RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 40 Number 1 Article 5
May 2003

The Green Wonder

Seeing the latest Ron Bliss photos of early Red Rose days on the web site brought back long forgotten memories which prompted me to put pen to paper. My first real caving trip was with George on the famous combination 'the green wonder'. Only fifteen years old, I had been caving regularly with school mates for a couple of years - according to my father (and he didn't know about Indian Rope Tricks in Lost John's), if I carried on I wasn't likely to reach sixteen. George lived in a flat below a friend of Dads and was a proper 'experienced' caver. I was duly introduced and offered a night trip down Lancaster Hole. To me this was the equivalent of today winning the lottery. We set off in George's flying machine and, as you can see from the photo on the web site, Bull Pot Lane was just a rough track - a bit bouncy in a side-car. Added to this it was approaching darkness and the whole fell was covered in mist. From the side-car window a black abyss yawned and the drop towards the Gill looked quite intimidating.

B.S.A. spies to accost us any minute and retrieved the top iron ladder from where it was hidden in the heather. George, an Engineer of note, who had made and installed the ladders before the fall out with the B.S.A., soon had the top section bolted on. This was the trip of a lifetime and the descent of the iron ladder with lots of water and noise was very exciting. Landing on the boulders at the foot of the ladder we visited the Colonnades chamber and George showed me the remains of the Ivory Towers, (already destroyed by careless feet). George ranted and raved for a bit about vandals, but I was too impressed by the Colonnades to be really concerned. Even the Colonnades got vandalised many years later by some idiot trying to scale the tallest one. Repaired with the help of Araldite and nature, today you would hardly know. But, the only known specimen of the Ivory Towers are gone forever. At least we have the photo - now on the web site.

We returned to the surface, dismantled the top ladder and returned to Lancaster leaving me to dream of discovering and exploring "caverns measureless to man!" This experience should have led to me joining the N.P.C (George's Club) but they had an expensive annual subscription. On my next trip to Bull Pot (N.P.C and Red Rose) believe it or not, blasting in Pippikin I discovered you could join the Red Rose for 6 pence (2½p) a week. Great news - my pocket money covered this princely sum. So, dear readers, fifty four years ago I joined the Red Rose and swelled the membership to five - Wilf Taylor (Treas) Jim Eyre, Ron Bliss and Bill Leyland.

Tom Sykes

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