Tim was there bright and early with a ladder erected to the roof repair scaffolding, giving us about 25 feet to practice with….Bill (Osborne) came with me for moral support.
After being given some good tips on how to keep the ladder close, and prevent myself falling into my usual bad habit of taking most of my weight on my arms, with my wellie clad feet struggling to find rungs beneath me, I made it a good half way up the ladder. One or two members drifted by from inside and had a go, demonstrating some good techniques, which I observed with envy. Greg and Andy joined us and I braved another go up the ladder, feeling I did slightly better that time.
So, that done, the ladder was taken down and we were shown how to roll it up, such a neat job when done properly, and demonstrated expertly by Tim. A couple of us had a go under his watchful eye, then it was off to Bull Pot of the Witches to try it out ‘for real’.
Tim, Greg, Andy, Bill and myself, all trudged the short path to the entrance. The descent on the ladder, down a twisting quite narrow shaft, had lots of sticking out handy ledges to grab or get an elbow or knee on, and take some weight off my arms as I tried my best to use some of the ladder skills I had just been shown.
We all popped out of the hole at the bottom and into the cave proper, following Tim through winding walkways, climbing over boulders, standing on Tim’s knee and Bill’s a couple of times to reach high enough to get over a couple of big slippery obstacles, and having a great time sliding down the other side on my btm! We came to some hands and knees crawling sections and I wished I had worn my knee pads! Occasionally there’s a benefit to being a shorthouse, and whilst the taller ones were on knees I was able to get through much of the passage by squatting down and moving along sideways like a crab, saving my knees a good bit of wear and tear!
We caved on to the big chamber and on the way Tim pointed out the route to the Gour Chambers for Bill to explore on another visit. I felt like a kid on a fantastic muddy planet, enjoying a good time out with my pals! I was tempted to singalong with Andy, who was in fine voice bringing up the rear, but the chorus…B---s to your partner….etc. was more of a man song I thought! Hahaha!
Greg had a really fancy set of lights on his helmet he was lit up like a Christmas tree. I named him Vespa Man. He brought some camera equipment with him and took some nice shots while we were down there.
As we headed back towards our entrance point, my thoughts returned to the ladder….all the way down…and now, all the way up.I had enjoyed myself so much scrambling and crawling about, I hoped I had enough puff left to get to the top……well, I nearly did. Half way up I was hanging on with tired arms trying not to panic. I remembered the lesson and I gripped the ladder between my thighs and held it close so that I could stand and take the weight with my legs……a few more pushes and a well needed couple of yanks on the rope from Tim (thank you soooooo much!) and I made it to the top. Yippeeeee!
Back in the daylight, my shiny blue, nearly new caving suit was a beautiful shade of mud, and I didn’t mind a bit. I’d had a really good time.
Next day, feeling rather sore in far too many places to mention, and bearing wounds in the form of large bruises to my inner thighs from trying to grip the ladder (see pic) I decided I needed some R+R for a while, and in future……well, more caving of course!