Volume 37 Number 2 Article 11
The Lost Waters of Gregareth
Saturday 17 June 2000
RRCPC members: Peter Dale, Samuel Carradice, Andy Whitney
NPC members: Mark Goodwin (Podge), Andy Whitehouse (Rodge)
After a phone call from Duncan on Friday saying that he hadn't got any energy left from our Thursday night excursion, (some people just aren't cut out for this caving lark!), it looked as if I was going on my own. Come to think of it I remember Beardy saying that he was doing Juniper Gulf, the official club trip; oh yeah, I forgot he's doing it on ladders!!! (Give that a miss, me thinks.) I then gave Andy Whitney a ring and he said he was meeting Sam plus two NPC, (No Potholes Considered!), members in Bernie's at 11 o'clock. Wonder what they had planned?
A nice long lie in saw me fully recharged for a good days caving in the Yorkshire Dales where I arrived in Ingleton and met the others in Bernie's. Sam had packed ropes for a trip down Diccan since it had been dry for a day or two with a good forecast. Eventually Podge and Rodge arrived, but they didn't like the idea of doing Diccan, so we all decided to do an easy trip down Simpson's via the Great Aven and emerge out of Valley Entrance.
Podge set off up to the entrance first while we got changed, so as not to slow us down since he was a bit on the porky side of thin. Sam and Rodge set off next while Andy and I were reluctantly putting on our dry caving suits, and mentioning how dry the streambed was.
Well we were ready, so we set off towards the pot. Andy thought it would be quicker to get the hill out of the way with a direct ascent up it, where as I chose the more usual route diagonally up the hillside. Upon reaching the entrance I was surprised to see that I was second to arrive! (Must be a lot fitter than I thought.) Looking into the cave entrance I noted a lack of the proverbial Hydrogen Dioxide, [now your getting too clever for your own good Ed.], which was hardly surprising due to the torrential sunshine we'd had over the past couple of days. Sam and Rodge arrived followed a few hours, er I mean minutes, later by a puffing and wheezing Andy, (direct ascent eh!)
Everyone ready, Podge entered the dusty passage first in search of the wet stuff for his carbide lamp, (good luck!) I then entered followed closely by the other three. After the short entrance crawl and a couple of short drops my eyes slowly adjusted to the gloom of the passage. [Removing your sun glasses might have helped - Ed.] We then started the flat out crawly type bit where none of us waited around, since we didn't want to soak up to much of the dryness in case we overheated! Sam, Andy and Rodge were following tight behind so I picked up the pace a little and they where soon fading into the distance behind me.
Carefully negotiating the five steps, which where almost impassable due to the amount of dryness cascading down them, I caught up with Podge who instead of climbing down the last step, thought the way on was a traverse over it. However Impressive this may have looked from below, with his feet on one wall, and his head on the other it wasn't the way on and Podge took a bit of convincing to get him back down! I grabbed his tackle bag (ouch!) and raced off, traversing over The Pit in the process. Rodge was keeping up so we carried on, navigating Chandelier and Camel pots in the process of reaching the top of Stake Pot. The others were not far behind so, as not to cause a queue, we rigged the pitch and I descended.
The next pitch can be bypassed by an easy traverse over the top, and an easy clamber down to the top of Storm Pot. The not so hard cavers behind me felt they needed to rig the avoidable pitch.
At last, water! Abbing down a slightly damp Storm Pot, (well, there were a few drips), Podge & Rodge went through the duck first to rig the next pitch. I waited for Sam and Andy to help with the tackle, (couldn't let them carry it all, could I!) We pulled the rope through and Sam and Andy went through the duck. I was a bit apprehensive about it as I didn't know if I could get through without keeping my head dry; also I only had my fleece on so I didn't like the idea of getting any drier than I already was.
Carol Pot rigged, so I attached myself to the rope and just as I had put my weight on the rope I noticed that it was pulling on the gate of the krab, a quick re-rig (phew!) Unfortunately my luck ran out towards the bottom of the pitch as we were using 9mm rope and, being over ambitious on the descent, I went a bit to fast and landed heavily, bouncing off a large spike at the bottom, where I lay bewildered with a very dead leg. After checking I was all right, Sam and Andy carried on to the next pitch, (thanks lads!), while I struggled behind. Not wanting to slow the trip down, I put on a brave face and just about kept up with the advancing party.
Shuffle Pot passed without incident, as did Lake Pot apart from me emptying the contents of my wellies down Andy's neck (He! He!) Upon reaching Aven Pot our route changed and we climbed up a dodgey looking rope in our search for the Great Aven.
After a couple of minutes looking for the pitch [in the wrong direction -Ed.] and trying to sort out my strobe effect light, we were on our way. Thankfully the pitch was already rigged, as a pull through would be very tricky, if not impossible. Sam descended first followed by Podge and Rodge, then me. After a wonderful abseil we waited at the bottom for Andy, who thought that he would dislodge some rocks and bring half the cave with him, which crashed to the floor only yards from a terrified Sam! [It was the one about the size of a small residence that worried me - Ed.]
The rest of the trip was uneventful, exiting from a very drafty valley Entrance into the glorious sunshine, where we got changed and left for Bernie's. We then lubricated our throats and I finished writing this report.
Simpson's Great Aven to Valley in drought conditions is a enjoyably dry trip, especially the Great Aven pitch. For those of you wondering, I'm OK, the x-ray showed slight bruising to the bone, plus I had strained a few muscles. Not enough to stop me caving though!