Saturday May 29th 2010
Thomas, Matt, , Gary, Chuck, Chad, Cat
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.
Saturday May 29th 2010
Cat, Gary, , Thomas, Matt, Chuck, Chad
Friday May 28th 2010
Doolin River Cave to Fisherstreet Pot
Matt, Gary, Cat, Chad, Chuck, , Laura, Thomas
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!
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. Catherineâ€™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 Smithyâ€™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 :)
Saturday May 8th 2010
Birks Fell Cave
Gary, Nikki, Matt, Richard G, Sarah
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!
Saturday May 1st 2010
Sell Gill Holes
Matt, Gary, Sarah,
Saturday April 24th 2010
Matt, Gary, Laura, Nick, Richard G, Nikki, Chuck
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.
Saturday April 10th 2010
Hurnel Moss Pot
Cat, Chad, Gary, Matt, Thomas
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 :)
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)!
Monday April 5th 2010
Hunter's Scar Jet Mine
Gary, Chuck, Andy B, Cat, Matt, Peter, Richard G, Richard W
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!
Saturday March 27th 2010
Tatham Wife Hole
Matt, Gary, Nikki, Nick
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.
Sunday February 7th 2010
Boxhead Pot - Lost Johns Pot
Mark, Matt, Gary, Richard G, ,
A superb trip, one of the finest I have ever done!
We were really efficient, arriving for breakfast at Bernieâ€™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 â€˜Not For The Faint Heartedâ€™ 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 â€“ 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! Iâ€™d done Lost Johns several years back but only to the bottom of the final pitch â€“ I had no idea what amazing passage lay only just beyond here!
Lost Johns was a slog upwards â€“ weâ€™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 canâ€™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.
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 weâ€™d long finished breakfast, the others met us (about 20 minutes behind scheduleâ€¦!). 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 exchangeâ€¦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 isnâ€™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, â€œI canâ€™t find the p-hangersâ€, but we didnâ€™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, â€œItâ€™s time to goâ€¦!â€. I thought that was a pretty odd way of phrasing things when youâ€™re half way down a 70 odd metre pitch, so I yelled down assuming Iâ€™d mis-heard. The reply came back up: â€œIâ€™ve found the p-hangersâ€¦but itâ€™s time to go!â€. By this point I had no idea what Gary was on aboutâ€¦talk about a defeatist mentality! One more go and the reply again came back: â€œIâ€™ve found the p-hangersâ€¦but Iâ€™ve gone too lowâ€. 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 downâ€¦and once weâ€™d popped through that I was keener than ever to do the exchange! I really didnâ€™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 wasnâ€™t too badâ€¦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 weâ€™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 Iâ€™d seen carbide!
Spirits rose even further at this point â€“ if theyâ€™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 â€“ 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 Â½ hours after going underground. What a fantastic day! :-)
Thursday December 31st 2009
Devis Hole Mine
Gary, Matt, Richard G, Nikki, Ade, Chuck, Tash
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!
Sunday December 20th 2009
Gary, Matt, Laura, Andy B, Richard W, Ade, Chuck
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!
Saturday November 28th 2009
Gary, Matt, Mark, Chad, Laura, Thomas
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.
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 â€œfaff, faff, faffâ€ 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!
Sunday October 11th 2009
Lost Johns Pot
Gary, Matt, Chad, Ade, Laura
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!
Sunday October 11th 2009
Spectacle Pot - Vesper Pot (not quite an exchange!)
Gary, Matt, Chad, Thomas, Chuck, Mark
After a leisurely breakfast at Helwith Bridge we made our way down to Kingsdale for a Vespers - Spectacle exchange. Chad, Tom, Gary and I were on Spectacle and Mark, Cat and Chuck on Vespers. We arrived at our respective entrances around 1pm ready for action!
The entrance pitch to Spectacle is pleasantly easy, although the knob of rock to rig off requires a close eye to make sure the sling stays on there! The pitch lands in a small chamber with a rift leading downwards into the distance, littered with several sheep bones (one skull placed high up in the rift for dramatic effect). Very soon (after only around 20 m) Splutter crawl was reached. We expected this to be a flat out wet bedding, however, to our surprise, it was actually a tiny tube at floor level, barely body size, for approximately 4-5m. It really does look frignteningly small!
