Volume 38 Number 1 Article 7
A French Fairy Tale
or Trou De Heretiques, or Wot no Wellies
Once upon a time in a dark forest in the hills of southern France a blue Escort skidded into a car park. The doors flew open, Andy Hall wobbled out, Andy Macdonald staggered out, Mark the scouse was spaced out and Angela got stuck in the squeeze between the front and back seats.
"I don't believe it" said Mark, "I've not got me wellies." Not only had Mark forgotten his wellies but also his furry suit. Angela and Andy both peeled off their furry's and gave Mark their thermal tops. So Mark soon stood in two thermal tops, a pair of shorts, a TSA suit and wetsuit socks. An old pair of canvas deck shoes were offered and the wet suited feet fitted perfectly. Cinderella would go to the ball after all.
At the entrance it was soon apparent that it was a day of buffoonery. Andy Hall had forgotten his belt and gloves and was most concerned about scratching his lily white hands, but bravely decided to carry on and set off down with the rope which he had just rigged with a perfect fig-8 knot. Unfortunately just at this time Angela looked down at Mark's canvas deck shoes and exclaimed in a loud voice "Oh no, the knot's come undone already!" Mark started to retie his shoelace while Andy screeched in the background, thinking his rigging was coming loose!
An easy, fun SRT entrance series led to a rift which was descended to a massive passage. About 100m down to the right the roof lowers before the four popped out again into more huge passage. As the passage got bigger Andy Hall's carbide light grew dimmer and dimmer with his LED backup he carried on down boulder over boulder of steep descent.
Eventually a small pond was found in a tiny stream, time for a carbide fettle. Suddenly a light in the distance. A fast moving, panting, primitive creature, yes, it was Dalek.
Bit of banter between groups, bit of chocolate shared then rudely interrupted by a splash and a lot of swearing. Andy Hall's camera bag had fallen in the pond. Like a flash Andy shot down a climb and into the water to retrieve his tackle sac; it was the fastest he had been seen to move all day.
Onwards and downwards in enormous caverns. At the very bottom of a large passage a small hole was found. This had a draught so strong that it immediately blew out a carbide light. Through this windy crawl a little climb dropped Angela and Mark into a beautiful streamway with black walls with white marble streaks. After about 30m the top of a big pitch into the lower streamway was reached. This is the main way on for the through trip!
Retreating back through the windy crawl and following the main passage back, in a few metres a muddy sloped inlet enters on the left. This is the way to the Trou Mile. This was briefly visited.
Then it was back to the giant chamber. Photographer Andy Hall sets up for a photo attempting to capture the sheer magnitude of the huge passage. Andy Mac positioned to the left in the distance, Angela positioned to the right.
Ready! Ready! Yes, Ready; a blinding flash, but sadly only from Andy's camera - the hand held flashes were both broken. End of photography! (NB. Photography trips can be cold and boring with lots of waiting about. However Andy's photography trips don't involve much of that at all. Cheers Andy - happy snapping).
It was on to the surface, back up Heretiques. Mark's deck shoes were just about holding together by a few threads, but fortunately his bruised ankles kept his mind off that. Up and up the boulder slope, following the cairns the team made it safely to the bottom of the exit pitches.
Scouser Mark set off up the pitch. Unfortunately it was a few minutes before the others noticed that he had accidentally dragged the end of the rope up with him. He had forgotten his wellies, forgotten his furry suit and now he had forgotten the others! What a dope!
A flick of the wrist and the rope was almost down. The end was retrieved by spiderman Andy.
The team made it safely to the surface. The car turned back into a pumpkin and they all lived happily ever after.