The edition of the Record includes the final write up and survey of Great Expectations, a Club discovery dating from last Autumn. I had hoped to include a write up of the latest discoveries in Sell Gill where the dig to by-pass the dangerous boulder choke "went" in April allowing access to a further chamber. However I am afraid that pressures of work and other matters have prevented both the survey and the write up being produced in time for this Record.
As Patrick suggested in his descriptions of forthcoming meets printed in the last Record, we are now coming round to that time of year again, Gaping Gill is almost upon us. The winch meet is one of the most significant events in the Club year, financially, socially and in terms of caving. In each of the last three Gaping Gill meets the members present have made significant new discoveries, let us hope that this trend can be continued this year to ensure a well filled October Record. However it must also be remembered that the winch meet will not function without volunteers to do all the necessary jobs. It takes a lot of people to run the winch each day. It takes even more people to help set up the winch on the tackling weekend and to take it down again after the meet. It is a magnificent way to get away from the pressures of "normal" life and relax; and if the weather is kind it can even be quite pleasant. All members should try and attend this meet and help out, even if it is only for a few hours, not just turn up for a day's caving or just pretend that the meet does not exist. Who knows you might become addicted to the place.
There have been one or two complaints from members about the choice of meets and the designation of leaders in past years. Equally the Committee has complained about irresponsible leaders who do not turn up for their meets. This Record includes a proposed meets list for next year so now is your chance to volunteer to lead a meet or to suggest alternative meets which you would be willing to lead. Don't just ignore the proposals and then grumble, be positive and be quick to respond to this invitation to have your say on what the meets card should look like.
Closing date for contributions to the next Record is September 29th but as usual if you can get your contributions to me earlier then that will make my life a little easier
South Wales (28 to 31 March) There was a good omen for the meet during the drive down on Thursday evening, after leaving Abergaveny we were guided by the Hale-Bopp comet towards Brecon. Steve and Barbara Pickersgill arrived at Penwyllt to find Pat and Ric Halliwell, Andy Roberts, Howard Beck, Barry and Mary Hunkin, Tracy Beasley and Peter Jones had already arrived. After pitching the tent in a strong wind we visited the Copper Beech in Abercrave for some refreshment. During the night Henry Rose, Ian Robinson and Andy Howe arrived.
Friday dawned fine and clear, and a warm up trip into OFD2 was planned. Sean Howe, John and Sue Allonby arrived and we split into 3 groups to see if we could get misplaced in the system somewhere. We were joined by Harvey Lomas (SWCC and YRC). Various places were visited and the newcomers were suitably impressed by the scale of the cave and its formations. Unfortunately Tracy became too impressed with Swamp Creek and had to be evacuated from the cave after headbutting the floor, we managed the exit from the cave ourselves but sent for the West Brecon ambulance to transport her form the entrance to the SWCC headquarters. Suspicions of concussion, a very painful face and knee indicated that professional advice was required and a trip to the hospital was arranged. There was no serious damage but she spent the rest of the meet on crutches.
During the afternoon Bob, Sarah and Jenny Jenkins, Patrick and Jo Warren, Karen Lane, Tom Thompson with two Macedonians and a New Zealander arrived. Hale-Bopp was shining brightly.
Saturday was again fine, OFD was to be the venue again. Steve Hardcastle arrived. Patrick and Sean went on an upstream through trip from 1 to 2, lead by Clive Westlake. Steve, Barbara, Peter, Howard and Steve Hardcastle made one team to go from 2 to 1, Ric, Andy Roberts, Andy Howe, John Allonby and Henry Rose made a second team and Pat, Barry, Bob, Sarah and Sue made a third. Ric set off first leaving Andy Howe behind, so he followed the other two teams in. Steve and Pat's teams made similar times to the streamway, it reminded me of walking down Borrowdale, but at night. One member commented that if the water was higher it would be exciting, if your looking for excitement you shouldn't be caving, was said in reply. Everyone had a pleasant stroll to emerge from the bottom entrance dead on the call out time, Steve Hardcastle had been sent ahead to say that we were all OK and to alter our time out. Ric had already changed our ticket and we found him charging along the road to come to look for us, John's van was also useful to transport the weary travellers back up the hill.
Meanwhile Tom and Karen had taken Tom's guests to Pant Mawr and Ian and Jenny had gone walking. During the day Mick Thompson arrived. Hale-Bopp was still giving us a brilliant display.
Sunday was again fine (it must be due to the omen that we saw on the way down), Dan yr Ogof was to be the main venue for the day, and cream eggs were distributed around the camp by Barbara. Steve, Barbara, Sarah, Henry and Peter made up one team and Ric, John, Sue, Howard and Andy Roberts the second. Ric lead his team through the Green Canal to The Rising and back through Thixotropic Passage. Steve's team went to The Rising and back using the Green Canal both ways. Sarah was worried by the Long Crawl and was debating on whether to go on the trip or not, "Come on," said Henry, "It's only as far as from here to Karen's van." On the way back through the Long Crawl Henry was heard to say, "Bloody Hell, Karen's moved her van!"
Pat took Steve Hardcastle, Barry, Mary, Andy Howe and Karen to see the Columns in OFD2, as did Tom and his guests. Patrick and Sean went to Ogof Draenen on a photo trip with Clive Westlake, a comment heard later was that Patrick was too ugly to feature on any photos and only his hand had got in one. Jo, Tracy (complete with crutches), Ian and Jenny visited the Dan yr Ogof show cave complex, visiting 3 caves. Bob Cross arrived for the day and went walking with Mick Thompson. Bob Jenkins was suffering with his knees and also went walking.
