Badgers - Chris H, Mark R, TomTom
06-08 Feb 2015
The trio of badgers converged on the Allen household (along with Mark S) on Friday evening ready for the modern classic of the three counties, Boxhead to Notts II, on Saturday and then an evening of what would be amazing food and China talk. Once the IT support had been completed the six of us rapidly moved to the Marton arms for the evening.
The morning was as leisurely as caving mornings get being about a mile from our destination. The team congregated at Inglesport at 10:30am for breakfast and Rowan encouragement, with breakfast taking the obligatory 90 minutes. A quick bit of car reorganisation at the Allen's and we were off into the cloudy but pleasant enough moors above. Rowan managed to catch us in time to show off his backless caving attire at the head of Boxhead and then the.... 11? of us headed on down one by one.
The descent into Boxhead is quite good fun, lots of deviations dragging you off on what is a reasonably sized drop. I particularly enjoyed the sheath bunching at the bottom of each re-belay, making removing the stop somewhat of a challenge. Before long we were once again congregated before standing room became flat out crawl. It seems Boxhead has a bit of all sorts as the flat out crawl turned to rift traversing and semi duck squeezes. I managed to overcome a girth issue by removing parts of my srt kit whilst jammed but other than that all went smoothly. There are some very pretty straws and curtains in places and our digging team guides kept us well informed on the best way to fit through the squeezey bits.
Eventually we arrived at the connecting dig, a feat of modern engineering that would put crossrail to shame. It's still a bit muddy through the connection but as later pictures would show it's cleaned up a lot since the breakthrough. After a fair amount of thrutching I crawled out of a muddy puddle into the main streamway passage, I had even managed to stay mostly dry.
The streamway did a good job of cleaning my caving gear as we made our brief tour upstream to check out an interesting sump. The team attempted to lose their GoPro in the water but alas it came back to the surface once it had done it's filming job. Back downstream to collect our gear and then out towards the Notts II climb out. I hadn't done Notts II either so was intrigued by the ability to climb out what I assumed was a reasonable distance inside scaffolding alone.
Fortunately I wasn't given a oversized drag tray to haul out of the cave and so followed Mark and his on the way out, waiting to have a bucket land on my head. We made it all the way up without any dropping and emerged to a glorious red sunset, what a lovely evening!
We had time for a quick one in the Marton arms but we could not be late on pain of something worse than death. Jane and Feixia had been in the kitchen all day making a proper Chinese feast. Tim Mark S, and us three badgers headed back a little early to help with some finishing touches before the rest of the motley China crew turned up. The food was absolutely delicious, there was all sorts, the effort that went in cannot be appreciated enough, delicious!
The food was wolfed down, with seconds, thirds and twentyforths happening. When can we come round for more?
The evening was spent with Gin and Cheese watching slideshows and epic films on the 2014 China expedition, and discussing thoughts for what can be done this year. There seems to be still a fair amount to organise but it's getting exciting now :)
Bed happened sporadically throughout the evening but we all seemed able to stand in the morning so it can't have been too late.
Sunday consisted of a bit of a tidy up and then breakfast at Inglesport again. There were vague plans to do things today but no one seemed massively energetic. By around lunchtime it was time to head south, and so we made our goodbyes and headed for our respective big cities.
Great weekend, nice to do new cave(s) for a change and topped off by amazing food! Thank you Jane and Feixia.