After a slightly dreary start to the year, we succeeded in spending the better part doing very efficient and enjoyable trips. 234 CUCC member/trips plus several guest trips are recorded in the log book. This does not compare very well with the 45 trips in the previous year, disrupted by foot and mouth, and the small party sizes somewhat reflected this drop in enthusiasm. However, the hard core did many worthwhile trips, and how better to start the year off than with a double link trip in Giants-Oxlow.
Noel Williams, Ken Gove, Steve Smith and I deemed P8 unworthy of a 140 mile trip and so decided to do something worthwhile. The only unusual occurrence was my looking down the barrels of a farmer's shotgun as I grovelled out of the entrance on a cold misty morning. We then proceeded to P8 farm where we met 8 experienced cavers with 18 novices who had travelled from Cambridge by coach. P8, as usual, was crowded out by other novice trips, but after half an hours wait at the head of the first pitch we managed to move more fluently. 9 of the novices have since joined.
Two weeks later 23 people in 5 parties explored various passages in Agen Allwedd. Novices were taken to the Music Room and other parties reached Turkey Pool and the Coal Cellar. Unfortunately I managed to get myself stuck upside down this orifice, and only John Lees and I completed the Inner Circle, the others returning by Turkey Pool.
The next meet was held on Mendip. Steve, John, Adrian Palmer, Chris Bachelor, and I, together with a friend of Steve's, were led rather slowly round Cuthberts. Afterwards the traditional Christmas Dinner was consumed at the MCG hut, whilst Pete, the then President, ate his in slightly better surrounds at a higher cost with other members of the SWCC. The next day John and I visited Duck 2, and Steve, Adrian and Robert Hill did a short trip in Swildons.
Our Christmas Vac meet consisted of a New Year's Eve trip down Pen-y-ghent, a ouigee trip (for non gonkers) down Sell Gill and a long trip in Stream Passage Pot. (See p 25) Ken Gove and Jeff Parkinson spent part of the vac investigating Whiddon Mine, Ashburton.
The first meet of the Lent term was on Mendip, and 9 people did various trips in Swildons, notable for one Miss Judy Bradshaw doing Sump 1 without a wet suit, and then racing the hards to the surface to keep warm. On Sunday a party of 5 did Longwood-August, after various amounts of beer/sleep, the result being that Jeff fell asleep in the S bend.
Back in Churchill College, Cambridge, 3 people made a quick descent of a 25 ft. staircase pitch, so that Chris Bachelor wouldn't be too shocked by the real thing up in Yorkshire, which was the venue for the next meet. After driving up in blizzards, with the misleading news that all passes over to Craven were blocked, we bedded down in subartic conditions at Brackenbottom. The next morning we were rather perturbed by the snow that had fallen overnight, but even more so by a runny brew of porridge. However, we got onto Leck Fell alright, and after quelling several mutinies set off for Short Drop and Gavel. After a very uneventful exchange we assembled in the minibus, quelled several more mutinies (they all wanted to escort Noel's women back to Brackenbottom!) and then 9 very cold cavers set off for Notts Pot. The entrance had collapsed further, making the left hand route pleasantly wet. Underground, the mutineers were at it again, and only Noel and I bottomed the pot.
Three weeks later a proposed trip to do Nick Pot had to be abandoned when one of the drivers became ill. Instead, Dave Hayes, Steve and I had a pleasantly wet trip down Tatham Wife Hole. Later in the term Ken, Noel and Richard Bowen drove up to Yorkshire to have a go at Nick Pot, but were foiled by snow, and only just managed to get the snow plough started before it was time to return. Ken and Richard then went to Devon to do Baker's Pit and Great Rock Mine, and were joined the following day for a trip into Golden Dagger Mine.
In the Easter vac 5 members assembled at various caving huts on Mendip. Steve and I spent a very frosty night outside the MNRC while Pete, John and his brother Dave, (ULSA) were comfortable and warm inside the SMCC. The next day we did the round trip with a visit to Swildons IV. When sump 4 was reached Pete dived first, John followed, came back to tell me all about it and then we both went through. We inspected Buxtons's Horror (sumped) and then returned to Steve and Dave who valued their lives more than us. The next day we held a practice rescue in Swildons I. (see p. 32) After only half killing our victims we did an easy trip down Lamb Leer on the morrow. Sheena and Margy, friends of the Lees brothers, accompanied us to the scaffolding at the head of the second pitch. John abseiled down and the rest of us followed more slowly via the ladder. We had a look at the hall of the falling waters and then came out, pausing to take photographs and haul scouts up the pitch on the winch. The next day saw 4 masochists walking from Priddy to Longwood-August, where we had a very speedy efficient trip to Reynold's Passage and to the upstream boulder chambers. Then, after changing, the long walk back to Priddy as it grew dark.