Steve Hardcastle, Barry and Mary departed, some upstarts in the hut called us has-been cavers and that they were the future of British caving and could make as much noise as they liked. Hale-Bopp was still visible.
Monday was again fine and dry, Ric and John went to OFD3, Sean, Howard and Andy Roberts went to Ogof Draenen, Pat and Sue went for a marathon walk. Everybody got their tents down and packed away in the dry, a very rare occurrence, must we wait for 4000 years for this to happen again!
Ogof Draenen : Waterfall Series (31 March 1997) Present : Sèan Howe(leader), Howard Beck, Andy Roberts, Mick Thompson, Paul Bryce(TSG).
It was a wonderful clear sunny day, the Monday after Easter, so we went caving to get away from it.
In recent years Ogof Draenen has been one of the most developing systems in the UK and has become renowned for its big stomping bolder passages, containing some of the largest in Britain (e.g. Big Country and the Dollimore series).
During the last year I have assisted Clive Westlake who has been evolved in recording the caves development on several photographic trips. This has enabled some familiarity with the cave and with this knowledge I was able to offer a trip in the cave. Many thanks go out to Clive.
The previous day Patrick (Warren) and I had been on one of Clives's such trips to the Dollimore series which is in the Southern extents of the system. We entered mid morning and emerged in the early hours of the following day to the splendid view of the comet Hale Bopp, we were as I expected a tad worse for wear. Never the less we returned to Penwyllt to comatose. Come to think of it, why I offered a trip the day after I do not know (must be all those years of banging my head underground). Surprisingly, I awoke the next morning semi-ish fit ready for another trip.
The team assembled and we left Penwyllt for Pwll Du arriving shortly after midday. Except for Paul and myself neither Howard, Andy or Mick had visited before and it was apparent they were interested and curious to experience the cave so much has been written about in recent years. Andy and Howard looked surprised as I unravelled my sodden oversuit from the previous days trip and laid it out to dry whilst waiting for Paul and Mick to join us. I had earlier told them it was a dry trip with only a little spray on the entrance before we left.
The entrance series consists of low crawls (some wet) and climbs through scaffolded shafts through boulders. There are also a couple of overhanging ledges where you can get a good gush of 'refreshing' water down your chest. Down a 4m rope climb then scramble up through boulders to a cairn referred as Cairn Junction. South leads to the big stuff but we were going North.
I first visited the Waterfall series in mid February 1995 and had been back once subsequently. Although I had a sketch of the survey with me I was intrigued to see what I could recall.
After a short break at Cairn Junction we moved on over a bolder slope, down dip, then up to a taped path revealing a cracked mud floor to either side. Round a bend, up and down fair size open bolder passage eventually leading to a small stream flow at floor level. A stream passage on the left was followed to climbs up in to rifts and continued until reaching a 2m ladder climb into a small stream way. Good, everything was looking familiar, the memory cells were working well, that was until after the ladder. I knew the next notable route involved a short rope climb and I remembered it being a couple of metres from a small stream passage. I poked my head round an inlet on the left (this was to prove the way on) but it looked unfamiliar. Andy and Howard had continued up stream until it started to narrow, I knew definitely that this was wrong as I had been there on a previous trip, it gets very narrow and awkward. Back to the ladder, retrace the steps and survey time. Now more confused than ever back to that inlet passage I originally looked at. Paul and Mick were already along there. Standing back looking at the entrance to the passage it was starting to look familiar, honest, then along came a shout "we found it", so Howard, Andy and myself followed.
We ascended the rope and reached a mud floored walking passage. Walking along Andy and Howard spotted a bat to one side, careful as we go. The passage walls sparkled and had traces of Gypsum flowers/growth. It was all starting to come back to me as the roof got lower, travelling through a series of digs, squeezes and crawls. Inquires from behind, "where are these big stomping passages we've read about", oh here's one, honest (not), as I went through a flat out 'U' bend squeeze. We were nearing our destination just a few short traverses through rifts and we were there, 'Knees Up Mother Brown'. One of my favourite parts of the cave, a walking passage containing a wonderfully scalloped roof where water ran all those years before. The final treat of the trip came when we reached the end of the passage, up round a short climb, clusters of Aragonite crystals. We had our respective lunches and made our way back out. Out in 2 hours, compared to 2´ on the way in, as we knew where we were going, emerging in glorious sunshine.
The general impression of Draenen is of big bolder passages where a lamp shines into big black voids. Yes, they do exist but this trip gave it an alternative perspective, big stuff next time?
Alternative Easter Meet - Bad Urach (30 March 1997) As a reconnaissance for the forthcoming German meet, Chris and I travelled down to Bad Urach in the Schwäbische Alb. We made the local bookshop just before it closed and picked up a copy of the local version of Northern Caves - Hohlenfuhrer, Schwäbische Alb and Wilde Falkensteiner Höhle - a picture guide to the cave.
In search of a possible camp-site we passed what were obviously cavers changing in a roadside car park - just like the Dales - and stopped and asked what was worth seeing in the area. Having gotten instructions we proceeded the 300m up the track to the Falkensteiner Höhle -a large entrance portal which quickly closes down to stooping height. Since we had no equipment, we called it quits at this stage but the hole is clearly worth a visit and seems from the description to be well decorated once the duck has been passed. Air space in Summer is described as being about 40cm but is weather dependant. We were told that the best time to visit is winter since the rivers all freeze up and water flows in the cave are very low.
