Volume 38 Number 2 Article 5
Blind Date at Bullpot Farm
Saturday 13 January 2001
Members Present :
Andy Whitney, Sam Carradice,
Alan Kerr, Milton Grimshaw,
Chris Brookes (OTHUG, Over The Hill Underground Group), and
Graham Derbyshire (SLURPS, South Lakeland Underground Research Projects).
For those who aren't familiar with E-Mail and Internet based Newsgroups, a brief explanation as to what they are is probably in order to make things a little clearer. Newsgroups (NG) are basically a public message board system to which users can post questions and suchlike. Anybody else viewing the Newsgroup can then reply to these, creating what is know as a "thread". This thread can be viewed and contributed to by everybody else. There are literally thousands of groups available covering just about anything you could care to name, the group of main interest to most reading this is the uk.rec.caving group.
For a number of months various regular contributors to NG had talked about the possibility of organising a "uk.rec.caving trip", so that faces could be put to names. Provisional dates and locations had been suggested, but each time the idea seemed to be forgotten as new topics of discussion grabbed the attention. Recently, Sam and myself decided to try and get the ball rolling again by arranging a time and place and "See who turns up", if anybody! A few days prior to the event, I received E-Mails from Chris Brookes and Graham Derbyshire expressing an interest, and a few from others that wanted to come, but couldn't due to other commitments.
Meeting Sam and Alan at Bullpot Farm at the allotted time, there were no signs of anyone else waiting for us. Of course, the one problem with this sort of "blind date" meeting was that we didn't actually know what the others looked like! The obvious thing to do would have been to tell each other what cars to look out for, but that would have made things too easy. Eventually a couple of chaps overheard me saying something along these lines, and introduced themselves as Chris Brookes and Graham Derbyshire.
We hung around at the farm for a while longer just in case anyone else turned up, and also managed to recruit Milton Grimshaw who was already at the farm. After a suitable amount of time we gave up hope and decided to make a move. It turned out that Chris and Graham had not been to Pool Sink before, so we were looking forward to showing them what a great cave it is - not to mention the entertaining entrance crawl.
As we arrived at the entrance we again found the pool empty and Sam didn't waste any time in diving into the narrow entrance slit. I followed next, with Chris close behind. There were surprisingly fewer grunts and groans than expected from behind as the z-bend was negotiated, so I could only assume they were actually enjoying it. Sam rigged the first pitch for pull-thru as the others appeared one by one, and we were soon all down at the bottom. The rope pulled down without a hitch and we started making our way upstream towards Magpie Grotto. With everyone suitably impressed by the formations we headed back to the pitch, collecting the tackle bags on the way past.
The large clean washed streamway leading to the second pitch provided a welcome change to the tight meandering passage upstream, and we quickly arrived at the traverse over the hole in the floor. As we had not descended this drop before, normally using the next hole, we decided to give it a go. A very short descent lands in a large deep pool, which can be avoided by climbing around the edge. Unfortunately, Graham was down the pitch and in the pool before anyone had the chance to say, "Watch out for the deep pool!"
The third pitch follows almost immediately, and Milton took over the rigging while Alan told the story of how Upper T-Piece Passage became so named. Again, no problems were encountered pulling the rope down, and we all stomped off down to the rather dryer than normal fourth pitch. The water levels had dropped even further since a trip here the previous week, and even Chris's Carbide managed to resist the meagre shower, and stay alight.
After a short stop in the chamber at the bottom of the pitch we continued on down through the large and impressively layered Green and Smelly Passage until we arrived at Holbeck Junction. Another brief stop here gave Alan time to tell the tragic story of the cavers killed in Hiroshima, before we headed off along the fine Thackray's Passage. After a lot of wading and a slide down the mud slope at "The Portcullis", we arrived at the climb up into the Assembly Hall. This is soon followed by a choice of climbs up into Easter Grotto. Most of us opted for the way up with the fixed handline in place.
Group in Easter Grotto
A long rest and chat in Easter Grotto provided enough time to get some photos, before we set off towards the tube that connects with Gypsum Cavern. Once found, we slithered off down the narrow passage, which provides barely enough room to move your head in order to see where you are going. At the end there is just room to turn around before you are ejected into Gypsum Cavern. At this point my camera barrel, which I had unclipped from my belt to make the crawl easier, decided to part company with me. The bang as it dropped into Gypsum Cavern was quite impressive and I feared the worst. Luckily, on close inspection I found the only damage to be a crack in the diffuser on one of the flashguns.
Gypsum Cavern was passed through at a fast pace, and we soon found ourselves on our way down the boulder slope, and back at Holbeck Junction. With the main sightseeing over, we headed off towards Stop Pot, from were we would make our exit via Wretched Rabbit. At Stop Pot Sam and myself opted to take the Eureka Junction route, whilst the others headed off to Four Ways Chamber. The passage upstream of Eureka Junction is spectacular, and a far nicer route to Wretched in my opinion; water levels permitting of course. Both routes appear to take roughly the same time incidentally, as we met the others just as they were climbing down from Four Ways Chamber.
The remaining excursion up Wretched Rabbit was as long and twisty as ever, with nothing of particular interest occurring. A brief stop at the bottom of The Big Rift before tackling the handline climbs was quite welcome, and we were soon back on the surface in surprisingly good daylight. The frozen ground on the walk back over provided the final challenge of the day, with some highly technical pirouettes and other gymnastic feats being performed - all of which were the precursor to a rather painful impact with the ground!
Unfortunately, Chris and Graham had to depart and couldn't stay for the Red Rose photo competition and curry fest - what a night they missed out on! The perfect end to a great day came when I managed to win the "Best Underground Print" category in the competition with a shot I took of Gypsum Cavern on a previous trip. We later found out that Chris and Graham had enjoyed Pool Sink so much that they had embarked on the Pool Sink to Lancaster Hole through trip the following week. Another "uk.rec.caving" trip will no doubt be on the cards sometime in the near future, and hopefully some of those that couldn't make it first time round will be able to join us.