Not Just an Illusion
Present; Heather Eastwuod, Tim Eastwood, Becs Brier, Ray Duffy, Sam Liberman, Andy Hall & Paul Wilkinson.
An SOS was sounded from the Wilks (seniors) save our son he has a rare day off and caving insurance and wants a trip, the only offer up to that point had being Mossdale Caverns (a none starter for Mr Wilks junior). Having a rare weekend off myself the little light bulb in my head had a flicker of excitement and an email was sent to Paul and those who were hoping to do Illusion Pot as a pre Dinner trip, this had being foiled due to the torrential downpour that had being continuous the week leading up to the dinner. Illusion Pot is not to be found in the guide books and probably as a result has maintained many of its beautiful features (although some who had seen it before may argue this point).
Arrangements were made and the dawning of a club trip started to evolve (which is a bit of a novelty itself these days). Instruction - meet at Bernies 10 for 10.30 and there the illusion begins, not only did we all meet we actually left Bernies by 10.40 to go caving (before midday we’d be ruining our reputation if not careful). We regrouped at Kingsdale and changed in to caving gear being continually amused by Paul’s comments regarding his caving gear which was last worn by Mel. “I’m sure my dads stretched this” and bloody hell you lend your gear out and it comes back broken as 3 of the LED lights failed to work.
The idea of the trip was to cave and maybe get a few pictures of pretties (underground category for the photo comp). Here occurs failure no 1. After carefully packing our camera’s myself and Tim carefully left them on the kitchen table. Never mind we’d just look at the pretties. Failure no.2 occurred when Andy listened to Ray’s advice telling him not to bother taking his camera as the cave is that dark it would need vast amounts of flash guns to get any decent pictures, so Andy dutifully put his camera back the car. What Ray really meant was I don’t want you to use all my flash guns to take pictures, but that was only going to be realised later. Upon reaching the entrance to Illusion Pot which is a nice concrete tube with foot spikes leading to insitu iron ladders the usual amount of faffing began.
At this point Paul became a little agitated with the picture taking exclaiming “I’ve waited 18 months for this I’m not waiting any longer” and with that disappeared with Ray closely behind so he could get action shots as we came through the wet crawl/duck which is a short distance from the base of the ladders. On entering Expressway “the main chamber” we spilt off into 2 groups with Ray and Sam heading right into Rushtons Chamber, the rest of us taking a left turn and scaling mud and sand banks. This led to a short drop into a passage way with the most amazing straw stals and curtains which had mineral banding. This was when Andy realised that he should have taken his camera. Translucent straws up to 6ft ceiling to floor adorned the passage and very careful progress is needed to protect this truly amazing sight. Evidence of digging off to the right of the passage can be seen and like the preverbal rat up a drain pipe Paul was off and out of sight. A report can back 5 to 10 minutes later that it was sandy and going.
We then headed back to expressway and onto Rushtons Chamber to see what Ray and Sam were up to. While we’d being exploring they had taken the opportunity to set up flash guns and photograph more amazing straws, enter Becci. Never one to miss an opportunity she whipped out her camera and took full advantage of Ray’s flash guns. A comment of bloody hell it’s like Andy having his camera was made as Tim Paul Andy and myself made our way across the chamber to Perfidia Passage, leaving Becci, Ray and Sam competing for light. Once again Paul shot off up Perfidia which is a phreatic tube heading towards Dale Barn which is very long, and gets low and tight in places.
Meanwhile Andy took the time to give me a geology lesson explaining how the direction and speed of the water flow can be gauged by the direction of the scallops. Paul eventually re-emerged and it was time to depart leaving the beauty of Illusion Pot behind. The saying of take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints can only be encouraged as can the need to take great care when moving around to preserve this wonderful cave.