Beating a retreat back to the car - via a pleasant detour walk through the forest - we decided to visit one of the many show caves in the area - the Laichinger Tiefhöhle. Having paid our 3Dm (about £1.20) and donned our spats (supplied by the management), we were given a written description of the cave (in German) and allowed to find our own way round - this is low season and no guides were available. The cave is certainly not a show cave in the sense that we would understand it. Yes it is lit and yes there are guides - in the high season. But no there are not any formations (well a couple to be honest - but not worth writing about).
The cave consists essentially of a series of parallel shafts. One has fixed stairs going down to about -55 metres as a way in and a second also with fixed stairs as the way out. We did not count going in but coming out there are 304 steps. The cave does go on down from the lowest point open to tourists to a lake at -80 metres. It may be possible to organise a trip down - we will investigate.
We exited to snow! Just like in the Dales. At this stage a strategic retreat home was made.
First impressions are that the area is similar to the Mendips, most caves seem to be horizontal and the area is one of rolling hills intersected by wooded valleys.
Marble Steps (17 April 1997) Present: Ken Armitage, Mike Ashmore, Mike Baslington, Alec Bottomley, Michael Bottomley(G), Jeff Cowling, Pat Halliwell, Frank Johnston-Bates, Dave Kaye, Karen Lane, Pat O'Niel(P), Reg Parker, Simon Parker, Andy Roberts, Damian Sheeren(P), Patrick Warren(leader).
I was a bit sceptical about Marble Steps given that there hadn't been many ladder meets of this kind recently, and given the infinite variety of reasons that our more experienced members can find for not showing up on such meets. I was wrong. The event proved to run very smoothly and efficiently and was I think enjoyed by everyone.
Marble Steps is a bit of a mysterious hole. There is a taste of the vertical complexity of many of the caves on the same moor - Large Pot, Notts, Lost Johns' - since there are two routes down to the sump, with a window between them half way. The pot never really seems to get going though, and peters out in a rather miserable static pool in a narrow rift. Surrounded by its more extensive neighbours, it never manages a Master Cave, or a connection with the ancient phreatic arteries that lie under this part of the Dales. But its 90' pitch is magnificent, and the view up the entrance Steps towards the distant daylight is superb. Perhaps one day it will be the key to the Three Counties system: there is now a serious digging effort at the bottom of the Intestines route that, even as you read this, may be breaking into new ground!
My thanks to all who turned up to make the meet a success.
Nether Wasdale (3 to 5 May, 1997) Present:- D Hoggarth, J Hoggarth (Leader), Harpic, B Pickersgill, S Pickersgill, R Halliwell, P Halliwell, B Jenkins, S Jenkins, Jenny(G), S Allonby, Helen(G), J Mellor, K Blick, Sarah (G), Chris (G), H Rose, R Scott, Linda (G), S Ashby, A Ashby, T Whitehouse, Emily(G), A Bottomley, J Cowling, I Robinson, A Howe, and evening visits from P Jones and Tracy.
Friday evening arrived and the weather was promising with a wonderful journey across to Wasdale with spectacular views. We were greeted on the camp-site by the Pickersgills, Halliwells and Jenkins all of which had arrived at various times in the last 24 hours and all seemed to be enjoying alcoholic beverages sat in the evening sun after various walks and different degrees of sun-burn!
We enjoyed a sporting bet as to which of the 'Cripples', Harpic with staff and Bob with a pair of crutches, would reach the toilet block first on their way out to the pub. Most bets where on Bob, perhaps because of the crutches, however they were not taking into account Harpic's vast experience with his staff and lost miserably.
Through out the evening our numbers swelled as members found the right pub probably by the amount of noise emitting from the building. By the next morning we already had an 'A' Team, Sue and Helen that were to blitz the whole area with a walk of 23 miles and every top you might care to mention; a 'B' Team which consisted of the main group of 16 to 20 people that were to go up various ways to Dore Head and assault Red Pike and others. Then there was the 'C' Team, in short the 'Cripples', that said they were going for a short walk but we know for a fact that they only wanted to stay behind to go Maypole Dancing, perhaps that was where Henry got to as well
The day was warm and sunny, yes I did say warm and sunny, however we were to pay for it later in the weekend. Dore Head was ascended by every angle up the screes by the Pickersgills, over Yewbarrow by the Halliwells, and sedately up the valley behind Yewbarrow by the rest of us for a grand turnout of 20 on the coll. The younger people amongst us then decided to go do more interesting things, sunbathe and paddle and departed our company as we pressed onwards and upwards. Red Pike, Great Scoat, Steeple, Little Scoat, and Pillar were topped and we arrived back at The Wasdale Hotel for a pint just as the first drops of rain started to fall.
Sunday arrived after a wet night and seeing as the tops had been stolen a large group headed for a pleasant low-level walk taking in a public house for refreshments along the way. Kath, Judy, Chris and Sarah had larger goals and they circumnavigated Wast Water and looked as though they had perhaps taken a short cut back they were so wet on their return.
Monday was a washout! Some members perhaps made the best of an utterly foul day but most left early to get home and dry out. Thanks to everyone who came and participated in the meet, lets do it all again soon.
Cottage Working Weekend (10 to 11 May, 1997) Present: Steve and Barbara Pickersgill, Ric and Pat Halliwell, Karen Lane, Andy Roberts, Robert Scott, Dave and Jan Hoggarth, Reg Parker, Bob, Sarah and Jenny Jenkins, Howard and Tamlyn Beck, Pete Jones, Tracey Beasley, Andy Howe, Ian Robinson, Henry Rose, Sue Allonby and Terry Shipley.
