Volume 42 Number 2 Article 5
Trip to County Pot
19 June 2005
Cast: Simon Jobling, Ray Duffy, Sarah White, Stuart Bennett
Having got myself on the trip via the website, Sarah and I arrived at the appointed meeting spot - the Helwith Bridge - on Saturday night for the Diggers Disco. Not having been to such an event before, we knew little of what to expect, besides lots of drink, general silliness, and a good headache in the morning. It did not disappoint. The unexpected bonus of the evening was that on finding Simon, our trusty leader for the trip, we discovered that our outing had been joined by none other than Mr R Duffy. Visions of torture instruments swam before my eyes, and it was not long before Ray announced that he might be able to find a little bit of surveying en route that would only take a little while to do.
Having retired to the tent at silly o'clock in the morning, strangely dosed on a pint of beer plus Baileys (courtesy Mr D Ramsay) amongst other things, the sun came far too early, and the heads of both Simon and I hurt far too much. A breakfast in Ingleton later saw us happy, in peak performance and raring to go (ha ha), and on arriving at the farm a mere half hour after the intended starting time we found that common sense had prevailed. Thus Ray had dispensed with the instruments, instead promising to take us on a County Mystery Tour, on which no SRT would be required. Callout was set at "Dinner time", and so off we set.
Having directed OUCC to a survey station outside Oxford Cave 2 (or rather, the "perfectly obvious" hole in the rock where the yellow tag had been), we descended to Oxford Circus in short order, using a strange and old-fashioned thing called a ladder, and proceeded to not go down Showerbath passage as I had expected, but instead downstream. This was far less exciting than the last time I had been there (County at the time being rather damp, causing my welly to go solo caving down the streamway whilst I first attempted to ascend a cascade, and then to hop down the streamway in pursuit of said welly). Toadstool Junction was gained, and both the toadstool and Butterfield's Passage were briefly inspected. We continued down Razor Passage and scrambled up the boulders to where it was discovered Ray had been lying when he promised there would be no crawling.
Emerging in the Gallery Extension, a break was taken to admire the amazing pretties while endeavouring not to make the place even muddier. Simon attempted to lead us into a scrofulous passage, but Ray had none of it, instead leading us into Dismal Bypass and a lovely bedding plane. After something that Ray believed to be a squeeze, and all (apart from Simon, who was in the mood for misery) having gone "urrgh" at Guano Passage, we broke out into Molluscan Hall. It makes an immense change to find oneself in very large railway tunnel after what had preceded. Largeness was not to last however.
Spiralling down through boulders, Ray proudly announced us to be at Dismal Junction, and while this would have been fine were we just going to look at it, it appeared he intended us to go through it. With a great deal of "splish splosh", "arrgh, it's cold", "that's the critical level!", several less printable exclamations, and at least one female sounding cry of "are we nearly there yet Ray?" from an unknown person, we went past Clough's passage (no hanging around too long here) and got to North-West Passage.
Arriving at Platypus Junction (sans platypus), Ray asks "do you want more", with an evil glint in his eye. Foolishly saying "yes", we stomped to Upper Pierce's Passage, and so to experience for my first time the delights of Trident.
I was very impressed by the streamway, it was quite lovely, and I don't see what all these surveying types are complaining about (though somebody appears to have accidentally drawn a lot of black lines on the survey over the streamway we were in). Whiteway was offered to us, but it was decided that there was not enough time and it could be left as another day's entertainment, and so we soon came to a chamber with a lovely white rope hanging down in the middle of it - which on closer inspection is of course the white line in the rock of Whiteline Chamber.
Reversing, and going back down stream, a climb up to the left and a short ascending passage lead us to the top of the chamber, where grand tales were told of the original epic traverse over the stream. Moving on to Splash Chamber we got unnecessarily wet, due to a certain Mr Duffy leading us through it by an aqueous route. Once he had been suitably attacked by Sarah for his misdeeds, it was short work to get to Battle of Britain Chamber, thence to Spout Hall and so to Confusion Corner. Avoiding Snake, the familiar land of Showerbath passage, Oxford Circus and the ladder lead to a quick exit and getting back to the farm for tea and medals.
An excellent trip for all involved, I enjoyed it immensely. There is an awful lot to County, much more than is encountered by simply using it as an Easegill entrance, and having the survey meister along to aid in route finding and showing us the sights and landmarks of the place was an opportunity not to be missed. My thanks to both Simon and Ray for leading us on a trip that went to County, then went through County, went to a bit more County, after that dropped into a bit of County, and finally ended up in County.