7th April - Jon Pemberton, Luke Cafferty, Jimmy Hyland, Rob Eavis
Jon offered to set off early and start rigging. The warning of the ropes being “a bit” short made sense as we each came to the bottom of the entrance rope only half way down. Thankfully all the rest weren’t as bad. We all met up at the top of the Pull Through and decided on objectives. Myself and Jimmy set off surveying from there to the turnoff towards Chamber of Horrors, whilst Luke and Jon sped ahead to go checkout Black’s Folly.
After 33 legs we met with Luke, and could hear Jon drilling in new anchors somewhere the other side of the sportingly tight little side passage of Blacks Folly. As they seemed to be progressing well we continued on another 16 legs to complete the survey of Pilgrims Way.
Once back at Blacks Folly it was now Jon who was waiting whilst Luke swung around the at the bottom looking for ways on. If we went to join him any rocks we knocked would risk hitting him so we decided to kill a little more time by surveying the impressive Castle Aven.
Once back we got to enjoy watching Luke struggle desperately to get out of Blacks Folly, so much so that he had to follow Jon’s lead and take off his wellies! Mixed in with the fact he was lying in a small stream and that Jon was already getting very cold after his ordeal, we very nearly called it a day. However they’d left my rope and hangers in there so at least I had no choice!
The crawl is not too bad, only 3m of tight grovel to the top of a small chamber which you can easily manoeuvre down into headfirst. Jimmy joined me to this point passing me the bolting hammer, and whilst he started back out I continued down surveying as I went. From the first chamber the way on has obviously been blasted in the past at a small entrance into the top of a large climb down. Squirming through this feet first is committing as the drop is over 10m in total. Jon had put a bolt in the first chamber, but obviously the rope was not long enough so a second bolt had been placed 2m down. With no SRT kits the rope was a knotted handline down the clean, wet aven.
4m from the bottom the walls bell out slightly making it a little more tricky. Here a small passage can be seen by swinging out across the aven, and with a footloop tied into the rope I managed to clamber up into it (being very careful not to let go of the rope after!). There was no signs of anyone having entered this passage before, and I couldn’t remember it being on the 1969 survey. It was small, at less than a metre wide and half that in height, but a definite phreatic passage snaking off to the East. I surveyed my way in, easily negotiating the first few bends. After less than 10m it started getting more aqueous and another 3m later I was totally soaked with limited airspace. The booming echo ahead was more reminiscent of sump than chamber and no draught meant I had reached my end for this trip.
Back at the aven it was a committing move swinging like Tarzan from this perched passage with just one foot in a knot, as the rope rubbed and twanged above. Back in the modest waterfall a quick scamper up and I was back through the entrance squeeze covered in 10m of rope. Passing one end through the entrance crawl to Jimmy meant he could tie it off in the main passage, making it a much easier squirm to get through. By this point both Jon and Luke had started out and an hour later we were all back on the surface.
The resurveying of Pilgrims Way is the penultimate leg of the Giant’s Oxlow loop, with only the Oxlow side of the Chamber of Horrors passage to go. The reason for this Project is that the original data had a +30m error somewhere, which twists all of the system out of line especially Crusader and East Canal. The new Pilgrims Way leg has reduced the error by a further 11m, so we only have 12m left which will hopefully close during the last section.
The (possibly) new passage down Black Folly is heading towards Icarus Crawl, so hopefully we’ll head down there and put that on the survex file next week.
The Work in Progress survex file can be downloaded from here: