Depth through thought
OUCC News 6th November 2013
Volume 23, Number 9
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Editor: Andrew Morgan firstname.lastname@example.org
We were privileged to go on this trip. Only five permits a year are awarded for this cave by the CNCC by ballot, due to the entrance being right next to a farm house. After 3 years of trying, OUCC hit the jackpot and were awarded a permit for the President’s Invite weekend, so many thanks to Olaf for applying for the permit. Despite its exclusivity and the possibility of a maximum of 10 allowed on the trip, only Harvey, Thomas, Martin, Simon, and I went on the trip. This is partly because of the excellent other options available for the day, including Gingling, but may also have been because Simon and I put off a few people the night before by saying it was a very ‘aquatic’ trip, due to advice from friends who had been there, and internet trip reports and photos....
This was also a rare OUCC trip to the eastern Dales, beyond Settle. After calling via Bernie’s to get a weather update and advice about this ‘wet’ cave, and a drive of about an hour we found the parking spot on top of the moor. It was a tad windy getting changed, and necessitated an occasional run to retrieve bags and bits of kit that blew away. We walked up to the farm house and spied the entrance under a manhole cover. It really was abutting the farm house wall, and opening the cover showed that the farmhouse was directly over the entrance. Given its location, it is very nice of the owners to let even a few trips a year down the cave.
After descending the short entrance pitch , via the snug entrance hole, we made our way through a dry series of passages by walking stooping or crawling. Simon and I were finding it a tad warm as we were both wearing neofleeces for the expected wet conditions. We passed some graffiti from 1862, which was of interest, but I expect in1863 there were loud complaints about the idiots who caused the damage.
We reached a streamway and followed it upstream until it reached a choke, then went the main way on downstream. After a few flat out crawls in the stream, which was only about 3cm deep we reached a lofty cross-passage and the stream disappeared into a sump. We followed the muddy cross-passage, which was adorned by some impressive straws in places, to another side passage. This side passage broke out into another streamway, via a short climb down at the end that required a ladder although it was only a couple of metres.
The streamway was a fine piece of passage, mostly several metres high with pristine white calcite flows on the side. We stomped upstream to the sump, in thigh to waist deep water, where the roof lowered in places so that there were a few ducks but with plenty of airspace.
Simon had a swim in the sump pool to cool off, and we headed downstream. The roof lowered in this direction and involved flat-out crawling in oxbows, and crawling in water arm-pit deep. There was a lot of foam on the roof of the passage, showing that it floods to the roof. I was glad we checked the forecast before! We reached the downstream sump, turned round and headed out the cave exploring a few side passages as we went, and spent a total of three hours underground.
It was an interesting trip to a cave that was unusual for a Yorkshire cave, even ignoring the entrance. It has very little vertical development, with a vertical range of only fifteen metres, and is somewhat more akin to a Welsh cave. It wasn’t a sporting trip, although comparing notes to friends after, the streamway that was only 3cm deep for us was much deeper for them so there were some intimidating flat-out ducks. For the water levels we had on the day, neofleeces were overkill! The cave is definitely a collectors piece, and worth a look, and not just for that entrance!