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Present: Anthony, Al, Karen, Gruffudd

The second meet of term got off to a good start when my engine was coaxed into life by battery power alone – a marked improvement on the previous week when Al had to shove it half way down Old Elvet before it could be persuaded to fire. Collected Karen at Dunelm, quickly got bored of waiting for Robin so went to collect a severely hungover Gruffudd from Collingwood. Then it was off to Scotch Corner to pick up Al, and Bernies for the obligatory lard stop. Arrived at the parking spot in the early afternoon to find a predictable traffic jam. Got changed anyway then embarked on the long and arduous walk to the cave (50 yards).

First set off for Toyland, which I have distant memories of visiting as a novice way back in the mists of time (1992). My recollection was that Toyland is accessed by a tricky roped climb. This we duly found, except it seemed to have got quite a lot harder in the intervening five years – only a nutter would want to free climb that. Step forward Alistair Cook, who duly thrashed his way to the top with only mild levels of wittering and then threw a ladder down it. Karen negotiated this with some difficulty, but it proved to be beyond Gruffudd. Meanwhile Al had got through to Toyland chamber and had been suitably underwhelmed, so we beat a retreat and headed off for the main drain.

Only had to queue for about 15 minutes at the top of the pitch while someone came up and the CRO went down (they were replacing some fixed aids on a high level traverse used when the cave is in flood, not dragging bodies out of the sump). Descended the pitch, admired the sump pool then splashed off upstream with the intention of trying to find the main chamber at the bottom of Swinsto. Found a lengthy wet crawl which caused a certain amount of grumbling, which was quashed by promises that it wasn’t that far and it would soon get bigger and drier. Well, it didn’t, and we eventually concluded that we were actually in the same place where Al and co. had gone wrong on a previous trip. With that we headed out without incident.

Now, normally what happens next is a visit to the Marton Arms for bucketfulls of ale and a greasy kebab in Richmond. However, a combination of poverty, rapid packing after an all night session, and Barclays cashpoints refusing to give out dosh meant that three quarters of the meet were penniless. Hence we went straight back to Durham arriving back at the unfeasibly early hour of 8.30pm.

Anthony Day