Volume 36 Number 2 Article 1
Pip to Top and Back Again!
Scene 1: The Wessex Cave Club Hut on Mendip (4 April 1998)
The RRCPC return to the hut for a brew and a well deserved fester having been on a trip to Swildons sump nine. Chris Kinghorn - a broken man with wet tobacco drives off into the sunset...
Meanwhile, a group of so-called Mendip cavers sit around an open fire, (no potholing having been done). The topic of conversation is the classic Easegill Traverse from Pippikin Pot to Top Sink."
We took nine hours" says Andy Sparrow "and it couldn't possibly be done in under eight" he continues. "That's absolute cobblers" I retort, "six hours would be an average time for a competent party and the likes of the hard-core NCC would probably rattle it off in three". A short but vehement disagreement follows, Mr Sparrow not budging one inch from his original statement. Obviously the gauntlet had been laid.
Scene 2: Bullpot Farm (10 July 1998)
Slowly, all the ingredients for an exciting trip and loud sesh arrive at the farm. Retiring at about 3am a little worse for wear, the farm animals caught a few hours sleep before their early morning appointment with a plateful of LARD! The idea for a double traverse (i.e. both ways in the same day) came from Mr Neil Pacey Esq. Having not been caving for six months, and about to jet off to Spain for some serious caving, he was desperate for a bit of "training".
Numbers for the trip swelled and at about 10am two parties left the farm. Dave Lacey and Rob Garrett left to go to Top Sink, full of confidence, boasting about how they would be tucking in to the "sausage of the week" in the Marton Arms having knocked off the double traverse. A slightly more anxious and pessimistic party left for Pippikin Pot; Neil Pacey, Dinny Davies, Jak and myself were unsure if we could manage the trip, let alone make the pub.
A brisk walk took us to the entrance of Pippikin Pot, a favourite cave for most of the party. A slight sweat having been created by the time we reached the Hall of the Ten after about 30 minutes, the Wallows provided a nice cooling experience. Wormway was soon passed using the in situ ropes on both pitches. Unwanted excitement was had in the Earby Series when the fixed old chain ladder on the Canuck Climb broke on Neil, leaving Jak (our heaviest member) at the top. Fortunately he was able to descend.
We finally met the other party not far from Stake Pot. Dinny was happy to announce that the psychological advantage was ours as we were well over half way!
So off along the high level route we began. At this point disaster struck; Jak began to suffer from an extreme bout of disco light, but we managed to coax him all the way from Stake Pot to Top Sink with no light! (Good effort!). We had a few rests along the way and deposited food dumps at strategic points.
At Stop Pot we met Dave and Tanya two other Red Rosers taking advantage of our rigging to do the traverse in one direction. They were co-opted in to temporarily fixing the broken ladder in the Earby Series. Meanwhile Dave & Rob had used the new arduous and miserable Canuck Climb bypass via the Subway.
The four of us finally surfaced in to glorious sunshine at Top Sink, 5 hours and 20 minutes after entering Pippikin Pot. The pace had been steady, we'd had quite a few rests and chats it was certainly not a blistering pace.
A well deserved 15 minute sunbathe was had before we said good-bye to Jak and set off on the second half of the trip. Feeling reasonably fresh we upped the pace a little, not too much in the early part of Top Sink, but by Stop Pot we had found what can only be described as a good pace.
During our second rest, at Thirsty Junction in the Earby Series, we had a time check - 1 hour and 10 minutes from Top Sink entrance. That's what I call reasonable!
Still no sign of Mr Lacey, we finally passed him in the Link side of the Wormway - on his own. Rob had quit at Pippikin and Dave, (not a stranger to solo caving), was determined to complete the trip - what commitment.
Dinny appeared to be suffering at Echo Aven; "there's no need to hurry" was the ploy for a longer rest. Before long a gargantuan meal was tucked into in Hilton Hall - compliments to chef Pacey. But the meal weighed heavily on Neil's and my stomachs so that by the time Dusty Junction was reached we were the ones suffering and a brief rest was needed.
With just Pippikin left we set off with the bit between our teeth. Classic caving and quick ladder coiling followed as the Pot was detackled. Pippikin presented no problems and we surfaced 4 hours and 35 minutes after entering Top Sink. Therefore the Double Traverse had involved 9 hours 55 minutes of enjoyable caving.
A quick look at the watch showed that the "Sausage of the week" was still on the cards so we shot back across Casterton Fell to the Farm. There we met Dave and Tanya who had heard us clattering up through Pip. A pleasant evening was then spent in the Marton Arms. At about midnight we left the pub to get back for some serious drinking at the farm. As we rounded the top of the farm lane a lonely solitary light was seen, wobbling down the fell track from County towards the farm.
Eventually Dave staggered in to the dining room, his frilly knickers had been all too much for him. Beer, soup and whiskey were all refused and he shortly stumbled off to bed in a bad way - without his "Sausage of the week", but contented (I'm sure) from a completely classic day out!