Member present: Louise, Conor, Max, Claire
Northern CHECC at Bullpot Farm provides an excellent excuse not to go caving – you don’t get any sleep, you do get plenty boozed, breakfast can be late, and inevitably someone from MUSC has ended up with your wellies. However, unfortunately, the ad hoc catering team Jacob had thrown together had a superb breakfast on the table (read: polystyrene tray) by 9am, with Thom Starnes being the enthusiastic man-with-a-pan that got me out of bed (read: boot of Skoda Fabia), while I had conveniently locked all my kit in the roof box the night before to make sure it all stayed in one place.
I suppose we’d better go caving them.
Conor was very keen for Bar Pot as he’d dropped it at NCHECC the year before but gotten lost on the way to main chamber and turned around. After a while trying to dissuade him and a while longer getting Tony to describe the route, we finally set off with the ever-enthusiastic Max and Claire around 11am (miraculous!).
After parking and changing in Clapham we began the long walk up the nature trail, which provided a surprisingly pleasant early-spring breeze to cool our hungover brows. I’d never done this walk before and was expecting the usual depressing trudge over grouse moors or sheep-impoverished mollina desert, and so I was pleasantly surprised by the initial odd mix of native woodland and introduced parkland trees and then the lovely limestone gorges that followed.
We reach Bar Pot just as another party was descending, who were already rigging over another set of ropes. We made an agreement with these North Walesians to use their rigging to save putting a third set of ropes in which I was very happy about as I was still struggling to distinguish which ones were my thumbs…
Due to the sheer number of people in the cave, dropping the pot was quite slow and gentle, which I appreciated. We were still underground swiftly and after an enjoyable couple of short pitches with some fucking choose-your-own-adventure style traverse lines, we de-kitted at the bottom for the crawls to come. With me and Conor desperately trying to remember what Tony had told us, it really was a bloody easy route – follow the whopping great draught and you’ll soon hear the sound of the whopping great waterfall. There are some interesting passages down there and you can tell it’s bloody busy, with the mud floor polished smooth by the passage of hundreds of knees and elbows in phreatic passage that is perfectly almost to big for crawling but not quite big enough for stooping.
Popping out into main chamber was incredibly refreshing. None of us had been to the bottom before and all ran around in the spray cherishing its cool touch and marvelling at the sheer bloody scale of the thing.
“I mean we’re basically just outside,” said Conor, while I followed the various streams in the floor that eventually disappeared.
Beginning to head out, we realised our folly as we encountered 8 others from various clubs trying to do the same thing; probably only half the number who’d used that entrance on the day. You could tell it was a wet Saturday in the Dales. After not too much sitting around we were all heading out, and I was not looking forward to getting off the top of the first pitch which had looked awkward on the way down. However, it proved reasonable simple for all of us even Claire, who despite being a fresher was easily as competent as anyone else on the trip.
We got out and walked down with plenty of daylight to spare, stopping in at the new Coop in Ingleton to fuel up on doughnuts and Eccles cakes on the way back to the Farm.
Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable quick little trip; I would like to go back and have a poke further into the system when less hungover.