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Pot of Rod

By Martin Beale

By Martin Beale 18 October 2001

Unfortunately, I have to report that Rod's Pot was a somewhat disappointing trip for the HPCC / ESS. The best bit of the trip had to be getting to the cave and getting out (it is taken as read that the apres cave was up to scratch).

Photo: Climbing the ladder pitch

The HPCC / ESS decided to warm up with a quick little trip down Goatchurch. With this in mind, we sprinted up to Goatie : speed 4mph.

Goatchurch was descended to the start of the Drainpipe. We were moving really well. Though we had the desire to bottom the cave, Roy Stone pointed out that the President would be anxiously awaiting our return : speed 10m descent / min.

We charged out of Goatchurch and across Blackdown Hill towards Rod's Pot. Eventually we could see the distant lights of our fellow cavers. The President was wandering aimlessly through deep bracken in a vain search for the cave : speed 4mph, velocity 0mph.

Having already been underground, the HPCC / ESS had a honed affinity for the void (we were akin to it) and were magnetically attracted to the entrance. Much gleeful shouting showed that the HPCC as a whole were about to go underground : speed 4mph

After a few muddy wallows and downhill slithers, we were stopped by the 45ft pitch. Our president had instructed the ESS to descend these pitches. We dutifully did his bidding on the assumption that we would rejoin the rest of the party at the base of the pitch. The ladders were thrown down and we made our tortuous descents. We waited at the bottom until the whole section was once again together. Rachel, the cave ferret, was soon burrowing through a boulder choke. Hopeful noises suggested that she had found the connection. I followed her down the choke only to find her trying to extricate herself from the confines of a terminal dig. Roy Unstone made valiant efforts to find an alternative route out from the base of the pitch, but it was all to no avail : we decided to head back up. Speed 0.1mph, 1m / min (unless free climbed => 4m / min).

Photo: Going down Goatchurch

The race was once more on for the pub. There seemed to be complications regarding clothing and cars. I had to go back towards main chamber and find Annelies and Sarah for some reason that escapes me. Annelies followed me out of the cave fairly swiftly, but when I looked round, it was Paola following me rather than Sarah. Never mind, we were out of the cave and had a clear 20 minutes to make it to the Hunters : speed 10m / min.

Realising that the Hunters was just within our grasp, Roy Unstone and I set off at full pelt down the hill to the car. It reminded us of fine winter evenings up at Llangatock. Speed : 10mph

Photo: Unstone in trouble?

We stripped off in the Burrington Inn car park and were in the car (commando style) by 10:50pm. The race was truly on. Speed : 4 items / minute.

A fairly dangerous drive against the clock followed to the Hunters. At one point, I thought all was lost, but a sign to Milton appeared and I knew we would achieve satisfaction. Speed : 60+mph. Time : 10:57pm.

Only Roy Unstone and I were able to savour the culinary delights of the Hunters and to achieve that refreshed state that is such a critical part of the post caving experience. Speed : 3 pints / hour.

We headed back via the Burrington Inn and popped in to see the rest of the HPCC who seemed to have been inadvertantly locked in. Most worryingly of all, the beer taps were still flowing. To avoid flooding the place out, the HPCC made great sacrifices in mopping up lager that was issuing unstoppably from the hostelry's taps.

In summary, the un-caving was the most satisfying part of the trip. The President's passengers were able to appreciate the apres cave to its full extent as they took the scenic route back to Bristol via Bridgewater.

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