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Present: George, Louise, James, (Martin driving)

We arrived at Midnight at Bull Pot Farm and quickly realised that we’d ‘lost’ one of the tackle sacks (i.e. it was still in the gear cupboard, doh!). Our original plan had been to take advantage of the dry weather to go and look at Newton’s Wonder in Sylvester Pot (and then drop through into County Pot) but now we weren’t sure if we’d have enough rope left to do anything exciting the next day. So instead we decided to limit our trip to a mere potter around the Upper Trident Series in County.

I was quite excited about this actually, because it’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit since I first read about it. So, at about 1:30am we set off across the fell and climbed down the entrance shaft into County. Within fifteen minutes we had reached the bottom of the pitch and I had the bright idea that, instead of taking the nice easy route via The Broadway and Showerbath Chamber, we should see if we could find the passage called The Snake, which meets up with the other route at Confusion Corner. Now, The Snake is described as ‘twisting and tortuous’ in the guidebook, but I neglected to mention this to George and Louise.  So off we went, crawling through a very tight bit of passage from the bottom of the pitch. This, alas, was not actually The Snake: for very soon the passage drops into another, tighter passage that… alas, is also not actually The Snake: for very soon the passage drops into yet another, tighter passage. This third passage was The Snake however, and although it was far from being the tightest thing I’ve got through, it was, nevertheless, awkward in places (although if I could have been arsed to stick to floor level and crawl down it, instead of walking, then it would have been quite trivial). Also, we weren’t sure whether we were heading in the correct direction, and we expected to appear at the bottom of the Oxford Pot entrance pitch at any moment. Eventually, George cried out from the front that he’d reached something that looked familiar and very soon we were all stood at Confusion Corner.

We made a brief detour down to what we think was Spout Hall and located a climb into the roof that looked like it could be the start of Poetic Justice Chimney, although none of us really felt like attempting to scale it. We then headed off to Battle of Britain Chamber, which is the official start of Manchester Bypass; although for some reason DUSA has always managed to miss this out in my experience, preferring to get to Mancs Bypass in more innovative fashion. We quickly located the entrance to Trident Series and randomly navigated our way to a large dry chamber. We were having trouble locating our position though because we were expecting to find something called Splash Chamber. It later transpired that we were in Splash Chamber, but that it only ‘splashes’ in wet weather.

We then located The Chocolate Traverse at the top of White LineChamber, but we’d left our SRT kits at the bottom of the County pitch and so couldn’t attempt it. From here on though I haven’t a clue where we were (despite spending ages looking at the survey afterwards). We found several tight boulder chokes and an in situ handline that we climbed up, but then couldn’t find any obvious continuation. This begs the question: Why go to the trouble of putting a fixed rope in if it doesn’t get you anywhere?! We also found an obscure passage at the far side of an obscure boulder ruckle. It required a climb to get into and it would have been really hard to fit though. It also seemed to get even more constricted as it progressed. One thing is for certain: I wouldn’t have fancied the chances of anyone who did get stuck in there ever getting out again! The curious thing was that someone had scratched an asterisk above the passage, suggesting that it did actually go somewhere! Hmmm… a mystery!

Anyway, after about forty five minutes we got bored and headed out, taking a short trip down The Broadway to see if it went anywhere exciting (it didn’t). By the time we reached the surface it was about 5am and so we’d managed caved for a good three and a half hours. Then we went back to the farm and slept!

So, a good trip then, if a little short (but we didn’t want to tire ourselves out for the next day’s highly strenuous attempt on Valley Entrance). The Snake was interesting though; and would make a good detour for next time we do Manchester Bypass with some freshers.