07/01/17 - Good turn out for an impromptu trip down Oxlow. Rob and I had been meaning to see the new stuff at the end of New Oxlow for a while now and Le Gourmand, on a brief visit from across The Channel, wanted to get some caving in whilst he was here, so Oxlow was the perfect choice.

We arrived about 11ish, to find everyone else already there, kitted up and trudged up the hill. We knew it would be quite steady going with 7 of us, so Rob and I shot off down the entrance pitch to get rigging and we all regrouped at the top of the pull-through into Pilgrim's Way. Pilgrim's Way felt as long as I remembered it, it must've been a great bit of cave to have found, but when you're just there to see what's at the end of it, it becomes a bit laborious. Soon enough though, we found ourselves at North Chamber and headed up the new bypass pitch, which avoids having to go down North Pitch and up the Main Inlet Series. A short muddy squeeze brings you out into a passage before another low section of about 4m finds you in a chamber. Le Gourmand, at his full winter feasting weight, took a few attempts to get through, eventually taking off his SRT kit and slowly squirmed through like some colossal French snail. David, who by now was slightly edging George in the Roseist Faced Caver Competition, struggled through next - shortly followed by Sam, who simply barrelled through like a barrel.

With everyone regrouped in the chamber, it was here that the mutterings began. "This isn't even the tight bit, this is a tight bit to get to the tight bit", "Why are we crawling through a tight bit just to get to a tighter bit that will be even tighter than this tight bit?". The group stayed together for a short distance longer before the way on once again became a flat-out crawl and a full-on mutiny ensued. George, now realising he was no longer in a mine, had nothing to inspect and therefore absolutely no business being there, lead the mutiny and from herein will be referred to as Fletcher Christian. Not even Eddy Samp wanted to join us (no doubt having been struck by his uncle for daring to defy him). So it was just the two of us that continued, and we soon found ourselves in the 'final' chamber looking for the way on. I knew the way on was supposed to be improbable looking, so in my stupidity I went looking for the most improbable looking way on I could find. This took us up a dodgy climb up an aven, through a muddy squeeze, horizontally across a tight constriction and then head first down a tube which brought us out overlooking where we'd just been 15 minutes ago. Shit. Reversing the way we'd came, Rob pointed out the hole in the wall that he'd seen earlier, but I'd ignored - because I'm an idiot. So through we headed (now definitely wishing we'd brought a tackle bag to put our SRT kit in) and up through the (actual) Crusader Squeeze. We followed the route down and through into a passage similar to Pilgrim's Way (but smaller) and up into a cross rift. SRT kit back on, up the rope, down the other side and into Knights Templar. It's an impressive find and we carefully made our way up to The Priory, where the full scale of the place reveals itself. We declined the opportunity of wriggling along the tube heading east and decided to head out.

As always, everything seems much quicker on the way out and we soon found ourselves heading back down the rope into 'Old' Oxlow. A quick derig and we just caught the last of the shameful mutineers heading (shamefully) up the entrance pitch. A full inquiry has been commissioned and one can only hope that maritime justice is executed swiftly and mercilessly. (Rob, Sam, Ed, Fletcher Christian, Mike, David, Tom B)