Chris A, Tom (good), Luke
The plan was for the young lovers to rendezvous at the farm at 6ish, and I would meet them down there as soon as I escaped uni.
Arriving at about 7:20 I was surprised to learn that the boys hadn't long been down there. Apparently Chris had characteristic car trouble and poor T-Dawg had been alone in a field for the best part of an hour. Chris arrived (and successfully renegotiated our £1 tresspass fee discount!!) and proceded to take Tom for his first ever Rowter descent, which I hear he thoroughly enjoyed.
Arriving shortly afterwards we made tea, as is tradition, and then set to work, with Tom down the hole, myself on the hauling rope, and Chris on the tensioned line hauling and emptying. And hour and a bit later I was moaning loudly that my hands hurt (I'd forgotten my gloves/am remarkably unfit) so we broke for further refreshments for 15 mins or so.
Back to work and I went down to the dig face for the first time in quite a while - it's getting scary down there! Digging isn't bad at the moment, and I was relieved to see Mark wasn't making the stemple sockets up, they really are there! (Unless he's going down and manufacturing them when we're not looking...)
The occasional encouraging draught works it's way out of the silt as well, so it's not bad at all.
Half an hour later we were all hankering for a drink so we headed out with unexpected expedience, went for a cheesey pint, and returned home to our various parts of the North.
Not a huge number of buckets out, but it was good to get back into the diggy spirit, and Tom didn't look overly traumatised so we may have captured another minion at the very least.
Onwards and downwards
After 7+ years of caving including goliaths such as Giants and Wilsons I decided it was finally time to have a go at digging. Obviously there was no dig better than the Badgers dig, which apparently has hot tubs, BBQ’s and steak on tap.
The trip started with all stereotypes ticked off, well in fact that's not entirely true, it was a very pleasant day so there was no getting changed in rain/hail/fog. The main stereotype that we managed to tick off was Christoph’s tardiness. We had agreed to meet at Rowter at 5 so of course Chris left his house after 5. Fortunately I was a little early so I could enjoy the wait...
Chris got to me a little after 6 and after a very short amount off faffing I found myself still unpacking my gear whilst Chris was ready for an assault on Rowter. I eventually caught up and we headed through the farm to the charming hole in the field. Chris rigged the initial pitch and disappeared into the slightly misty hole (Probably not mist but that makes it sound slightly charming) in the hope that his rope would reach the first pitch. Once he was onto the permanent rigging I followed and had some classic cows tails loading action. The descent was some good top up training for re-belays and before long I was descending the last pitch whilst getting dribbled on by the wall.
SRT kits off and bag dumped it was time for a tour by Christoph of the various digs. Dig one was out of sight due to a missing ladder, the funnelling at hypothermia passage was still working, and dig two was full of rocks. The final part of the tour was the very impressive dig 3, a scaffolding supported dig several meters into the floor. It was at this point I remembered my bag of goodies was still at the bottom of the pitch so I went back to collect it as Chris went down to start digging. I came across Luke descending at the pitch using a double descender technique, fancy! I must have spent some time faffing since when we both returned Chris was hauling his own load of rocks out, handily he overfilled the bucket so it was nice and heavy.
After the 1 bucket and a tour we decided it was time for a tea break, even though only one of us had a cup. The tea break utilised a frying pan and a normal pan so we could all bask in Yorkshire tea glory and gave me a chance to deposit my Rowter presents. Dear Mark, please find enclosed several tea lights, some tea bags and a wind up LED lantern (oooooo). Once the tea break was over it was time for some actual work and I volunteered to be the digger. The climb down was a bit precarious but the actual digging wasn't too difficult. After several buckets I was mostly naked as its pretty warm work, but at least I was escaping the hauling fun Luke was having when the buckets kept holding on for dear life on every scaffolding rung. Chris was taking care of the diagonal hauling and depositing and after some amount of time we were all warm enough to actually deserve a break. Time was getting on as it was now 9pm so we decided to do a bit more until 9.30pm and then head out. Luke took digging this time with Chris hauling and myself on the diagonal line. I noted how the diagonal line seemed to have the best looking rigging in the whole cave and as hauling went wasn't too bad to deal with.
Eventually it was time to head out with Chris leading the assault, myself second, and Luke bringing up the rear (gigidy). Despite hanging in the water for a while on the first pitch, the climb out wasn't as bad as I expected and I managed to escape in what I assume was about 30 minutes, which I was fairly happy with since I haven't done a pitch over 40 metres in a long time. The hardest part of the trip was finding my way back to the car, a fairly thick mist had fallen and my torch burned through all of 5 metres or so. I wandered vaguely in the right direction until I found a wall and then wandered some more until I found a gate. A few minutes later I was at the car and back into reasonable attire again, my first dig complete and with only a mild hand injury from the scaffolding, success!
Luke wasn't far behind and we were left with just enough time to head down to the pub for a quick pint and a discussion on Scottish islands, obviously. We parted ways and headed back to our various houses having excavated a reasonable portion of floor, an evening well spent if you're of questionable mindset