February 16th:

A very cold get together above Winnats, the wind whistling from the west – which would be conveniently blowing the walkers along from Chinley.

As far as I am aware, Maskhill had not been descended before on a Club meet. It had always had this serious and loose reputation and the laddering was awkward. The young Peppits, Syd and Ed Shawcross, had completed this exchange for the first time one evening last year, when they emerged disgusted that they had missed the pub. Of course, the exchange was completed with ropes, not ladders, as was the intention today.

And so it was on this cold Sunday, a bright day in between many storms, we geared up, paid our £2 to the farmer, and headed up the hillside to the two entrances, Oxlow situated lower and a few hundred metres away from Maskhill.

The party split into two, The Peppits’ descending Maskhill, whilst Ed and Syd rigged up Oxlow. Ed and Syd drew the shorter straw, for although Oxlow’s four pitches were straightforward, they had a long wait, whilst Mike rigged up the more complicated Maskhill descent, and Rob looked after the Old Man. Consequently, it was relatively straightforward abseiling down the 230 metres of rope, and sporty, with a Tyrolean to avoid the 40m Waterfall pitch, within sight and sound of the Oxlow party, to descend into the West Chamber.


After greetings and banter, we headed out.  I found the ascent of the four pitches of Oxlow to be quite tiring. The first two were wet, and one higher up had a deviation to avoid the rope rubbing, and when I swopped it over pulling my weight against the bolt and just clipping it in below the harness, I found the rope had tangle round my jumar cord, and had to repeat the process. By then I was fairly knackered! However, the last pitch to daylight compensated for this as I arrived into a sunny but still chilly day. Mike went over to Maskhill and descended a pitch or two to help the others out with the ropes. Rob appeared shortly after me, having de-rigged Oxlow, and we shut the lid with satisfaction.

Walking over to Maskhill, we found two more ropes hanging down (evidently a party of three and another party of four.) Consequently, Ed and Syd had really drawn the short straw, as not only had they to come out the longer climb, they also had to negotiate a mass of tangle ropes and bodies in sometimes constricted places. But two hours later they were out, annoyed, but the trip successfully achieved. A great day.