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Present: Anthony, Julia, Andy (not Andrew), Neil, Trevor, also starring Al (invalid)

DUSA’s bad weather demon struck again: having booked a Birks Fell permit it promptly pissed it down all of Friday and Saturday, so guessing that Birks Fell would probably be a very long sump, we opted for something near Ingleton. Andrew jacked through illness, but having been told that the trip could well end up being very short and rubbish, Andy decided to come at the last minute.

So we pottered off through Lake Swaledale, having ample opportunity to admire the flooded fields thanks to a profusion of ‘careful’ drivers driving particularly ‘carefully’ in a 35mph sort of way because the weather had been bad 6 hours earlier. It was in fact a beautiful day as far as Hawes, whereupon we found the mucky weather again. Gloom descended. There was a brief respite until I’d taken off my trousers outside Bull Pot Farm. The soggy change was enough to persuade Al to jack (still suffering from having a sip of my dodgy gin 2 days earlier). At least that meant we had a callout.

After this inauspicious start, matters rapidly improved. At the bottom of the entrance chimney, we found that the water levels were nowhere near as ludicrous as the previous abortive attempt in January – indeed the water levels were pretty average. A regulation trip down what I think of as the main route followed. First pitch was a bit “sporting”, but everyone did Ok. Quick look at the gour pools, then down to the main drain which was also passable, though there was lots of foam around. Found a low duck which had obviously been sumped recently. Julia went through, but those with bollocks decided against following. After following the stream for a bit she got bored and returned. We all went and explored a pleasant side passage with quite a pretty grotto to one side (which I’d never seen before) and the terminal sump (which I’d never seen either). I thought it was quite “impressive”, but the guidebook didn’t say so, so that in Aygill must be phenomenal. Found the stream passage and followed this upstream from the sump. Julia soon recognised this, and sure enough we all ended up having to do the duck. [Again! – grumble. – Julia]. Andy complained loudly that his bollocks had received a thorough soaking three weeks running.

Headed out in an uneventful manner, until Julia attempted to derig the bottom pitch. So impressed was she with this most splendid pitch, that she chucked the ladder down it thus ensuring she would have to do the pitch again whilst retrieving it. That incident apart, it was an efficient trip in a cracking little cave that always surprises me – I always find something different on each visit. Consultation with the guidebook revealed that we didn’t even go down the conventional “main” route, and there’s lots more cave we didn’t get to. I suppose I’ll have to go again some time…

Anthony Day