Most of the planned work and some extra jobs were started, and some even completed! One major problem proved to be the Riverside kitchen roof, while removing some loose render Bob J discovered that the roof timbers were mainly holes held together by the occasional wood. So the whole roof came off and was rebuilt with new rafters, this effectively took the whole weekend. Also in Riverside the chimney was swept, bathroom redecorated and the living room redecoration was started.
Bridge End was cleaned from top to bottom, the hole from the GG tackle store to the ladder store was closed and the drop test pit was deepened.
In Ivy Cottage last years decoration of the kitchen was completed, all the unserviceable bunks were recovered, the green toilet and the two downstairs rooms redecorated. After some discussion it was decided to remove the partition wall in the living room and to remove the bookcase in the dining room. During this Ian had to attend an advanced needlework class in Settle to repair a hole in his arm! In true workmanlike fashion the partition wall was painted BEFORE it was knocked down. With the new look in place further changes occurred; the living room is now the dining room and the dining room is now the "snuggery".
On Saturday evening we all enjoyed a communal meal and refreshments. It was announced during the evening that evidence had been found that someone had been masticating in the bunkrooms.
The following weekend saw Steve, Barbara, Pete, Ian and Ken Chappel tie up some of the loose ends. The Riverside kitchen ceiling was plastered with a "rustic" look, the living room redecoration was finished and the carpet shampooed and a gutter fitted to the kitchen roof. Ivy saw the front bedroom and the stairwell redecorated, and the downstairs rooms decoration was completed.
At the end of the month the old furniture was replaced with newly reconditioned seating to comply with the latest fire regulations. We were able to replace all the seating in both cottages for about 1000 pounds. Many thanks to Bob J for the lead to this deal from HH Bushell Ltd of Kidderminster.
Many thanks to all those who turned up for this event, for those of you that didn't, you missed an excellent and amusing weekend. There will be a repeat performance next year, but I hope that there will be no major work to do, so make a note in your diaries for the second weekend in May 1998.
Dowbergill Passage Meet (24 May 1997) Present Mike Baslington, Araceli Sarria Nunez, Chris Little, John Allen(G), Paulette Easterbrook(P), Mike Walsh(G), Mike Ashmore, Andrew Brooks, Tom Thompson (surrogate leader).
Arriving at an unreasonably sunny camp-site I was greeted by Hoggy "What time do you call this?" "Twenty past ten I call it" said I, noting that no time was set in the meets card, nobody had rung me and that I had had a long day at work and too much whisky for someone arriving home at 10.45 pm. Looking around at the friendly faces of my fellows I heard no violins playing, saw no eager band of waiting cavers but was told "they've gone wi'out ye". Accepting my fate I chugged off in a cloud of smoke and caught up with everyone at the stile. After breathing a sigh of relief that Paulette had remembered to tell them it was Dow to Provvy, we were soon at the entrance. A short time after explaining that there would be no antics in the roof we entered the water in Dowbergill Passage. The short free dive was bravely passed by Mike Walsh whilst I soloed the rope climb and belayed everyone else up, occasionally using the "Otis" belay technique. After a climb down from big boulders we regrouped in the water again; warning everyone to avoid creating waves, the really exciting bit began. The next section of passage has been carefully engineered by nature to provide an airspace microscopically larger and two millimetres wider than the upper half of the human head. Under the water there is generally plenty of space, above you concentrate on keeping your breathing apparatus above the hydrogen dioxide whilst using the hairs on your ears as radar. This is fine because body size is irrelevant yet the passage appears to be minute since we attempt to project the visible bit to the underwater bit; fatheads beware. An eternity of shrunken genitalia later, broken only by the odd rock to get out on and the occasional genuine squeeze, we regroup after passing the remarkable "Rock Window", where the passage appears to end and start again two feet to the left, via a neat little porthole.
I attempt to amuse everyone by describing the route through the narrows for the more "lumpen" of us; this involves getting high up the rift and then letting gravity help you fall through the tight bit. Some are not convinced yet, but I am determined never to climb over it in those horrific traverses again, unless threatened by drowning. We reach and pass the rope climb and I shuffle forward; it always looks impossible because the eye is drawn down to the narrow lower rift whilst the bends of the fissure and foreshortening create an illusion of approximately seven inches of width at a point twelve feet in front. Shuffling up into the top of the rift I let myself fall through the tight bit easily, then realise that I forgot how deep is the water beyond; you have to be careful to avoid plunging nose first under it as you slide and wriggle with arms extended. I hear there's an orange survival bag trapped under stones there and it's been in situ for at least six years so you know you're in the right spot, which is reassuring. In fact the next bit of thrutching seems harder than the obvious crux since you are sinking in the water as you drag your legs through the bit which makes them bend the wrong way. Soon you arrive at an awkward rift climb which like so many in there runs out of holds as you get to the top. More "Otis" tactics and we are traversing and boulder choking through to 800 yards chamber. Taking our time now we passed the various uphill obstacles through to Stalagmite Corner; this always looks unlikely coming uphill and sure enough I heard "THIS is the way on???" from behind.
A good team like this, with everyone helping and no-one forcing the pace and though soon it was apparent that we would take six hours for the traverse, yet it felt like much less. Providence Pot held it's usual muddy delights, poignant for Paulette who in only 15 or 16 caving trips has now done this traverse twice and Provvy 3 times. It was noticeable that she found it much less effort this time. Chris and Araceli seemed pleased to have finally passed the puzzling middle bit to complete the traverse. John in particular, who years before as a novice caver had had the embarrassing experience of being rescued from this place, was visibly aglow after overcoming the Passage finally.
