Sunday 18 November 2018

Tatham Wife Hole

After a late night of drinking at the Marton Arms we gathered for a breakfast at Inglesport Cafe where we regrouped and were joined by Roo.
After a little retail therapy we were soon heading up past White Scar show cave and parking at the next lay-by.
Whilst kitting up I noticed Roo suddenly go driving off and wondered if he had abandoned us as he was the only one who knew the way to the cave!
The rest of us were about ready when Roo arrived back with a brand new pair of shiny wellies ;)

Everyone who had asked what we were up to over the weekend had mentioned the long walk in to Tatham Wife and they weren't wrong! We headed up past false horizon after false horizon until the landscape eventually flattened off.
Roo headed in along with Dave to begin rigging, whilst I took charge of Joe and Jess looked after Tash, followed by Kay and Loz.
It was quickly obvious that Joe was a natural and we quickly caught the rigging team. I passed responsibility of Joe over to Dave and headed back to make sure Tash was OK.
The re-belays are quite a stretch in Tatham and most are not required in dryer conditions, which these were. We had decided to put them in anyway to give the novices some practice, but they were told not to worry too much if they had trouble with them and just leave them out.
Tash was having a struggle with one particular manoeuvre and was having to kick off a wall to reach it. She refused to be beaten and i think she managed every single manoeuvre.....well done Tash!
Kay was struggling with a bad elbow and tendon problems with her feet and dropped out at the third pitch. We checked if Tash wanted to turn around and she said 'No Way!'
Loz at some point had gone ahead and as we turned a corner we were met by Roo who said he wasn't feeling too good as he'd slightly overdone it on the wine the night before. Loz elected to keep him company and escort him out so Jess and I could look after Tash.
At this point the cave changed character and we were soon crawling in water and thrutching along until we met Joe and Dave.
I took over the rigging and the five of us continued on. After the next pitch came a 30m rift which I couldn't fit through with my SRT kit on and had to pop it off, squeeze through and then pop back on :o/
At each point we kept checking that Tash was happy to carry on, but there was no stopping her. Our next obstacle was the duck. Joe and Dave, not keen on getting wet were looking at the trickier climb to bypass. I stuck my head in and decided it didn't look too bad and wallowed through.
Now Tash has always said 'she don't like water' in her caves and you could have knocked me over with a feather when she came paddling after me.
I heard Jess, Dave and Joe cursing on the other side as if Tash had done it then they could hardly refuse.
Again our merry group continued on. Here the going got a little more awkward, crawling and traversing in rifts until we reached the head of a wet pitch.
At this point Tash decided she was tired and turned around and headed back with Jess. I rigged the last pitch and Joe, Dave and myself dropped down, had a poke around, decided the idea of a canal, long duck and sump held little appeal and headed back.
Again, Jess took charge on the way up of Tash, Dave looked after Joe and I de-rigged.
We exited in good time, but with the nights drawing it was already dark when we exited in to the cold night air.
Dave navigated us back across the hillside, but if it hadn't been for the others having their headlights on in the lay-by then I'm not sure we'd have been able to drop down to the right point.
As it was the others left us a guiding light and we were soon changing, saying our goodbyes and heading home from another Dudley adventure!

Trip report: Mark Burkey

Present: Roo, Dave, Joe, Jess, Kay, Tash, Loz and Mark 

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