Goat Inlet, Langstroth Pot.
It’s strange how ones perceptions change. A couple of years ago this sump might as well have been on another planet, dismissed as being out of reach, but gradually becoming of interest and then attainable and even enjoyable.
Having left a rope on the final pitch in Langstroth at New Year, I had hoped to make a quick return to use it for a look at the Goat Inlet sump above, but a planned trip after work was postponed when I decided I couldn’t face the sub-zero temperatures and a late night and then it started raining again.
Hoping my rope hadn’t been nicked, I convinced Simon to come along for the dive and with a bit of dry weather, I was hopeful for decent conditions. A chilly day preceding the front of snow, meant that we had Langstrothdale to ourselves and having got changed in my car, out of the biting wind, we were soon dropping down the lidded entrance and making the pleasant walk to the sumps. Simon dived first, pulling a rope to haul the SRT kit, but this soon got stuck and I had to submerge to free it and followed through the airbell to make the final dive into the end of the pot.
While Simon sorted out his kit, I dashed round the bend to check if the rope was there – thankfully it was still tied off to the telephone wire as I had left it, although I noticed that there was much more water dropping down the pitch than had been there on my last visit.
Ascending first under the ‘refreshing’ torrent, I hauled up the diving kit and we made our way to the sumped inlet, marked by the inscription ‘SCC – NOT FREE’. Dropping the gear here, we decided to look at the upstream pitch, since I fancied climbing it to have a look up the other inlet above. As is usually the case when I see a chunk of rock, I was sorely tempted to have a go, save for the arcing spout of water obscuring the top of the pitch. Being unsure if there was a big jug underneath it, as on the last pitch, or sloping nothingness, I decided to leave it for a drier day and concentrate on the dive. Simon was soon through and I followed, enjoying the feeling of working my way through the sharp-edged portholes, before rising up into a canal where Simon waited. The clean, narrow, stream passage beyond contains some superb straws and curtains and we crawled at stream level to avoid them, before encountering what I presume were old detector holders from WRPC dye tests done years ago! A bit of muddy, low passage beyond led to the less attractive, unpassed final sump and after a quick look at the aven passage above, we dived out. Taking my time worming through the various constrictions, I fully enjoyed the experience.
After rigging the pitch for the pull-down, we geared up at the sump and Simon pulled the ropes through whilst I carried the SRT kit bag as I dived. As I approached Langstroth cave, I was aware of 3 lights underwater in my path, as Simon looked back upstream at my progress – a rather spooky sight – and we were soon climbing back out into the freezing afternoon for a very rapid change, having enjoyed an unusual outing in one of my favourite caves.