by Jane Bradbury
Despite murmurings along the lines of “why have we got to have breakfast so early for Notts 2 – it’s only a Sunday cave”, I stuck to my guns and served full English breakfast for everyone at 9.15 am. By the time we had cleared up, cleaned teeth, faffed, driven over to Leck Fell, and got changed, it was about 11.30, so not such an early start. Mind you, we did arrive at the parking site before the team with the Lost Johns permit.
Alan’s (Scowcroft) instructions for finding the cave were spot on and it was with some trepidation that we peered into the scaffolded depths. Neil bravely set out down the alloy ladders and breeze-blocks of the first 20 m of shaft. Some muttering but no loud screams or whimpering so we all started the descent at well-spaced intervals.
The entrance to Notts 2 certainly is a different sort of entrance. For about 20 m, the shaft drops straight down and it would be possible to belay a nervous individual down this part (none of us were that nervous). But then after a slight flattening, it turns into a 3D puzzle with scaffolding bars and ladders at all odd angles. One ladder is even slightly overhanging but, as with the rest of the shaft, it is possible to lean backwards against the opposite wall.
The final part of the climb down was an interesting rift and there we were, in Notts 2. Well, what a fantastic place. Yes, if you go straight downstream to one sump and then straight upstream to the other sump, taking in Curry Inlet and the pretties on the way, this could be a Sunday cave. But if you explore even a few of the other inlets, it rapidly becomes a worthwhile Saturday cave. Inlets variously led into large avens, climbed up precarious calcited boulders (where the handline I had brought in proved useful) to gour pools, and squelched through deep liquid mud to crawling height passages with fantastic straws and columns.
Neil Burgess, Reynard Speiss and Gareth Philips did a good job of seeing everything, including a formation called Gordon! The rest of us (me, Mike Clark, Gordon Scott and Steve Kirk) paced ourselves more but everyone had a fantastic 6-7 hours caving.
Most of us finally emerged at about 6 pm; Neil and Reynard emerged at about 7 pm. The Lost Johns contingent were just changing when we returned to the cars and looked at us somewhat quizzically; they had Notts 2 booked for Sunday!
A fuller report of the trip is available on http://ukcaving.com/board/index.php/topic,9046.0.html