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Present: Ian W, Pete H, Mssrs Warner and Leech

Seven pitches and not a P-bolt in sight… The bolts on the fifth pitch looked a bit poo, so I rigged it as a handline climb (I put a spare six foot wire belay round a block). Good honest caving. Ian.

Ralph writes: Suggested by Mssr. North towards the close of the old year, our plucky heroes converged on Inglesport to prepare themselves in the usual ritualistic way for the day underground.

On the hour, (which I cannot say) we rolled along to Clapham, parked and changed at the bottom of Long Lane before heading up the Nature Trail to the cave. Aided by NFTFH, the entrance was easy enough to find and has a wooden beam across it.

The cave is a cracker – plenty of pitches (7 and a traverse), but all are nice and short and rigged with economically placed bolts. The crawls are a nice balance of interest and squalor and the traverse is brilliantly decorated – care is needed with helmet placement to avoid fantastically white straws. It is worth mentioning the straws to keep them in your mind, as the easily distracted may have their attention on the wide greasy walls and drop beneath your arse.

Soon after the traverse we negotiated a right-angle left turn over which I fussed somewhat before easy going to the fifth and sixth pitches. We rigged pitch five and used the rope to protect the climb down to the sixth pitch head, rigged off some rusty rings in the roof. Part way down pitch six, I did a silly thing. Standing on a ledge, I carefully kicked my footloop off to prevent tangling as I went below it. Unfortunately, a few short metres below the ledge I encountered the sling of the same colour as my footloop that had until recently been a rebelay from the ledge. I must admit my bluster at the poor sling placement faded somewhat on realising just why the rebelay wasn’t in place.

Ian and Pete had already visited the dig, so we shared out our grub before they started a leisurely exit while Andy and I dropped the last pitch, visited the dig face and followed them out. Exit was the reverse of entry, though more exerting. A somewhat nervous moment passed in the rift above the final pitch when Andy breathed on an unfeasibly large boulder jammed above one of the climbs and my head, prompting a surge of levitation. Think penguins coming out of the frozen sea. The rest of the trip passed as smoothly as you could possibly hope for.

After 6.5 hours underground, we emerged into the wind to walk back to Clapham and the New Inn satisfied. Only two other notes must be made of the day:

  1. Isn’t it funny how cavers consider it to be just grand to wander the fells, soaked to the skin, in the dark?
  2. Why ever did we dash straight passed the pretty girls at the pool table who so desperately wanted to talk to some rugged caver types?