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Big Meanie - Death's Head Hole - 27th Feb 2010

Saturday February 27th 2010

Members present: Chad B,  Christopher Jones,  Daniel Hughes,  Jennie Hill,  Marion Holloway,  Matthew Chubb,  Thomas Blakey,  Toby Buxton

Report by Chad B

Since the failed exchange trip last year (, I have been looking forward to the Big Meanie – Death’s Head permit for some time. This time the exchange successfully happened on a very enjoyable trip.

Every caver in England seemed to be on Leck Fell, and with one guy in Bernies going around asking what caves people were doing I was rather suspicious as to who had permits. The eight (? in addition to ones parked by the gate, tut tut) cars at the car park meant that we had to park in the car park further on. Thankfully the caves are quite close to the road. Having done Big Meanie on one of my first few trips I had little recollection of what the entrance looked like. The general direction of the caves was along the wall. Going past ‘Short drop’, I decided to run off to what turned out to be ‘Long drop’ then ‘Eye Hole’ and then to what was ‘Death’s Head’. We all then hunted out Big Meanie, which looked rather more ominous with the snow in the shake hole.

I cautiously made my way down towards the entrance bracing myself against the grass. I found the first p-hanger and set about rigging, shoved the tacklesack down the shakehole and got stuck! So out I came and went feet first and hauled the tacklesack down. The next point of rigging was at the constriction, where an almighty rope mess ensued (mainly because the rope had not been unshanked properly :@ Bl***y!!!), as it was necessary to rig a big enough loop through the constriction to help those coming out of Big Meanie. Once rigged it was through the constriction, last time I did this I had my Rack attached to my cowstail, this time I decided to just attack it normally. I went ahead bouncing up and down while holding onto the big loop that was rigged, to control myself once through. The tightness at the top was no where near as bad as I remember,

The rest of the rigging was fairly straight forward, a nice wide Y-hang immediately below the constriction, followed by a rebelay and then a deviation.

Once Dan, Matt and Chris were down it was off to the connection, which I actually remember going down last time only to be told by Ade that it wasn’t the right way :-P. It was actually really good fun, going head first getting your face splattered in murky water, think Dan was enjoying it as well. The passage was longer that expected, very wet and muddy, the draught was very obvious. At the end of the connection we reached the pitch that overlooks Death’s Head chamber. I could see the lights of the other team who has gone down Death’s Head. I set about rigging, initially off a thread to a couple of p-hangers followed by two rebelays.

Death’s Head main chamber reminded me of Yordas main chamber, Toby and I spotted some in-situ ropes near the far side water fall. They looked quite new and decided to see what was up them… they lead off to a chamber with some uninspiring formations :(. However you get a nice view of the waterfall and an awesome view of the main chamber with the natural light coming down the main shaft.

While Toby and I were descending the others had started heading out of their respective routes. I was off up Death’s Head which was a little damp, unfortunately the final deviation wasn’t rigged, which made for a less than idea assent with noticeable rope rub. So note to any further teams going down – facing the wall after 20 m below the final Y-hang is the deviation p-hanger to the left of you.

It was quite chilly on the surface so it was nice to get back to the car and have some coffee while we awaited the return of the Big Meanie team.

Another fantastic trip on Leck Fell, need to get Short drop – Gavel exchange going after the closed season :)