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Present: James and George

I drove down to Yorkshire on Friday night to pick George up from Kendal and made really good time!.. Erm, that is until I got completely lost at some place called Brigsteer. Never mind. Anyway, got to the farm at about eleven, but unfotunately it was shut (again). Not wanting to sleep in the car, we drove down to Clapham to see if we could find the caving hut that is supposed to be there (we couldn’t). So instead we drove to the YSS. Thankfully it was open and so we retired to the Hellwith Bridge to celebrate. To our suprise, local rivals Newcastle University were also staying at the YSS that night. Ever ones to make new friends we went over for a chat…

However, by that time I had been rendered to the level of drunken imbecile; and so I sucessfully managed to convince Newcastle that I am a complete tw*t!  I’m not, honest (well, not a complete one anyway). Anyway, having made lots of new ‘friends’ I collapsed into my pit to sleep ’til morning.

When morning came we decided that we really wanted to do Coppice Cave on Birkwith (stupidly without breakfast first), because the description had made it sound like a bit of a hidden gem (it is!).

We were driving up to the fell when we had the misfortune to be hit by an old lady reversing out of her drive without looking over her shoulder or using her mirrors. As a result my passenger door now doesn’t open anymore. She was very apologetic though, and invited us into her house whilst she rung her insurance company. With that misfortune behind us we went caving. Yeah!

Coppice Cave was an absolutely cracking trip. There are no easy walking passages, but at the same time there are no ridiculously strenuous or tight bits (at least in first half). I really enjoyed it anyway. Top five cave. A trip from the top entrance down to Exhumation Hole is a good introduction to decent caving (by that I mean a cave with some challenge and excitement, rather than just a series of mindless pitches). After Exhumation Hole things get a little bit tougher, but it is still fun. The first major obstacle is a partial duck that can best be described as ‘desperate’. The airspace is fine, but it is quite tight, and has a squeeze over a boulder half way through, which was difficult with tackle. I imagine the Crescent Pot duck to be similar, but far longer and with far less airspace.

After that there is some nice streamway (although the ceiling is low enough to force crawling), and it leads down to a very tight roof tube section. Here the guidebook description is somewhat inadequate because it describes it as “61m of arduous traversing”, which it isn’t. It is more tight wriggling. The first squeeze was annoying because there was a kneebreaking flake half way along it that required some nifty footwork to get around. After that one has to handstand down into a pool of water. It didn’t get much better!

On the way back from the trip we encountered Newcastle again, who were going down Calf Holes with some novices. We exchanged pleasantries, but couldn’t help feeling that they were slightly ‘disenchanted’ to see us. So we buggered off to Bernies for some much needed breakfast. Whilst there we overheard Steve ringing the cave rescue out for a Notts Pot trip. It was at this point that the dehydration from the night before’s excesses caught up with us, and in view of the weather we decided to jettison our proposed (overly ambitious!) King Pot trip. Instead we went up to the farm and did Aygill Caverns down to the bottom of the second pitch. It was a good trip, but we couldn’t really be bothered doing too much exploring of the lower depths.

Anyway, back at the farm it turned out that the Notts Pot trip had been a Red Rose trip, and that unfortunately there had been a serious incident. The police were present to take witness statements. Everyone was in low spirits, and the planned St Trinians party didn’t really materialise, although there was still hot-pot, jam roly poly and beer being served. We had to contend with the constant appearence of fat beardy men dressed as schoolgirls appearing at the door, before being told to get changed because the party had been cancelled. The police left around midnight and the party belatedly got going, with drunken dancing and loud music continuing until three in the morning.

But anyway, I drove home on Sunday afternoon after seeing Newcastle again in Bernies… It had certainly been an eventful weekend