz, Paul and myself set off for Lancaster Hole.

It was a lovely day to be underground because it was rather wet and windy on the top! Having reached Lancaster Hole entrance we rigged it and Ray went down first, I was to be next. Of course when you are a beginner you do not know how to use SRT, instead I was lowered down which can only be described as a fate worse than death (you didnít have the big numb sad Ed.) It would be a couple of months before I would do the same trip but using SRT for myself. All that aside I finally reached the bottom of the pitch soaking wet, someone had not told me to put my hood up- Paul!! I then moved out of the way to allow the others to abseil down and we then set off for Diamond Hall. Paul did a quick detour for me so that I could see the Colonnades and it also gave me an opportunity to empty my wellies from a load of water.

We finally reached Diamond Hall with only a couple of bimble stops from Ray and Giles. I was to learn from later trips that bimbling about by Ray and Giles was very common and annoying at times. As soon as we arrived it was time for a brew or even a coffee, I donít normally drink it but it is amazing what Diamond Hall does to the taste of the stuff I Before any digging could be done we had to rig up the trays so that a proper pulley system cold come into being. That done it was down to some serious hard work by (almost) all. By this time we had been joined by Charlie, Christine and Lee who helped us as well. When I got to the front I was helped by Charlie who ended up doing most of the digging while I put the debris into the trays. It was tiring work but at least it warmed me up a bit. I eventually gave up at the face after some digging as I was rather tired and also in need of the toilet really desperately.

Of course going to the toilet underground involves a lot of skill and accuracy especially if youíre a woman! Enough said! Unfortunately I was caught in the act by one Ray Duffy with his camera - what a pervert! Fortunately for me and maybe unfortunately for him the photo did not come out. What a relief (in both senses of the word). Anyway, luckily for me he wonít be able to do that one again in a hurry, by the time he has bimbled about, got everyone into position with his flashguns and taken the photo I would have been long finished. Never mind Ray. After a couple of hours digging it was decided to call it a day, Charlie, Christine and Lee left first but we couldnít do that because of my great lack of SRT knowledge so we were to go out of County Pot via Manchester Bypass.

This, for me had to be one of my worst nightmares. For those who have not used Manchester Bypass it is full of long miserable crawls and tight rifts, It is not exactly one of the places you would want to take a beginner like me. Things were going pretty well until I managed to bang my knee extremely hard against a piece of rock. To say it hurt is an understatement but It brought tears to my eyes. We eventually reached Broadway and we had soon made our way out only to be met by the elements. This time it was horizontal rain, gales and fog. Great!! It was just what we needed for our trip back across the fell but aided by Paul holding one hand and Liz holding the other we stumbled across the fell and back to the farm managing to fall in every bog possible.

To say that the lights of the farm were a welcoming sight was an understatement, we were glad to go back and into the showers even if though they were not very hot. All in all a good trip despite the minor epic getting out.

Natalie Carter.


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