6th October 2018 - Nigel Dibben - SK 10790 81790
I don't know when I mentioned it to Anton but some time in the last twelve months, I told him that my first proper caving trip was down P8 on 5th October 1968. We thought it might be a good idea to recreate, to some extent, that original trip. So P8 went into the calendar for 6th October 2018, the nearest Saturday to the 50 year anniversary. At 10 in the morning, we started to assemble at the P8 car park and, sure to form, the last people arrived some time after 11. In the end, there were ten of us, Nigel, Anton, Gina, Jock, Kieran, Séan, John C, Pete C, Dave W, Tom (in no particular order except that Tom was last to arrive). To make the trip a bit more 60s, I was in wetsuit, steel toe-cap boots, Texolex helmet and Nife cell while carrying an ammo box. The krabs, ammo box and Nife Cell were probably even more than 50 years old!
After paying our dues (£1 a head), we were off to the entrance in reasonable weather even though it had rained quite a lot overnight. As a result, the entrance and first pitch were quite wet but not likely to get any worse during the day. There was a preliminary surface picture then we were off underground. Dropping down the two laddered pitches was reasonably quick and then I decided to follow the low wet route through (laying the ghost of a trip in 2005 - Simon and Allan will remember it). Meeting up with the others in Mud Hall, we soon reached the sump. The level had obviously been higher but just to prove my wetsuit, I went for a quick dip in the foamy water. On the way out, in Mud Hall, we stopped and out came the refreshments: sausage rolls, scotch eggs, flapjacks, sweets and even some rather soggy onion bhajis! All this was washed down with a (small!) glass of bubbly.
Returning out was reasonably uneventful as, although everyone had to go up ladders on the two pitches, the second pitch was made easier with a bit of help from below. For the first pitch, the traverse route was used so we hardly had to climb through the water. A short ladder on Idiot's Leap helped as well.
It was out into sunshine for another photo and then back to the Wanted to meet up with Liz, Mary and Charlotte and talk over the high points of the trip.
My thanks to everyone who came, it was a great event for me. I know there are others who have been caving longer but it was quite something to return to P8 - and to actually find the trip easier than the first time! Experience must count for somthing. Nigel
Below 1: At the surface before we entered Below 2: Descending the first pitch Below 3: At the sump Below 4: Testing my wetsuit
Below 1: At the sump Below 2: Celebration 'meal' in Mud Hall Below 3: Relaxing in the sun outside Below 4: Thanks, Anton