The lost travellers wandered through the darklands of the west, searching for daylight at the end of their journey, guided only by the maps of the sage and the cryptic words of the old explorers. OK, we were in the unfamiliar territory (for me) of Easegill and we were aided in our quest by Steve's bundle of surveys, my muddied copy of Mike Cooper's ramblings and Jeff's laminate of John Gardiner's route guide, which combined to see us through with only a few minor hiccups - thank you fellahs, your hard work is appreciated.
The heatwave had come to an end with a bit of light rain, fortunately enough, as I prefer the cold, and being the only party at Bull Pot Farm was an additional bonus as I trotted off to rig Lancs. Hole, finding that I'd forgotten my cowstails as well as how to rig a Stop! After a bit of manoeuvring to accommodate a member of the party who had forgotten his Stop, we soon found ourselves at the head of Fall Pot, spaciously gloomy, like much of the high-level route, where we all took the route down the handlined climb.
With the water below being only just audible, we took the continuation of Montagu East - not my favourite kind of passage, slippery, hazardous going, where it would be easy to fall flat on one's arse, or much worse, but we were soon recompensed by the delights of the Main Drain. Upon reaching Stake Pot, again handlined, we headed upstream to visit the Lancs. Hole Sump - actually by mistake, but serendipitously so, as the situations are superb, with the twisting, clean streamway forming a high canyon, broken by room-sized dishes holding pools of clear water - absolutely beautiful. Upon encountering more deep water, I waded in, until Matt pointed out the diveline by my side - oops!
Retracing our steps, more fine going led us to a choke, exiting after a few minor contortions, where we headed up the slope to higher ground and the magnificently spacious Oake's Cavern, Minarets and Corne's Cavern, one of which, I can't remember which it was, sported lines of curious stals like the underside of a carrot patch. Dropping down the iron ladder at Stop Pot, a bit of exploration by Matt and I found the tricky drop down to access the Wretched Rabbit streamway, where I returned to call the others through. Things went smoothly for a while, until I found myself in a very low cobbled, crawl, getting to the point where I had to dig my way through - not the way, I thought to myself, just as I turned to see Steve peering down at my prostrate form from an impenetrable crack in the roof - retreat was in order and we followed the narrow, twisting passage to the exit climbs.
With a minor detour to the left, we retreated again to exit directly ahead, hauling up the huge hawser to exit in the failing light. I was totally lost, but Matt pointed the way downstream and over to Lancs., where we de-rigged and walked off to change.
I was happily supping the last of my flask when a weary, but cheerful band arrived, rather later than we expected at the start of the day. A fine expedition.
Thanks to Steve, David, Chris, Jeff and Matt for turning out and for feeding me cake and other goodies whilst underground.