Ibbeth Peril 1 and 2
Ian, Chris, Jeff, Matt, Dave W.
My only previous visit, over 2 years ago, had seen the river in flood condition, with the water lapping over the entrance hole – but we had gone down the cave anyway. Seeing the river in drought, with only a tiny trickle down the fall and a mere smelly pool at its base, the true madness of that trip struck home.
I arrived a few minutes late, but Chris said that a large party had just descended, after lining up for a briefing from their leader – ‘sounds like the Craven’, I said, almost in jest, but it turned out to be true!
Dave actually had a vintage guide, probably written by real cave dwellers, judging by its condition and a quick perusal alerted me to the presence of cave number 2 – quite a surprise, but also requiring tackle for 1 pitch, which was not in the plan for the day, unfortunately.
The plan in the guide does not help much, looking like a big blob with a couple of strings hanging off it, so a recent survey would be of interest to me now, especially as the Craven lads reckoned a connection between the 2 caves is possible.
We investigated the fine inlet passage on the left of the big chamber – a super passage, unfortunately smelling distinctly like a sewer and having a liberal coating of microbes on its floor, so we didn’t bother to enter the low section!
Meeting the Craven gang at the far end of the big chamber (thanks for the Mars bar offer folks), we climbed up the other side to check out the nice inlet from that side (fortunately with clean water), when a small passage to the left of the sump took my eye. A flat-out squeeze in mud round a bend was followed by about 30m of more very low stuff to a small round chamber. At first this appeared to be a dead end, but a small trench in the roof was entered and followed round bends and squeezes to a very low bedding. Squeezing along this for a few feet led me to wish I had ‘The Navigator’ in tow to pull me out in case of terminal insertion and with no idea if the way on was possible, I made a strenuous reversal, arriving back to meet Matt and the rest of the crew at the end of the squeeze. I was coated in mud from this effort and it turned out that the Craven lads had not passed this body mass test.
I needed to get out and clean up, having a swim in the rather turbid pool to clean off my wetsuit, helmet and lights – mind you 24h later and no ill effects! With Dave and the Dudmans heading off to change, some of the Craven were looking for the entrance to cave 2 and a covered oil drum was found at the base of the outcrop – apparently not the old IP2 entrance but Broadfield (I think? –any more info to the author please). Anyway, a descent of this led to a 10-foot duck and a tight squeeze, before the splendour of taped-off formations at the head of a pitch into a large chamber. This looked a bit overhung to contemplate climbing down and an exit was made to change during a heavy shower.
This was one of those surprising trips, which would have been more fruitful with a bit of prior research, but worth it for the surprises encountered.