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Yorkshire 2004

 

Due to my being such a nice, helpful person, I’ve gotten landed with writing this year’s Yorkshire report. We (Eoghan, Tony, Gonzo, Mark, Me (Aileen) and our UCD hitchhiker (Larry) went over on the Friday morning. It was a nice uneventful journey, largely thanks to customs officials pulling over the car with the three dodgy-looking blokes in it, and leaving the gay-coloured car, with the nice Catholic school girl in the front of it, alone. Otherwise, the driver of said car would have faced disbarment from the legal profession and strangulation from his passenger. We took the scenic route down to the Dump…several times…and arrived there around half seven.

 

Saturday saw some truly fine faffing, with everyone wandering up to Sell Ghyll around five, going down around half six (in fairness the cavers before us took yonks to come out…it wasn’t just that we couldn’t be arsed hurrying up) and finishing derigging at half nine (ish), courtesy of Steph’s unique rigging.

 

On Sunday, in a rare moment of caving dedication, everyone passed up on going to the pub early in favour of doing two caves, Jingling and Bull pot. Eoghan lived up to his activist image by taking a brief wander down Rowten as well (which Steph and John Gilbert had partially rigged). This hardcore caving took Angela, who only arrived on Sunday and had to go home on Monday, completely by surprise. The first places she looked for the lot of us were the local pubs. The fact that we were still caving at a respectable drinking hour (8.30pm) was a source of much consternation for her. Can’t imagine why....

 

Monday started off pretty uneventful. Everyone from Queen’s except Tony, along with Nigel, Gerome, Mat, Steph, John G, and Larry went up to the now infamous Ireby Fell. Larry opted out of going down due to his dodgy knees, and kindly donated his kit to the eejit from Queen’s who’d left hers behind (no prizes for guessing who). Things got off to an interesting start when Steph got a bit eclectic in her rigging and met the close personal acquaintance of a very large, very precarious boulder,as did Gonzo when he had to derig it (many many hours later). The cave itself was nothing too strenuous, easy enough, short pitches, and once past them there wasn’t much to see...or many places to get lost....Although Nigel and Gerome’s rock throwing spat did liven things up for a few minutes at one of the pitch heads. It’s not every day you see grown men behaving in such a sensible, sane manner while down a cave. John’s hidden skills as a hair dresser were revealed at the bottom of Pussy Pitch when he liberated me from the (large) clump of hair I had gotten caught in my descender. After a suitable period of wandering about pretending to be serious cavers everyone headed back in dribs and drabs. Everyone except Steph and Nigel that is, who had gotten lost while looking for pussy pitch. An unnamed rescuer testifies to finding them sharing a very steamed up biffy bag. CRO even made a courtesy appearance, after being made to understand that cavers had managed to get lost down Ireby Pot and not on the moors surrounding it. They were a bit disconcerted to hear one of their intended recuees singing as she hauled herself out of the cave. It remains a mystery why, after all she had only spent a few hours trapped in a biffy bag with Nigel....

 

Tuesday was spent in a scenic tour of the Yorkshire Dales by me, Gonzo, Mark, Eoghan, Larry, John G and Seamus. Admittedly, we were looking for a cave which Seamus swore was ten minutes from the road. A random cave was eventually discovered, which was an improvement on the previous hour of scaring sheep. Eoghan, Seamus, Larry and I proceeded to explore while everyone else went off to get food. Tuesday night was actually our first foray down to the pub. Our reputation still hasn’t recovered from that fact, or from the game of twister that came out of it.

 

Wednesday saw us make a valiant attempt to be inconspicuous while dressed in caving gear, having failed to get a permit to enter Lost John’s. Luckily enough the entrance is very close to the road, so we didn’t run out of sheep to hide behind before reaching it. We only got as far as the battleaxe traverse in the cave, due to the need to be out in time to peel off the layers of mud accumulated over the week for our annual foray into fine dining. The Indian restaurant staff still looked slightly put out by us, although that might have been because of everyone’s complete inability to remember the name of the dish they’d ordered (either that or because John Gilbert still hadn’t showered). We met up there with the newly arrived Les, Steve Muh, Steve Bus, Derry, Duncan and Denise. After eating far more than was good for us we all headed back to the Helwith Bridge to drink far more than was good for us, internal harmony being very important to the body’s health.