I like this place, not for it's uninspiring chambers, it's gloomy halls and shivering wet rifts and fissures but for the fact that it goes clean through a mountain; Ease Gill may be long but it's pretty much all in one valley, wherever you pop in and out. This place is my personal version of the journey I enjoyed vicariously as a sixteen year old, reading a book by a certain professor about a group of friends who, amongst many adventures, pass clear through a Misty Mountain. I couldn't put it down for weeks. Now I wonder that he hadn't been there himself. Thanks to my companions for a memorable day.
Ireby Fell Cavern (15 June 1997) Present: Pat Halliwell (Leader), Ric Halliwell, John Whelan(G), Tony Whelan(G), Dave Kaye, Mary Hunkin, Barry Hunkin, Reg Parker, Mike Ashmore, Damian Sheeran, Joana Kirk(P), Carol Robertson(P), Christine Hirst(P), Ian Winstanley(P), Elaine Hill, Donald Kelly, Denise Ashburne(P), Wendy Ripley(P)
The tackling team of Ric, Dave, John and Tony set off before the appointed time to get the pitches rigged and by the time the Leader arrived at the top of the first pitch all were moving downwards smoothly. There was very little water in the cave although there had been rain during the night and drizzle during the drive over. All reached the sump safely, and then returned to the surface to a brighter day than we'd left. Thanks to all for making it such a smooth, enjoyable trip.
A week on the Isle of Skye Present: Steve (Leader), Maud, Patrick, Jo, Gemma, Simon, Shaun, Jenny, Dave, Richard, Judy, Will, Sally, Chris, Tom.
We arrived to find Patrick up a hill; this was a trend as we later found out. The next day a batch of us set out to do Pinnacle Ridge whilst a couple of the others gained the same hill by other means. Still further folks did coast walks. Pinnacle Ridge was entertaining for a number of reasons. One was that I missed the obvious route to start with and when Chris caught up after communing with nature we were committed to "silly gully" route. The others caught up and passed over our heads as we trundled rocks on one another, but mainly Simon. Another was that we seemed to have somehow acquired winter conditions in mid May.
Soon we arrived at an enormous abseil into God knows where. Most of us chewed sandwiches etc. as an avoidance tactic till finally Chris draped rope down it which Patrick promptly slid down to determine whether there was any ground that humans could be parked on. Finding some he reported back and I followed, only to get back on the string when I discovered that Patrick had only found enough floor for a Golden Turkey nest. I kept going until I found a substantial rocky bealach for us to cower in.
Next was the climb onto Knight's Peak; Patrick was not to be dismayed by the quite impossible looking wall before him and with me belaying and his trusty rope sling over a decidedly untrusty spike as "pro" we made some "pro"gress; ie Patrick overcame the giant overhanging boulder problem without a top rope and a lot of string behind him - bold move I'd say - and I followed to Patrick's top rope yet with sewing machine leg and potentially changing colour trousers on the dodgy bits. With drops around the 300 metre mark on either side of the wall and a tottery belay midway not to say a near impossible mantel manoeuvre (for me) under the overhang I don't think I've ever attempted anything like that before.
Nobody looked particularly keen to repeat this performance and we opted for a top roped with rope return circus on the sloppy snow covered (300 m) west flank. This turned out to be amusing as folks scrambled round wondering what the fuss was about, then arrived at the foot of the ascent gully, looked up and said "ehh"?
Soon we were all up and down to the final ascent of Gillean and more preposterous soloing by Gemma and others was followed by our laborious but safe roped party. It was by now late and as last person to ascend the peak I wasted no time on the summit, fearing a descent through dark boulder fields. Pressing on directly we encountered one or two route problems, quickly overcome. Beyond the broken towers of the lower south east ridge we turned across the rocky flanks towards the north east and Sligachan. Back in the hut literally-midnight feasts were prepared and devoured, though darkness only fell as the eleventh hour passed.
The next day saw wetter atmospheric conditions and we went in search of Steve's fabled landslide; for most of us this remains a mystery since we lost Patrick, then Richard, Chris, Simon and I watched as Steve and Dave disappeared along the coast. We watched as some rocks mysteriously trundled off into the corrie, surprising a fox, then climbed back onto the plateaux, finding an unusual pothole on the way; this was a stream sink in basalt, consisting of a square chamber with an inlet rift in the NW corner, ten feet deep, and an outlet over thirty feet deep, full of jammed boulders, to the SE. In fact a typical slip rift pot but unusual to explore in a non calcareous rock.
We climbed to a remnant rock tor which formed a fantastic fin on one of the many slip rift ridges above, Richard rejoined the coastward party whilst our trio made it back to the car in worsening conditions to find Patrick awaiting us. On Day Three a number of Glenbrittle journeys were made in clagg. Day four saw better skies and I soloed a number of neolithic burial sites before sea level traversing the cliffs of Waternish. This involved some exciting moments of solitary panic.
Day five and some fine weather saw Simon and I traversing the round of corrie Banachdich, finishing in the pub at Carbost before returning east.
Day six was the best weather; the round of Clach Glas and Bla Bheinn was reserved for this. Patrick set off from the hut and got there before us, though we drove. Sean, Jenny, Richard and Gemma made for the north end of Clach Glas direct (via Arch Gully) whilst Simon and I climbed Sgurr nan Each to complete a full round of the corrie. The latter route is my preferred approach and to my mind offers good challenge and entertainment if you accept the walk in and take all the problems on the nose as you climb. Onto Clach Glas itself and a series of impossible looking rock tors are taken direct until an immensely long moderate rock climb with unreasonable exposure presents itself. Taking the climb direct is a suitable route for the solo scrambler but those seeking to place protection and use rope must cast back and forth in search of worthwhile placements. Upward slanted jointing in the rock makes this a difficult venture; higher and to the south an open gully in a basalt dyke (Pilkingtons Gully) offers better solutions; climbing higher unroped you emerge onto the roof of Clach Glas, the Grey Rock.
