Volume 45 Number 2 Article 3
Dark Lord, Bill Sherrington, Tim Allen, Tuesday 4th December 2007
Let's get right to the heart of this thing. There’s no point in hiding from the brutish realities of our situation, we had found ourselves at the head of a pitch. Terrible things had been before us and now we stood raving and jabbering at each other. I remember shouting something like “where the hell's he gone” and Dark Lord yelling “well! he's either fallen off this goddam pitch or climbed down it.”
Is there no end to this bitter madness. Once you get into serious cave collection you’ve just got to push it just as far as you can. For Mr Allen this Tuesday was to prove no exception and he came out to exercise amidst the large, the tumbled and the stacked. He also made a serious 20m free climb to view an impressive waterfall and spy upon the continuing streamway below, and then came back, perhaps under the mysterious touch of tightening elastic around his throat. Was this the Dark Lord’s invisible death grip? Or simply honour amongst grabbers.
Earlier in the night, there was no way of explaining the terror felt as I watched tonight’s guest and remote proddler kick down looseness in the boulder choke, terrible, terrible things.
“What the hell are we doing in here, this is boulder country,” We needed help, ominous spaces surrounded us and the only sure thing was that it was raining hard all day. We had to be quiet, we had to be calm. There was a voice screaming in my head “for Christ sake don’t touch a thing” but the view on through the choke looked too tantalising. You had to gnaw at it and once uncovered there seemed a way down.
There was no turning back, Mr Allen was drawn in and so we followed. I had witnessed the start, I was sure of that much but what comes next? Nothing! The rest of the short journey seemed remote, a blur, twisting under and over large blocks of limestone, not trusting until we came suddenly through a rift into a terrible roar of water. We had entered passage above a pitch head.
I am sure blood raced and mouths dried. We needed to get back and squirmed homeward. The boulder choke in the reverse looks lethal and the climb up toward the start of the choke doubly so. I was getting the terrors again, this did not seem like a good place for fear and loathing but we finally made it to a damp exit and Bird Flue.
Andy Walsh, Simon Jobling, Hugh St Lawrence, Bill Sherrington,6th December 2007
It came from beneath the boulder choke, a muffled cry, soft at first then rising into a crescendo of seething malevolence. It was the Dark Lord caught in the full ravages of a hissing fit.
“Bags! F***ing bags!, how many filthy F***ing bags are needed!, for F*** sake Bling. It’s only a F***ing drill!”.
This was enjoyment; the struggle of packing away Bling’s expensive and pampered drill in a small alcove, under a huge pile of boulders and this was a bag epic. With bag, after bag, after bag, like a Russian Doll. Bling’s drill is certainly well cared for and it needed to be for the short commute through a newly engin-eered route that avoids the loose climb in the Fear and Loathing boulder choke.
Soon we were all assembled over the head of the downstream pitch and Dark Lord still full of menace was installing two bolts above the pitch. Andy was belaying, we were again over supplied with Bling’s huge quantity of f***ing drill bags. Then! “Krabs!, I need f***ing Krabs, for f***sake Bill, you said you packed every thing. Where are the F***ing Krabs?”
Dark Lord was at his fizzing best as he roosted astride the vertical space playing with Bling’s drill. Idiots gawped at him and offered no hope, salvation or Karabiners.
“Eau Boy”, it’s just another night of cherry picking in Bucket on the Head.
We managed to scavenge the necessary metal work. Andy Walsh was the first down the ladder and romped off to bag glory, he scampered away, then Bling, followed by Dark Lord, lastly myself. What a sight – Tim had not exaggerated. The stream tumbles down the pitch into a chamber with really prominent marbling of silica veins, all twisted and gnarled, making a spectacular landing at the foot of a split pitch. An easy climb down to the chamber floor then off again, over and under boulders, to try and catch up the now bagging it Bling and Mr Walsh.
Dark Lord’s mood had much improved, along with the prospects. After what seemed like about 50m of beautiful decorated streamway, across, over and under boulder bridges, I managed to catch up the bagging it Bucketeers at a duck. I have learnt that neoprene helps in this cave and was given the lead into 40m of passage to a chamber with a really stunning array of stalactites and curtains.
Dark Lord and Bling, after following the stream continuing behind a calcite flow, went on to end the nights bagging at a mud and twig filled chamber. A Sump?
Dark Lord, Pete Hall, Andy Walsh, Bill Sherrington, Tuesday 11th December
Like many of us I have caved with Mr Walsh for some years now: he is always even tempered, never shirking the hard work, calm, enthusiastic and a gentleman. I have never, ever, never heard him curse. Until tonight when approaching the second duck in the upstream passage.
I think it went something like: “you have got to be F***ing joking!”
I was gob-smacked and Andy’s comment sums up the quality of trip on offer in the Pail into Significance stream way. Our plan was to continue following the stream from the Darker Shade of Pail chamber. Arriving at our objective after a few more, “are we nearly there yet” comments from Andy, I pushed myself into the duck. Oh dear I didn’t fit, so out came the hammer. That didn’t seem to have much effect, I went in again and after several more moments enjoyment managed to shrink and then fit through the squeeze duck in to more upstream grabbing. I knew that Andy was already for turning back so I advised him I would be back in 10 mins.
The passage from this point maintains its character. It’s all crawling, then flat out with stooping with three more ducks to enjoy, the last one twisting, with very limited airspace. I then popped out into more walking size passage and could hear falling water in front of me. I noticed that on the right hand side of the passage some interesting glimpses of black space above me. My journey concluded as I entered a chamber with a small stream cascading ahead from less commodious looking upstream passage way. To the left I popped under a wall into the bottom of an Aven that seemed to have a loose boulder collection about 20 ft or so up into it. Turning back, aware that I had been gone significantly longer than 10 minutes and Andy was not really in the mood for much waiting. I went back to the last duck. It seemed to have vanished, it was just a blank rock wall touching the water.
“Eau F***!” This was what Andy must have meant earlier and I thought you have got to be joking. Thankfully after some searching I found the way and progressed back to Mr Walsh. Despite his eagerness to leave he had remained waiting patiently. We then made our way out to the entrance expecting to see Pete and Hugh who had been on an alternative nights excursion. No sign of them. Andy and myself agreed to part company here. I thought it best to remain in the cave and wait for Hugh and Pete. After an hour or so of hanging about I realised who I was waiting for! and that they might be some time! my initial view of ‘they won’t be long’ would need revising.
Surveying trips followed on from this as well further pushing with Hugh into a series of large and beautifully decorated caverns. We even enjoyed a Christmas party in the Spanish inquisition chamber. The science and survey numbers tell us that we should be within striking distance of Dog Holes in the upstream section of the cave. A plan is currently forming to have cavers enter both systems and attempt to discover the potential connection.