Digging Antics by Adele Ward

Entrance Pitch Make Over: Steve Woods, Adele Ward

Meeting for an evening trip at the beginning of the week, neither of us think it’s going to be a long trip. The aim was to try and sort out the entrance pitch, which had previously been bolted for the use of ladders. Drill spots selected…. reaching for the Drill and ….. Drill bit . Steve is a little more tense than usual.  Enquiring why my pal looks so perplexed, Steve confirms we are lacking a drill bit. Don’t suppose it really helped here that i bust out into laughter at this point. Steve looks like he could hurl himself down the pitch, much is his frustration. Its never a bother, my thoughts have already moved on to a early pint. We will be back.

Steve contemplating drill bits.

Entrance Pitch Make Over, Take 2: Steve Woods, Adele Ward

Another 7pm start. Close attention is now paid to checking all the kit is assembled prior to walking to Fossil Pot. I’ve prepped a bit more for this trip too and have been watching YouTube videos on how to use expansion bolts. Bolts are placed. All feeling happy.

Happily drilling.

Dam Busting: Adele Ward, Steve Woods

Steve suggested a days digging at Fossil Pot, this sounded like my idea of fun. Standing around in puddles bailing water, digging cobbles is something that can give a feeling of immense gratification. Move things a little, push against them, understand what’s been pushed previously – this is going to be fun. Reading the club’s 2001 journal (again)  helped satisfy the inner cave geek in me. Previous discussions had provoked an idea: how long is that upstream sump? Hucky helped confirm the detail.

Formulating a plan the likely targets were aven climbing antics, or dredging  the stream way something the club has began previously. The sump doesn’t really look like a sump… fuelled up with ideas, we decide on a starting point and begin to lower the water level; I do love a cobble dam bashing sesh.

Armed with Sweet Chilli Pork Pies, we decided to meet at Grassington and take one car to Yarnbury. This led to a delay as to where to park, feeling like I might trap my head in the car door as I couldn’t get parked we eventually make land at Yarnbury. Following a quick chat with a friendly local lady, we kit up… feeling excited!

The walk up to Fossil Pot is mercifully short. I can walk lesuirly smoking a cigarette, have a chat with my pal, despite us carrying a heavy load of digging equipment and the damn drill!

Glancing at my new Casio cave watch its 11am; we are underground. Fossil Pot entrance is canny, lots of footholds and a lack of spiders leads to a rift marked with the most fascinating limestone. Immediately confronted with the pitch, feeling prepped we head down. Steve admirably offers to carry the bulk of the kit…. rather you than me mate. Opting to carry my empty SRT bag, I’m such a light weight when it comes to pitches. Thinking it’s time for a panic moment, there will be no pie eating here, we have the pie munchers around the corner. Glad I hadn’t added to my waist line, one slides up, to a little hole, wiggles and progresses is then best made feet first from this point. Waiting for Steve armed with  the majority of the gear including a crow bar, which above ground would properly get you arrested for “going equipped”. A garden spade is also in tow.

Progressing to the climb up, a thought occurs to me – this place could be described as boulder choke followed by narrow bit followed by boulders …. and then a rift – just to mix it up a bit ! Down the next pitch to my surprise, this place has changed since my last visit. Last time I had been with Ian and communicating over the noise of water had been almost overwhelming. Where the water had previously spurred from today it isn’t. Water is no longer running down the next squeeze, it looks a fair bit more inviting.

This is the first time ever I’ve worn a caving oversuit rather than my usual attire. I like the cushion of neoprene. I’m a clumsy bugger, even though the trip thus far shouldn’t warrant the bruises I’m picking up through being careless. Quick drink of pop, flex the muscles, crack the bones into action its dam busting time!

Quickly realising I have no clue where best to remove said cobbles, it seemed like a plan to follow Steve’s lead. At this point time and reality seems to have a bit of a blip.

Inspecting Avens, being nosey, trying to relate detail to discussions with friends. Looking at the Downstream sump, again I imagine past times, it looks bloody grim. There is a far amount less water, wonder what’s along there?

So time is spent dredging the stream way – this dissent seem to take to long before The cobbles get bigger…. Steve suggests it is capping time for one said larger boulder in the stream way. This seems like a bit of a ball ache, can’t we just move these slightly smaller boulders … deciding I should demonstrate. Hmmm probably shouldn’t have rolled that boulder on my finger …. another lesson learnt. Best not look now! 

Steve breaks out his toys, eyes lighting up ….. I’ve never seen capping before. Steve suggests its probably best for me to move round a corner … Really?  Do I really need to hide round the corner – what a spoil sport. Sneaking a little peek, that looks like fun!  It’s a bit tricky decreasing the next few hours other than to say – we moved a lot of stones.  Following a pork pie break, we continue to dredge the river, moving into the duck. All of sudden, I feel a bit knackered, and my finger is beginning to ache. Trying to use an alternative finger to peer at my watch, its 7pm … erm Steve what time did you tell Hucky? Time to pack up, the kit, this takes a fair bit of messing around. 

Moving to the base of the first pitch, we both stop for a breather and a quick drink of pop. Looking at Steve, shit he looks knackered…. wonder if my make up is covering up how knackered I also feel. Beginning to feel cold and shiver a bit the pitch soon warms me back up.

Above ground at 8pm, hurling myself on the grass, forgetting about boulders … opps thats gona leave a mark. Quick smoke, drink of pop, we get back to the car around 9. Its been a strange day, time moved in a funny way.  A memorable one.

Pics by Adele.