Next the descent; proceeding to the "end" of this mountain, arrive at a great gable end; called "The Impostor" and much like a house roof, you must make a way down the coping stones, protected by a convenient gully until almost the last where you extend yourself in layback till thankfully your feet touch down on a pile of rock perched on the next arete. This bluffs out in no time at the Bealach Tower but an unlikely route to east winds down to the "Putting Green", where we met with the others, ready to climb onto Bla Bheinn. A short but wet wall with good holds in the middle; I soloed this and rigged a top rope for all but the impatient yet intrepid who followed. Soon I was at the last again and arrived at the gully climb onto the final but highest peak. Gemma was the top rope controller by now and brought us all safely up. Simon and I pressed swiftly on to the summit where some photos were taken after regroup. Views were extensive but marred by haze, nevertheless from here can often be seen one of the finest views ever beheld. During this phase Patrick was briefly summoned by radio and found to be descending from Bla Bheinn summit swiftly, on his way home to the Slig. An unusual descent route was instigated by Simon, this involved scree lying at approx. 85 degrees to vertical (or so it looked, called Great Scree Gully). So I retreated with Jenny, finding steep loose ground quite unbearable personally, and descended the regular route via East Ridge when we caught the others up after they swam in the deep pools of the burn at the head of the gorge, Uaigneicb. This fine day ended with huge meals in the Sligachan Hotel bar and the absorbing of large quantities of liquor generally.
Many thanks to Steve and Maud for organising a splendid Skye meet, and to Simon for his trust in my route finding, which must have required a leap of faith at times considering the occasional exposure, the unlikely looking entrance to Harry's Bar and Clach Glas in particular; also to Chris, for his skill and judgement on Pinnacle Ridge. Patrick set the pace whilst Sally and Jenny excelled themselves in the wake of Sean and Gemma who soloed things where I would need a helicopter. Richard took the prize for suffering huge abrasive injuries in silence whilst I wimped about my cut finger; Will and Dave were ever good humoured and cheerful along with Jo and Judy who did a lot of risky shopping and waiting for folks to get home safe.
Please note that due to a change of leader the meet on 28 September has been moved from Upper Heselden Cave 2 to the Caves of Penyghent Gill. Meet at the start of the Outsleets Beck Pot track at 10.00am
Riverside Bookings: Please note that the Cottage Warden will not be available to take bookings between 19 July and early September so if you want to take up some of the vacant slots which are still available during this period then apply now.
Bad Urach (a typical German oldy worldy town - inhabitants 12000) is in the centre of the Schwäbische Alb caving region and seems to be a good central base for the caves in the region.
The town has a good range of shops for normal needs and there is a larger super/hypermarket on the outskirts - unfortunately on the opposite side from the camp-site.
The camp-site is on the road to Grabbenstetten about 2km outside of Bad Urach (drive through the town and follow the road to Ulm until you see the sign for Grabbenstetten - also shown with camp-site symbol). We have not yet roadtested this site yet, so this is only a provisional base.
The site has the advantage of being only 4km from Falkensteiner Höhle - one of the longest caves in Germany (2.8km easily accessible) and well decorated. For those who wish to be less strenuous there are 20 (this is not a typo error it really is twenty) show caves in the region and a wide range of other holes waiting for exploration.
There is also good walking in the area and a wide range of things to see if you want to just play tourist.
There must be gear shops in the area but we haven't found one yet. The advice must be to bring everything you need. From the little we have seen and read, there appear to be many ducks in the caves in the area and a wetsuit could prove to be useful.
How to get there
Travelling time: allow 7 hours driving from Rotterdam, 8 hours from Ostend and about 9 hours from Calais. This makes the Schwäbische Alb about the same distance as the Vercors possibly a little closer.
The quickest route from the coast is certainly from Rotterdam Europort (North Sea Ferries). Take the Dutch motorway network via Rotterdam to Breda, Tilburg, Eindhoven and Venlo. A short hop on standard roads to Kaltenkirchen brings you to Germany and the A61. Proceed on the A61 to the end - Hochenheim (of motor race course fame), then onto the A6 for one junction and onto the A5 in the direction Basel and Karlsruhe. If you want to stop for a snack on route the Raststätte on the A61 at Möselbrucke is recommended as you get superb views over the Möse1 (Moselle) gorge. There is no fuel here but there is a garage a further 3 km down the road.
At Karlsruhe, take the A8 towards München (Munich). Pass Stuttgart airport and exit at junction 55 (junction numbers are displayed above the 300 metre exit warning stripes on this stretch of the motorway.)
Take the B313 to Nürtingen, Metzingen and Bad Urach.
For those who want to limit the cost of travelling and will cross the channel in the area of Dover but want to avoid paying French Tolls on the motorway, take the road to Dunkerque, then the motorway to Lille (toll free). From Lille head to Brussels and then Luxembourg (fill up with fuel here - its as cheap as you will find it anywhere). From Luxembourg take the road to Trier and then the A62 to Kaiserslautern. The A6 (direction Mannheim) will lead you to Kahlsruhe from where you can follow the direction above. This route avoids French tolls.
