Heron is one of those caves that, perhaps unfairly, is one that I’ve always done as a fall-back, or a beginners’ trip. First time was about 3 years ago with Beth and one of her large school chums, on a super summer day. The guys in Inglesport assured my companions that they would never see the light of day again, although we found the cave almost devoid of water, and after watching my charges abseil the pitches, I found the free-climb down to be pretty straightforward. Much amusement followed for Beth as she had to coax her quaking, chunky schoolmate out of the exit. Bravado returned upon attainment of the open air and after a pie, drink and game of darts in The Station, we delivered our self-proclaimed caving expert back to his parents.
Last year, with me on 1 good knee, a proposed Swinsto trip with Viking and 2 chums from the wall, found Kingsdale to be pretty wild and wet, so back-up Heron, with a check of the exit finding it to be very wet, but passable. The pitches were wild and noisy, our novice pals a bit freaked, but exiting with a feeling of accomplishment.
Forward to 2012 and the planned Simpson Pot meet. Again a bit wet and finding a party already heading up, confessing that they were ‘old and slow’, we drove on to Heron with our chums from Burnley Cave Club. Again checking for airspace in the exit, about 3 inches was available at the nastiest bit and we left the pitches rigged in case of a rise. After a safe exit was assured, Viking and I returned to rig the rope for the pull-through and exit – nice and clean.
Diccan/Alum exchange was a delight – again pretty wet, with the first pitch being rather wild. Special guest star for this trip, Andy Cole, recounted the tale of a caver descending this in flood with a bucket over his head to allow breathing. Apocryphal or not, it’s a great story.
Viking and I went back up Diccan to de-rig – oh yes – finally found the last bolt on the final pitch – right down at the top of the ledges.
A couple of days later Beth, Jane and I had a look down Bull Pot. Beth’s a quick learner and a few minutes’ instruction in the garage had her familiar with SRT, so with me below and Jane at the top of the pitches, I was sure she would be fine – and so it proved. After a splendid Mocha and three-course scone in Curlew Crafts, we found Kingsdale to be deserted save for 1 car – yep – they were down Bull Pot. Thankfully they were on the way out, but after about an hour of watching this party try to unclip the deviations, we were getting a bit restless and finally scooted down to the bottom of the cave. Jane had a new Pantin and I was trying to get her ropewalking by shouting ‘left, right, left, right’ as she ascended – didn’t quite work out, but we were quickly out to find son George still in the car. Pub stop at the Station for pie and drinks made the day.
Oh yes – almost forgot – turned out Emma lost her Stop exiting Heron, so I had a quick jog over after exiting Bull Pot and found the kit underwater in the exit boulders. Earned me a 4-pack of Guinness anyway – cheers!
Meregill, apart from my first visit in 2007, has always been benign on subsequent visits, such that I was contemplating an easy trip. What a surprise – water belting into the mere and a quick abseil inspection showed that the entrance was well underwater. The aven entrance was awkward, rather than tight, leading to a rather wild streamway. After sitting in the gale-force wind and spray at the base of the first big pitch, I decided to exit, rather than freeze to death. Emma and Jane were pretty relieved too and I zipped up the rope to gain some shelter in the roof. Sending Jane out, I waited for Emma to de-rig and we hauled our soggy loads out of the final crawl – phew!