Avid readers of GOC caving news might just remember that our most recent failure to find the Wretched Rabbit was way back in 2006. We have not been looking for it ever since, but we did give it another go on February 14th 2010. This time, to give fate a fair crack of the whip, we approached from an entirely different direction, on a route supposedly more complicated than the one we chose in 2006. We had attempted it several times in the distant past without success.
Wretched Rabbit is a passage and entrance to the Three Counties complex of caves, on the borders of Cumbria, Lancashire, and North Yorkshire. On this occasion our approach was from Top Sink – the entrance farthest up Easegill dale. Being in possession of a copy of the relevant description from Not for the Faint-Hearted, a splendidly detailed and reliable book in our experience, we slid down the entrance shaft confident of success – so confident that we decided to risk all and do a pull-through. That is, we would abseil down the two pitches along the Top Entrance route, pulling the ropes after us. In the event this did not quite work out because when we came to pull down the first rope, at the “Walrus” pitch, it would not budge. Gary had rigged the pitch and I had come down last. One of us was to blame, but it would not be clear who until we re-entered the cave from Top Entrance at the end of the trip to recover the rope.
Pulling down the rope from the second pitch, “Penknife” pitch, went smoothly and we set off on a damp crawl. We were already wet and cold from the water that came down the two pitches but despite crawling in several inches of water we were soon warm at the speed we were going. The onward journey involved many turnings-off that were by no means obvious, along with some interesting hops across deep rifts as the passages we followed meandered back and forth high above the stream. In more than one place we came to the seemingly impossible, only to find on reading our instructions that there was a cunning way round the problem. After about two and half hours we found ourselves in Stop Pot – familiar to two people in the group – and we knew we (or rather, our book) had cracked the route-finding. An hour later we had hauled ourselves up the ropes fixed on the pitches in the Wretched Rabbit passage that lead to the entrance and we were out in the daylight.
We trotted back up to Top Sink and those suspected of being responsible for the debacle on the Walrus pitch went in to recover the rope – Gary and me. We established with certainty who was to blame, but I am not saying anything.