Contrary to popular belief most German motorways have a speed restriction indicated after every junction. Lack of a sign indicates no restriction. Stick to the speed limits. Do not stay in the outside lane longer than you absolutely need to unless you want a Merc or BMW bearing down on you at some ungodly rate.
Germany is a cash driven economy. his means that credit cards are not widely accepted although Eurocheque cards may be accepted if you have your pin number.
Fuel - except on the motorways, credit cards are not normally accepted and in many garages off the motorway even cheques will be turned down. The same goes for supermarkets and Hypermarkets - cash is the order of the day.
Banks have cash machines but these are inside the building and access can only be gained out of hours with a relevant cash card. The bank in Bad Urach is Volksbank and I do not have the relevant card. This means that the cash machine is only guarantied to be available in banking hours - Monday to Friday only! You may be able to get in at other times if one of the locals is going in at the same time.
Cash machines normally accept VISA, Mastercard and Eurocheque cards.
The highly restricted German shopping hours have started to relax since the beginning of this year. This does not yet seem to have spread as far as Bad Urach town centre. Therefore expect the shops to be shut from lunchtime Saturday until Monday morning. If you are going to arrive over the weekend bring food to last until Monday.
If you are planning to come, please let us know well in advance so that we can reserve camping places and advise you of any late changes in venue. Telephone: 00 49 6236 60535. See you there
Andy & Chris Hayter
It is intended to continue with the same arrangements as last year and only two vehicles will be allowed on the fell (subject to permission being granted by Dr Farrer and Mr Holland). Anyone wishing to take a vehicle on the fell should contact Dave Milner who will decide which vehicles are to be permitted
After the success of the last few years, all none degradable will be removed from the fell at the end of the meet. Some rubbish bags will be provided but it will be helpful if you could bring some of your own.
The descent fee for visitors remains at £7.00
The transport arrangements are the same as for the last few years.
Tackling weekend 9 August - 9.30 at Ian's farm yard
Beer & Gear - 16 August - 9.30 at Ian's farm yard
Tackle removal - 25 August 17:30 from GG
Gear removal - 26 August (30 August if required) 12:00 from GG
Car parking will be available in the field next to the camp-site. Please make use of this facility rather than clogging up the village.
Animals. The only living mammal seen in the cave was a bat flying around in Bat Chamber, although the skeleton of a rabbit was found on the top of the rock pile in Cataclysm. Numerous bat droppings were observed on the sloping floor leading to Bat Chamber, and at the south end of the cave near the pitch down to the stream. Small quantities were noticed in several other parts. A small number of flying insects (gnats?) have been seen. In the entrance shaft during digging operations numerous small frogs were noticed, although never more than two at once. These were "rescued" to the surface in a bucket, and so the large total number seen in the shaft may really have been only a small number which kept returning after being rescued! Also in the shaft was a small emaciated lizard, some worms, a few large black beetles, and some gnats. One bone of a rabbit, and a broken sheep bone were also found in the shaft.
Water. During wet weather small streams enter the system from three places, although these soon cease under dry conditions. Water flows down the main shaft and through the Cat-hole, sometimes making a very wet descent. An adjacent small shakehole acts as a water sink and this enters the system down the north end of the entrance rift from whence it sinks into gravel. The third inlet is from a small stream which sinks in an old dig near North Pot. This is the source of the small waterfall which descends the aven in Snake Chamber. All of these inlets flow into Tillman's Chamber before presumably joining the Stump Cross streamway. Finally the descent of the second pitch, near the south-east end of the system, leads directly into the Stump Cross streamway.
Draughts. An intermittent draught was sometimes noticed while digging out the entrance shaft. This would sometimes come and go over a short period of time, often less than one hour. This draught comes, mainly from the lower chamber and with a smaller fraction coming up through the cat-hole. Near the end of the Lower North Passage a small hole sometimes emits a draught; this is very close to North Pot and the draught is assumed to come from there. Magwitch, the northern boulder choke, was also observed to draught slightly. This choke had come down a rift from above and at first we thought the draught might indicate a link with the surface. On removing a few rocks, however, it appeared that a passage continued straight ahead as well as upward. Later digging revealed the new northern extension, now known as Pip's Progress. This ends in a network of too-tight fissures and crawls, and the draught has been lost. On some days a slight draught can be felt coming up the second pitch, and also from the very small roof level crawl in the extreme south-east corner.
Formations. All areas of the cave contain some excellent speleothems, but the greatest variety is to be found in the Lower North Passage. Starting with a fine stalactite grill, one soon finds some interesting loose deposits, both white and dark brown. The white stuff looks a bit like spent carbide and is probably dried Moonmilk, while the dark stuff can best be described as very fine chocolate vermicelli. Both of these will be sampled for analysis. Immediately following is a fine stalactite curtain which has to be crawled under (be sure to keep your bottom down!); but once through be sure to turn round and look back at it. It is one of the finest displays and has been christened "Estella" after a character in "Great Expectations" who was beautiful but cold. Many of the stalagmites (up to a metre high) are a creamy brown with a white top; one is black with a white top. At the far end of the lower passage is an excellent array of helictites - and also in Pip's Progress. Curtains and stalactites etc. occur in numerous colours - white, cream, brown, red and black. False floors, formed of calcited mud and gravel occur in several places, but appear to be in fact one long section of false floor which has been eroded away into several short sections. At one place a section of false floor has some good gour formations, which have suffered from a later erosion causing a groove to be cut right down through them. Further to naming features from the book this has been called Miss Haversham's Table - once elegant, but now badly "decayed". As well as the normal calcite speleothems the cave also contains a number of mud stalactites and stalagmites, and mud coated stalagmites. The only way of distinguishing between the latter two without destroying them is to very carefully push a thin wire through them! Even the mud floors are interesting as they have a very thin dark cover which is destroyed by walking on them, as it exposes the normal mud colour beneath. In places the mud is pitted with interesting drip-pits formed by the falling drops of water.
