Martin and Me
A tale about a tricky few minutes during a caving trip in about 1974.
I doubt that anyone has ever climbed a 50-foot wire ladder faster than I did that day. I was almost running like monkey up a tree. The thing was, my mate Martin was already at the top of the pitch, sitting in a narrow cave way up above me in the darkness. He was using his body as a human dam to hold back the heavy water of the stream that gathered behind him, eager to rush past and down the entire length of the ladder in a monsoon like spray. The little acetylene flame on Martin’s brass carbine lamp had been extinguished as he scaled the pitch and could not be relit with a damp flint so he was in almost total darkness. There were just the two of us on this pot-holing trip, thrown together by chance when a group expedition was cancelled at the last minute. It had been fun to use the minimum amount of tackle and no lifelines and mount our own mini expedition down disappointment pot. The risks were part of the attraction but we were really pushing our luck. Hand over hand step after step, expecting every moment to feel and hear the thuds of the first heavy drops signalling the return of the waterfall and the death of our one remaining lamp. But on I climbed, higher and higher and eventually I was able to scramble off at the top. I crawled a few yards up into the cave and there was a wet suited Martin, sat on the rock floor with his legs braced on the walls against the weight of the water behind him. As soon as he moved the many gallons of cold water rushed past and down into the inky darkness with a roar. Without speaking I relit martins lamp with mine and we continued our long journey back to the surface. We didn’t celebrate. We didn’t really talk about what could’ve happened. We both knew what the consequences would have been if either of us had failed to play our own part. We relied totally on each other. I haven’t kept in touch with Martin, our lives took different directions but for those few minutes deep under the Yorkshire hills, we were as close as brothers.
Train the trainer at Ashby-de-la-Zouch Museum
A group of museum and heritage professionals from across the Midlands came together for a three day training session at Ashby Museum, learning how to run digital storytelling workshops. Each person made their own digital story.