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A Case For Easier Egress

There very nearly was a very nasty moment in the evening of Wednesday the 15th April when a situation requiring the MRO was averted by a hair's breadth.  The embarrassment of two potential rescuees would have known no bounds for one was an active MRO warden, another was an elderly member of the BEC not quite as accident prone as Chris Castle but who has been known to give other members an occasional nasty turn, and the third, just a nice guy who would have felt just as foolish.

We had started out late for Longwood and had been further delayed by the fact that I had to stop at the stream to soak my boots as they were rock hard.  We had then meandered gently through the cave after being delayed for a while by another party below the shower bath and eventually got back to the entrance after one of us had got inextricably muddled in the letter-box squeeze. We were pretty sure we were going to miss the pub but there was still a chance.  Or was there?  I couldn't open the lid.  Nor for that matter could anyone else.

We fettled away quietly, cursed a bit, wondered how the party we had met had got out and what they had done to the lock afterwards.  Then, we realised we were going to miss the pub.

We didn't beat hell out of the lock with boulders because the engineer amongst us told me rock was no match for cold steel so the third party went searching for anything that could be used .as a crowbar and came up with some very rusty angle iron.

"Did you tell Pat where we were going?"

"No. did you tell Maggie?"

"Yes, but I don't think she'll phone Pat till two o'clock"

"Pat will tell her to wait another hour before doing anything so it will be about 4 o'clock before the MRO will get here".

"Shit!  We’ll be here until morning then".

That was enough; the strong man lay on his back on the little ledge in the block house and gave an almighty kick.

"I've done something awful to my leg but its open"

"It’s what?"

"It’s open"

"You must be joking"

"No I'm not"

And he wasn't, one kick had broken the weld on the block house door and we were on our way home by midnight.

Longwood is not locked and should not be relocked with an Abloy key.  The whole affair could have been embarrassing for the whole caving community and most worrying for three caver’s wives.


As it happened Trebor came to look for us as one of the cars was still at the Belfry when he got back after the pub.  We'd gone by the time he got to the parking area so he didn't callout the MRO who would have been with us by midnight.  Honestly, we wouldn't have broken open the cave if we'd known.

Jeremy Henley.