Sunday, July 6, 1980

Sunday July 6th

We got up at the usual time – around nine o’clock – and after having breakfast we all got changed by the minibus and went off to do Eglin’s and Low Eglin’s Holes, the entrances to which were only a couple of fields away.

We walked from the campsite to the Stean road but I had to go back to change my battery and light, which were faulty. Truswell, Helen, Robin, Westcott and Armitage were waiting for me by the whining bloke’s house. As I approached they all laughed – I must look a real berk in that too small boilersuit with my trousers protruding at each leg.

We paid the bloke down by the café and after a bit of hassle, found Low Eglin’s Hole in an adjacent field near our own campsite.

The entrance was a small (18 inch) hole in a stream bed covered with a grill. Quinn went first and I followed. The way in dropped about four feet and straightened out into a narrow keyhole shaped passage. Robin got stuck virtually and said that the way ahead was too narrow so we all went back out and let Mr. Armintage go first.

Unfortunately for me he negotiated it easily (comparatively) and he was followed by Wendy, Robin, Helen, me and then Ade Westcott. I found that bit pretty hard, for as well as being tight to manoevre in, the passage’s shape meant that your legs kept slipping down the gap and getting wedged.

Fortunately the passage got deeper so that soon we could stand/crouch. The cave continued in a similar fashion for a few tens of yards until obstacle number 1 – a 15 foot ladder pitch. I negotiated it with difficulty because the lace hooks on my boots kept getting entangled in the electron ladder.

The passage after this was extremely jagged and sharp with bony projections sticking out everywhere. It was like walking through a corridor of razor blades. After a fair way of awkward walking/stumbling we came to a point where W. Truswell wrenched her back and so Armitage decided to escort her out again after giving us instructions about continuing on.

After they’d gone, we four continued on to an 8-foot waterfall (down) which heralded the start of a wide, wet passage section. We eventually stopped at a fork in the passage where we sat for about ten minutes before turning back. The two ways ahead were apparently blocked.

We had got back to the waterfall when we had to wait for another party traveling in the opposite direction. Up the waterfall we soon met Armitage coming back so we all turned around again! After stopping again further on to let the party which passed us return, we eventually got back to the Y-junction. The right fork ended in a pool of water so we turned left on to a few hundred feet of terrible cave.

I hated that bit. It was really narrow and low yet we were crawling through inches of sand, mud and freezing water. Not my idea of fun! It got muddier and muddier until it eventually petered out into the water.

We returned. The way back was really strenuous compared to the outward stretch because I was wacked! Bent double most of the way I was totally knackered when we eventually reemerged. We had met a party of about ten cavers by the ladder pitch coming the opposite direction so our party had to crawl up into the roof and manoevre ourselves along above the heads of those beneath (I managed to stand on somebody’s head).

I was done, but managed to drag myself to the top of How Stean Gorge where Westcott and I plunged down a slimy waterfall into a 6-foot deep pool of clean, cold water. We all then staggered, swam and slid our way down the Gorge (pausing to do How Stean Tunnel – a simple walk-in, walk-out cave). My boots had had it – the soles were near to dropping off altogether, and we arrived back absolutely soaked and cold. I actually wanted to do this trip!!

After changing we packed the tents and our clothes and came back home. I got back at eight and Dad had just completed the greenhouse. Everyone was affected by the strange, sad atmosphere in the house. Apparently Mr Tillotson had been taken back into hospital nearly dead. He was rambling apparently.

I had a bath and got to bed quickly because it’s an eight o’clock start tomorrow.

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