Volume 46 Number 3 Article 5
28th April 2009
Since I joined the club last February, Tim Eastwood and Andy MacDonald have been kind enough to put up with me wobbling along behind them on a few Tuesday Evening trips underground. And so on a dark on stormy lunch time (Tuesday the 28th April), I received a text message from Tim – “Can you meet at Bull Pot at 6:30?” For me that was just about doable, a few minutes later Sue (my better half) phoned to say there had been an earthquake in Ulverston.
So I knocked-off a bit early, drove home, grabbed the caving gear, had a bite to eat on the run and drove over to the farm. By this time is was raining, although this was not too much of an issue as the plan was to go down Wretched Rabbit, over the Manchester Bypass and come out of County Pot. Soon after I arrived at the farm and Tim and Andy arrived, we got changed and headed off over the fell.
Tim suggested that Andy rig the ladder in County on the way past but Andy was none–to-keen so Tim disappeared down County to rig the pitch. When he reappeared we walked the short distance up to Wretched Rabbit and set off down the entrance crawl with Tim leading. Wretched Rabbit has a few short pitches with in-situ ropes and we dropped down these and twisted and turned round the meanders. We passed a very nice long stalactite and continued climbing up to come out in Four Ways Chamber (good job Tim knew his way).
The route on was pretty greasy and involved scrambling over a lot of boulders. At the bottom of a particularly large set of boulders Tim reminded us it would not be a good place to be during an earthquake! From here we could hear a lot of water in the main drain but our route was on to stop pot
In to stop pot we took the in-situ ladder up to Mainline Terminus in the Lancaster Hole high level route. As we climbed over yet more boulders in the upper system I managed to tear my knee climbing over a boulder. Pain like I’d never felt before shot up my leg as my right knee cap pinged across to the right, fortunately the knee cap slid back on its own and the pain subsided. We pressed on through Manchester Bypass. The Manchester bypass is very pretty with a few squeezy bits but next time we go into anything tight I’m finding out what Tim had for dinner and tea; if it’s egg mayo and egg and chips he’s going last. In one flat out crawl my knee went again, accompanied by a lot of screaming and shouting (sorry guys). By this time I was getting a bit hacked off with trying to crawl on the other knee only.
Eventually we came to the fixed ladder at the end of Manchester bypass and Tim told us it took him and others several years to move the ladder sections all the way in to replace an old chain ladder. We climb down this into the County Pot system. Andy takes over the lead and heads off down the passage to Confusion Corner and on to the County Pot stream way.
We followed the stream-way down to Broadway where there is a climb up on the left into the County Pot exit (or entrance) passage. As I stepped up the pitch, another knee incident, more screaming and swearing followed by a bit of pushing and pulling from Andy and Tim got me up. By this time I was really running out of steam, I’m going to blame this on being very careful with my right knee (but it’s probably that 2-3 stone of blubber I’m carrying). One final push through the narrow winding passage got us to the ladder Tim had rigged at the start. I went up the ladder and managed to turn it round just before the step off which made getting off it a bit awkward.
A short climb out of the county pot entrance shaft and we were a bit surprised how dark it was (our previous Tuesday night trip was shorter and we had emerged while it was still light). It was still raining on the trudge back over the fell but at the least the knee held out.
We spent about two and a half hours underground and had a very satisfying trip, even if it was more than usually painful for one of us.