With Team 1 heading down to take a look at sump 2, Mel, Jess, Keith, Chloe and myself headed off to do the round trip.
It had been some years since Keith had done the route and I had been a little preoccupied worrying if I’d get through the squeeze the last time I did it to take much notice so wanted to use the trip to learn the route.
Allowing the others a head start, we ambled down the lane and followed in at a leisurely pace until we could hear the unmistakable shouts from Mr Grimes as he verbally assisted his team down the pitch.
I’d remembered Steve finding a bypass to the rift on a previous trip, so at this point Keith and I popped over the top whilst the girls took the lower more awkward route.
Soon we arrived at Tratman’s Temple and on to the Greasy Chimney where Jess managed to defeat her nemesis and got up without issue. Mel and Keith followed with Chloe playing snakes and ladders before finally admitting defeat and treading all over me…….again!
Soon we were at the first of the troubles, which was nothing more than a damp crawl. Continuing on we were offered a number of alternatives. Splitting up we each took a route to see if anyone recognised anything and after going a short way up and down some slippery slopes I turned around, sure I hadn’t been there before. Re-grouping we continued to retrace and search for the way on ‘till Keith took a look at the way I had been and announced that he had us back on track…Doh!
Down the slippery slope and around the corner we found the drop down to Blue Pencil passage. I had heard tales of this awkward, tight route and fancied giving it a go. We all made our way down the steep climb to the head of the rift where Keith dropped down first explaining the way through was on your side, legs first, then once around the tight dog leg bend you needed the turn face down and make your way on to a tight ledge (on Keith’s first visit he had gone head first through the rift and had a very scary moment having to lean out in to thin air over a 15ft sheer drop, hence the advice of doing the passage backward)
After a little grunting Keith was through. I followed shuffling my way down the passage until firmly wedged with my kneecaps bent slightly the wrong way. Fortunately I’m getting a little more used to this type of predicament and so little by little I wriggled this way and that, shaving a little here and there until eventually my legs released and I was around the corner. The aforementioned ledge proved too tight for me to get fully on top, but I managed to get one half of my bulk on the ledge and one leg in the tight rift, then shuffle backward till Keith called out that I was at the precipice of the drop. Fortunately there is a chain to assist to the stream way at this point.
Mel followed; as usual skipping through spaces that I had struggled and making the obstacles look easy!
Once in the stream way we ran up and down to take in Sumps 3 and 4, as well as the aptly named Cowsh Aven before making our way back to re-group with Chloe and Jess.
At this point it was decided that with the lost time navigating and the time spent doing Blue Pencil Passage, the other team may be concerned if we continued on and exit late. Happy we had learnt the route to the main ducks, and having ticked off Blue Pencil we made our way out to be greeted by the rest of the team, who were indeed not far from worrying about our timings.
Present: Keith Edwards, Chloe Burney, Mel Wakeman, Jessica Harding & Mark Burkey