Buttered Badger Potholing Club
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Once upon a time....

… as the neoprene paws of my rancid furry suit scratch at the glass stomach of the washing machine and the dull ache, all to familiar to the in-frequent caver, sets in I sit back, tea in hand, and wonder how the hell I'm going to get to sleep having drunk all that red bull to keep me awake whilst driving back from Sheffield....

The weekend started normally enough; in the worlds biggest traffic jam, the M25. With my clutch leg quivering, and some hours later than planned I might add, I rolled into Uxbridge to pick up Chris H and to start the journey proper to' north an' weekends cavin' with my fellow Badgers.

Upon arrival at the Sett our gracious host, and badger Capitan, had left us to sort out gear and rope and and gone off to a party. Once we had almost been offered a cup of tea by NonCavingMembour#1 we set about our given task for the evening. Upon closer inspection of the weather forecast, however, it became apparent that our proposed routes to Gaping Gill; Stream and Dihedral, would most likely be a tad wet and so, with this in mind, we resolved to covering the floor with an assortment of ropes and tackle and cracked open a beer.....

Against all odds at 8am the next morning 3 Badgers, and mostly the right ropes, were awake and in the car speeding (and aquaplaning) towards Ingleton in anticipation of a plate of grease and a days caving. Caving intuition (coupled with rampant flooding, foaming feral rivers and the sudden appearance of large swathes of bog in once fertile farm land) told the Badgers that, on this weekend in particular, the fabled caves of North Yorkshire were not going to disappoint... and they were not wrong!

On top of the normal driving rain and biting wind, the changing affair at Clapham was punctuated by the almost deafening raw of the white horses crashing down the normally placid stream bed. With this tantalising glimpse of what was to come, the Badgers and camera crew set off on the long trek up to the cave entrance. Bar Pot was the cave of choice for half the Badgers, with Small Mammal pot providing entrance for the other. Upon approach to the main chamber and as the grinding bass of the everlasting thunder clap began to resonate in our chests, it became increasingly apparent that the previous observation; “it'll be fine; at least all that water down there in the river isn't in the cave” may have been slightly misleading...

Once in Main Chamber it became immediately obvious that the 2 elements normally present; light and water, were having a bit of a row. Water was winning. In fact, water had won. There was no visible light entering through the skylight, only water. An unstoppable, unrelenting deluge that plummeted down the 100m pitch with almost enough force to shake mother nature herself. The atmosphere was thick with spray and mist and those that ventured too close were soaked to the bone in seconds. So it was in these formidable conditions that we set about our intended task: photography. Under the instruction of our resident speleo-photographer; Mr Shone, the Badgers shielded the delicate equipment, and themselves, from the onslaught of noise and water and defied the elements and all in pursuit of the perfect photograph.... and the slight chance of appearing in a national publication....

After some hours and now cold and tired, the Badgers beat a slow retreat to the slightly less wet surface and the prospect of a long walk back to the cars, a horribly cold and wet change and then that creeping, warm feeling you get as you sit shivering in the car with the heater on full. Pending some minor Badger-size and direction based issues in Small Mammal hole, the trip had been a success. Albeit a wet success. Upon arrival at the YSS board-gaming-hut, and thankful for the meatball, cheese and finger based feast that had been prepared for them, the Badgers decided to sample the local establishment. The night was young...... but then, all of a sudden, it was morning... and the Badgers were still in the pub. Once the late/early nature of the time dawned on the Badgers, and after covering an entire room in the YSS bored-gaming-hut in selotape and string, the tired Badgers retired to their nests not knowing what the morrow would bring....

…. Turns out it would bring more rain, champion faffage, rain, possessed cars, even more rain and, for a lucky few, a family sized bucket of everyone's favourite fried chicken and a long journey back to civilisation...

…. and so, as the evil stench of a combined days wet caving and a nights festering in a plastic bag is cleansed from my furry suit by the gentle mastication of the washing machine, I am still left with the dilemma of how I'm going to get to sleep when so full of RedBull. However, I can rest, sleepless, in anticipation of the next Buttered Badger weekend....

Sleep tight....

Ben E