Freesteel Blog » Various caving scraping activities

Various caving scraping activities

Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 1:36 am Written by:

Getting a little behind in recording my away trips. If I don’t put them here I won’t be able to remember them in ten years time because, unlike wise people like Tony Jarratt, I don’t keep a logbook.

On the 17 September there was a development get together in Liverpool. Here’s some of the crew looking like a gritty photo shoot for a band, shuttling their way out the gates with only one pass (we had to keep passing it back through the railings).


The following weekend was the CUCC 60th annual dinner up in Yorkshire where I got to see all my old mates who’d grown up, got married, had kids, and, well … whatever.

Some of these youngsters will live long enough to enjoy the strong economy we saved for them by burning as much coal and oil as we possibly could in our time.

Anyway, Becka moved the tent to the correct field in the morning.


And then she sent me off on a photo trip down Ireby with the photographer Clive Westlake and 7 others to assist with take 3 photos using a film camera and magnesium flashes, because she had promised to help out, but then wanted to go somewhere else more interesting and harder with her friends.

Having had enough of a hangover during the week, I didn’t drink much.

On Sunday we headed over to do Washfold Pot.


However, we failed to find the entrance and had to join the cast of thousands in Alum Pot.

I didn’t take my camera, and it was really beautiful. When we were down in the pot approaching the wedged boulder that forms the bridge, the sunbeams spangled in the tree leaves above as they shafted through the mist. When you stood in their light and looked up towards the sky, it was like staring into a kaleidescope of soft rainbows.

I had the car keys and was last out of the cave. From the sounds it, Becka was not amused. I could just about hear her screaming at me down from the top of the pot. I took my time coming out so her rage would have time to blow over.

The following Friday we drove down south and stayed in the Mendip Caving Group hut in order to take a trip down Upper Flood Swallet.

I believe we attempted this cave last year (on this weekend on the way back from Plymouth), but there had been a collapse in the breakthrough boulder choke, so it wasn’t safe to get through.

Here’s us on the way to the cave again, past the broken garage beside the caving hut. I remember this scene well because it’s at the turning for a hill called Ubley where I used to hang-glide a lot back in 1991.


Determined not to repeat my Alum Pot mistake, I did take my camera underground, and everything was totally squalid and muddy, and I probably took the worst few photos that have ever been taken in that cave. And a lot of photos have been taken, because it’s famously well-decorated, with formations such as The Pork Pies — which are too pretty for us to set eyes on them.

Becka helped with the dig, which was a pointless dig, while I froze and waited for them to get sick of the bad air in their blind tube. Then we went out through the squalor, and I dropped my bag with my camera down a gap in the boulders in the critical choke near a turning known as “Call the Samaritans” (owing to the boulders being so loose it’s suicidal to go there), and couldn’t reach it.

After about 10 minutes trying to hook it with a string and a wedged-open karabiner, I climbed to the side and moved some rocks away to reach from below (it’s not normally that easy to move stuff around). Only Becka was skinny enough to reach through the gap and get her fingers onto it.

Then we had some tea and went off to the Hidden Earth caving conference.

Note how cavers’ tents are smaller than the average caravan.


It was two days of lectures and little bit of drinking (for me), as well as trying to get people interested my by cave survey drawing program, even though I don’t remotely have enough time to maintain it and push it forwards.

The caving assault course seemed to have gained an extra obstacle.


We didn’t even try to get the Austria cave survey drawn up for the conference. Now without any deadline, how will it ever be complete?

Clive Westlake received an award for lifetime achievement in the field of cave photography.

Then another week of rather ineffective work attempting to do Valley machining passed.

Today, while I was relaxing at this talkaboutlocal un-conference, Becka went on a new surveying project for New Rift Pot which is set to connect to Ireby Fell Cavern, once the digging project is complete. She says she froze on the trip because it’s very wet. What a winter this is going to look forward to.

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