Volume 32 Number 2 Article 1
19 March 1995
Chaz & Fran, Stan & Marion, Jason Pitman, Neil Pacey, Andy Pringle, C. R. O. representative.
I was no longer Welsh and I had returned to the north of England. This just goes to prove that marriage is not the only life sentence which allows parole on the grounds of bad behaviour. All went well until my membership of SWCC expired. No longer a dinosaur I had no claim for reciprocal rights in the hut fee department. Several Red Rose membership forms had been completed in the past but all went to reduce fuel bills at the farm. At last one got through the system avoiding Neil's pyromaniac tendencies. I duly received the new members bumph. Shock, horror, I have got to go on official meets and get the co-ordinator to sign the enclosed chit. This was serious. A quick scan of the news-sheet showed that Magnetometer was an organised meet, best 'phone the meets sec and get my first signature organised.
"No problem at all, would you like to be co-ordinator?" "Err okay." "I can sign my own chit," thinks I. If it rains and we have to sit around Bernies drinking tea I could still sign for the first stage of my RRCPC potholing badge.
All was going well, the Saturday saw light to heavy showers with more of the same forecast for the Sunday. A good time to buy shares in the cafes of Ingleton. Someone phoned the farm asking if it was worth making the journey from Nottingham. "Oh no, doubt if we'll get past the river Styx." That was a close call. Unfortunately the next caller would not believe that I don't have gills, web feet or a fetish for watching for sumps to unroof,
"Come on Andy it'll be reet, see you in Bernies." "Er Neil, Neil, ... shit he's hung up.. "No transport, winner." "I'll take you Andy I am going to the climbing wall." "Jayne you vindictive cow! what have I ever done to upset you?".
So we all met in a moist Ingleton. A lot of hard cavers were in the process of eating breakfast or complaining about the late arrival of the same said meal. As the skies darkened Chaz steered to conversation to stories of Cuetzalan floods. This was enough for me, I made a quick tour of the shops of the village looking for a gill hire facility. Despite the obvious market none were available. I did however meet a well known CRO member. As luck would have it he was looking for a trip, and I would feel a lot happier with his help in persuading the others when it would be advisable to turn round (some time before the well pitches perhaps). He agreed to come along, but requested that he remained anonymous as he did not relish the prospect of being pulled out off the pothole by his CRO peers. I was feeling a little happier as we set off towards Neil's Ing.
After we had all changed and the CRO representative had obliterated his name from his oversuit we all stomped off up Fornah Gill. Neil and the nameless one were out in front. I went through the gate and looked back for the others. They were some way behind so I shut the gate. When I turned round the two in front had stopped and were looking into the gill. I rushed on to see the point of interest. "Was it a dig?" It most certainly was not. The two of them were watching a stream flowing down the normally dry gill! Fran was the most perturbed by this change to the hydrology of the fell. She cheered up a little when the jokes were cracked about Bodie and Doyle sticking their fingers in dikes.
The humour gave way to puffy ankle syndrome shortly after the entrance pitch and Fran made an early exit muttering something about vanilla and 1970's police shows. The most worrying aspect of the reduction in party size was, that it appeared that my CRO cover had escorted Fran to the surface. The dry crawl was wet, and the wet crawl even wetter. I sat at the start of the river Styx contemplating the foam in the roof while the others went off to have a shufti at Styx sump. My mind was far away when the sound of the flowing stream became interspersed with what sounded like a warthog seducing an inflatable rhino in a bath of Swarfega. (yes my mind was a long way off.)
Much to my relief it was our CRO cover panting and making comments about the flood debris in the roof, with the sense of humour that only Phil Pappard could. Odd thing is, it was Phil! I knew this because all the mud he had used to hide the name tally on his oversuit had been washed off in the crawl.
With his cover blown Phil was even less keen on the prospect of wrecking Jack Pickup's afternoon. It was while we waited for the others to return from Styx sump that the dastardly plot was hatched. We would leave one of the ladders there so that we would be unable to get down Caton Hall and so into the really wet bits. BARGAIN! We hid one of the ladders (only a little bit) and set off when we heard the others returning. Phil and I were much happier now. Even the gulping noises of the River Styx did not worry us.
"What a superb name for this passage." "What was the name of the boatman in Greek mythology?" "Ermm, can't remember" "Nor can I, not to worry." These were not the thoughts of worried people. A wander to Caton Hall then back to tea drinking! How wrong could we be?
Neil and Chaz proved that only one ladder is required for the pitch if you also have a length of tow rope (sorry I mean best quality lifeline) and three metres of something else which can be tied into the system and climbed. Stan was perfect! Phil and I were now in a state of despair. "Have they not heard of Magna Carta ?" "Did she die in vain?"
Within half an hour those that wished had descended into Caton Hall and briefly looked in to a particularly aqueous Rough Crawl. The tackle on the pitch then derigged itself and exited the cave. All in all it had been a fun day out but can we have some more Stans in the tackle store? and some gills would be useful too.