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Present: Anthony, Al, Julia, Martin, (+ Katrina wandering around on the surface)

Left Durham only 8 minutes after the optimistic intended departure time of 7am. An uneventful drive via Darlington saw us installed in Bernies by 9am, where there was a short delay while they slaughtered a few pigs to make our breakfast. Bought some more MRs, found Crummack Farm, and headed off for the cave, feeling more than a little silly since it was a gorgeous day. Actually found the impressive entrance at the first attempt – quite a notable feat since it’s in the middle of bloody nowhere on a flat featureless hill. By 1pm we were all set, and Katrina headed off for the top of Ingleborough. So far, so good.

However, as soon as we ventured underground, all vestiges of efficiency immediately evaporated. Cock up #1 was using the wrong rope to rig the first pitch. This shouldn’t have mattered since it was allegedly 30m long when a 25m should have sufficed. However, it was so laughably short that I had to leave out the rebelay, and then it only just touched the ground. Someone in DUSA can’t use a tape measure.

Juniper Gulf is a cave with no floor – there are lengthy traverses before each pitch. The local widening on the approach to the 2nd pitch was particularly entertaining to rig. My recollection of the traverse to the 3rd pitch (from my one previous visit 5 years ago) was that it was quite easy. 5 years of beer and curry however has made it more strenuous and technically interesting. Julia gave up at this point (probably wisely) and headed out with Martin (though we suspect her elephant may have made it all the way to the sump), whilst me and Al carried on.

All went well until I tried to descend the 3rd pitch. My STOP has been a bit exciting for a while now. It transpired that the 3rd pitch rope was a tad fast, so I went like greased lightning, having to hold on very tight to avoid an uncontrolled descent even with the handle fully out. The prospect of the following 45m pitch on a dodgy descender did not appeal. So we went and admired the vastness of the final pitch and headed out. This was probably a good decision since we were both pretty knackered, weakened as we were by the after effects of some dodgy rice (washed down with gallons of perfectly sound Bulgarian plonk and Sam Smith’s) from the previous Thursday’s AGM.

Emerged to find Katrina had successfully conquered Ingleborough, then headed off to the Station Inn for some lemonade. Despite not being tanked up at all, we still found the incentive to play silly games (locking Julia in the bog, humourously pretending to drive off abandoning half the meet in the pub) before returning to Durham. Juniper Gulf is a good cave though, and I’m sure we’ll be back soon to show it who’s boss. To quote an earlier write up from this log book: “Fuckin’ good ‘n ‘ard – wot real ‘ard cavers are on for!” (That’ll not be us then…)

Anthony Day