Gary pushed on into the crawl, one arm forward, one arm back to streamline his bones, and with SRT kit pushed ahead with the tacklesack. On several occassions he nearly lost his nerve but after a couple of minutes struggling he slipped through to the ladder which he descended head first! I nervously adopted the position ready to come along the crawl. I initially tried to go along with both arms ahead outstretched but there was no chance this was going to work! I retreated from the crawl and repositioned my arms, one forward, one back, ready for my second attempt. This seemed to work well, however, once into the tighted part, all you could do was propel yourself with little pushing motions of your feet. You are totally constricted at this point and movement of your arms, torso or head is completely impossibly - it's down to wiggles of your feet only to push you through, literally half a centimeter at a time. After a terrifying few minutes it opened up slightly before the ladder. The head-first descent seemed a breeze by comparison!
To add insult to my struggled, Tom then slipped through and barely touched the sides, popping out with his infamous comment of 'that wasn't too bad'! Maybe I need to go on a diet!
Gary rigged the next pitch, although as one of the spits was knackered, it was a one-bolt wonder backed up off the ladder (which itself would not have fitted down the pitch). The short pitch lands in a chamber, yet more bones from unfortunate woolley friends. A short flat out crawl reaches a flow of water followed by a shorter easier section to a large aven where SRT gear could be removed ready for the crawl ahead.
The following crawl was approximately 30-40m long, constricted, wet, and very sharp and jagged, very unpleasant indeed, involving a complete soaking and many tacklesack jammings! However, our guidebook estimated 6-8 minutes, and so I was relieved after only a couple of minutes of struggling to see Garys light ahead say at the end of the crawl just prior to Dodds pitch.
Dodds pitch provided some rigging dilemmas. We were unable to locate the rebelay bolt one metre down, and so Gary descended without it. However, while swinging around looking for the deviation about 15-20m down, the rope started rubbing badly at the pitch head. I had to perform a constricted pitch head manoeuver (the pitch is reached flat out) to remove my kneepads and jam them between the rope and the wall where it was rubbing, and Tom then held them in place. Gary slowly ascended back up and we finally found the rebelay to avoid the rub. He then descended and after much searching, the less than ideal (given the crumblyness of the walls) deviation flake was found.
We could hear the others by now and assumed they were already down at the Great Rubble Heap waiting for us... we didn't want to miss the exchange (I was looking forward to a nice easy trip out of Vespers) so we hurried to the head of the pitch to the Great Rubble Heap which was easily descended and saw the other group rigging the last pitch of Vespers above.
Unfortunately, one of the spits at the top of the Vespers pitch was knackered, and could not be tightened - and so all that was availably to rig off was one less than perfect spit and a dodgy natural as a backup. Mark made the sensible descision not to descend, and so we were faced with the prospect of a painful trip back up Spectacle, which actually didn't seem so bad on the return.
We returned to the surface still with daylight at around 6pm, feeling pleased to have bottomed this difficult cave! The others were only minutes behind in coming out of Vespers. This was a great trip, would love to complete the exchange once the final pitch of Vespers has been P-hangered.
Saturday October 10th 2009
Gary, Matt, Mark, Chad, Chuck, Thomas
Saturday September 12th 2009
Gary, Matt, Ade, Chuck
I donâ€™t think you can call yourself a Yorkshire caver (or probably even a caver) until youâ€™ve done Penyghent Pot! It defiantly lives up to its name as the finest stream passage pot in the UK.
The day started with the usual faff in the name of Ade who couldnâ€™t set off from Macclesfield until 9am because his car insurance had run out. This and some other faff meant we didnâ€™t get on our way to the cave until 1pm. Car parking seems to be a problem with no clear instructions on where is best in any of the guides, however we asked the nice lady at the farm at the end of the footpath and she let us park there. Off up the hill in wonderful sunshine (for a change) to arrive at the entrance for about 2pm. Itâ€™s a bit late we thought, but we gave it a go anyway.
