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Thursday July 1st 2010

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu

Max, Sarah, Tash, Chuck

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Wednesday June 30th 2010

Ogof Ffynnon Ddu (Top entrance - Selenite Tunnel - Main Streamway)

Matt, Gary, Sarah, Max, Nikki

Gary wrote...

OFD is always fun but not sure I’ll ever get used to the navigation around Top entrance! We left the leading up to Nikki but still managed to go around in circles several times before finding the way to Maypole Inlet. Not that I would have done any better and it was nice to take a route I’d never been before with some interesting passage and formations along the way.

Almost no water in the main streamway so we headed up-stream for a while which is an another area I’ve never been to. Some quite impressive streamway but nothing overly interesting.

A fun but easy trip to start our week in Wales.

7th July 2010

Gary Douthwaite

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Saturday June 19th 2010

Dale Head Pot

Matt, Gary, Chad, Richard G, Max, Nick

Matt wrote...

We had a short but enjoyable trip down Dale Head Pot on Saturday.

The cave is very easy to find, and the obvious entrance shaft can be rigged from metal stakes and a single bolt rebelay just over the edge (hidden by foliage). The bottom of the 5m shaft is horrible, being home to several rabbits in various states of decomposition, and the smell was aweful. This cave would probably benefit from some kind of lid!

The scaffold shaft heading down is reassuringly well done and stable and is an easy free-climb down scaffolding. From the bottom, the low Heartburn Crawl heads off back underneath the scaffolding. Removal of our SRT kits was essential for this, as it involves several metres of very low and tight thrutching before opening out slightly, followed by a couple of minutes of awkward small passage to reach Boulder Chamber where SRT gear may be reapplied and the going becomes easy.

Following the obvious for several minutes reaches the first underground pitch - this is VERY awkward indeed, as the slot onto the pitchhead is narrow, and the Y-hang is right in the middle, restricting access. It doesn't look like it should be hard, but it is, particularly on return!

Once through, a nice couple of pitches follows landing in pool of water at the bottom - which I suspect gets rather wetter! Gary and Rich went on to rig the next few pitches, however, they didn't get far down before the quality of the bolts deteriorated, with most of them hanging half way out the wall, and one popping out in Garys hand! There were no safe ways to rig the ongoing main shaft and so we were forced to turn around.

We were out by 4pm, and despite being short this was a very enjoyable trip.

20th June 2010

Matt Ewles

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Saturday June 12th 2010

Lancaster Hole (Photography trip)

Gary, Mark, Matt

8 photos by Gary...

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Sunday May 30th 2010

Coolagh River Cave

Cat, Chad, , Laura, Matt

Cat wrote...

Fantastic trip!

A rather unpleasantly wet entrance followed by some mildly difficult traversing (for me anyway) led to some scrotty bedding plane crawls and canals to avoid the pitch at the end of Gour Passage. Definitely would not have wanted to be in there if there was any chance of rain. However on reaching the streamway - which I found quite reminiscent of OFD in places - there was much stomping and splashing and swimming – great fun! Getting out of the plungepool on the return required a bit of hauling from Matt! We went all the way to the terminal sump (quite pleasant, as sumps go) before retracing our steps back upstream and through the scary second bedding cave. Just after here, instead of taking the inlet we had entered through, we continued following the water upstream. At one point whilst in an oxbow we had to take a small and scary looking secondary oxbow on the left to avoid a dodgy climb up. Scary looking because it was full of straw and other flood debris. Slightly dubious that this was the way on we followed our noses and eventually found water again.

The canyon on the way out of Polldonaugh Swallet was pretty cool – looking up to see how the path of the water had dramatically changed over the years. Towards the end a slight navigational error caused by miscommunication led us to a bedding crawl with cascading water and a noticeable draft. We had a few moments panic when we thought the entrance may have closed up and we’d have to return all the way back to the Polldonough South entrance but on retracing our steps to where we guessed we’d gone wrong, we soon found the correct way on and within a few minutes were walking out of the canyon and back to daylight, hoorah.

NB. Entrance B9a appeared not to be blocked as Selected Caves states. Entering here instead would allow you to bypass the majority of the minging wetness at the start.

3rd June 2010

Catherine Moody (Cat)

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Matt wrote...

It was interesting to take a trip down Coolagh River cave again, as it was amazing how well I remembered certain parts from four years ago, and how badly I remembered others!

It was a lovely sunny day, we parked on the verge at the crossroads and walked down the road and across the field to the Polldonough South entrance, which is a grim wet wallow for the first several metres (interesting the entrance that bypasses this only 30m in appears to be open, contrary to the guidebook). A very long section of hourglass shaped passage with easy traversing then followed until the obvious drop down into column chamber, and then a slither down into Gour passage. I had forgotten about the long traverse, however, Gour passage was exactly as I remembered.

