Trip To Ireby Fell – Not

I expect every one at the MPC is beginning to get a little bit fed up of reading the same report for this trip, year after year. But, for any new members who may be reading about this long running sage for the first time, I shall describe it briefly:

  1. Steve decides he's going caving to lead a trip down Ireby

2. Steve tells all the rest of the MPC that it is going to be a super trip, but it is going to be on a Monday.

3. Steve manages to cajole some MPC; members to take a days holiday with him down Ireby.

4. Steve chickens out on the morning of the trip and decides to go down Sell Gill Holes instead.

And the reason behind this sudden change of plan? Only that the Dales were experiencing blizzard conditions at the time. I ask you, is that really the type of excuse you would expect from a man of the stature of Steve Richardson? This guy is normally so tough he is the only man I know who dares to go stage diving whilst still playing his bass guitar!A man normally so immune to physical torture that he hangs his wet caving gear over his wife's clean washing!

I'm sure, like me, after reading these feats of daring-do you also may begin to think that Steve must have had an ulterior motive for canceling the trip. Well, in an effort to shed some light on this most unusual state of affairs, I’m setting down the transcript of a private conversation held between myself and Mr S Richardson some weeks before the proposed trip . . .

SR “Morning Ian, how are you today?”

IJ “Not bad Steve, and yourself?”

SR “Not too good, I've got terrible bruising all across my chest and it means I can hardly walk"

IJ “Yes it was a good gig last night. Love the new ending where you play the bass line for the last song wedged upside down beneath a table and the bar.”

SR “F**k Off”

IJ “But, you'll still be OK for the trip down Ireby in a few weeks?”

SR “Oh yes sure, I suppose”

IJ “What do you mean I suppose?”

SR “Well Ian, I haven't told anyone this before but - I think Ireby Fell Pot is trying to kill me”

IJ “What do you mean kill you”

SR “Well, I've been talking it through with my lucky Mars Bar, and we've both come to the conclusion that the last time I went in there the cave didn't like me and warned me off”

IJ “How do you mean warned you off”

SR “Well the rocks were scowling at me:, and lucky Mars Bar-says he heard them.”

IJ “He heard them, what were they saying ?”

SR “They said, Steve Richardson if you ever come down here again with them cigars or the cigarettes that Michaela thinks you don’t smoke anymore, we’re gonna do you in!!”

IJ “Do you in”

SR “Yeah, they said they'd give me a right good seeing to”

IJ “But rocks can't talk?”

SR “Oh they can - the likes of you and me can't hear them, but my lucky Mars Bar can”

The conversation then wandered off onto more mundane matters - how he was sure the bloke in the next office was an alien tapping out orders to his pals in a space ship somewhere, how he was positive one of the men on C shift was Elvis.

Anyway, to get back to the story (I mean report)

Having decided to go to Sell Gill Holes, it was then decided to let myself and LP rig and de-rig the pitches. So first stop Bernies for knot practice and breakfast in front of an excellent fire and a diabolical satellite TV.

Next, off to buy LP a furry suit, where for his size (xxxxs) he had the choice of bright pink or bright pink. LP was most dischuffed even though there would have been a tenner- knocked off the normal price.

“Hold on a minute” said the man “I might have some more in the back, but It'll cost you!”

LP's eyes lit up and he bounced around the shop as a purple furry suit was brought out. Judging by the look on LP's face the shopkeeper could have charged anything.

Paul seemed very happy with his new furry suit, but unfortunately for him, and I'm sure he's well aware of this, because of his lack of size, when he’s wearing a furry suit it does tend to take on the appearance of a romper-suit. In fact, the shopkeeper did ask if we wanted some reins as well.

The next stop was very much in the same vein, Babywear, but for Amy this time, Steve wanted to buy her a coat. Now maybe I'm missing something, but I fail to see why a 12 month old baby girl living just outside Skipton requires a coat that can guard against a windchill factor of –60°C, and can stop the claws of a grizzly bear for up to 51 minutes. On the other hand, it was in Richardson purple.

Finally, just as evening was drawing in, we headed for the pot. One gardener (Dave) who had just come back from a weekend of dibbing and cross-pollination in the Lake District, two weeds (Ian and LP), and a rather large bush who sadly had been left to go to seed and needs some serious pruning around the middle (Steve).

After all this excitement what more can I say? The trip went well, the two weeds got a real kick out of rigging the pitches and we both are much more confident after seeing other people dare to use our ropework. There wasn’t too much water underground although the waterfall at Goblin pitch on the wet route looked a bit daunting (and a bit cold).

I must apologies for the rest of the party for taking so long to get changed afterwards, but as the three of you will now be aware, I have this strange affinity for standing around semi-naked in snow storms. It’s very much a oneness with nature!

Thence to the pub, a bit more shopping and home to a long bath and a soft bed except for LP who had to go on the nightshift. Ha Ha!!!!

After the criticism leveled at myself and other members of the YCL caving fraternity for our lack of trips over the winter months, I can only say in my own defense that I was at home, in front of a warm fire, wrapped up with some good books. From one of which I find this rather topical ancient Chinese proverb.

“A little weed can often grow into a strong, sturdy tree. The gardener will just end up looking like Percy Thrower!”