Ian, Simon, Gen, Phil P.
After failing to appreciate the finer points of Meregill last year, due to suffering from post-Quaking combat fatigue, Simon and I both agreed this time that we had enjoyed a great trip and thanks are due to Simon, Gen and Phil for a great day out.
Horrible weather in the north east meant that I made the early rendezvous without much hope of getting underground, but a surprisingly dry and bright Ingleborough was the sight that greeted the author, as well as an empty lay-by. As I sat scoffing cake and coffee in the car, Gen appeared, followed by Phil and finally Simon. The promised Vibrammers had obviously booted off somewhere else, but 4 is double the party size of most of my caving trips anyway.
Arriving at the cave, we were surprised to see the Mere to be dry, with only a gentle waterfall and I elected to rig and descend the Aven Entrance in case of a flood, whilst the rest of the party were to rig the Mere. After my descent, I scuttled along into the Mere and waited for the others. Getting bored after a few minutes, I decided to climb the fall to see what the hold-up was, reaching a pinnacle just short of the top as Simon started to descend from the tree and not fancying the mossy final section, I down-climbed. After a quick chat with Simon, I went back up again and reaching from the pinnacle found a good hold under the moss to pull into the final gully to complete a fun climb and surprise Phil just as he was about to descend.
Oh yes – being first down I also got my hands on the dropped booty at the base of the pitch!
My main memory from last year was the descent of the Canyon Pitch, where I couldn’t see the new P-bolts and rigged from old spits and an archaic thread on a flimsy bit of flowstone – not ideal! This time, arriving at the big old bolt at the pitch head, I had a peer round the corner, but seeing nothing there, decided to go back up the streamway and climb up into the roof. Finding the new bolts here, a pleasant traverse was rigged with a 20m rope, leaving a 50m for the final drop. A rebelay bolt at a very smooth section of rock prompted me to leave a foot-sling for the party members who can’t do a one-arm pull-up!
At the base of the pitch I lay down for a snooze and a reduced party then continued on. Great fun was had crossing the big pools at the base of the final 2 pitches, where the cries of the furry-suited Phil were heard from below as he plumbed the depths, managing to send a fine pulse down as well! I tried to get Simon to jump into the second pool from the top, but he wouldn’t have it.
Following the superb passage of The Main Drain was a great relief after the rope shenanigans and with Phil heading out before Torrent Inlet, Simon and I continued to the start of the cobbled bedding crawl.
One of the most impressive features we noticed in The Main Drain are the fantastic swirl pools in the side walls, one of which was so black, smooth and sculpted that it looked more like the work of Henry Moore than a natural phenomenon. Making a note to explore Torrent Inlet on a future visit, we headed out, catching up with Gen on the second pitch. I nipped out of the Aven Entrance to de-rig and met up with the rest of the party at the edge of The Mere, just as the rain came on again. Mind you, this was nothing compared to the torrential storm I drove through from Richmond to Darlington on the way home!