Birks Fell Cave-14th. September 2014




Birks Fell Cave! I canít remember quite who went, but there were 13 in total.

Itís a great trip Birks Fell, a classic, a not so complex but interesting sporting caving trip. The book ďNot for the Faint HeartedĒ offers the following advice aboutBirks FellďCavers who get bored in Birks Fell should begin the search for a new leisure interestĒThe caving trip in its entirety is described in great detail, more than I need to mention, in that book. Itís not changed very much from what I can tell. In fact we confirmed that not much had changed as Fleur Loveridge took some photographs for cave monitoring purposes. She deserves all the credit for sorting out the cave monitoring for this trip and the CNCC, who asked for this, seemed very happy with her work.

We were fortunate in taking along with us one of the authors and researchers of NFTFH on the trip. None other than Bobby Bailek himself. That man is a star!It was a pleasure to have seen all the other eight cavers disappear down the entrance crawl in two separate groups. They even took a newbie too. Young Tom Clayton who was sporting a shiny new clean over suit.

There I sat on the grassy knoll looking at Dalek and the brothers Simpson who I had caved with many years ago on the same trip, when they were teenagers and we were all in the Burnley Caving Club.I announced that we were the de-rigging party and hopefully we could catch up the racing snakes at the front, when that old caving chestnut was pulled out of hat. ďI am only going as far as the second pitch chimed the SimpsonísĒ, and then Dalek started hobbling on several decades of joint abuse .... whimpering ... The last bus that ran him over is still recovering I hear! Looks like we had better get a wiggle on then, as the racing snakes had been sent ahead to rig the entire cave and the de-tackling party wasnít actually a de-tackling party after all. We didnít need to fret the tackling party were smart enough to realise that they had to carry out all the gear too.




The caving trip is best described like this, for me! Tight bits, walking, climbing, getting lost, then a flat-out tight rift, walking, stooping,†††††††† (I canít stand stooping) staggering, crawling,twisting, looking puzzled at Dalek, Dalek looking blankly back at me, worrying aboutlarge loose boulders slowly crushing mein a squeeze, getting stuck, and that bloody bag and wondering if Dalek actually knew the way on. A growing sense of anxiety, losing my sense of time and slowly and gradually getting more and more tired and broken. Then I got to the half way point at the elbow bend, the end of the cave then, reverse gear and do it all again on the way out.

With the added bonus of being with Dalek all the way, it was comedy genius between us, we were a class act. Dalek unable to know, or locate the ongoing passage, and me a hulking wreck huffing and blowing through passageways trying to keep up with him. One of several notable escapades enjoyed was the old disappearing way on in the way out trick. The one where the way on just vanished. Frustrated and feeling hopeless I corroborated the disappearance and then realised that the way on was like in all good pantomimes behind you!

Weenjoyed a delightful return through all manner of inconvenience including neck deep water, losing the Simpsonís and Dalek forgetting to bring vital upping gear which gave me a rest as hefree climbed the non free climbable pitch on his bad joints, making it back to the surface after a 6 hour trip.

All in all a good day out thirteen cavers counted inand thirteen cavers counted out.We confirmed that the cave was still there for the CNCC, no epics anda good laugh in the bar afterwards.

Now, here are some tips for would be future club caving trip coordinators.

Do not assume that the club tackle store is in fact a tackle store with actual tackle in it for the caving trip. I made that mistake and had to scrabble around contacting various folk the night before. The upshot was that the gear was scavenged and sorted out in the car park at Buckden. Thanks to Si and Di Hard for supplying missing gear. I had left the gathering of tackle until the Saturday afternoon and found much of the gear was still on its way back from France and it had stalled somewhere in Kendal.

Agree before entering cave that who is doing what, especially the de rigging.

Organise Birks Fell Cave for a Saturday as itís a long day out, especially for residents of the South of England.

Bring with you an actual copy of the guide book and not the author.

Bring the permit!!!!

Lastly, I took the advice in the guide book and found another leisure interest, by becoming a shamefulblues harmonica player.

Bill Sherrington


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