On our previous visit we had the tackle for the pitch to the streamway, so we headed left, however, this time we headed right, along several meandering and unobvious bedding crawls to finally reach the obvious narrow stream canyon passage that was the Polldonough streamway. Downstream, the second bedding cave followed, which became a low canal-like passage, bent over with water lapping at your waist, and this soon become flat out wallowing again to reach the junction with the upstream end of the main stream passage.

A magnificent stomp down the streamway then followed, and lots of fun in the deep plunge pools. As much fun as the water was, I'm not sure I'd ever want to be down here in the conditions that create the River of Guinness as depicted in Selected Caves - that would be terrifying, and the consequences of a flood are always obvious. We got to the downstream sump quite quickly.

Upstream again, and we returned through the Second Bedding Cave, to the junction where we originally joined the Polldonough streamway. Rather than following our route back, we followed the water upstream towards the Polldonough entrance. The Polldonough streamway is very variable, typically narrown canyon or crawling stream, with several side routes, however, most of the incorrect routes soon close down, and the best advice is to follow the water as best as possible. One bit where we went wrong was following the water, but this soon became very small and the correct way was a dry straw-covered passage on the left that we should have taken instead, soon returning to the water. After this another junction was reached, where both passages looked equally likely - we took the right hand route - I scuttled up the left one, which continued as a cobbled crawl for some distance, and probably reconnects further on.

Only 100m or so from the exit we had a slight communication error - Cat had started up a spacious passage, but then shouted back to Chad and I to ask if there had been any other way on from where we had just come, just to be sure we hadn't missed anything. I misunderstood and assumed this to mean that Cat had reached a dead end and we NEEDED to find another way. Sure enough, another way was possible, however, this went for 50-100m before closing down, with water cascading in over blocks, and a strong draft of fresh air! I though for a minute that the entrance may have collapsed, and started to contemplate a return journey back to Polldonough South. However, on return downstream, the miscommunication became obvious and we stomped out the spacious onward passage to daylight (a later look at the survey shows the passage we went up in error as coming very close indeed to the actual entrance and so the fresh air I thought I felt was probably correct).

Emerging into the forest we crawled through a dense pine tree area for about 100m to eventually find ourselves back at the road.

An excellent and very varied trip with a magnificent main streamway! The way out of Polldonough is quite long but makes for a more satifying trip. I'd quite like to investigate the possibility of entering or exiting through Polldonough North next time.

6th June 2010

Matt Ewles

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Sunday May 30th 2010

Faurnarooska Cave

Chuck, Gary, Thomas

4 photos by Gary...

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Saturday May 29th 2010

Cullaun Five

Thomas, Matt, , Gary, Chuck, Chad, Cat

Cat wrote...

I'm fairly sure the Selected Caves description for this cave was written by a very short person, as we very much disagreed with the statements of "walking-sized" canyons. The cave caused quite a bit of back-ache and was relatively uninspiring until near the end where we found some very impressive gour pools in some of the oxbows. Red Carpet Passage was also quite nice. Deciding not to bother going any further we turned around and headed back to the ladder pitch. Chuck, Tom, Chad and John ended up going the wrong way and followed Hunchback Horror for quite a way, not hearing my shouts that they were a bunch of numpties; serves them right for not bothering to wait for the rest of us! We exited the C5b entrance in the forest to avoid having to return through the nastiness between there and C5. Now covered in mud, we went for a splash in Cullaun 2 to clean off a bit.

4th June 2010

Catherine Moody (Cat)

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Saturday May 29th 2010

Cullaun Two

Cat, Gary, , Thomas, Matt, Chuck, Chad

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Friday May 28th 2010

Doolin River Cave to Fisherstreet Pot

Matt, Gary, Cat, Chad, Chuck, , Laura, Thomas

Matt wrote...

A thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing trip down a magnificent cave!

After efficient pre-rigging of Fisherstreet Pot and a check of the water level (air space was approximately 50-60cm, far more than stated in the guide), we were underground before midday on a lovely warm morning, and soon making progress through the very dry entrance (I imagine this becomes much wetter when water is flowing at the surface). Route finding was generally easy, although we were a little confused by the selected caves description, which understates the distance covered. However, in general the way on was following the most obvious route. The area just before the drop down through boulders into the canal is the most difficult bit to find, as the streamway lowers, and you need to take the passage to the right, a crawl, soon reaching the slot down between slabs into the canal (which was barely knee deep).

