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Present: Anthony, Julia, Al, Gwyn, James, Tom, Andrew, Harry

A morning full of excitement (namely the first time I’ve sat in a car for 6 weeks, and more importantly, the first fry-up I’ve had in at least 2 months) led to being in a farmyard in Yorkshire. Walking round half a hill then revealed a concrete pipe sticking out of the ground, a very civilized way to enter a dark, wet hole. Still, it did the job and a quick skip (?) down the ladder meant we didn’t have to parachute down (!). Save a slightly pause-causing drop in the highway, where Julia was good enough to set up a sling for the “inexpert” to use as a handrail, there was nothing too unnerving for this newbie until the “wet crawl”. Which is really quite well-named. 90 meters is a much shorter distance on say, a motorway in a car, than on your knees in cold water with lots of rocks. Then “dry crawl”, which again was quite well named, although dry refers of course to the passage itself rather than the cavers therein who have just passed through the wet one. Then some pretty stuff started to appear and since they couldn’t persuade everybody else to stop breathing and making it all cloudy, the photographers went on ahead.

One other item very worthy of note, possibly a first: Al, Gwyn + Harry were late following some way behind everyone else (including Julia (!)), when we came to a bit of a junction. Not too sure which way everyone else had gone, Al’s scientific analysis of a pool in the middle of one passage, finding the water untouched, gave us a clue that the other one was the right passage. But this was merely a clue, compared to the information our senses received on investigating the other passage – thanks Julia, as soon as we ‘poked our noses’ into this one we were suddenly caving by smell! (this must have been at least 10 minutes after the deed was dropped!)

A wade through Styx canal, with some great formations on the ceiling was then the only obstacle between us and time to, er, turn round again. Made good time coming back, until reaching the drop of earlier, now a climb which somehow took us an hour and saw Tom plummet nearly to New Zealand, if he hadn’t fearlessly caught himself on his own nads.

So, one caving trip survived. Great stuff, (mostly!) but man, I’ll have some kneepads next time!

Harry Gibson