Arnside and beyond

By gladders

Life.turns 2 Lament to lost activities

Alternative title: All dressed up with nowhere to go
At last I've managed to take a picture on the self-timer that nearly matches the life.turns 2 position (or any position come to that).

This is a lament to the activities that pass because of increasing age and decrepitude, in this case caving. I used to really love going caving. We primarily did this on cold, dry winter's nights. It had to be dry in case we got caught by rapidly rising water from the rain falling unseen above us. It had to be winter because who would want to spend a fine day in spring or summer underground when you could be rock climbing?

So there we would be on dark, cold nights on a remote road in Yorkshire, climbing out of our work clothes, with a freezing wind withering any skin exposed as we wrestled to get into our caving gear. Until I tried to get back into this gear for the purposes of life.turns, I had forgotten how long it took to do. And I marvel now that I voluntariy subjected myself to this after a long day at work.

And that would just be the start. There would then follow several hours underground, squeezing myself through tight rifts and abseiling down shafts while being soaked by ice-cold water cascading down. And when we got to the bottom, we simply turned round and climbed and squeezed our way out again into the by now even chillier wind of the outside world; now being much colder through being soaked to the skin.

Anyway, it's over 5 years since I last went. My poor old body probably couldn't take the strain any more, but I can't bring myself to part with my caving gear. One day, I might go again.....

My last caving trip was an eventful one. We found a frog right at the bottom of the system, presumably washed in by a flood the week before. We put him safely in a dry canister to take him back to the surface, and I carefully carried him up. There was a tight crawl through a rift to get onto the rope that was suspended in the shaft that led to the surface. I clipped onto the rope and swung across the shaft - a bit too vigorously - I bounced off the opposite wall and the rope came across my face dislodging my glasses (my best ones too). They disappeared down the waterfall into the shaft. My mate Simon abseiled down 40 feet, and miraculously found them on the lip of a small shelf above another 100 drop into the void below. Vision restored, I carried on up with the frog and emerged elated into a fine, warm day outside (one of the exceptions). A couple were walking past outside, and I was so euphoric that I ran up to them, frog in hand, shouting "International Frog Rescue". Strangely they made no reply to this figure covered in mud and dressed in yellow uPVC, and walked rapidly away.

ps Any self-respecting caver would spot that the harness and accompanying metal work is not correctly tied. It's so long since I last went caving, I couldn't remember how to put it all together.

pp.s. I have been away for two days and have today back-blipped entries for Monday and Tuesday. Please see them at:


ppps. Look at the shameful state of the garden. I blame this blipping lark distracting me from things that should be done. Initially, we let the lawn go as it is full of red clover, and the bumblees were loving it. Now the clover is finished flowering, and well it's been too damp to get the mower out.

pppps What I didn't say when I first wrote this is that what made it all worthwhile on those cold nights was the Dent Bitter in the Marton Arms near Ingleton: Nectar!

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