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Winshaw Gill solo trip

After doing the bulk of this Ribblehead obscurity on a previous trip with Simon and rescuing a fox cub from the entrance chamber, I was looking forward to getting to the end of the cave.  I was going for a solo trip, although Simon loaned me a 3l bottle for a back-up on the dives and he left it for me in a shakehole near the cave. 
Arriving at about 11, I noticed a note under a stone in the Gearstones lay-by and I picked it up.  Sure enough, it was from Simon, telling me where to find the kit – cheers mate!  I wandered over to the cave with a rope, my 5l bottle and some bits of climbing kit to make a belay.  A couple of cams (Friend 2 + 2 1/2) made a bomber anchor, although I later tripped over an old stake in the long grass, the cams made for a nice hang.
Back to the car and the squeeze into my semi-dry was performed before the short walk back to the pot.  Lowering the kit down was carefully performed and I slid down the shaft, which is very slimy, but otherwise free-climbable, to wash off the muck from the entrance and gear up for the short dive from the entrance chamber.  Pushing a tackle bag ahead of me through the sump, I emerged to have a sort out, electing to carry a bottle and reg. in each hand, with fins and mask clipped to my waist.  Making steady progress I was soon at the main sump and kitting-up again, electing to clip my boots together with a ‘biner, as I would be wearing fins for the dive.
Making the tight squeeze down for a few metres, horizontal passage was attained and the short gravel squeeze was passed as I remembered.  I was a tad buoyant, but not overly so and passed through the arches with a few pushes from my hands to rise in the big air bell- still holding 2 boots!  A crawl over a shingle bank leads to the short sump 3, which turned out to be very murky indeed and I rose onto another shingle bank with only 1 boot!  Disregarding any chance of finding it in the deep, mucky water, I elected to carry on with 1 boot on my left foot and double wetsocks on my right.  Fortunately the passage continued as a superb canyon, in contrast to the grim black passages before and the fine cascade mentioned in NC2 was in fact a fun climb down, also having a nice lip on the longest drop for the returning mantle. 
I carried on along the streamway until the more rugged breakdown areas near the final sump were encountered and not wishing to crush my already sore foot, I turned back.
Arriving at the sump squeeze, I elected to turn myself to look back downstream, finding this to be the best way to make the vertical moves – after this was performed, I merely had a bit of portering to do before passing sump 1 and ferrying my kit up the rope.
Back at the car I had a snack and a coffee before carrying some boards over to the cave to cover the entrance as I had promised on my last trip.  What a superb experience – another dose of madness, until the next time!
 
 

Trip Date: 13th September 2009
Added: 15th September 2009
Reviewer: Ian Cummins
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