Beyond here, route finding is very easy, and the cave opens out. We stopped for photos at the large grotto just beyond the canal, before continuing downstream. The cave soon develops into one of the finest and most spectacular river passages ever, probably the nicest I have ever seen, with well decorated, stomping and cavernous river passage spanning a considerable distance.

After an enjoyable half hour stomping and photographing, the river passage narrowed slightly and became more rift-like, before eventually lowering to the final section. Eels and fish were in abundance here! Soon, we were at the bottom of Fisherstreet Pot and only a quick ladder climb from daylight. An amazing trip!

3rd June 2010

Matt Ewles

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Cat wrote...

A cracking cave to start off the weekend... Matt and Gary left early to pre-rig Fisherstreet Pot whilst the rest of us got ready at a leisurely pace. On their return we did a couple of shuttle runs and after a couple of wrong turnings we all made it to the entrance for St. Catherine’s 1. Doolin River Cave is a nice easy stomp through some very pleasant streamway, interlaced with waterfalls, crawly bits and some pretty formations in Smithy’s Grotto. During the dry entrance crawls I was cursing wearing my wetsuit but once we reached water I was glad of it. There was quite a lot of faff in the form of picture-taking but despite that we completed the through trip in around 3 and a half hours (I think). All that remained was the sunny walk back up the hill to the cottage, where we feasted like kings on about a dozen courses of tapas :)

3rd June 2010

Catherine Moody (Cat)

13 photos by Gary...

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Saturday May 8th 2010

Birks Fell Cave

Gary, Nikki, Matt, Richard G, Sarah

Matt wrote...

Another excellent trip to Birks Fell!

After an early start in Buckden, we were underground by 11:30am. The cave is very easy to find - simply follow the tack up past Redmire Farm, and then after going through the gates, come off the path and follow the wall on the right steeply uphill. At the top, the cave entrance is only 50m ahead in the shallow valley.

We quickly got down to the Bradford Crawl, which required only minimum excavation, and then the connection crawl seemed much more pleasant than last time. From the first pitch onwards, Birks Fell really does have something for everyone, with minimum routefinding issues (follow the water all the way down), and some fantastic stream passages and formations. The Block and then the free-climb down beyond it provide an interesting challenge (particularly on the return journey). For future reference, Cascade pitch can now be rigged from higher up, which avoids the difficult free-climb down beyond The Block. Therefore, for future reference:

After The Block has been negotiated, continue along the large passage. Ignore the usual route down through the floor on the left, and continue along a short distance until hangers allow for Cascade pitch to be rigged from a higher up position. A 25m rope should be adequate.

We made very quick progress indeed to Shale Pitch, however, once again, the rigging dilemmas posed by this got the better of us. Gary went to the rebelay but found it to be very loose and dangerous indeed. Rich examined the possibility of an alternative Y-hang at the top but nothing would clear the waterfall. By now we were all pretty cold, and with a nights camping ahead we were keen to get out in time for pub food and to pitch our tents. So we turned around and headed out. The outward journey seemed pretty efficient, but very tiring indeed. It's not until the outward journey that you realise how far you've travelled and how much hard work this cave really involves! The last hour after passing Shooting Box Aven seemed to go on for ever and sapped every last ounce of energy out of me!

We arrived to the surface at about 7pm, absolutely knackered! A pub meal in Starbotton was followed by drinks in Kettlewell and a much needed nights sleep at the campsite.

Birks Fell really is a superb caving trip, even only as far as Shale Pitch (and by then you've done 90% of the cave), with a really sense of adventure and journey. The return trip is sure to put your stamina to the test, and the satisfaction to have completed the trip is immense! I'd happily do Birks Fell every year, and maybe one time we may even get to the terminal sump!

9th May 2010

Matt Ewles

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Saturday May 1st 2010

Sell Gill Holes

Matt, Gary, Sarah,

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Saturday April 24th 2010

Penyghent Pot

Matt, Gary, Laura, Nick, Richard G, Nikki, Chuck

Matt wrote...

Fantastic and efficient trip down Penyghent!

Staying at the YSS hut on Friday night (thanks to Rich and Nikki for catering), we made a hungover early start and were up at Brackenbottom by 9am, and at the entrance by 9:45am!!! I have never even seen a cave entrance this early in the morning! Myself, Gary, Nick and Laura formed the rigging team, while Rich, Nikki and Chuck sunbathed in the lovely spring sunshine for an hour or so to avoid catching us up too soon. We made very quick progress through the first several pitches, helped by the low water level. The derigging team caught us up on the approach to the eighth pitch, and we made the remainder of the journey down to the sump together. A mega efficient trip out saw my team arrive at the surface just before 5pm, with the derigging team only an hour behind (after getting stuck behind another group).