I set off first to face the long entrance crawl. It wasnâ€™t as bad as I had been lead to believe; although up to the elbow in water, itâ€™s quite spacious and easy going, just long. Some light relief at the head of the first short pitch with a descent down an unavoidable waterfall, then some annoying stooping height passage. I went off to rig the next pitch which I thought the description had said was 10 meters away. No, I miss read it, it was 10 MINUETS away! Quite easy going stooping passage to the second short pitch then just around the corner to the head of the spectacular third pitch. Some quite interesting and awkward rigging under the ledge to get a dry hang but an amazing deep shaft with water crashing down on one side. The bottom was one of the drafyist places Iâ€™ve ever been underground and got rather chilly waiting for the others.
More fine stream way starting with some traversing and several more short pitches. At this point the bolting seems to have gone out of the window and most stuff is just rigged off some rather dodgy looking naturals, often in waterfalls! After a while we were rewarded by some amazing dark coloured streamway which seemed to eat our lights. Some quite deep water leads onto the final couple of short pitches before we ran out of time. We didnâ€™t quite make it to the sump but used all the rope and completed all 10 pitches.
In summery, this is a truly great Yorkshire pot with some great variation and fun rope work. It is quite wet however. We were there is pretty dry weather and the water was unavoidable. Most people found a neo-fleece idel but I was in a cheap 3mm wet suit which I found worked well. There is defiantly evidence of major flooding in the lower sections, with several passages we passed through that had sumped recently.
I would love to go back and tackle Friday the Thirteenth series now that I know the main part. This would be a strenuous trip though as we were all knackered after just the trip to the sump. Make sure you leave enough energy for the return trip as we all found the crawls at the entrance a lot harder on the way out.
Saturday July 25th 2009
Gary, Matt, Chad, Ade, Laura
With our long-awaited permit for Boxhead pot, we arrived at the dales as it started to rain. Of course this is nothing unusual, especially for Leck Fell! So, being a load of wimps, we decided to pack the ropes INSIDE the car, having been too un-organised to pack them before we left York.
After wasting as much time as possible sitting in the car, hoping it would stop raining we made a dash for it and got geared-up. We made the short walk over to Boxhead and climbed down into the rather wet shake hole with an impressive plastic pipe sticking out. Ade started to rig the wet and rather awkward tube. We waited at the top listening to the expletives emanating from the tube and moaning about how wet it was. Things werenâ€™t looking good but we all gave it a go anyway. We made it down to to the top of the second pitch and Add went off to rig. Shortly, he appeared again, unable to find the way on so I took over making the descent down the even wetter second pitch. I decided that it was too wet to continue so told everyone to start heading out.
Rather annoyed that the day had been cut short, we thought weâ€™d have a go at Lost Johns seeing as the permit covered that too. We split into two groups, Ade and Chad went off down Centipeed route while Matt, Laura and myself did the center route. We rattled down and met up with the others at the bottom in excellent time, made the exchange and headed out.
Not quite the day we had planned but half of two caves makes for a good days caving. Boxhead is defiantly one to go back to when its dryer as it is quite an impressive entrance shaft.
With the weather being typically wet on the Leck Fell Microclimate system, ropes were packed in the car. We eventually plucked up the courage to venture out and get changed and made our way over to Boxhead.
The entrance is an impressive plastic pipe sticking out of the ground, below which an amazing entrance pitch bellows out - it was a bit drippy but one of the most impressive welcomes to any cave! We quickly got down to the head of the second pitch, which Gary went down. Unfortunately and not unsurprisingly, it was perilously wet and so we retreated out to do a quick venture down Lost Johns instead. Definitely one to return to in better weather.
Saturday July 11th 2009
Boggarts Roaring Holes
Gary, Matt, Mark, Ade
Due to an impending raincloud advancing on the UK we opted out of Dowbergill Passage in favour of a safer way to spend the weekend. We headed up to the Moors for a day of digging on the Saturday, and then on Sunday after the heavy rain had passed we decided on Boggarts Roaring Holes as being an excellent wet weather option.
We had taken two previous trips to this caves near neighbour, Trapdoor pot over the previous year, also a wet weather option, and had one of the most enjoyable trips we'd had in ages. Therefore our hopes were high for a similar adventure from Boggarts.
After a long walk up the hill, in the good company of another caver who we'd met in Ingleton (who was originally going to join the trip until realising that it was Boggarts Roaring Holes, and not Roaring Holes that we were going to) we stumbled upon the trio of collapsed shakeholes comprising the entrance. After significant dilemma about where to descend, a rope was rigged down through a prickly tree in the central shakehole to reach a ledge from where hangers allowed for a free hang down the entrance shaft was gained (the cave is now fitted with in situ hangers throughout).
