This turned out to be a curiously fun trip, despite its brevity and the atrocious weather. Gale-force winds and driving rain made this a day more suited to be sitting by the fire, but I derived a strange satisfaction for having braved the elements and enjoying some sport. I’d been hoping to get to the bottom of these 2 curiosities, namely Elbolton and Navvy Noodle by diving through the NN sump, but the lack of a bottle scuppered that plan and the onset of hypothermia ensured a rapid retreat from the hill after inspecting the entrance of Elbolton Pot.
Driving through Coverdale is always a pleasure, whilst the grimness of the day perversely made it even more so and a large infusion of coffee in Kettlewell perked me up for the trip. Having parked in the free ’10 minutes only’ space in the car park, I emerged from the café to find a chap advancing towards my car with a ticket! A few calming words managed to sort the problem out, but be warned, must be somebody in Kettlewell with a telescope pointed at the car park.
I’d been warned by Simon that he’d tried to do the dive a couple of years previously, only to find a newly deceased heifer at the base of the shaft, causing him to make a rapid retreat and inform the farmer that he’d found his lost beast. Must admit that if it had been one of mine I’d have filled the hole in, but now the shaft sports a pivoting lid to hopefully prevent such occurrences in the future.
Steve rigged the ladder and we were all soon traversing past the bones of the unfortunate beastie to inspect the inviting sump, which sported a barely legible warning notice advising against free-diving, as well as a cut line – but a return to bottom this oddity must be made.
Emerging into horizontal, freezing rain, we hiked up to the summit to check out Elbolton Pot, where some of the team took refuge in a shakehole to escape the elements in the manner of combatants caught in no-man’s-land. An inspection of the huge beam over the shaft suggested it was likely to crack and drive any suitor for the descent into the centre of the earth and lacking enough kit for a safe belay, we retreated to The Old Hall, where The President got the round in and we inspected more of Steve’s Dow survey after warming our chilly bodies by the fire. Absolute madness, but a memorable day out for all that.