My team then headed off straight up to Middlesborough for Andys 30th birthday party, arriving there at the not unreasonable time of 9pm with several hours of excellent socialising and drinking time ahead.

25th April 2010

Matt Ewles

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Saturday April 10th 2010

Hurnel Moss Pot

Cat, Chad, Gary, Matt, Thomas

Chad wrote...

A cracking trip down Hurnel moss :)

The weather was beautiful, which meant that it was a little warm on the long walk up. We came across what may have turned out to be Grey Wife hole first (?) thinking that was our pot - alas no. So more walking, but we were soon at another large shakehole, the correct one. Yay!

The entrance is a short crawl to the pitch head, rigging the pitch head was a little constricted, but I was soon down to the next set of rebelays, and then onto the traverse to the Poseidon pitch. I was rattling along at a decent pace. The traverse was awesome, minimal footholds; it was literally hanging on to the p-hanger time. I think that they could have put p-hangers in so you didn't have to do the traverse but where would be the fun in that.

Then it was onto the huge the Poseidon pitch, split in the middle by an easier traverse, with a massive Y-hang before going down the second part. This cave is just one huge pitch really, I was rigging tight (as per usual :-P) to try and avoid having to use the pre-rigged knot pass (plus I needed that bit of rope at the bottom). In reality the rope lengths suggested by the rigging guides are way longer that we needed, so in the end I didn't need to worry about it.

At the bottom there are loads of boulders, where Matt and I seem to spend ages deciding the best way down to go and see the "sump". Eventually we plumped on going off a flake protected by a tacklsack and a piece of plastic left in situ, backed up off a rock jammed between boulders. Once down is was a case of walking along a fine rift before suddenly the cave ends in quite a pathetic sump - there must be potential for more here though.

The way out was a fun prussik with additional camera flash duties...

A really nice day, spent with Cat (+others :-P) ending up with some good food in Austwick :)

20th April 2010

Chad Bullivant

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Matt wrote...

A very enjoyable trip down Hurnel Moss on a swelteringly warm spring day! I've been wanting to do Hurnel Moss for years, as it is one of the Yorkshire classics that I had yet to tick off my caving wish-list. I was expecting a good vertical adventure and I wasn't disappointed.

Chad made quick work of rigging the entrance down to the traverse. Everyone else seemed to find the entrance pitch simple, however, it caused me great difficulties on the way in and out - it's quite a constricted pitch head with a flat out crawl leading onto it (only 2 m from the entrance), and maybe this is one where being 6 ft tall goes very much against you!

From the bottom of the entrance pitch a slope of rubble leads to the traverse. The traverse was nothing like I was expecting, and involved a very exposed traverse across the head of a huge drop along a tiny ledge - and this is probably the only traverse I have ever done where the only way to do it is to hang on your cowtails as you go along. We had to swing from P-hanger to P-hanger with arms hooked over the rope to old yourself upwards and against the rock face. Quite scary and not something you get in many caves - nice to do something different!

Beyond here, Poseidon pitch followed - which wasn't quite as spectacular or long as I had expected, but nontheless provided some much needed SRT fitness training and an uncomplicated bit of high level sightseeing! From the bottom we spent a little while discussing how to rig the way down to the streamway rift that continued onwards (there are several places this can be rigged from boulders but all involved some rope rub). We found a knob of rock with some polythene over it which seemed to suggest this was the best way, and this seemed to work fine.

The rift at the bottom provided an entertaining ten minutes before the final pathetic sump was reached where the water disappears into the floor and the rift ends abruptly - this cave could definitely do with something a bit nicer at the end! However, overall Hurnel Moss was a clean, quick, uncomplicated SRT day out with an exciting top traverse! Very good for photography too (see photo gallery)!



11th July 2010

Matt Ewles

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11 photos by Gary...

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Monday April 5th 2010

Hunter's Scar Jet Mine

Gary, Chuck, Andy B, Cat, Matt, Peter, Richard G, Richard W

Gary wrote...

Promised so much, but delivered so little. Reports on this mine looked good, however the reality was rather different.

After meeting up in Great Ayton, we all headed up towards Captain Cook's Monument and after the third stop, found the right car park! An easy walk up the forestry track followed by a steep slope down through the woods and the mine was obvious. A fairly new wooden enclosure helped with location with the top shaft entrance just below the track.

The adit entrance is a low concrete arched passage with a large pipe running the full length. After fifteen meters or so it opens out into mined passage with several tanks of water ahead. Stepping over the tanks and around the corner, daylight comes in from the shaft with it's impressive original steel ladder. Crossing a rotting wooden board leads to a rather unfortunate sudden end to the mine. To add a bit of excitement, we exited by the dodgy ageing steel ladder up the shaft.

An interesting place, worth a look but don't expect a long day underground!