From the bottom the way on is the less obvious route passing under a bell-shaped constriction to the head of the short second pitch. A short and easy thrutch then gave access to the head of the third pitch, which dropped to the bottom of a narrow rift, accompanied by a rotton dead sheep. Our hats go off to the adventurous sheep, who clearly, having survived a fall down the entrance pitch managed to negotiate the second pitch only to be overcome by the third.
A further thrutch reaches the fourth pitch which drops down to a chamber from where the way on is a floor level wiggle. From here the sound of crashing water could be heard and we started to worry! We were under the impression that Boggarts was passable in all weather. However to our disappointment the next pitch was deluged by a waterfall entering on the far wall, and descent would have been very wet indeed. Furthermore, the water was all flowing away down the bedding crawl that lead further into the cave. None of us were inclined to make the descent so we turned around at this point and were out at a very civilised hour.
As far as we got, Boggarts hadn't held up to its inclusion in the '50 Harder Caves of Yorkshire' Book... with no desparately difficult bits, and just some awkward pitch heads. Therefore we can only assume that below this wet pitch the fun really starts, and I'm looking forward to a return trip under drier conditions.
Saturday June 20th 2009
Marilyn Pot to Henslers Master Cave
Gary, Matt, Laura
Our original permit was for Rat Hole, however following concerns about the impending rain on the run up to the weekend we were able to change the permit to another equally interesting though less floodable alternative: Marilyn, the new entrance to the Gaping Gill system.
After meeting up with some folk from YUCPC who were doing Flood Entrance and Dihedral on the same day, we had breakfast and headed over to Clapham. After some faff with the tacklesacks we headed up the hill to arrive at Marilyn at around 1:15pm. The entrance was easy to find: Simply take a bearing to the right approximately half way between the wall and the footpath after crossing the double-style near Bar Pot, and walk for approximately 50m. The entrance is a huge and rather well constructed concrete-surrounded metal tube in an obvious shakehole.
Gary headed down to rig the first pitch and Laura and I soon followed. The first shaft reaches a rebelay. Below here a short scramble/descent reaches a further rebelay, above a slightly constricted rift which descends several metres to a ledge with lots of back-filled spoil. A further rebelay leads onto another short scramble/descent to the bottom of the pitch. A 40m rope, one sling and four bolts were ample for the entirity of this section.
A short blasted crawl leads soon to the top of Niagra pitch. There is a lot of loose rock at the pitch head, as well as on the ledge part way down, and so despite the pitch being rebelayed, it would be advisable for each person to completely clear the shaft before the next descends or ascends. A bolt about three metres back from the pitchhead provided backup, and a Y-hang was then possible off the right hand wall (one bolt in situ and one required placement). This descends to an easy deviation (in-situ hanger), and the spectacular proportions of the shaft become apparant. The rebelay is then reached (one more bolt required), on a muddy sloping ledge with lots of loose rocks. One further deviation (in situ hanger and cord) and then the floor is reached, only 30m upstream from the third pitch of Disappointment Pot. We had a 30m rope for this entire pitch, however we had to rig very tightly, and so ideally a 35+m would be more ideal in future.
The route down Disappointment was then followed with maximum efficiency, as the water levels were nice and low. Our only problem came in finding a backup point for the penultimate pitch, and we had to trust a non-too steady looking block, on the assumption that we weren't going to require it's assistance! The chamber between here and the final pitch was quite impressive. We soon reached Henslers Master Cave: We had intended to do the connection to Bar Pot, however, with a meet-back time of 8pm in Clapham arranged with the others we decided conveniently against the 15 minute muddy crawl. Instead we had a stomp down the amazing and huge downstream passage, took a few photos and commenced an enjoyable and efficient ascent.
Overall a very pleasurable trip, quite easy going with no real awkwardness or difficult bits, but lots of fun short pitches and impressive chambers, and the excellent Henslers Master Cave streamway to reward us at the bottom. Would be nice to return for a longer trip to explore the connection to Mud Hall: A trip from Marilyn to main chamber via Henslers old crawl and Mud Hall would be an excellent trip, although would probably require getting underground before 11am.