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Katie and Bernie

Plus Masson Team: Fabian, Sam and Shaun

I planned a Tuesday night trip to Hillocks/ Knotlow and unusually for a Tuesday night trip only had one taker! So the team was Bernie and me!
However Fabian replied to say there was already a Masson CG trip heading down Knotlow that day and maybe we could do an exchange?
This sounded like a good plan to me, as I really enjoying the crawling, awkward bits and wet canal of Meccano 😊
On the night me and Bernie headed down Wharfe climbing shafts and headed straight for Meccano. We were aware the other team had less caving to do than we did to reach the exchange point. Having previously spent time over several trips trying to identify the start of Meccano, or insert myself into ridiculous tight wet puddles that result in dead ends I seem to have finally learnt and we went straight to and straight through Meccano with no straying off route.

Soon we reached the squeeze under a hand-picked arch that signals the start of the wet canal. We stopped here for a few minutes to catch our breath, cool down, and have a light-hearted discussion about dying of hypothermia. As I crawled in the cold water made me a gasp a little, but I kept crawling forward. Once you get going the canal is quite pleasant. You can keep most of your head out (as long as you remember to turn it sidesways!) and just crawl along happily in chest deep water as your tackle bag gently bobs along behind. Eventually the crawl gets lower and dryer and heads up hill. It is at this point I remember the big blue tackle bag has teeny tiny drain holes, as I struggle to crawl up slope with the weight on it behind. Once there is more manoeuvre space and I turn around and turn the bag upside down, draining the water out the top and back down into the canal for Bernie to enjoy.

Soon after this we reached the pitch down to Knotlow Waterfall chamber and could see the other team waiting. We rigged the pitch and abseiled down to meet them. After quick chat (Well shout over the roar of the water) we headed off our separate ways. Me and Bernie headed out of Knotlow, pausing only for a little pitch head knitting and to retrace our steps when we went under the big obvious climb up. Soon we were back on the surface to find a nice night and not even pitch dark yet!

Knowing that we had the shorter trip out me and Bernie elected to wait for the others so we could swap back rope and rigging kit from the warmth of the pub. Having drunk our pints, eaten our crisps and chatted a bit last orders approached and we wondered if we should be worried about the others? Driving back to the Knotlow triangle there were no lights by the cars….

As we walked to the shaft entrance I debated whether I could cave in my normal clothes if they weren’t visible as the thought of getting back into my very very wet furry was not appealing…. Luckily as we approached the copse of trees I could hear the click of karabiners. The other team had had a good trip and been exploring, unaware they had missed last orders!

A really good trip! I do really enjoy exchange trips and haven’t been in Knotlow climbers in ages. And Meccano is always a pleasure 😊

Thanks to the Masson for rigging Knotlow and derigging Wharfe and thanks to Bernie for keeping me company and buying me a pint!