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Team A: Han B, Ian W, James C, Mssr Redhead.

Woohoo! Excellent trip and well worth the minor navigational difficulties. Note that the Braemoor route describes the lower level (Main Drain) route between Fall Pot and Oxbow Corner and is absolutely glorious. (In wet weather use the high level route).

The entrance pitch was an absolute joy to rig. Rig off boulder with 2 P-hangers and deviate with a sling from an iron bar protruding from ground next to entrance hole. Y-hang rebelay at ledge 6m down, then zoom straight down to the bottom. Very satisfying and easy (and hot if you didn’t soak the rope first!). Way on is on wide ledges to right.

The Colonnades were spectacular – even having seen the photos I was still amazed. The climb up from Bridge Cavern (to the Colonnades) is somewhat precarious and – like the rest of the high level route – covered in greasy, gritty mud. We had some difficulty navigating near Fall Pot in Bill Taylor’s Passage but that was the only problem we encountered. [We found it helpful to get to Fall Pot and work backwards – Ian]

The main drain was excellent fun as we hadn’t visited it before and hadn’t until that point realised how huge it was. Huge! As we were tiring a bit by the time we got to Stop Pot, we decided to reward ourselves with the sight of somewhere we knew – hence we entered Wretched Rabbit Passage via Eureka Junction rather than risking not being able to route-find through Four Ways Chamber.

Little note: The iron ladder down Stop Pot is much easier (and shorter) than it looks from the top, and the hinged bit is okay – honest! Nice to be belayed on it though.

It took us 7 hours to complete the trip, and it was absolutely marvellous. Top romping!

Team B: Al C, Zara C, Alex D, Tom M, Mssr Leech.

The day started well. At least, it did for those who had shown restraint and caved the night before instead of boozing recklessly. Unfortunately efficiency never lasts and it was half one by the time the entire group had reached the bottom of the Lancaster pitch. The team had the route-finding covered. I had recently visited Lancaster hole for an evening trip so knew the way to the start of the low level route at Wilf Taylor’s Passage, and Al was confidant he could guide us out of Wretched Rabbit – only the section in the middle was unknown/remembered to us.

All went smoothly including a (very) cautious visit to Slug World to be amazed by this little pocket where physics seems to have gone wrong and the Colonnades, which are pretty bonkers themselves. The only point of note is that the hand-line on the second climb down in Wilf Taylor’s passage is badly rubbed at the upper end – the core has begun to wear.

Some top romping through the stream way saw us meet up with our other party at the boulder choke before Oxbow corner. Instead of sitting in the stream as the monster party picked its way through the boulders, team B backtracked to a hand-line disappearing into the roof up a greasy climb. Hearts in mouths we ascended, the first through to the top of the choke in time to wish Team A ‘bon chance’ as they popped out of their ascent and headed on their merry way. Continuing to what we subsequently identified as Oxbow corner, we had reached the middle part of our trip – the bit neither of us really knew. Still, it’s only one junction. What trouble could it cause? Ample, apparently. Our route (eventually) climbed the boulders on the upstream side of the oxbow, before traversing along the well-worn path back in a downsteam direction along the left hand wall of the passage before turning left and climbing up to the high level route. The way was high, greasy and off-camber. We were careful.

Now onto Al’s turf, we stopped to eat a brief picnic by the entrance to the Minarets in Oakes’ Caven. Relaxing though it was, our rest was cut short by the terrifying sound of boulders falling in the distance. A rapid romp through the caverns to Wretched Rabbit ensued. Here the exertions of our trip caught up with us and the climb out was slow but steady for most, while Al scurried ahead to let people know we were nearly there. Zara and I reclined in the starlight while Tom and Alex de-rigged the line team A had put in the climbs to allow the climbs to be protected with jammers – a right arse on the knotted hand-lines that live in the cave.

All out after eight hours underground, the club drainpipe lights gave up the ghost on the walk back to Bull Pot Farm. Safely back, we joined the revelry having affirmed that Lancaster Hole deserves its title of Finest Hole in the Dales.