Volume 40 Number 2 Article 4
Bar Pot to Gaping Gill Main Chamber
Or: You've got to have balls to be a caver - Part Two
Featuring: Tim Eastwood and Andy Macdonald
Also starring: The memory man and The Wicked Witch of the West
The tale this time starts, rather predictably, the evening before the trip, when I returned from work and told my wife that I would be leaving very early on Saturday morning to go off and try and retrace my steps on the ill-fated last attempt to get to the Main Chamber via Bar Pot.
She ('er indoors) insisted that we go out for tea to the pub. "Not a problem" says I, as our daughter is nine years old and still needs more sleep than I do. Having dined we returned home via a friends house who had requested some assistance with building a float for the local Carnival and Sports Day. We received our instructions and then tried to make our excuses and leave. BIG MISTAKE.
Needless to say that we did not leave until we had drunk all the alcohol in their house. While I was helping my poor wife to hit the big white telephone with the contents of her stomach I noticed my watch said 2.15am, and prayed for a very swift conclusion to the huey and ralf so that I could at least partially recharge my batteries. Thankfully it was over almost as soon as it had started.
So at 8:30 on Saturday morning, (that is very early to 'er indoors), I sat on the wall sunning myself waiting for the arrival of Mr Eastwood so we could 'go off and do a bit of caving.'
9am came and went and I started to get a little worried that the trip may be called off due to some unforeseen circumstance. But I need not have worried as Tim rounded the corner in his Tonka van at 9:05, apologising for his tardiness saying he had slept in. This is in itself highly unbelievable, as it was Saturday and as anyone knows you only want to lie in during the week when there is work to go to.
Anyway, I digress. We set off to Clapham via Bentham to stop at the shop to get some form of liquid refreshment, and there in front of you as you walk through the door, Sparkling Blackberry and Apple flavoured mineral water - two for the fair price of 98 pence. (A bargain, as our wives would say).
When we got to Clapham the sun was shining and it promised to be as they say 'a hot 'un', so we loaded our gear into rucksacks and, as mine was smaller than Tim's, I had to attach my furry suit to the outside of the rucksack and also carry one of the new f***ing tackle sacks with the rope for the big pitch in it. All packed up we started the hike up to the entrance.
The further we went, the hotter it appeared to get, until at last we could stand it no more and at the last gate before you get to the wall at the top we had to stop and take some of our refreshments. Rucksacks and tackle sacks were shed on the ground, (the tackle sacks were not dropped, though, Ray) and with great effervescence the first bottle of our bargain liquifreshment was uncorked, and I have got to say I have not tasted anything quite so shite in a very long time. So the bottle was re-stoppered and we picked up the rucksack to resume the journey to the entrance. Would you believe it I had only gone and caught my furry on something, and the Wicked Witch of the West ripped it away from the rucksack without me even noticing as the bungee cord on the back was very thin and ready to break at any moment, which it obviously had.
So I set off down the hill to find it and Tim said he would go and rig the entrance pitch. As luck would have it I only had to go back to the farm half way down as some hairy arsed cavers (very nice people) found my furry and were trying to decide (a) what it was and (b) whether to use it as a towel, a roll of bog paper, or as some protection when using Hilti caps when they saw me coming down the hill in search of the aforementioned offending article.
So having retrieved my furry I set off back up the hill to find Tim resting his eyes, catching some rays against the last wall before the entrance, and I was thinking only a fool would go under ground on a day like today. 'I thought you were going to rig the entrance pitch' says I, (strike one to the memory man), 'I was' says he 'but I forgot that I put all the krabs in your tackle sack.'
The first pitch was rigged and we descended into the slightly cooler depths of Bar Pot. Then I get to rig the second pitch as you may remember from part one I am after being validated. I managed to tie all the knots correctly and keep the traverse line tight and got the Y hanger level, then proceeded to feed the rest of the rope down the pitch. I also remembered to tie a stopper knot in the end of the rope then dropped the rest of it down the pitch and descended. At the bottom I then discover that the rigging guides are wrong to the tune of about 10 metres (give or take a metre or two) and gather up the spare rope and piled it up until Tim has made his descent
When he had come down he tied up the spare rope in some knot or other so that it did not touch the floor but dangled inches above it, then off came the SRT kit and away we went to the main chamber.
It was still as spectacular as it had been that first time I came down those years previously. We had a look round the main chamber then as we were about to set of Tim said 'You know why we came down here again, don't you?'
'Yes', says I, 'to go through Mud Hensler's or something like that.'
'Yes we were' says he, 'but we were going to go through Mud Hall along that rather dodgy traverse that you were going to attempt the last time without cows tails and even then I thought you were being exceedingly foolish' (Strike two to the memory man). Tim had apparently been saying to himself all the way to the entrance 'Don't forget to keep cowstails for the traverse in Mud Hall' but somehow it slipped his mind.
We went down the chain in Mud Hall but didn't fancy the rope traverse without cowstails as it looks like a big drop to the bottom of the hole. So we retreated, amid much blueness of language, to the bottom of the big pitch, and vowed to return real soon (another 3 or 4 years) to have another go. Tim went up first as I was to de-rig as part of my training, and the higher up the pitch I got, the warmer it seemed to get. I thought it was just me sweating but it genuinely seemed to be getting warmer.
At the entrance there was a great deal of huffing and puffing in the tight section at the top from both Tim and myself, not helped by the warm wind that seemed to be blowing in the entrance, and, having de-rigged that pitch we exited to glorious sunshine sweating profusely and gagging for a drink. Oh! Dear! We have only got Blackberry and Apple flavoured Bargain Sparkling Spring water but needs must when the Devil rides and when desperate for a drink as we were it was really quite nice, but I could have drunk my own piss and it would have tasted good.
So we got changed, headed back to the car and then to the New Inn for a swift beer, then of to Bernie's to buy some lunch, a furry suit and an oversuit. While we were there we found out we could have climbed into the big hole in Mud Hall and climbed up the other side instead of traversing as it is not as bad as it looks, apparently. Curses!!
Not to worry we will just have to have a return trip, and, unless something untoward happens I will not be writing a trip report. (However, I like going on trips with Tim, as each one is a mini adventure, and something always seems to happen, so I may just get to write about our next foray down Bar Pot as well.)
Happy caving one and all,