Members Present: (Chris Kelly, Don, Sharman).
The day started off well with a delicious breakfast at Zarina’s Cafe in Kettlewell, which included free refills on coffee and tea. This was followed by the drive to Park Rash, where we parked just in time as three other cars pulled up and parked behind us within a couple of minutes of our arrival. A quick change saw us on our way to the entrance to Providence Pot. We decided not to carry a tackle bag or any extras with us as we didn’t want anything to slow us down.
Upon arrival at the cave I discovered that my Rude Nora 2 wasn’t working, in spite of the fact that I had tested it the night before and it had been fun. This was the beginning of the curse of Dowbergill. Luckily I had my spare Fenix, though it didn’t give off very much light, making the trip that much more fun. About ten minutes into the cave Sharman’s glasses fogged over so badly that we had to take a break so he could clean them. The curse of Dowbergill strikes again.
We made good progress to Stalagmite Chamber. Route finding was very straightforward. Once in Dowbergill Passage proper we made good time. There was one place in Skittle Chamber that required a sketchy climb down, which I didn’t remember from previous trips, but this was passed easily enough. We made such good time in fact that we seemed to have completely passed Bridge Cavern without realising it. To be honest, the first time we looked at the NFTFH route description wasn’t until we got to the esoteric squeeze at the Brew Chamber boulder choke. For some unknown reason Sharman and Chris Kelly decided not to follow me through the squeeze and instead opted to climb over the boulder choke, which meant that they had to climb 8m or 9m down the rift once on the other side of the choke to reach me. They’re braver men than me.
Brew Chamber to Rock Window was probably the most challenging part of the trip. We decided to avoid The Narrows, given the high water levels, and traversed aobve the streamway instead. It took us a while to figure out how to get past the next choke. Climbing over it was easy enough, but the climb back down looked very exposed and the rift was very narrow. Chris Kelly led the way here and found a way through. The next section involved some really precarious traversing, probably the most challenging I’ve ever done. Wet walls, virtually no ledges or handholds, and a very narrow rift below just waiting to eat up careless cavers. Once this was passed we quickly made our way back to the streamway and reached Rock Window. The plan was to just follow the stream all the way to Dow, but several narrow sections of rift and high water levels meant that we were constantly climbing in and out of the water. Eventually we were forced to climb up an in situ rope, which led immediately to Hardy’s Horror and a climb back down to the water. About 15 minutes more caving saw us at the entrance to Dow Cave.
Total trip time: Just under 3 hours.
*I would like to let everyone know that I’ve given up on trying to keep my Rude Nora 2 going. So last night I ordered an Earthworm Dual.
You made it through, so why is it cursed? From the title it sounded like the trip failed. Only thing that failed was your light and I am glad to hear you are replacing it!
It’s called curse of Dowbergill because a) Jimmy had to be rescued on our trip back in August, b) my light failed exactly as I was getting ready to enter Providence, meaning I had to use my crappy backup as my main light source, and c) Sharman’s glasses fogged up as soon as we entered Providence. Admittedly the last one was rather minor, but still…