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Smallcleugh to Rampgill via Prouds Sump with the Youngens (26/07/18)

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We have taken the youngens on various trips so far, and now that they have had a fair few under their belts I was thinking that it was time to do something a little more interesting. Last year I had bought Hannah a climbing harness and she has been up a tree in it where I have hoisted her up - no problems. Rosie has been climbing, so also used to a height and hanging around. So, with no issues on the surface I thought it would be an idea to do some rope work with them. The plan was to do the through trip via Proud's Sump and rig two sets of ropes on both pitches. One for the youngen to be lowered down on and another for the respective parent to abseil along at the same time.

Karli suggested that so the kids aren't hanging around the shaft top when it is being rigged, he and Gav would go and rig the shaft up first. Whilst they did that, I took the rest to the start of Northend Flats for a quick mooch around. Arrived, five minutes of potter and then back to Proud's Sump. Away from the edge of the sump, we explained the use of cowtails and clipped the kids in so they could see the principle (they did look cute with their mini cowtails). With everything ready I got on to my rope while Hannah sat at the edge of the sump with her cowtails attached. Once I was on, I glanced at her and she was having a mixture of feelings, asking her if she was OK, she said that she was very excited, but also scared at the same time. She then proceeded to mutter "be brave Hannah" - one way to deal with it. The time had come to do the business. Karli attached a rope to her harness and then the cowtails came off. I can't remember how she got to the point of dangling in the shaft, it might have been a step around Karli and then drop in with his help or whether it was another way - I've lost the memory from the excitement and to some extent the hope that this did not end in tears. Finally, we where both next to each other on the ropes. For extra safety I also clipped her in to my harness and the lowering started. No panic, no screaming, no tears, all calm as we slowly abseiled down the shaft together. I talked to Hannah explaining how far we where down and that she should use her legs to move away from the walls if she got too close - at this point I realised that all was good and calm. The look on her face showed pure exhilaration! We made the bottom of the sump and detached the ropes, moving down the level a bit to make sure we weren't under the sump. It was Rosie's and Gav's turn next, they came down with no issues either and once at the bottom Rosie and Hannah starting gassing. Next down was Rebecca on her first ever abseil underground using a stop, no problem - like a duck to water. Karli derigged the top and then came down last. Whilst he was doing that I rigged the second pitch.

The second abseil went without a hitch and shortly we were popping out into the Proud's flat area. Just before the bottom and coming to the ledge I did warn Hannah about swinging into the lip and what to do so that she did not crash in to it if the rope wanted to swing her about. She did end up swinging towards the lip, but thankfully there was no impact. I detached from Hannah's harness and pendulled into the flat, then getting hold of her abseil rope I pulled her in to land on the floor. Whenever we talk about it, she always goes on about how she nearly hit her head - memories. The rest of the crew followed down with no problems. We ended up having a look around the artefacts, then we moved up to the dressing floor area where we explored some more. Moving away from the dressing floor, we found some rocks to sit on and we had lunch. I was quite relieved that the hardest part with the kids was over now and most importantly that there had been no issues. After lunch we did a bit more exploration and ended up going to the stoped part of the flats to see all the tins and the tallow candles. We did a little loop and then it was time to do the last pitch. Rather than abseiling this part, everyone climbed down the ladders, shortly Hannah and Rosie were in a new mine - Rampgill. Whilst waiting for everyone else to climb down I took the girls for a little potter along the level to look at things.

Once everyone was down, we started the journey to Whisky Bottle junction. The girls loved the formations in this part of the mine and soon everyone was suffering from spontaneous war paint syndrome. Where the water got too deep the girls were fireman hoisted over shoulders - thankfully this only happened in three sections. By the time we got to Whiskey Bottle junction, the girls were starting to flag a bit and I broke out the emergency sweets for smiles and energy. A quick photo here and we then set off for the portal. No more water rescue, everyone under their own steam now - no matter how cold!

Finally, after 5½ hours underground, we saw the light from the portal and shortly exited. The girls at this point were looking a bit exhausted, the adults were looking very pleased that all had ended well and it was a safe trip and the first timer, Rebecca was looking amazed at what she had seen. The only possible thing to do now was to go to the Miners Arms for a pint, but not before a photo. Don't know about Rosie, but I'm sure she was just like Hannah - out like a light at bedtime. I wish I had taken more photos of the action parts with the kids, but we were too focused on making sure they were safe. Hind sight and all that, I should have got Rebecca to have the camera and taken pot shots with the flash on.