Oxford University Cave Club
Proceedings 5 (1970)
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Or, an amusing hole, found by accident, on a Yorkshire weekend.
I suppose it is the thrill of discovery that makes any scrat hole appear at first to be full of interest and appeal, and seem to have a vast potential for extension, but its true nature is seen slowly, as the novelty evaporates. Imagine the excitement then, when, having set up camp near Pen-y-ghent in the small hours, one of our number stuck his leg though a small cleft. By sheer chance a discovery had been made and the midnight carbide was burned in an orgy of wild prophecy.
Next morning a little gentle sledge-hammering opened up a rift of some six feet deep, dropping into a streamway. Virgin passage! When, after some four hundred yards of exciting crawling, we found a 60 foot pitch, our joy was complete. After returning for some ladder, and a second time for a rawl bolt, we descended into a small chamber some 60 feet by 20. The way on was blocked, and on a third trip to fetch the trusty sledge-hammer one started to realise that the passage was rather small and fairly awkward, and the stones were the usual knee-wreckers. Even so, the scent was still warm. We hammered until it was realised that the water was rising, and an emergency retreat was executed, abandoning the tackle. A fourth trip merely allowed us to retrieve the gear, and by this time the cave seemed quite bloody, especially when lugging the hammer through some of the tighter sections.
In the interval before a return the hole was also discovered by some local farmer, who used it as a dump for tins, binder twine and less healthy farmyard waste, and thus a squalid dig was necessary to regain entry to the hole. Enthusiasm was first waning but we lugged our hammer back to the chamber, the way now perilous with tins and bottles, and eventually broke through into a similar chamber, only to find that it ended in a mud-choked cleft. We tried to convince ourselves that it was a promising dig, but failure was assured as it was the time of day when the true caver fulfils his second, and usually more pleasant, pursuit. One hour and one gashed knee later we were in the Queen's arms, and a solemn wow was taken never to return.
It is strange how absence makes the heart grow fonder as, in later years, I had persuaded myself that the dig would be feasible and worthwhile. However, a recent glance at the entrance, once again visited by our farmer friend, killed all desire even to look at the hole. So if anyone wants a promising dig in an amusing little Yorkshire hole, let me know. You are quite welcome to this one.