The Hitchhiker's Guide to Kingsdale

Saturday: Briony, Josh, Natalie, Rosanna

So our long awaited trip to Gapping Gill (GG) with MUSC was finally here. We had been building up since the start of freshers. Unfortunately it was raining lions and coyotes (cats and dogs seemed an understatement) as it had been for the past week.

Plan 1: Me and Rosanna had no desire to walk up to GG in the pouring rain so we settled on Aquamole instead. Everyone else was doing GG.

The plan was sorted and we were about to get ready and leave, at which point people arrived and informed us GG was not a pleasant place to be.

Plan 2: Me, Rosanna, Natalie and Lucy were doing Aquamole while Jacob lead a group down Jingling.

Once kitted (most unpleased changing experience yet) we headed up the hill and Jed left, and would return at 7:30 to pick us up. If necessary, I could pop down Jingling to get the car keys from Jacob and drive people back. At which point we bumped into Tanguy (Imperial) and told us the entrance to Jingling was a sheet of water and he had given up on it.

Plan 3: Jacob go back to do Bull Pot of the Witches and after a game of rock paper scissors which Josh won (with hindsight maybe not), we gained Josh and lost Lucy. And still going down Aquamole.

Once at the cave Rosanna set about rigging as the rest of us sheltered in the Bothy. I went down next so I could tidy up any knots if necessary. Here the actual caving was uneventful. We neared the end of the first rope, the water was getting heavier and heavier. Until I could see Rosanna rigging but actual communication was a challenge. As the weather was just set to get worse we decided it was best to leave.

Once at the surface again, I quickly realised the plan to get Jacob’s keys wasn’t possible and Imperial had already left. So we sheltered in the Bothy until Rosanna emerged. Once we were all in the Bothy we sat for a while regaining feelings in my fingers and appreciating the ridiculousness of the situation.

It was now 3:30 and Natalie who didn’t actual make it into the cave had been in the Bothy for about 2:30hrs. Well we couldn’t sit there for another 4hrs, we’d have to try and walk and flag down a car to phone the hut.

Down the hill we went, me and Josh with the ropes and Natalie draped in the Bothy as she couldn’t be bothered to pack it. We then preceded to walk along to road for about 1:30hrs periodically sheltering behind walls for a rest bit and bursting into laughter, with regular sounds of cars which just turn out to be the wind tricking us.

We reached a junction which none of us remembered, we sheltered again, trying to decide the best plan. Is that a car I hear, it is!!! They stop, we ask to use the phone. It’s nearly over. Number busy, we try again and again, still busy. They insisted on giving us a lift to Ingleton, so we pile in still in full caving and SRT kit.

We jump out and go to Inglesport, it’s closed but someone is locking it up. We try phoning the hut, again it’s busy. He takes pity on us standing dripping wet in the doorway (we must have been a sight). We again barrel into another car in full kit and he drives us all the way to Bull Pot Farm, making him late to his mum’s birthday dinner.

It’s 6:00pm as we walk into the changing room to a confused Jacob as he gets ready to come and find us.

Well it was exactly what we had planned but to quote Josh, "The best time I've had stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the freezing cold and pouring rain."

Sunday: Alex, Briony, Lydia and Rosanna

I had an early night and I woke up early, keen to get some actual caving done before the weather turned. Unfortunately, very few people seemed to be on the same page. So while waiting for people to start moving, I cooked breakfast. Most people are still asleep, me, Alex and Rosanna decide we could bugger off before anyone was awake and the invertible faff that would cause. People emerged before we disappeared and we gain Lydia for a quick trip down Lancaster Hole to the Colonades and back. Rosanna set about rigging as we sat around appreciating the lack of wind and rain.

We were quickly down and heading to the Colonades. as me and Lydia admired a formation, as I hear Alex let out a WOW. Knowing this must be impressive to stop Alex rushing around a cave, we head around the corner. I think we all let an audible gasp at the size of the columns. After wondering around and just admiring the formations we headed back.

After waiting around for a group to descend, Alex started ascending. We sit around taking some pictures which just resulted in who made the other laugh most. I went out second to find Imperial waiting at the first y-hang. As Lydia and Rosanna seemed very happy at the bottom I suggested they went down first. Once I passed I proceeded to get very tangled in the 3 different ropes on the second y-hang. I finally manged to get myself into position that the rope I needed wasn’t behind me and emerged into the sun. Then I found myself inside another Bothy waiting for Rosanna to appear before I left. (I spend more time in a bothy than a cave this weekend)

In all an enjoyable if not bizarre weekend, and I had my two most successful SRT trips (may be saying more about my previous attempts). We even made it back to Nottingham for tea!!

By Briony Downes-Ward, 26/02/17