The Pre-Tripos meet was held in Giants-Oxlow. While 7 people had a photographic trip in New Oxlow, John and I had a rather tiring trip to the bottom of a flooded Giant's and back, completing the double link in 6 hours.
We returned to Yorkshire for the Post-Tripos meet and were rather perturbed on arrival when we saw how much water was flowing in Douk Gill. However, we climbed Ingleborough the next day hoping that Meregill would still be possible, but the entrance was sumped. Gareth Jones dived the sump while Pete gave out the line, then Pete and I followed and viewed the head of the second pitch. It was obvious that a descent was impossible so we exited and walked over to Tatham Wife and had a fairly wet and efficient trip in this pleasant hole.
Owing to lack of support we were unable to do the William's Simpsons'- Swinsto - Valley Entrance exchange the next day, so we just did a Simpson's - Valley Entrance exchange. The flooding had receded and Simpson's was almost dry. Remarkably we only had to wait about an hour at the bottom of the slit, and idled away the time by going up the Swinsto passage, and working out a deadline for the other party's appearance. In the end they arrived none the worse for wear, though Chris Bachelor was still suffering from the traumatic experience of losing his Picnic down the Pit.
On the Friday we toiled up into the Gaping Gill area to do a Bar-Dis exchange. Jeff and I gave Noel a trying time as both our lights packed in. Jeff, still having odd suicidal moments, slipped rather too close to South- East pot, and Noel had to do all the route finding out of Bar. After a Saturday morning stroll up Pen-y-ghent and an evening in Wensleydale, Vic Brown, Noel, Pete and I had a very competent trip down Washfold Pot finding it less difficult than reports from the previous year's party had led us to believe.
Our last day was spent enjoying the sunshine in and above Alum Pot. After a very fast 2 hour trip to the bottom and back via Long Churn we investigated upper Long Churn and Borrin's Moor Cave. John, Pete and Dave Boulton then messed about in Calf Holes - Browgill, doing a through trip after abseiling into the Calf Holes entrance.
The summer trip to Yugoslavia ended up as a non-caving holiday for Ken, Noel and Richard as there was no room for tackle. Steve joined them for a few days on the way back from Cyprus, where he had been investigating the island's speleological possibilities. (see p 29) John did a solo trip into Porth-yr-Ogof and Little Neath River Cave, and was suitably impressed by the underground "river" and I did two aquatic trips in Weardale.
A meet for the end of the vac was arranged, so once again we assembled at Brackenbottom. Steve St. Clair-Thompson wanted to make a cine film and so filmed some 'typical' caving shots in Long Churn, aided by Steve Smith, Phil Shields, Pete, and myself. Three headlights on a car battery lit the cave well but not enough to produce good results, thought the film wasn't all blank. Afterwards the party caught up with John and Dave Lees who had reached the Dolly Tubs. Due to the inadvisability of doing the last pitch on a rope with so much water around, no one ventured below the bottom of the 60'. John, Dave and Pete then wizzed through Long Churn, Borrin's Moor Cave and Wilson's Cave.
The next day the weather again ruled out a trip into Magnetometer Pot (the 4th time we have had to cancel it in two years) so John, Steve and I did an uneventful trip down Sunset Hole whilst others watched the three peaks Cyclo-Cross. On the way back from Sunset we did a Great Douk-Middle Washfold trip to keep out of the rain on the surface. Steve had to walk as he had bought his rucksack up with him. The cave was really impressive when there is such a large flow of water.
The last day the four of us plus Noel went over to Lancaster Hole. We went to the Colonnades, then down to Fall Pot and the Master Cave. First of all we visited the downstream sump, then went upstream through two boulder chokes to the low wet crawl which is as far as you can go. On our way back downstream we spent about half an hour in the Cresta Run type water chutes. Superb fun! Rather tough on wet-suits though. We then climbed up into the old master cave, passed Stake Pot (a horribly exposed greasy rope climb) and several muddy traverses to Scylla and Charybdis, where John, Dave and Steve stopped. Noel and I carried on through large boulder strewn passage to the Minarets and then returned to the others. After refreshing ourselves at Fall Pot we went out to the surface. This excellent trip concluded the year at a high standard, which I hope we can maintain in the coming years.
Non events of the year were the epic Nick Pot trip being abandoned due to snow, yours truly being censured (then secretary), the Easter booze-up, and the Yugoslavia expedition.
WOW lunches were very well attended (I believe Pete made £20 on behalf of WOW), and the one lecture by Fred Davies was well delivered and received. Pete also discovered that this is our 21st anniversary.
Happy Anniversary C.U.C.C.