That’s Entertainment (A Wet Day in Easegill)
The Team: Angela Hare, Phil Luff, Neil Pacey, Mark Savage, Rick Scott.
It’s not often I get up to the Dales these days, but when I do I like to go for the full Bull Pot Farm experience. Friday night’s rescue exercise with the CR0 provided a great chance to learn and share information as well as creating a three day weekend! By Saturday afternoon having had no sleep and a bit of a session, we were well out of synch with the real world and I had easily slipped back into farm animal mode. The cure for this condition soon presented itself in the form of a day out with Neil. His game plan allowed for extremely wet conditions, but, as he enthusiastically explained it, there was a gleam in his eye that suggested it might include a bit more than a bimble along the high level route.
After a hearty breakfast on Sunday (or was it Monday) morning we set off across the fell towards County, along with a least three other teams.
“Don’t worry we won’t be seeing much of them” Phil commented confidently. Sure enough once in the system we disappeared into “Iggy Bliss” not seeing another person until we arrived back at the first pitch on our return. After joining the main road near Platypus Junction we made our way quickly to Eureka Junction and then The High Level route via. Stop Pot.
The very early start (12am) had obviously got to Neil who was strangely subdued to begin with. It was not until he got involved in some unpleasant digging around in Comes Cavern that the Pacey we all know (and love?) returned. At one stage the rest of us were employed to shift a boulder, with a rope cunningly attached with Mark’s battery belt. Having the slope in our favour was fine until the belt slipped and we all landed in a giggling heap at the bottom!
gave this up as a bad job and, after refreshments had been served, headed up
Back at Ease Gill Aven, Phil and Mark descended the ladder. Ange was half way down, while Neil and I were waiting our turn. From nowhere we heard a rattling, bumbling, chattering, gurgling sound, not that loud but musical in its intensity. “What the !? - that’s!” we said in unison.
At that moment, water appeared underneath me. It was like the snake of water you see on the beach when you burst your dam and the water makes that unstoppable bid for freedom across half dry sand.
FLOOD PULSE! FLOOD PULSE’
I couldn’t understand why Neil had shouted so loud and for a horrible second I thought the whole passage was going to fill up. Instead a large waterfall formed on the pitch, spouting over Ange’s head. I just wanted to get on with it and leave the ladder, but Neil calmed me down a bit by saying it wouldn’t get worse. After some confusion, because there was still a flood pulse going through my brain, I got a grip. Soon we were back with the others, sheltering from the water, stashing the gear and making communal exclamations about its sudden appearance. They thought Neil had been joking and we were a bit surprised when more than a welly full of water arrived! We all agreed that if we had been in the crawl before the Aven things would have been a lot more frightening.
From this point the trip had a more serious feel, the pressure was on to find our way back into well known terrain. Finding the way to Molluscan Hall wasn’t straight forward and the streamway below was intimidatingly high. We had expected a lot of water but when we got to Dismal Junction not only was the way on impassable but also water had backed up above the passage. After a brief conference the team unanimously opted for the Dismal Bypass. This involved a deal of hands and knees and flat out crawling as well as climbing and squeezing between different levels. If it became a bit tiring this was well compensated for in the lack of water? Phil had to apply himself as IC route finder but once in the Gallery Extensions Neil, a veteran of this part of the system, came into his own.
When we got
back to the streamway in County we realised how much water there was. Any
progress up the stream was hard won and communication was desperate above the
noise. We were amazed at the huge waterfalls in places that are normally dry...
It would have been impossible to have climbed in Spout Hall and we bypassed it.
Back at the first pitch we caught up with a team who were struggling up to its start. Mark went for the bypass and quickly overtook them. First in the queue we were up the ladder in about 5 minutes flat.
The bog monster scored a few points on the way back across the moor, but we didn’t care. We were still buzzing when we arrived at the farm. We were all mightily relieved though to see from the blackboard that the team behind us were the last to be accounted for. None of us fancied putting into practice the knowledge we had gained on Friday night....
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