5th April 2010

Gary Douthwaite

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14 photos by Gary...

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Saturday March 27th 2010

Tatham Wife Hole

Matt, Gary, Nikki, Nick

Matt wrote...

A pleasant and uncomplicated trip down Tatty Wife. Parking at the quarry layby, we headed straight up the hillside and towards the scar of the Tatham Wife Fault, in line with the lower slope of Ingleborough where the shakehole is found at the far end of the scar (my first trip there several years ago involved several hours wandering around a foggy moor). A reasonable amount of water entered, and I would say the cave was moderately wet, although scum suggested it had recently been much higher. We rattled down the cave, pausing only to allow another exiting group past at the duck (which didn't matter really as we went over the top). The SRT route over the duck is quite awkward and time consuming to rig and derig, and in future I think we'll probably just do the duck! Nick and Nikki headed out first stopping only to take the full tacklesack, and Gary and I followed closely behind, with us all getting out before 6pm (total time underground approximately 5 hours) with enough daylight to get down the hill and get changed. Overall, a very enjoyable trip.

28th March 2010

Matt Ewles

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15 photos by Gary...

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Sunday February 7th 2010

Boxhead Pot - Lost Johns Pot

Mark, Matt, Gary, Richard G, ,

Matt wrote...

A superb trip, one of the finest I have ever done!

We were really efficient, arriving for breakfast at Bernie’s for 9:45am! Mark, Gary and I were joined by Rich, Steve and Ellie. The intention was originally just Boxhead Pot however the decision was made to go for the exchange with Lost Johns (via Centipede route). I was sceptical, owing to the complicated nature of this exchange however we decided to give it a go, and after a quick breakfast we were on Leck Fell, cold but thankfully not raining.

Gary, Mark and I went down Boxhead. The spectacular entrance pitch was amazing, and Gary quickly headed down to start rigging the main pitch and into the Kendal Flyover. We had a failed attempt here last year, however, conditions were much drier this time, and after 20 minutes of searching, Gary found the swing into the rift, and we promptly made our way down. The pitch is amazing, a beautiful free-hang down a spectacular shaft. As I abseiled down I wondered if there was actually any bottom to it (the spray from the water made visibility poor)! We reached the rift, on the right hand wall, about 20m up from the actual floor (which we could just see by this point), and we swung into it without any difficultly. Another short pitch, followed by a final 3m pitch to a muddy ledge was followed by a crawl leading off at floor level (the Kendal Extensions). Route finding along this crawl and the subsequent network of passage all the way to Lost Johns was much easier thanks to the excellent ‘Not For The Faint Hearted’ description. A short way along the crawl, you take the right branch and the passage becomes keyhole shape, requiring traversing high up until a constricted downward climb is reached, with an in-situ handline. Below this a crawl through water reaches a refreshing low wallow to pop up in a decorated chamber. More crawling and stooping followed, with a sharp left hand bend shortly after a very high aven, to eventually reach a broken climb up using an in-situ handline – the book described this as a fascinating climb, and it certainly was! At the top, squeezing through blocks brought us up into the huge passages of the Leck Fell Master Cave, where we met the other group and exchanged navigational instructions.

Onwards from there, the passages remained impressively large, and then the next pitch was met with an in-situ rope in thankfully good condition (we had brought a rope for this however we sent it back with the other team when it turned out not to be needed). Abseiling down this brought us into probably one of the most spectacular huge and well decorated chambers in Yorkshire, which was both breathtaking and awe-inspiring. The roar of the Master Cave stream could be heard below. A climb down blocks gained the stream, and a short stomp (via a short stoop/crawl), reached the junction with the Lost Johns water on the right (marked by a cairn). Just up here the roar of the water increased and the bottom pitch of the Lost Johns was soon reached. We were so happy, not only to have successfully navigated the trip, but also to have found such a gem underneath Leck Fell that we previously had no idea about! I’d done Lost Johns several years back but only to the bottom of the final pitch – I had no idea what amazing passage lay only just beyond here!

Lost Johns was a slog upwards – we’d been going for nearly four hours without stopping for more than a minute, and derigging Battleaxe traverse was highly draining, especially after the prussic up Valhalla pitch (approx 40-50m). However, the satisfaction of completing the trip overcame the tiredness, and we rattled up Lost Johns in no time, exiting the cave with a total trip time of only about 5.5 hours, arriving to the surface for the last glimmer of daylight. The other team had emerged only half an hour earlier.

To finish the day off in the best possible way, we went to the Game Cock in Austwick for pizza, beer a warm fire and great company (you can’t ask for any better an end to a hard days caving), and then arriving back in York at a very civilised 9pm.

