DM CK and I paid a visit to Barbondale.
I think it’s time to get off the fence and post a trip report: I know of various people from various clubs and rescue team members too, who’ve been quietly caving for a bit now – Whitewell, Rowten, Low Douk, Eastern Front, Tutmans and others. Being safe and being careful as we always have, and now social distancing too.
I arrived first to find the road closed for repairs – but the roadworks team were just at the cave, and planning to be done and gone shortly.
We got changed and walked up to Short Gill – a pleasant cave with a surprising amount to it. Entertainment provided on the way out by DM – arachnophobe extraordinaire – screaming all the way up the entrance climb.
Then on to the main event. We walked back up the road to Bucket on the Head, the entrance to which was visible, with maybe 6″ or so of soil, rock and other debris piled on top of it. Always worth checking this entrance before starting on the through trip, as it’s very prone to collapse. A few minutes work and it was open – an intrepid CK led in down the slightly awkward entrance, and I closed the entrance behind us.
Despite the extreme dryness- weeks without significant rain – the ducks were as cold and intimidating as ever – why didn’t I wear my wetsuit and neo hood?
Routefinding went pretty well – no significant detours, just a couple of places where the way on took some finding. A fair bit of gardening to shift the gravel to get into Crystal, and another squeeze in Crystal that I got fairly bruised in.
Out in time for a flurry of rain while we got changed.
All in all, a fine trip
Both were good trips. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction that comes from doing two trips in one day.
I don’t think the water levels in Bucket were really any lower than normal. If they had been a couple of inches higher a couple of the ducks would have been free dives. The water in Crystal Cave was definitely lower though. That being said, the gravelly flat-out crawl that connects Crystal Cave with Dog Hole had more water than I remember from previous trips. And it was considerably tighter, presumably from earlier flooding washing in gravel.
My stomach started to feel really unwell this afternoon. I’m starting to think it might be a result of the water that I accidentally swallowed a couple of times when going through the ducks. Has anyone else had any issues?