On Friday afternoon 2 mini buses set off for Council of Higher Education caving Clubs (CHECC) Event; which was being held all the way up in Yorkshire! I was in a minibus with Jimmy, Freddie, Olivia, Lawrence, Miriam, Amy and Jack. Before we set off I was already hungry and managed to scrounge some chips and gravy off Lawrence… thankyou Lawrence they were very tasty! We started the long northern journey from Plymouth, with Golden nuggets already being consumed by myself and others. Jimmy couldn’t wait until we arrived and had already cracked open the litre bottle of dark spicy rum and was already half way through it… his drunken antics had begun! (He did offer us some, thanks Jimmy!) After a couple hours on the road we made our first pit stop for food. We then swiftly got back onto the motorway and stopped an additional time to get changed into our fancy dress outfits (Standard CHECC antics). Our changing rooms were a car park… it was wet and cold, but shortly we were dressed as the ex caving sec Thom Starnes. This attire was bright coloured Hawaiian shirts.. and masks of his face.
We finally arrived at CHECC! It was late and already dark…. But hey still time to party!! Once the minivans were parked up we all went and signed in; we got cool wristbands! The select few were staying in a bunkhouse ‘lucky’ and others including myself were camping.. I was lucky (Or so I thought) as I didn’t have to set up a tent as Noot had arrived a day early and said a few of us could bulk up in his tent! (a 2 man tent). Noot and a bottle of wine firmly attached to his hand found us and escorted us to our tent. The tent did not look like a tent….. It was practically collapsing. I quickly realised Noot cannot set up a tent and from that day forward he must always be supervised whilst setting up a tent!!!! Four of us piled inside the cosy ‘tent’ with all four kit bags in tow. The sardine tent consisted of Noot, Jimmy, Freddie and I and after unpacking (Lots of alchohol) we made our way to the party !!!! We mingled and partied with other University caving groups throughout the country!
Many hours later we eventually made our way back to the mess of tarp and poles which was our ‘tent’. Noot found a loaf of bread and said ‘ahh I’ll put that in the secret compartment’ we later found that the secret compartment was a HOLE in the tent!!! And this loaf of bread got soaked and was in fact Jimmy’s peanut butter sandwiches for the weekend! This was only the start.. Despite the predicted heavy rain, 40mph winds and 2 degree’s temperature we didn’t have to worry about being cold in our tent, as we were all so close. However Jimmy had misplaced his sleeping bag and ending up using poor Freddie as a spooning partner to keep warm; Jimmy quoted “It was survival”. It turned out Noot kept needing the loo in the night and in the scramble to find footwear, used Freddie’s trainers… The predicted heavy rain happened that night… and the tent wasn’t zipped up fully.
Morning came and the clang of pots and pans woke us up, we could hear distinct laughter and Shane quoted “whose trainers are outside..!” with confusion we emerged out of the collapsed tent to Freddie’s horror of puddles in his trainers! With the addition of a concerned and quite frankly worried Jimmy because he had a numb toe where it had been resting out of the unzipped section of tent during the night! After much laughter we made our way to breakfast!
Shortly after a full English breakfast in a take away tray, we changed and packed our bags for caving. Some of the Adventure and Expo cohort went and did Single Rope Technique (SRT) training and the rest of use headed into a dark muddy cave! YAY!!! We were going to perhaps the muddiest cave in Yorkshire; Mistral. After a commute to the Red Rose caving Cottage we changed into our stylish blue and red over suits and began our walk over the hills to find the cave! On route Jimmy almost lost his wellie in a big muddy puddle and fell over… poor Jimmy (The Spiced Rum was taking its toll!). After hiking over varying terrain, we crossed a stream and witnessed the entrance of the cave.
To get into the cave we had to negotiate a vertical climb down. One by one we made our way down into the cave and we quickly found ourselves in a horizontal chimney like crawling gap we continued through this. We made good progress further into the cave and found ourselves in a large chamber. There Lawrence set up his gopro for a group photo and we then continued throughout the cave.
After a short period of time we came to a very tight corridor where we had to shuffle sideways. The ‘Crab Dance’ was born by Alex Noot and myself. We then stylishly entered a large chasm like chamber with massive boulders filling the centre. We found ourselves scrambling over the thick mud covered boulders… round 1 of the mud fight began. From this we went into a small opening, just big enough to crawl in. The ground was polished limestone, and was perfect for sliding. We pretended to be snakes…..I’m a snnnnnake!
We then found ourselves in another large chamber. But this one was the most fun. There was a giant mud slide with a mud pool at the bottom of it. So we all darted for the mud slide and ended up plastered head to toe in mud. Many wellies got sucked in by the mud and Jimmy nearly had to be rescued as he was literally stuck in the mud! Eventually the wellies and Jimmy got retrieved. My blonde hair was unrecognisable it had become a big brown mess, I was a mud monster!
We then made our way through the cave, and we had a good roll around in the caves stream to clean ourselves. Elegantly perched on a rock I tucked into my mars bar, mud monster’s get hungry too! After some much needed energy we then made our way back through the cave to the entrance and hiked in the dark (With our head torches on) back to the hut. Back at the hut we stripped off…. Don’t worry bikini was still on! And washed our caving kit in a convenient stream outside the Red Rose Cottage; we did our best to get rid of the mud. Then it was time to have a delightful, hot shower and sort out the mud which was caked in my hair. A while later I was clean!!
It was then time to go back to CHECC…. With a slight detour. I was in Luke’s car (A&E oldie) with Noot and a caver from Bristol. As I was very persistent about getting fish and chips Luke kindly detoured to the chippy. After a hard day caving I was rewarded with a nostalgic big bag of chips! Happy Kitkat.
As we returned back to CHECC, Noot and I went to dump our stuff in the ‘tent’…. But there was one massive problem! The tent, which was in fact a failure of a tent!! It was 2 inches underwater. Our sleeping bags were soaked. We took them to the bunk house and left them in the shower to drip dry, we went and found the rest of A&E to see if there were any spare sleeping bags; thank the lord there were!!!! We then came to the realisation that Pete was in a 6 man tent… by himself….. The message didn’t get round to us the previous night. We migrated our kit into the very spacious 6 man tent… only problem here was the zip somehow got broken, and the wind was blowing an absolute humdinger into the tent! We again unpacked (Alcohol) and made our way over to the main hall to mingle and party!
Tonight was crazy games between the different university caving clubs. To start the night there was beer pong, which A&E did very well in. There were interesting talks about a recent caving expedition abroad and one on cave photography. We also did the squeeze box, the human traverse which we won and I took part in the pan and sling. I partnered up with Jack and we did really well, came second out of all the other universities there! We then went back to the main hall and partied into the wee hours of the morning.
Pete, Noot, Freddie and I made our way back to the tent and got cosy and went to sleep. However the wind was howling and the rain was tipping down and the tent was not zipping up! Thankfully we were in an enclosed side pod but still it was eventful but so funny. There was no sign of Jimmy. We survived the night only to find Jimmy didn’t come back to the tent that night, instead we later found out he slept in a toastie warm bunkhouse of one of the other universities. We had breakfast and packed the tents away…. What was left of them… it was so windy. Back at the main hall CHECC was presenting their AGM and we had a talk from UK CAVING. Not long after we packed the minivans and began our road trip back to Plymouth!
Met some awesome people this trip and made friends for life! It has to be one of the best and most funny Adventure and Expo trip I have been on so far.