 

The following morning revealed that Wednesday evening’s painstaking entrance and exit plan for Gaping Ghyll had been soundly trashed by a night’s worth of bucketing rain, proving once and for all that ‘organised caving’ was one of the biggest oxymorons in the dictionary. However after some impressive last minute improvising it was decided that everyone should just do what they wanted and get a move on. Les, Mark, Eoghan and John Gilbert decided to go off and do Hurnell Moss, with Les deciding a few pitches in that he wasn’t quite suicidal enough to do the whole cave (I believe the doctor’s words the previous week were something along the lines of ‘refrain from doing any sort of strenuous exercise for a few months). Everyone wandered about down various passages for a while, meeting up in the main chamber to shout abuse, ahem, encouragement at whoever was coming down/ going up Diehedral. We were all out about 6 or 7pm and dandered down to The Martin Arms in twos and threes to get fed, except for Gonzo that is, who managed the impressive feat of crashing a parked hire car. We were all disappointed to discover that, on elaboration, he didn’t in fact have bizarre superpowers; only nine lives and an unfortunate ability to attract underage, uninsured speed-loving scooter drivers. However the moral of that story turned out to be: never tell your mother you’ve crashed into a parked car and narrowly missed killing someone, as she will reach octaves that you, and the rest of the town, didn’t know existed.

 

Friday was when we did Alum Pot. Direct, long churns and the side route were rigged, with Duncan putting a particularly nasty deviation on the side route, a 15cm sling and one krab if I recall. His evil chuckles wafting up from the bottom blended well with the generally misty weather, very atmospheric really. As John had earlier made the discovery that he’d gotten a First, the rush was on to get him to the pub and attempt to accomplish some brain damage, the general consensus being that he didn’t need ALL those brain cells. Some headway seemed to have been achieved, he squeezed (not hard for him really) four, five? bar stools onto himself for reasons that went along the lines of “John. do you reckon you could...?”. It looked for a while like he’d be taking a few home with him. A bit of skin and rib loss solved that particular problem though. Many pub games were played that night, I’m not sure what the total tally of bones, backs, stools, chairs and tables broken was, quite high I think.

 

Saturday afternoon Les, Denise, Duncan, Derry, the Steves and I went and did Marble Steps. John was asked if he wanted to come, but replied something along the lines of “Feck off, I’m busy dying”. So, after the last rights were said, we headed off to Marble Steps. Imagine our dismay when we found that a large tree had wedged itself very precariously across the valley above Marble Steps. We emmed and awwed for a while before deciding that for the wellbeing of all future cavers something had to be done, but that it was still a bit too bright to attempt possible litigation-inducing activities. (It really is very inconsiderate of caving suit manufacturers to limit cavers to nocturnal law-breaking). Les rigged Sidewinder and Duncan rigged the direct route, and we swapped over in the main chamber. It was starting to get dark when we got out, so certain yellow-suited individuals decided it was time to take action, and began throwing heavy rocks at the tree to dislodge it. When this proved unsuccessful, they then rigged a rope around an adjoining tree and took turns descending down onto the offending lump of wood and jumping up and down on it. This line of attack proved to be somewhat successful. It made the tree slip further down towards the entrance to Marble Steps. However, the anonymous Steves in question maintain that it wedged the tree more securely and made it less likely to fall down onto the unsuspecting British caving populace.

 

That evening saw the general last-night-in-Yorkshire mayhem, which not even those of us who were sober can remember properly due to nine days of sleep deprivation. I vaguely recall DCU regretting booking a 9.30am ferry crossing. Probably down to the 45 minutes of sleep and 10 hours of drinking that that preceded it. I’d imagine that sobering up on a rocking boat isn’t the most pleasant of morning activities. Us sensible Queen's folk faffed about for a bit and got a 7.30pm ferry back. All in all probably the only sensible thing we did on the whole trip.