With most of the snow gone and not much rain this week, it seemed perfect for a weekend caving in Yorkshire with Colin. His suggestion for Saturday was Vesper Pot, on the grounds that it shouldn’t be too wet, and was an entertaining trip with some nice pitches. Half way down I angrily pointed out that it was also tighter than a Scotsman’s wallet (no offence, it’s just a figure of speech) and really not a fun place to be with a large box of camera gear in one hand and a tackle bag in the other. I was wrong though–it’s not really that tight, it’s just that this was a trip with WMCEG, the Wide Man’s Cave Exploration Group.
Vesper is pretty fun actually. The entrance is quite tight, with an awkward transition from crawling to standing and back to crawling again. It would be fun without tackle but with SRT gear, three bags of rope and a camera box it became a bit of a chore. After that the cave improves to a long crawl, followed by a narrow stream canyon where you have to walk sideways. Nice!
The first pitch was fun apart from the very narrow takeoff. Abseiling is surprisingly difficult when you’re jammed between two rock walls! After that, the passage got even narrower, which prompted my outburst about Scotsmen. The second pitch looked rather like a bit of abstract art, with the rope going left, then down, then right and up, then left and back down again before finally reaching the top of the third pitch.
The third pitch featured a bolt that can only have been placed by someone desperate to avoid rebelays at any cost. Just reaching it involved inching out about four metres over a 35m drop, bridged between two uncomfortably smooth walls. I can’t imagine getting far enough out to put the bolt in! After rigging it, we decided we couldn’t see a safe way to get out to the bolt and more importantly back from it, so we derigged again and gave up. A simple rebelay from a ledge below would have been far safer and easier. You could even see the spots where the spits had used to be to do it that way, but it was devoid of bolts.
On the way back up, we stopped for a few pictures, struggled for ages trying to get off the first pitch, and finished with a stroll across the pitch black moor back to the cars. All in all, a very enjoyable trip, despite the challenges and our failure to get to the bottom.
After a pub dinner we consumed Rachel’s Bakewell Tart at the NPC.