This was a truly amazing trip, with a bit of everything. You get a stunning entrance pitch, followed by a spectacular main shaft in Boxhead, some pleasant crawls, some route finding challenges, exciting climbs, a short but refreshing wallow in water (which turns out to have been greatly welcomed in advance of the extensive horizontal cave ahead), an amazing master cave with stomping streamway, huge chambers and flowstone, and then a superb ascent up Lost Johns with the infamous Battleaxe traverse and then easy going pitches to the surface. Probably my favourite trip in ages and would definitely like to do it again perhaps in reverse this time.

8th February 2010

Matt Ewles

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Mark wrote...

Matt & Gary arrived 10 minutes early, and amazingly I was already packed and ready to go. After a diversion back to their house (!) to pick up the rest of the descriptions, we were on our way to the Dales. Bernies was reached 20 mins ahead of schedule, and after we’d long finished breakfast, the others met us (about 20 minutes behind schedule…!). There was a bit of indecision as to whether to go for the exchange or whether to just have an explore at the bottom of Boxhead, but having done neither I was keen to do the exchange…and thankfully that was the decision!

Off we went down Boxhead, which was pretty stunning to say the least. In hindsight, perhaps not the best cave to experiment with my Simple on, but isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing?! The rocks perched above the 70m pitch were a bit unnerving, but nothing slipped so all was good!

After waiting a little while for Gary to rig the Kendal Flyover we heard a shout of, “I can’t find the p-hangers”, but we didn’t really fancy prussiking back out, only to go and do a different route down Lost Johns, so we stood and waited. After a while there was a shout of, “It’s time to go…!”. I thought that was a pretty odd way of phrasing things when you’re half way down a 70 odd metre pitch, so I yelled down assuming I’d mis-heard. The reply came back up: “I’ve found the p-hangers…but it’s time to go!”. By this point I had no idea what Gary was on about…talk about a defeatist mentality! One more go and the reply again came back: “I’ve found the p-hangers…but I’ve gone too low”. That made much more sense and in no time at all I was on my way down!

We were soon at the bottom of the stunning pitch and negotiating our way on; the first challenge was a tight climb down…and once we’d popped through that I was keener than ever to do the exchange! I really didn’t fancy going up that. The next section was described as a wet crawl ending with a brief wriggle through water. The crawl was annoying, but the wriggle wasn’t too bad…until we popped up into the little chamber at the end and realised that the way on was a squeeze under a block about 6 inches above the water level! Once we’d all thrashed our way through this and had been suitably fascinated by the climb, we met the others and I realised how long it was since I’d seen carbide!

Spirits rose even further at this point – if they’d got that far having followed the description backwards then there was no way we could fail! The abseil down the fixed rope was stunning – I had no idea there was so much cave down there! An equally impressive stomp down the streamway soon lead us to the Lost Johns inlet and up we went. My legs were still hurting a bit from my run on Friday (poor decision), but the real challenge came doing Battle Axe traverse for the first time with a monster bag of wet rope hanging below me. All good fun though :-)

The rest of the ascent was a stunning exhibition of derigging by myself & Matt, and we were soon emerging into the failing light, 5 ½ hours after going underground. What a fantastic day! :-)

8th February 2010

Mark Sims

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Thursday December 31st 2009

Devis Hole Mine

Gary, Matt, Richard G, Nikki, Ade, Chuck, Tash

Matt wrote...

An excellent trip that didn't look like it was going to happen!

We had an early start and John, Gary, Ade and I met up with Rich, Nikki and Tash up near snowy Leyburn. We found that the road between Leyburn and Reeth (which the mine is near) was closed at the Leyburn end due to snow drifts, so as a last resort we headed over to the Reeth end of the road via na alternative and equally treacherous route. The road was closed from both ends, but a snowplough and gritter had just been through, so ignoring the warnings we headed up the hill.

Approaching from Reeth, you part in the obvious dirt area (well, usually dirt when not covered by 1-2ft of snow!) on the right about 500m up the road from Grinton after the hairpin bend. We got up to the parking area OK, and it was a fine day and the hills were covered with snow. We headed up towards the mine, following the main footpath (only visable thanks to the existing footprints). About 200-300m pastthe derilict building, head off the path to the right hand side down towards a cluster of small trees. Walking in this area became rather exciting, as the 1.5ft high grass had been topped with 1.5ft of snow, and so we were up to our waist in snow! A short search located the entrance, only 50m up the right hand valley with small stream past the cluster of trees.

