Nearly Not – Notts 2

Thursday 17th January I set off for the farm to go digging down Avon Pot with Sam, everything was going well the farm lane had some snow in the middle but fortunately the tyres were on dry road. Dropping down to the bin corner the situation changed rapidly and scarily into ice and a gripping halt saving me ploughing into the wall. Hmmm! It was snowing very lightly but the wind was whipping it into the road, not good.

I got out of the car and slid down to the farm to collect the permit for Notts 2 and then reversed up Green Lane and took a run at the steep bit, trying desperately to keep the driver wheels on the ice and snow in the middle of the road and the offside on the grass and snow at the side. Phew! Just made it! I found out on the Saturday that Andy Mac had spent half an hour negotiating the same stretch not long after my effort. I managed to catch Sam before he drove up to the farm and we retired to look at some survey notes in my place while supping nice whisky, a much better idea.

Several emails were sent to those who’d bothered to contact me about going on the club trip down Notts 2 on Saturday letting them know that the lane to Leck Fell might not be passable so they should bring walking gear as well, for a Plan B.

Saturday dawned overcast and cold but just about freezing so after a Grumposium Meeting in Bernies I set off for the car park in Cowan Bridge and ‘bloody hell’ they were all there waiting, On Time! Quick discussions followed about which cars would negotiate the predicted ice and snow on Leck Fell Lane and we crowded into Ian Lawton’s and Sam Lieberman’s cars. Surprise! Surprise! Not a single snowflake or patch of ice on the whole road to speak of and we arrived for only a grade 3 change, as there was a cold wind and the ground was frozen, but not bad at all considering. (I’m not sure the President should be seen caving with someone who’s oversuit looks as tatty as Ian’s, I have standards even if they are very low.)

I looked around after I’d changed and counted up, what only S of us. “Where’s Andy Chapman?” “He’s gone, he wasn’t too keen anyway and he’d got Sally’s wet socks which didn’t fit.” We were soon climbing down the entrance pitches and I’m sure it was easier, if scarier when it was just scaffolding but then it would probably have collapsed in by now.



The bottom of the shaft is now well cemented but was originally quite a dodgy place with loose stuff everywhere. We were quickly assembling at the foot of the climbs, what a well-oiled machine the Red Rose is, sometimes. A smooth descent to the Mincemeat Aven and time to reflect on how close the divers had been to finding a dry entrance, also how far we poor diggers were away from this aven when digging down toward the supposed Molephone station from the surface at Committee Pot (Though not really Committee Pot as this was in the next shakehole but Cohn Davis had permission to dig Committee so he called his Iron Kiln dig this to solve the problem and we filled in Committee with our rubble.)

Upstream Tim set an easy pace upstream as we passed under first Splash Inlet and the rope hanging from Echo Inlet. Further on upstream the ladder on the left hanging from Sir Digby Spode’s Inlet marks the start of the new connection to Lost Johns, definitely ‘not for the faint hearted’. There is now a plaque dangling on the right of the streamway marking the climb up into the Flood Bypass leading back to Mincemeat aven area, Dome Inlet enters opposite this point on the left of the stream. Just a little more streamway passes before the climb on the left enters an unpleasant crawl through to the pretty Estonia (Inlet 9) at the Nick Point. Time for another photo opportunity as Andy Mac is ‘snapped’ acting as Hercules holding up the enormous boulders forming an arch over the stream, poser!


Striding onward we soon arrived at the mud bank of Inlet B where the black and white stals can be seen high on the left wall and nice drip formations festoon the mud on the right. Here the pace slowed as we entered the ball gripping cold water of the deep pool. Thankfully the water was fairly low or else Sam would have been swimming, whereas, Ian barely got his knees wet. Just around the corner from here, on



the right is the muddy entrance to Inlet “Sixpointfiveandthreequarters”.

The inlet started as a pleasant, body-sized hands and knees crawl, in a sandy floored, walled and roofed tube, making us all wonder how it stayed up but soon it drops into a reasonable walking passage with some nice formations. At a junction with a stream we followed the downstream branch of this parallel streamway until it looked as though we might have to crawl, no we’re not going any further this was to be a pleasant club trip. We backed up to the junction and bounced off upstream and were surprised to find some excellent white formations before reaching the end of this branch at a choke. Backtracking a short distance we entered the small and muddy passage we’d passed earlier in the left wall.

Crawling, I hate crawling! Well there’s quite a bit of it in this section from here until it joins up with Inlet S. There appears to be a watershed part way along the passage as initially it seems the crawl is slightly uphill and then as the roof rises slightly it starts to drop toward the main stream. Sand bags and bang debris only give a hint of the unpleasant pushing trips that opened up this amazing loop, however, by now everyone was covered in slop. On the plus side the formations are fantastic, helictites, straws and quite large stals are everywhere and need negotiating very carefully. Some of the scallops in the roof, even in the flat-out parts, are stunning but you have to roll on your back to see them.

Finally the passage dimensions enlarge and a short, roped drop leads to a fine phreatic tunnel of walking size that brought us back to the main streamway and a chance to scrub off some of the mud we’d removed from the passage. Chocky break over, we stomped off downstream passing Curry Inlet on the right and exited as slickly as any Red Rose trip has ever done.




The freezing blast down the entrance climbs boded an unpleasant change on the surface but it turned out not to be as bad as the first change. We jumped into cars and sped down to Cowan Bridge and hence to the Bernies (purveyors of fine foods) Cafe for chip butties and it’s at this point that I noticed that I still had my soaking wet underpants on,

So all in all a really good trip that even with photo stops took only about 4 hours with climbing, stomping, crawling and mud, what a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Ray Duffy

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