Present: Ben, Ben (creamy), Connor, Elise.

What a wonderful trip we had today! Today’s trip felt like a story within itself.

It started out a beautiful day. Connor noted in the car on the way there how he couldn’t find a single cloud in the sky. Stepping out in Giant’s car park (to which we were the only visitors!) in the glorious midday sun that warmed us up, felt amazing.  We were hearty and positive we would have an excellent trip.

After Garlands pot and the crabwalk, we diverged at some point [after the mini waterfall you must crawl through] to go off into an unknown. I was incredibly excited, I hadn’t felt so calm to go off and explore in a cave before.

And oh gosh! We were greeted by a traverse- which I did feel nervous about, but halfway through the traverse, it ‘became’ rigged, so to speak. This put me greatly at ease and I could finally clip in and look down.  On the way back, it turned out, this section became more challenging from approaching it from a different angle. I think my nerves got the better of me for a second there, but Ben was great at talking to me in a calm voice. I managed to get through by rethinking my approach to the traverse. At that moment, Ben explained to me that sometimes, it’s good to switch it up and switch from having your back to one wall, to the other wall, as the opposing wall may have more footholds and leads to go on. Or, it may just feel more comfortable to you.

East Canal:

Getting to East Canal meant going down a fair bit of pre-rigged stuff. [Though, we were shocked at this as we brought the rope with us!] Some incredible pitches that really took me off guard would come out of nowhere. I became accustomed to Giant’s having sharp drops at this point and that I should never trust a corner! An awful muddy duck that soaked through our bodies reminded us that even though the sun was out, indeed, it was February. And we were not going to get away with wishing for warm water. However, I reminded the boys that I had in fact, brought with me extra Cadburies Crème Eggs, so that we would not be so dissatisfied with the cold, and that the glucose could deprive our shivers of negativity, so to speak.

Our plan was to walk down to East Canal until we had our shoulders soaked.

We came to a large room that Connor was fearful to step into. And no wonder! The water, even on this dry day, was coming up to his head! Ben and I seemed to be egging him on to no end. I could see this was going nowhere, as talk of turning around was being had. Without word- I took a big leap and swam out into the abys, my feet kicking against the frozen water. My hands burned almost automatically and I felt like my body was panicking. Luckily, I knew not to panic in my mind and swam away to the other side of the room, pulling at the walls on the side to get to another section. It felt like an eternity to do this in the cold. The boys quickly followed suit, and stayed for a while.  I then realised that I was far too cold, swam all the way back and happily ate my crème egg in a more secluded corridor. Whilst doing so, I heard a loud ‘CANNONBALL!’ and a big splash. I couldn’t have expected more!

A couple of minutes later, I see a very sodden Ben come round the corner, whos’ face lights up when I hand him his creme egg. He woofs it down and he suddenly looks a fair bit happier!

Lastly, instead of going across the last traverse on the round trip, Ben majestically tied up a few knots for me to sail down the pitch, so that I could safely get down back to the crabwalk. I am extremely thankful to him. To put it most bluntly: I hate traverses without any form of rope! I am very lucky in that recently I have had the courage to state to others what I cannot do in caving, and I should not be afraid to state my own limits. Previously I thought it was a weakness to do this, but now I see it as a strength which allows us to work as a team more and progress through the cave faster.

After doing East Canal and Round trip, we made it at excellent timing at five and a half hours caving trip.

We stride out in the dark and make for the car. I put my oversuit down, only to pick it up 5 minutes later, and it has already frosted over. Our fingers numb, we race to the car and warm up our insides.

The perfect trip. Full of things that pushed me (the traverse that made me freak a lil bit, swimming in water that was cold enough to swear in, crawling until annoyed, failing a few times at climbing on ropes.), things that made me laugh (the boys) and crème eggs.