Present: Botch, Louise, Wobby Rotten, K Brook

It was an unseasonably fine summer day in February, and ULSA were in the Peak District, and so Myself and Louise decided to drive out to meet them. Nob told us that he’d never been in the Peak system, and wanted to ‘complete it’ so he’d never have to go back. This seemed like quite an ambitious plan, so we settled on a Titan -> White river -> Peak trip. It was agreed to meet at the TSG at 10am, giving all parties involved a fair amount of time to faff and get there.

After a slow start involving a cooked breakfast, packing, and some lost property returning, we arrived at the TSG at around 10:20 (there was no doubt in my mind that ULSA would be late) to find Imperial and Nottingham there already. Martyn was already there collecting Peak access fees, and so everything appeared to be going swimmingly. This was short lived, as a problem arose as soon as we asked the other (ICCC) Titan trip about access.

“We were just planning to use the SUSS Titan key” they casually told us. An excellent plan, I thought, but I did have a few reservations, name said key not being in our possession, or in fact existing. This was an especially flimsy plan, as we weren’t even planning to come out until the day before! A quick check of the access calendar revealed that a man named Mick Langton had the key. No-one in the TSG seemed to know him, even M. Seddon himself (though he did recognise the name), so we had no way of contacting him. The key was not in its usual position either, which implied they were already underground.

Luckily we were not so easily deterred. ULSA didn’t seem to be arriving any time soon, so we went to check the Titan entrance, driving up to the near parking place to save time. A quick and sweaty walk up the hill revealed the lid unlocked and rigged with bags outside. From this we deduced that they were on their way down and planning to come out the same way, and so we could probably nip down before they came back.

While at the lid, I received a call from Gob Lotson letting me know that they were on their way, but because of some faff involving early closing minibus hire and last minute insurance purchases we’d have to pick them up from the Giants car park. I split up with Louise in Castleton, me going to sort things out with the other cavers going in JH/Titan, and her to pick up the kids.

After all this, once we met in the TSG we were keen to get underway quickly. Unfortunately, this meant I didn’t re-coil the Titan rope, making the walk up Cave Dale slightly less pleasant on my shoulders. I had convinced everyone to go for minimal layers to make the walk less sweaty, as we planned to move fast once in the cave. We all thought this was excellent in the blazing sun….

The first pitch was rigged quickly and we were all down in 20 minutes, although Kristian faffed a bit trying to work out his borrowed club SRT kit (His actual kit being left in the Dales for wooing purposes). Pleased with our progress, I rounded the corner expecting to find the next pitch half rigged already. It was not to be so. We had managed to perfectly time it so the guys who’d actually booked it were coming up the main shaft when we got there. This led to quite a cold wait due to our fast and light attire, with Kristian running laps to the dig and back to keep warm.

Once we reached the bottom the trip was back on track. The routefinding is quite easy,especially if you’ve done it before, so we flew through the connection. Cow Arse Worms was wet but not too grim, so apart from Grob recounting how I’d promised a dry trip there was minimal complaint. The rope was in JH, which meant that Imperial was ahead of us, but we hoped we’d beaten the other White River trip. As usual, we were hopeless.

The Speedwell streamway was fun as always, and the water levels were quite low, making a more pleasant trip for those of us with a Y chromosome, as the water only reached our thighs. We all admired the shiny new ladder on The Bung, and I wondered whether they all start out looking like that. I was anxious not to miss Block Hall this time, as twice I’ve walked past it despite its huge size, but Louise found it immediately.

Leading the way up the pitches, I found Imperial ahead of us almost immediately, and so we recommenced queuing, allowing ourselves to get nice and cold again. The information that Imperial were ahead didn’t seem to reach the back two, who thought I was just being slow to punish them. While we waited, I told them of what lied ahead: a cold and (in my memory) short crawl to White River.

This was not quite so short as I remembered, leading to some more flak from the rest of the party. Their ire didn’t last long though, as we were now in the beautiful White River Series. We took a quick detour to see a rope that was about 50% calcite, and then went on to follow Imperial. The two Dales cavers were suitably impressed by the calcite flow and the pretty stals. Imperial kindly let us pass before the down pitches as they were a larger group, so we got cracking so as not to leave them waiting in the icy chill.

We found the first pitch of the ventilator rigged, prompting us to wonder if we’d needed to bother with the 30m rope we’d carried all this way. We were quickly vindicated, as it was only the first pitch that was rigged. Why you’d bother I don’t know. I’m pleased to say that my favourite bolt on the traverse to the third pitch is still present, spinning and moving merrily around as always.

Both times I’d done this trip before we’d got a bit lost after the ventilator pitches, but I’m pleased to say we did better this time. The only moment of confusion was when we reached the Trenches, and couldn’t remember whether it was left or right. After some debate, we went for the tighter option, which was right, and more importantly downstream. This was the correct choice, and lead us to some nice stooping and glooping.

Coming out of Treasury, I had another chance to practice some of my Peak Freshers spiel on Yob, talking of Surprise View, Moss Chamber etc. My high spirits were checked slightly when I remembered the Mucky Ducks to come, but these weren’t too bad, and I’ve done them enough times I should probably just stop complaining. It was thankfully after hours when we reached the show cave, so no dodging tour guides was necessitated. Even the padlock on the gate was less resistant than usual, allowing us swift passage back to the relative warmth of the TSG.

A grand trip had, we picked up the rest of ULSA from Giants, and retired to the Orpheus. We were fed heartily on burritos, and I was even allowed to eat in the same room as everyone else! We did attempt the bins at the Buxton Morrisons, but found them more secure than Alcatraz, and were thoroughly defeated. The only thing left to do was find a nice warm fire to sit by and chat shit to Tony, with a seemingly endless supply of port that needed drinking….

Well, that and a classic Placenta Pot trip