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Notts Pot - Centre/Twilight Exchange

Saturday February 5th 2022

Members present: Adrian Turner,  Christopher Edgar,  Cody Brown,  Jonathan Barlow-hall,  Joshua Young,  Juliet Smith,  May Brown,  Paulina Poterlowicz,  Rebecca Hay,  Rosie Marshall

Report by Paulina Poterlowicz

There’s nothing more satisfying than a successful exchange. Perhaps it was renewed desire to cave after the clubs mini covid outbreak but there was a lot of interest for this weeks day trip! 10 people in fact! Fortunately, one of those was Ade with his car so we could do an exchange.

The plan involved Chris, Josh and Ade leading Becca, May and Jonathan down twilight down the lower streamway and then back up centre, and myself and Rosie leading Jules and Cody down centre and back up twilightf.

The day started quite successful with Rosie and I deciding we only needed half an hour to get packed, eat breakfast and get to the store, ok so we may have snoozed the alarm but anyway we managed to get there in relatively good time. Having spent a painful 2 hours the night before packing all five tackle sacks of rope (ugh) we were quickly sorted and set of for the Dales. After an amiable Inglesport breakfast were we met Josh we arrived at leck fell for a horrendously cold and windy change…how I love winter caving.

Now wishing I was thoroughly dead and in a tea room we set of for the cave. Though we staggered set of my group arrived just on the tail end of Chris and the others for a quick chat before entering the cave. For some reason I completely wiped Notts out of my brain, my only memory of it a waterfall which appeared at the third pitch on our way out, waiting for Rosie as we made a solo exit from the cave, and waiting in the car for 4 hours as Liv and Jean-Luc derigged the streamway, good times.

Anyway seeing the entrance re-awoke a few long suppressed memories and the route became a lot clearer in my mind. Down the first pitch we soon reached the second pitchy-climb which is probably easiest done by putting your hand jammer in and just using the footloop as a step. It’s really not high and you can get away skipping bringing rope for this if your packing light (it’s got a handline anyway). That done we started on the third pitch which I was glad to see was its usual dribble rather than the full on waterfall of last time.

At the bottom Rosie quickly got started rigging centre, a fun route consisting of a short traverse and a few fun swingy rebelays. I was the last one down and arrived at the bottom just in time to see the other group come down the final pitch. They looked wet. Very wet. And told us we would have a “fun time” on the way up. Suspicious. After they all came down they told us the reason they were so soaked was that the pitch was….well in a waterfall. But doable or so they claimed. Ade said he used the tacklesack hauling cord as an extra deviation to keep them out of the water which meant I would have a fun time de-rigging with a hauling cordless tackle sack.

After a quick snack break, we set of up twilight as the other group wandered down the streamway. Not sure what happened from their side but it involved a lot of lights malfunctioning and a very wet streamway. Chris apparently did a good job rigging the tri-hang though so good job. From our end we made it up the first pitch were I got started on the de-rig as the others made their way up the start of twilight. For poor Jules this was her first big SRT trip and there are definitely easier ones to start on so well done there. Unfortunately there wasn’t anywhere to wait below the big pitch that a) meant I could hear the rope free shout and B) was out of the waterfall. So I spent 45 minutes (yes I counted I had nothing better to do) questioning my life decisions and dying. Thoughts of abandonment even flooded my mind…I could just leave and run up centre…. De-rig from above maybe? Anyway my time finally came with a very faint “rope free” from Cody above. And I hobbled towards the rope doing my best impression of a rattly motorbike complete with manic shivering and strand involuntary sound effects. The other group were not kidding! The entire pitch was in a waterfall. There were a few moments going up I could breath and a few shouts and yelps where produced. The tackle sack situation was interesting too, I eventually made a hauling cord out of the rope I was packing which worked surprisingly well but made for a messy pack, ah well.

Eventually I got to the top still very very cold, which meant I was not prepared for the very sketchy very unsafe to de-rig traverse in which I nearly fell right back down the pitch, eek. The rigging itself was very good, it was Becca’s first rig with us (though she had done it previously with her family) and I’ve got to say no complaints here! Easy to undo, not to tight, not to lose….a slightly different way of doing butterflies, which is definitely correct but I can’t figure out how is different….Anyway that pitch done it was back up the third pitch and oh look the waterfall is back full force! We got quite lucky to be honest, Ades group who came out after us met a waterfall so fierce they had to make a tension line out of the insitu rope to keep them out of it! That done it was a quick run back up the last two pitches. We sent out Cody first then Jules then Rosie and I followed.

I think we definitely succeeded in destroying Jules who got herself in a bit of a situation at the rebelay of the first pitch. An easy fix, I prussiked up the insitu to help with her chest jammer and cow tails and she was soon on her way! Mini rescue success! With all that done we started a very cold walk back to the car to get changed. We were soon joined by Becca who was the first out from Chris’s group asking were Ade left his car key, eeer. In the cave? I replied. Oh dear. All five of us huddled in my car, Becca in underwear and blanket as we waited for the others and planned where we would get food, definitely spoons it was decided. It was Afterall far too cold for takeaway.

Eventually the others arrived, and we set of for a ridiculously wet journey back! The strange A65 lake returned and the pass was…. drippy. The horrendous road water levels seem to be an new permanent in unwanted fixture so do be careful if you’re driving back in the rain, if you start seeing a thick river on the left side of the road leading up to a bend, do slow down for this is where the lake forms….