The publication date for issue 289 is the 10th of December, meaning subscribers should receive their copies during the week leading up to that date. It is also available from caving suppliers such as Inglesport and Starless River, or from our new website
The trip to the end of Hopeless had been getting a little tiresome so the team has embarked on a number of other distractions recently. This has included Five Ways Pot, a return to Pinocchio and digging a speculative new 7m shaft which bummed out and has now been filled in.
However the call to return to F'ng Hopeless was strong and the last month has seen a flurry of activity by those who weren't tempted away to the crags. The end of the cave is intriguing if not flat out. Two streamways were heading towards each other and the hope was that once they join the passage would enlarge. The left hand route had been pushed for 20m or more, flat out in water, to a point that was just too low and too wet to make further progress. The right hand streamway quickly became just a few inches high under a wide flat bedding roof. There was one peep hole which permitted a glimpse of the roof rising 3-4m ahead. What's more with someone placed at the end of both a clear conversation could be held although no reflective light could be seen.
Dave R had undertaken a couple of capping trips but some heavier fireworks were needed to make quicker progress. A series of trips took place where the Grateful Dead took to the stage. The ever keen Geoff and Frank were joined on occasion by Bones, Dave G, Nick and Chris. Eventually as the last drum beat faded the way on was nearly open with a few caps finishing the job. A wriggle in the stream lead for 5m to the confluence with the left hand route. The roof lifted and just for a moment things got exciting. A couple of large domed pockets joined to form a small chamber with veins in the roof (All in Vein Chamber). Beyond it was back to the low, wet, flat out bedding. This was dug for a body length as can be seen in the video. Since then it has gone 15m further in much the same conditions. We will continue with this lead.
Preparing for the Grateful Dead
The flat out bedding post gig
That brings us bang up to date. The state of play is this. CNCC anchor installers, Gary and Matt, have fitted resin bonded anchors to the pitches and will soon be placing topos and a description via CNCC channels. We have derigged the cave for the time being to allow other cavers unimpeded access. However, we have every intention of returning to several leads at the far end.
Please be sensible around the vulnerable formations. There are conservation measures in the cave but they are totally relying on the good sense of visitors. It is a very muddy cave, something very few of the photos show, not surprisingly. Expect to be doing a lot of gear washing post trip and, of course, enjoy.
We are delighted to confirm that anchor installation was successful on 20th August in F’ing Hopeless Pot; Thank you to Badlad for taking our installers down and showing them around (the navigation was not straightforward). The three ‘down’ pitches, and the optional ‘up’ pitch to Eggshell Chamber/Levelling Up have been fitted with resin bonded IC anchors.
We have also written, with the agreement and help of the explorers, a navigational description which is also available on our website.
Needless to say that F’ing Hopeless Pot is a very well decorated cave. Most of the formations are beyond the pitches (and quite a lot of wet and grotty crawling).
F’ing Hopeless is a trip for experienced and careful cavers only. In particular, Eggshell Chamber, Speechless Grotto and beyond contain very vulnerable formations. It is essential that cavers visiting these areas do so with extreme care; move slowly with awareness of your surroundings. Avoid taking unnecessary kit to these areas to minimise risks. Go only as a small and experienced team and one at a time near formations. Work together to ensure that your visit has minimum impact.
This is our chance to both enjoy this fine discovery, but to also set an example of conservation etiquette and good practice.
The cave has been added to the CNCC’s online booking system, which we encourage use of; partly out of courtesy to the landowner and partly to avoid congestion in the cave due to multiple groups visiting on the same day. As per most caves on Leck Fell (except Notts II), only one booking per day can be made. Passing another group, particularly lower down the cave, could be damaging.
If you are just looking for a clean and simple day out, there are definitely far better options on Leck Fell. F’ing Hopeless is a trip for those who don't mind some grotty and muddy crawling to see some great formations, and who fully understand the care needed to ensure their preservation.
For those of you visiting, we wish you an excellent trip.