Volume 33 Number 1 Article 1
A Grand Day Out
Party: Paul, Claire, Mel and Sandra Wilkinson - The Hobbit Family
It was Mel's assertion that he could find Chocolate Box, which was the catalyst to get the old wrinklies and youths underground on New Year's Eve.
After a crack of noon start (we had to keep up the Red Rose traditions) and of course a photo call by Ray and Hugh, we set off up a frozen farm lane to slide over the 'Bog Monster' in sub zero temperatures. It had been at least 26 years since Mel and I had caved together (BC - Before Children) so the old ones took back stage letting Paul zoom off to ladder the first pitch whilst Claire jogged my Alzheimer memory - "Here's Broadway, remember the white strip?" Mel was really back to top form now, with glee he remembered, and then insisted that he would find the climb up to Poetic Justice, and he did.
I had always had trouble climbing up this, so I took to the old method - "Paul, I need your head - back- shoulders." I now know why he insisted that I did not wear my studded running shoes. But there I now was shuffling through the crawl - it was hot, I had forgotten how warm you are underground, especially when there's no water. P.J. pitch was duly bottomed, then a slight hesitation by our guide at Holbeck Junction and on to the climb up to Easter Grotto.
Again, I got stuck climbing up here, like a limpet, I hung on unable to go up or down. Claire tried to get me to put my foot on the opposite wall then realised I was too short, so Paul reached over, grabbed my belt and hauled me up like a beached whale whilst Claire made seal noises - thanks kids.
We used to crawl through Easter Grotto to avoid damaging the formations, even Queen Victoria had now been smeared with mud. Why? Why? On to Gypsum, which has stood the passage of time. We (Mel and I) had not been through Perfection Passage before. I kept close behind Paul who went through like a racing snake - this is the only advantage of being a short, thin caver. Unfortunately the fat controller took a little longer, convinced that this couldn't be the way on. "How much further?" he moaned, but Claire pushed him on.
An easy trip out followed, the kids did everything, helped the geriatrics up the pitch, made sure the zimmers didn't get trapped in the boulders but we did carry our share of the tackle. 'A Jim Newton Law', Remember?
Sitting at the entrance, freezing, we appraised our meagre trip. I was glad we had done it, but the call of the running on the mountains was for me whilst Mel fancied a through trip, and was really fired up - a (fat) ferret again! We did do the detour to Chocolate Box which was found by Paul, not Mel!! Photo's were duly taken which will probably surface at the next competition.
We also took out the ladders on the way out and Ray, Hugh, Andy and Rick had to free climb out, but that's another story isn't it Claire!!