November – CHECC

Hope everyone has recovered from a manic CHECC weekend! Just in case you hadn’t already heard, we won the CHECC grand prize!

Thank you so much to all the sponsors (Myfenix, Peli UK, BUFF, Warmbac, SpanSet Ltd, Petzl) UK Caving, CHECC – Council of Higher Education Caving Clubs, British Caving Association, all the universities for giving us their points and particularly Nottingham Uni who kindly loaned the SRT kits they won last year! We’re all looking forward to CHECC and Northern CHECC next year.

Now onto the TRIP REPORTS from the weekend – and a huge thanks to people that helped with leading them:

Day 1 (with thanks to Victoria):
Giant’s hole round trip was my second caving trip as part of the recently re-formed Lancaster University Speleological Society. As a group of fourteen, we were on the larger side of the ‘ideal group size’ and also consisted of fresher members of Manchester and Nottingham universities! The first excitement of the cave was a small 5m pitch. This didn’t sound like much but the time it took to get all of us down and stood beneath a waterfall said otherwise! The first half of the cave entailed much squeezing which went on and on and on. My mind wondered whether we would have to come all the way back. I also wondered whether I should have eaten so much cake the day before. There was also lots of crawling through pretty cold water, but thankfully I had remembered to bring my fleece onesie so I wasn’t too cold! A memorable part of of the first half was the Giant’s wind pipe – a 20 foot crawl through water which was unavoidable. No one told me about this! I heard yelps and squeals ahead as I waited at a sign implying danger and telling us not to dive the sump. The second part of the trip, returning on the higher route involved some precarious stepping over a crack. This was quite the challenge for one of the members as they looked deep into the darkness below. Fortunately we had some fabulous leadership on the trip to ensure everyone was looked after. Some of us however did get rather cold as the pace slowed and our wet underwear was sucking heat, and our singing could only boost moral so far. We reached the familiar sight of our ladder in place and our route to the exit, a warm car and dry clothes. Overall we were in the cave approximately 6 hours, only two more hours than out expected 4 hours, though we were before our call out time by 1 hour still! What a day – next time i’ll remember to go to the toilet before I go into the cave

Day 2 (with thanks to Meegan and Juliane):
Sunday morning LUSS members raised early, and were eating breakfast at 8:30! Strongly motivated by the deadline of being in the cave by 10am, there was minimal faff – we were surprised too – as we got ready for our second day of caving at CHECC. Our goal was to go the Tourist route in Peak Cavern. Only 10min too late (whoops) we were entering UKs biggest cave entrance and our group of 7 were on our way. For And for one of the party it was their first ever cave!

The cave had a lot of walking around exploring, some climby parts (yay) and some VERY muddy parts. Although we had a few false starts, choosing to try and do a climb that was not a climb instead of doing the muddy ducks – a quite sodden affair quite early on, we realised we would have to brace ourselves and go through the thigh/waist-high water, this really didn’t last too long and soon we were scrambling over jagged bits and going through winding bits, but mostly reasonably leisurely walking. Eventually though, things started to become decidedly more mucky and tricky. Before entering the muddy part a slight communication error caused us to crawl for 5-10 minutes in the wrong direction – opps!. Then we headed through a former mine shaft or something with a metal grate – it was not fun rock to be crawling on when your knees and elbows were a mess from the day before, but the squeeze itself was – that was until we realised it was a dead end. The other group had taken a right turn, which we all missed to see, hence we opted for the more obvious left turn. But we managed to get ourselves turned around, despite its tightness and were required to do minimal backward crawling. Once we all clambered out there where waiting for us rather bemused. Once everything had been cleared up it was rightly pointed out that we had “learned it was a dead end the hard way”. Still in high spirits we now followed on in the right direction – through a fun crawl/slide with lots and lots and lots of mud (I have never been that muddy in my entire life). Or as one person chose to put it “Scaletrix for humans”! Essentially after whizzing down a tight muddy slide, we thought things couldn’t get dirtier. They did. It included wedging ourselves though clay walls and people definitely ended up getting stuck a little – and getting a face full of puddle water! It was a good laugh though and eventually we did manage to clean off a little through the muddy ducks again on the way out – something we were no longer timid about, but rather thankful for.

The trip was very much enjoyed by all, and had good variation too. Thanks to everyone who caved with us and showed the way, it was great fun!