Gautries Hole - Alan Brentnall

Tuesday, 21 April, 2015

Ten cavers met at the little car park at Perryfoot, and kitted up for a sporting, non-SRT trip into Gautries Hole. It was fine weather, and a dry night, so no floods were anticipated as we crossed the field to the doline which is home to Gautires and Car Pot. A haven of nettle, celandine and wild garlic, the shake hole is a lovely niche, which is probably the world to many small mammals and plants, and so we carefully made our way down to the low entrance, where we scrambled between boulders and followed the line, possibly evidence of the February 2014 rescue, down the small stream passage to the "plug hole".

What used to be a hole through calcite, where the stream suddenly vanishes into the lower stream way and the terminal sump, is now piped, so that the diggers, who extended the system for cavers, would be able to plug the stream and force it through South-West Passage and Angle Chamber and into Pool Chamber, so that the force of the water could do some of their digging for them. Even without the "plug", the water obviously backs up more than it used to, evidenced by the regular perched pools along the South-West Passage, but that's no bad thing for, when you come out from the new passages, any water is good for cleaning your kit on your return journey.

And so, after a suitably aqueous trip to Angle Chamber, we climbed up the knotted hawser-laid rope to the muddy duck, which wasn't totally sumped, and scrambled through the eye-hole into Pool Chamber. Here there are two ways to go; the original route was the Turtle By-Pass, which was the preferred option of most of the team, leaving the old sump (originally a tight flat-out crawl over hardened mud, but, thanks to the hydrological engineering of the diggers, now a roomy walk) for the exit route later.

Re-grouping beyond the old sump, we scrambled over boulders into the final stream way, but, instead of following the stream to its conclusion, we took the knotted line and traverse rope into the "new stuff", passing through some amazing passages, over the entrance to Nun's Chuff and through Route 68 to the gravel squeeze, which we had to dig. The two sumps were well watered, but open, and a good opportunity to rid ourselves of some of the sticky mud, and we continued forward through some flat-out stuff to the rising ramp which eventually led us to the squeeze into the chamber before the Poundland crawl.

Because of the size of the party, only a couple of us (Christine and me) actually got as far as the Poundland Dig, but there were some amazing efforts to force bodies through as far as they were able. Eventually, we retreated back to the original Gautries series, and out into the shady doline, by this time steeped in darkness under a starry sky featuring a pink crescent moon, and a fine view of Jupiter. Back at the cars, we stripped off our muddy kit, and headed up to the Wanted, to find it, yet again, closed. Fortunately the Dev at Peak Forest was still serving, so we imbibed and chatted and eventually headed home.