Birkwith Club Meet by Ian Cummins

Old Ing, Dismal Hill, Birkwith and Calf Holes: Ian, Viking, Emma, Steve, Maud (25 July 2010).

Hard to believe, but it was 4 years ago that I attended the same venue as my first WRPC meet and although I’d been diving in Old Ing and Birkwith several times since, I’d not been back to Calf Holes after taking Beth and George down late in ’06.

This being Emma’s first meet with us, my description of myself as ‘skinny, long-haired type’ proved to be enough for her to pick me out in the crowded café and with Steve coming along to meet us, we all headed off to Birkwith.

Sorting out the kit, whilst talking to Steve, I hope that Maud, seated in the van, didn’t think I was assaulting him as I swatted a horse fly on his chest!

Ian struggles to get geared up for this Super- severe cave system aided and abetted by Lief and Emma.

I had a plan – to go to the Old Ing sumps and dive into the air bell to show the Viking the way on to the second sump into the canal beyond.  Problem was, with 1 wetsuit hood lost in ‘the dig from hell’ and my mate not having his own, I was forced to trying to get a hooded shorty over my wetsuit – which proved to be too difficult even with 2 dressers, much to Steve’s amusement and I trotted off to the cave with the offending item hanging from my waist like some kind of bum protector.  After dropping a line down the Dismal Hill pipe, Steve followed us into Old Ing as far as his shoes and shorts allowed, taking a picture before heading out after informing us that the sump bypass crawl was up on the right, just after a bend.

Arriving at the sump, a good soaking allowed me to get fully dressed and I pulled down through the frothy scum to reach the airbell.  The Viking arrived, was given the correct line, ordered to get on with it before nerve was lost and promptly dived into the murky depths.  With the 3 pulls for OK received, I went back through the sump to meet Emma and try to find the bypass into Dismal Hill.  After a few efforts, we gave up and headed back over to the pipe entrance, with Emma climbing down and me following to go back to the other side of the sump via the rope traverse and up the cascades.

With no sign of the man in question, I reckoned he must have already gone downstream in Dismal Hill, not noticing the way out and with Emma spotting the crawl this time, we were soon out of Old Ing again and over to the pipe, where our rope and bag had gone.  Back at the cars – no sign, so over to Birkwith and we found him in the entrance, having just been to the canal.  Turned out he had been all the way to the downstream sump in Dismal Hill, before spotting the exit climb on the way back!  We all made the trip in to take a dip in the depths, before heading back to the cars.  As Emma had to go to work, we said goodbye and had a quick trip through Calf Holes to Browgill, where the Viking learned why we normally use ropes, not ladders.

Enjoying the aqueous going, we climbed down the superb flaky rock by the waterfall, before taking a shower under its full power – very refreshing!

A fantastic afternoon’s sport, much more fun than polishing the car.

Pic by Steve Warren.