Gary and I had done Devis with the Moldywarps the previous christmas and so we made quick progress to Pearsons sump, a 50ft ladder pitch down to the lower workings. The entrance area was a little delicate and is in immenant danger of collapse! We rigged the ladder off the variety of in-situ tat and rusty hangers, backing up many times! From the bottom we continued on along the left hand branch towards the entrance to the natural cave section. Thanks for the survey in the MSG Journal no.12 we easily navigated through the maze. We then made quick progress down to Grafitti Corner via some very dodgy areas of collapse where very delicate manoeuvering is necessary! We then turned around, as we wanted to be back in time for Laura's new year party.

As we exited at 4pm we caught the last of the daylight, however it soon darkened and started snowing again quite heavy so we hurriedly got changed in fear of getting stuck in the snow! We got down to the Leyburn to Bedale road just in time, as the snow suddenly turned torrential - another hour down Devis and we might have been spending the night down there!

A great trip, with so much more to explore while it is still accessible - the entrance probably hasn't got long left!

9th January 2010

Matt Ewles

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Sunday December 20th 2009

Kildale Mine

Gary, Matt, Laura, Andy B, Richard W, Ade, Chuck

Matt wrote...

On a very snowy day we met up with the Scarborough guys in Stokesley for breakfast, following large amounts of snow over the previous week. We headed up towards the village of Kildale, thankfully following a tractor which was gritting the narrow road. A trudge up the hill in the snow rewarded us with an excellent mine, with extensive passages and calcite decoration. We didn't have time to fully explore, however we were underground for a good three hours. Some extreme dodgyness though!

We departed the mine at 4pm and were soon on our way down the Bilsdale road to get to Hutton-le-Hole for our Christmas meal. As we reached Helmsley the snow started coming down and it was touching-go whether we would make it over the hill and into Hutton-le-Hole! We got down to the pub around 5:30pm with the snow coming down thick and fast. Within half an hour it was confirmed to us that it was to be a one-way trip for today! After shovelling a space for our tent around the back of the pub then we hurried in to spend six hours drinking and eating!

It continued snowing for five hours, setting down a foot of snow and making camping a chilly experience. The following day was bright and sunny but very cold, with thermometers reading -14oC!!! (My frozen fingertips agreed). Thanks to a snowplough passing through during the night we were able to escape Hutton by 10am, after spending half an hour scraping the ice off car doors to allow them to be opened! We took it in turns to take a run up at the hill, with Garys heavy Laguna only just having enough momentum and grip to make it up to the highest point by the campsite, and it was downhill from there.

An excellent christmas meal!

30th January 2010

Matt Ewles

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Saturday November 28th 2009

Jean Pot

Gary, Matt, Mark, Chad, Laura, Thomas

Matt wrote...

After the long walk up from Clapham we quickly found Jean Pot (initially mistaking Car Pot for it, but the description of the Shake Hole in Not For The Faint Hearted is very accurate). The first pitch took a little while to rig, as it is only just below the entrance slot and required a sling with a rope protector to hang it from a very sharp flake over the pitch head.

Hard Times Crawl was nowhere near as bad as we expected. I took my SRT kit off expecting the worse, but this proved very much unnecessary, and the crawl is flat out but quite spacious tube, which reaches after a couple of minutes a drop down. An easy traverse reaches the second pitch. An obvious bolt provides the main hang, however, the flake to back-up from is unobvious, being quite high up on the right. Rope rub was inevitable, but thankfully the pitch was short and the rock was smooth.

Immediately after this the next very short pitch is reached, rigged from a tiny chockstone and a bolt approximately a metre back from the pitch head. Unfortunately the rope has no option other than to hang over the rock at the pitch head, which is sharp, and so a rope protector is absolutely essential.

The fourth pitch is equally a rigging dilemma. A small flake back from the pitch head and higher up in the rift provided a less than ideal backup, and two unusually positioned bolts near the pitch head allow for a semi-Y-hang to be rigged. Many of the blocks near the pitch head are loose, including one particularly massive block, and so great care was required. The pitch constricts a metre down due to a jammed block which gave some difficulty (jamming Lauras helmet, and forcing Gary to have to reascend and lock his stop in the descending position prior to reattempting!) and some rope rub was unavoidable.

It was obvious how the Chamber of False Promises got its name! The following slither over blocks and the crawl to the traverse seemed a lot easier on the way down without a tacklesack, however, the return journey, gradually uphill, with a tacklesack was rather more difficult with many snagging rocky outcrops and blocks. The traverse was easy thanks to the fixed line now in place (thanks ULSA!) and the formations on the ceiling around the traverse are excellent. It was saddening to see the obvious and unavoidable damage to the stal along the crawl before the traverse, and the first person down this must have seem some amazing things! In particular, extreme care was taken getting off the traverse, as some damage has already been done to the fine formations there. Thankfully the nice helictites above the traverse are out of reach and should be forever protected.

