Sunday 22 November 2015

Light Work in Lancaster Hole

The misfortune of the weekend continued into Sunday with Mike finding that his brand new Scurion light mounted on a shiny red helmet had disappeared from the changing room overnight. The next two hours were spent searching every possible corner of Brackenbottom, even making contact with some divers who had left early in the morning, all to no avail. Finally a late riser at the club was asked if he had seen it, and then the penny dropped. He had an identical set up, and on seeing it late the previous evening thought he had left his out and put it into his car. Reunited with all our kit and after finishing off a wonderful breakfast provided by Mark and Jess we had a feeling that the air was a little warmer than on the previous day. With the possibility of the road to Bullpot Farm having thawed out we headed off to Easegill. The road was clear and soon we were at the empty farm, ready to get changed. At this point Mike realised he had now left his Scurion battery at Brackenbottom on charge. With a good drive back to the cottage and no guarantee anyone would be there when we got back we decided to try and make phone contact. We knew of one point where a faint signal could be obtained, and after a couple of phone calls were made we had arranged with Josh Bratchley to pick up the kit so we could pick up from him later. Mark provided Mike with a spare battery for the day and so we changed and then headed over a desolate and cold moor the the warm welcoming entrance to Lancaster Hole.

Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole
Loz on the Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

Photos of the entrance pitch were taken by Mark, before a quick visit to Slug World was made by those who hadn't been there before while Mark and Brendan packed up the photo gear. We then headed into the cave, stopping off for all to have a look at the Colonnades as we passed nearby. We headed down to Fall Pot and dropping through the boulders to the streamway and found that the floods of the start of the week had receded well, making a journey up the Main Drain quite safe. We dropped off our gear and then headed the short distance downstream to reach the main sump. Impressed with the lovely shaped passage on the approach for the sump, the photographers hot-footed back to Fall Pot for the cameras and a couple of photos were taken.

Entrance Pitch - Lancaster Hole
Jess near the sump - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

The Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Mike near the sump - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

We then headed upstream along the magnificent section of streamway taking photos in a couple of the locations that we had scouted on a previous visit.

The Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Loz in the Main Drain - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Mike and Loz in the Main Drain - Lancaster Hole - Photo Mark Burkey

The Main Drain - Lancaster Hole
Jess in the Main Drain - Lancaster Hole - Photo Photo Brendan Marris

After a good session of photographs and with the camera gear being a little too moist to take any more, we made the final approach to the boulder choke at Oxbow Corner. Here a tricky climb up, assisted by a muddy rope saw us climb up to the high level fossil passages. Our route was now to head back to Lancaster Hole via the upper series and soon we were stomping along the fossil passages, traversing along muddy ledges high above the streamway that we could hear below. We passed the beautiful Painter's Pallet and Bob's Boss before we reached Stake Pot which had marked the end of our trip on our last visit. We kitted up with our SRT gear so we had protection of the slippy roped climbs down and then climbed up assisted by hand jammers of the far side. We were now in familiar territory for Brendan and Mark and made good time back to the bottom of the entrance pitch. Now dark and with clear skies the temperature outside had plummeted and we quickly exited and then stomped back to Red Rose, heading off at about 8pm.

A great trip into this fantastic system, a pity we only had one day there. The weekend was saved by the hospitality of Scoff and the Bradford members. Next time a Lancaster - County through trip.

Present: Mark Burkey, Jess Burkey, Loz Appleby, Mike Bonner and Brendan Marris

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