Despite caving in Yorkshire for 13 years this year, the caves of Nidderdale have so far eluded me. Some years ago a few members had a trip to New Goyden and reported it as being an excellent trip, and it's always stuck in the back of my mind. So with the CNCC meeting on Saturday 8th, which myself and Gary were attending, the Sunday seemed the ideal opportunity for a trip to Nidderdale on the way home from The Dales.
With a staggering turnout of nine people, including friends from YUCPC and ULSA, we were able to split into two teams. John Holloway (ULSA) kindly took a group from Manchester Hole to Goyden, being the only person in our group with a good knowledge of this complex and extensive system. My group instead headed first to New Goyden Pot, the plan being to 'swap caves' afterwards so everyone got to see both.
New Goyden is pleasantly accessible. Park in the layby immediately after Limley Farm or in the larger layby by the picnic tables a few hundred metres further. Walk back down the road to the main vehicular entrance to the farm, and down here turn right and then through a gate and onto a public footpath running south along the west side of the (hopefully dry) riverbed. After three or four hundred metres the path crosses the riverbed at a derelict ford, and a hundred metres further is the entrance to New Goyden in the right hand embankment under an overhanging tree.
Of course, we missed this completely and instead found a much more obvious lidded pipe only 50m further along the riverbed and descended this. We found ourselves at the top of a loose series of climbs with in-situ tat and scaffold poles, with the New Goyden stream below. John had mentioned a free-climbable route into New Goyden, but this was a little to hairy for our liking so out we went, this time locating the correct entrance.
Immediately inside the entrance, a short crawl reaches the first pitch, followed immediately by the second; both are splendid short pitches. The second lands in the New Goyden stream passage in the middle of the river.
The stream passage is stunning and I stood in awe for a few minutes, shining my light along a 10-15m high, 5-6m wide cavernous river, vanishing off into the distance! Upstream quickly reached an inlet through what appeared to be dig spoil (or possibly even mining spoil as there are some mines in the area), from which a stream issued. Just up here, looking up, we could see the scaffold poles where we had been stood 30 minutes earlier.
We then followed the dramatic river passage downstream for a few minutes down to a sump. A short distance back from the sump, a steep slope on the left took us up to a scramble up through blocks into The Planetarium. A few of us headed straight on from here into the continuing high level passage (this led to a junction where right was the main way on), and a few of us went right down boulders at the bottom of The Planetarium, but both routes soon reunited in another splendid short section of stream passage until we hit another sump.
We spend another happy hour exploring every nook and cranny of the cave and all the various inlets - an absolute delight.
New Goyden was a total surprise - a splendid, dramatic and inspiring underground river - well worth the drive up to Nidderdale for if you're looking for a gentle but thoroughly pleasant afternoon trip. The day was finished off nicely by some blazing hot sunshine and an ice cream in Pateley Bridge.
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