7/10/12 Ian, Simon
Id fancied this trip for ages as a solo trip, being thwarted by a broken zip meaning I cant dress myself in the appropriate kit honest! The plan was to dive in from Great Douk with 2 sets of kit, leaving 1 for the pull-through dive out. A late start on this continuing fine weekend found me pulling into the Hill Inn layby at 12:15, squeezing in behind Simons car until a space appeared. Simon was already ferrying kit, so I had a coffee, sorted my gear and waited for his return.
A sweating caver appeared, having placed his 2 bottles beside the sump and we shared my load of bottles, ropes, regs and weights for the rather warm plod to Great Douk, which I must say looked a picture in the autumn sunshine, as I paused to take in the waterfall, the rock architecture and the sheer beauty of the place. Ferrying kit to the ledge, we kitted up and I dived off first. This sump is short, but has a flat-out section at the downstream end where one must take the correct line route line in right hand, keeping to the left works for me, with the line in ones left for the return. I prefer to pass these obstacles without fins, preferring to use my feet on the roof and 1 hand on the floor, rather than be encumbered by any more kit works for me, but Simon prefers fins.
Rising into the scummy pool, it is easier to carry on underwater for a way, as at the downstream end, before plopping onto a gravel bank to leave 1 set of kit and weights. When Simon had come through, I exited and we stashed our gear out of sight, carrying masks, ankle weights, ropes and belay kit for Southerscales.
Now Southerscales is not what you would call a fun cave and I like it grim, but there is little in the way of rest here when one is shifting a bag of gear, with the only respite being at the pitch heads and below pitch 2. Fixing a sling over the fin in the streambed at the top of pitch 1, we were soon down this short drop and a flick of the rope retrieved my bit of old climbing rope.
Millipede Crawl what can I say 250 metres, 300 metres, 3 miles? This goes on forever and my knees are bruised, even with 2 layers of neoprene for protection. Dropping down pitch 2, full in the water, left me failing to recover the long sling I had draped over the big boss above, so the rope was pulled through and the sump pool attained. Simon pulled the ropes through and I carried the bag, emerging to de-kit and contemplate the effort of getting all the kit back to the cars.
This was done with much willpower and groaning, to the amusement of the few walkers remaining, but imagine the relief of coffee and biscuits by the car in the last of the sun bliss.
Thanks Simon a memorable, yet exhausting day.