Rob, Jon, Luke, Jeff

Last trip before lockdown so we had to make it count. Quick, socially distant beers in the car park then straight to it. I went on ahead to push a lead left from last time in Walsernice, whilst Jon used the other two monkeys to get a photo looking down NCA Pitch.

Jeff on NCA Pitch, by Jon

The lead is a tight rift down in the floor, hidden underneath some loose boulders which had scared Luke last week. I cleared them all away and slipped down to the end that Jon had got to. Here the main rift is choked with boulders but a tight window through into cross rift looks like it might be open beyond. I used my bolting hammer to widen the window very slightly then posted myself through and down. The far end of the cross rift got too small, but back under the climb down it was just wide enough to get back into the main rift and carry on down. Tight and loose, this went down for another 5m before it got really tight with solid bedrock either side. The rift did seem to widen another 5m down but didn’t look very enticing and had no noticeable draught.

Meanwhile the boys had finished photoing and I asked Jeff to head down the Black Rift. We could hear each other very clearly through the boulders in front, but had no light connection. The survey proves that I was about level with Jeff so the rift below is the lowest in the area. I started surveying out, whilst Jeff headed over to the Movie Room. When I got up to near the cross rift we had a light connection and sounded very close, but it was far too tight for either of us to progress slower.

By the time I got all the way out (after getting partially stuck for a while) the others had popped off to the far end of Walsernice and were poking about in the roof at a dig I’d written off on the day we found all this. Therefore I bumbled off on my own to find some new cave and better company. I headed back to a draughting gap between boulders in the Rocky Horror choke which we’d found on 8th October. 5 minutes digging and I was through into new territory. A couple small boulder chambers (but smaller than that word makes them sound) and then a solid wall which seems to be the far side of the choke. Up to the left was a too tight narrow rift through which I could clearly hear the others on their way back across the Black Rift traverse (their dig had presumably crapped out). I asked them to join me and bring the survey gear and kept poking about. Far up in the roof of the rift I could see through a tight gap into a larger section with what looks like a solid roof. However the draught seems to be coming out of the floor but unfortunately all ways down look like proper projects. This area is directly above the draughting end of the Gloomy Passage below where there was evidence of miners, so there’s a strong chance that a way off into the main mine level exists somewhere near here.

Now all totally covered in mud and Jon getting cold we made our way out. Partial optimism about the US election results upon surfacing balanced out the sad feelings of lockdown starting in 1 hours’ time. Strictly teams of two or less for a month…

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