The fifth pitch was rigged, backed up from a bolt in the large chamber, and then rebelayed round a pillar at the pitch head. It could be free-climbed but was very slippy, and lead straight onto the final pitch so not advisable. The sixth pitch made for the biggest rigging dilemma of them all! A bolt and ring in the roof at the bottom of the fifth pitch provided good backup for the start of a traverse around the head of the pot to a bolt on the right which provided the main hang. Accessing this bolt involved some scary manouevers along the tiny ledge, not helped by the fine gallery of straws only centimetres above our heads (thankfully avoided). Thinking back, we probably should have rigged it with the rope going straight from the two anchors in the ceiling over the edge of the pot with a rope protector, rather than traversing round to the bolt on the right for the clear hang. The ledge part way down was too loose to use as a rebelay as suggested in the guide. Eventually at the bottom we were able to appreciate that this pitch is a fine and impressive pot.

We did not descend the seventh (final) pitch, as the only thing we could find to rig off was a very rusty ring at the pitch head - the guide suggested backing up off a jammed block, however, the only jammed blocks were forming the rock-blockage directly above out heads, and looked pretty unstable, so we decided that having seen the bottom of the cave, rather than having reached it was more than adequate.

Jean Pot was a very enjoyable dry six hours underground, with no extreme difficulty, which I would imagine to be passable in all weather condition (with the possible exception of major snow meltwater). The rigging is difficult and rope protectors are absolutely essential, and many of the bolts are rusty and completely unserviceable. An excellent winter trip, and I look forward to doing Car Pot next year.

29th November 2009

Matt Ewles

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Gary wrote...

A quite unexpectedly enjoyable trip!

I started the day with thoughts of 6 hours of tight squeezes and waterfall filled awkward pitch heads, but it was quite the opposite. There are some awkward parts and a couple of crawls but not at all as nasty as the guide book suggests.

A lovely sunny winters day made for an excellent walk up onto Ingleborough with great views of Penyghent in the crisp air. The entrance to Jean Pot is only a short way from Bar Pot and easy to find next to the wall.

Mark and I had agreed to be the rigging team so I set off first down the short entrance pitch into a roomy chamber. The first of the crawls was just around the corner so Mark and I got going while the others came down the entrance. Not knowing what the crawl was like, I decided to take off my SRT kit (Mark chanting “faff, faff, faff” in my ear wasn't helping). As it happened, the crawl was quite roomy and I could have done it with my kit on.

The crawl ends with a short drop down an easy free-climb into a rift with another short pitch. As seems to be the case with all the caves we do, the rigging was 'interesting' with the backup for the second pitch being the end of the rope hooked onto a small flake. I set off down asking mark to make sure the backup didn't fall off as I was going!

The others had caught up to us by then so Mark and I carried on rigging the second rather dodgy pitch. I tied the backup onto a totally loose chock-stone in a heavily cracked roof and pulled the rope out of the tackle sack. Unfortunately the string broke holding the spits to the bag and the whole lot went down the pitch! After some thought about using Mark as an anchor, I thankfully found a spit attached to my harness. We got to use one of our shiny new rope protectors on this pitch so I was happy.

After picking up all the dropped spits from the boulder choke, Mark and I carried on to the next, larger pitch. In order to get a free hang, we had to use a rather rusty in-situ ring over the pitch head but it did its job. A tight initial descent landed in the large Chamber of False Promises. A slither over some blocks entered an impressive tall aven before the second crawl.

The second crawl was a bit more awkward than the first but with some impressive formations throughout. This lead to the traverse over the blind pit which had recently had new rings and rope installed. More great formations before the next muddy slope/pitch to the top of a balcony overlooking a large chamber. A very strange bolt location meant we had to take a lot of care not to damage formations in the roof but we made it down.

Mark and I went off to look at the last pitch but decided that the area was too loose and we couldn't find a suitable backup so we gave up at that point. Well, we'd SEEN the bottom! :p

Back out with SRT kit on all the way was quick progress. We were met with a very cold and clear evening on Ingleborough and seemed to make friends with a bat before heading off for some food.

Highly recommended trip, not sure about 'a good evening trip' though, as the guidebook suggests!

1st December 2009

Gary Douthwaite

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Sunday October 11th 2009

Lost Johns Pot

Gary, Matt, Chad, Ade, Laura

Matt wrote...

A pleasant trip down Lost Johns following Boxhead being too wet at the bottom of the entrance aven. We got down to the meeting point for all routes (via Centipede and Catherdral routes) where we swapped routes for the journey out, reaching the surface after only a couple of hours underground. It was a nice jaunt and was just long enough and just enough exercise to justify our Inglesport breakfasts!

30th January 2010

Matt Ewles

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