Rock Sculpture. In many places in the cave the rock has been sculptured by water into very interesting shapes. Perhaps the most interesting of these is the excellent display of Rillen-karren in Tillman's Chamber. Such a good example is extremely rare in British caves. Rillen-karren may also be observed in Snake Chamber, but not of such good quality. Also in Snake Chamber, at the bottom of the waterfall aven are some dangerously sharp "swords" of limestone pointing upwards. Towards the north end of Tillman's Chamber are some interesting examples of roof pendants formed in the limestone above a shale band. Numerous other examples of rock sculpture will be found in this lower chamber, as all three stream inlets to the cave pass through here.
Geology. Basically the cave is formed in the lower half of the Greenhow Limestone beds. These consist of massive beds of limestone which at this spot dip to the north at roughly 20*. As you enter Tillman's Chamber you can see a prominent shale band about 10 cms thick just below the roof level. This same shale band can be followed under the bedding plane roof through Cataclysm to the south end of the system, and appears to be an inception band in the formation of the cave. The underside of the limestone (overlying the shale) is covered with small anastomosis half tubes. The Northern section is somewhat different in character, and looks more like a typical stream cave system. Near the Cat-hole entrance the northern stream cave would have passed beneath the old southern section, and may have been, at least in part, the cause of the massive collapse in the Cataclysm area. To the north, as you approach Bat Chamber, a good example of micro-bedding with false bedding in it can be examined in the west wall. Near the south end, in the roof above the second shaft is an interesting example of calcite filled en-echelon tension cracks, providing an indication of rotational movement. The cave contains much that is worthy of study by those interested in speleo-geology.
Access and Conservation. An access and conservation agreement is being negotiated, but at present nothing has been formally signed. For the present the following provisional rules are in operation:
Great Expectations - Access and Conservation, Provisional Draft Rules.
1. Great Expectations is owned by Mr G Hanley of Stump Cross Caverns, and is also part of a cave SSSI. These facts have been borne in mind in preparing this document.
2. Parties visiting Great Expectations shall be limited to five (5) people, which must include an authorised leader. The following are currently authorised leaders - G Workman, P Jones, A Weight, M Goodwin, & R Halliwell.
3. For insurance purposes all visitors must be members of a club that is affiliated to the BCRA caver insurance scheme.
4. It is the leaders responsibility to draw the attention of all visitors to these rules, and to fill in a brief report form (in duplicate) after the trip. Blank forms are obtainable from - G Workman.
5. Parties wishing to visit the cave shall apply in the first instance to the Access Controller. (An access controller has not yet been appointed; until then please apply to - G Workman)
6. Parties shall not be allowed access during the months November to March inclusive. This is to avoid disturbance to hibernating bats.
7. All members of parties are responsible for their own health and safety, and for any events arising out of their visit to the cave.
8. All members of parties visiting the cave shall take due care with regard to the conservation of the cave and its contents. Special care should be taken in the vicinity of speleothems and also of mud floors and mud formations. No samples or specimens shall be removed from the cave except for approved scientific research.
9. All rubbish and other litter should be removed from the cave. (If you can carry it in, then you can carry it out!).
10. The cave is strictly a non-smoking zone. Smoking materials should be left outside.
11. The use of carbide is not permitted in the cave.
12. Photography with bulbs is acceptable, but polluting substances such as flash powder are not allowed.
13. Blasting is not permitted without written permission of the owner. (This is not normally given).
14. Any attempt to ignore or by-pass these rules may result in future access being denied,(or even worse!).
15. Well behaved cavers are always welcome. Have a good trip.
Members will be notified of any alterations and amendments to these rules in the Record.
The word "Craven" has been variously attributed but general agreement seems to be that it's derived from the Celtic or Gaelic or indeed British root of "creagh" or "Creaghan" meaning rock or rocky territory. This becomes obvious as one leaves Skipton and Airedale behind heading for Wharfedale. The rounded hills of Millstone Grit with their moorland caps hiding an almost unbelievable thickness of relatively young pebbly rocks (up to 2,100ft in parts) are suddenly disrupted by the south Craven fault and soon gritstone scarps are seen towards Embsay and elsewhere. Following the road toward Grassington, limestones make their presence known more subtly to the west, whilst Rolling Gate and the Grit Outcrop dominates to the east. The road makes it's way along the disrupted boundary of the Bowland Shales and the Pendleside Limestone where successively huge blocks of land have been displaced northwestwards by the Airton to Rylstone fault; you can feel this if you drive fast, bouncing up and down and swinging from side to side like a roller coaster.
Out West, shaley and black ancient Clitheroe limestones are left behind as white quarry walls herald the ring of reef-knolls that stretch along the south side of the mid-Craven fault from Settle to Appletreewick; meanwhile the road has climbed a hundred feet higher onto the Yoredales once we pass Swinden Quarry. Switchbacking again as we cross the Mid Craven fault before Linton, the large Gritstone upland of Threshfield Moor rises to the west, but we tend to look over it as one of the finest views in the Dales emerges; revealed by the North Craven fault which has dropped down the lands we drive across, the true Craven country comes into sight. Rising proudly on it's ancient pediment of grossly folded pre-carboniferous rocks, white escarpments herald the Great Scar Uplands that we know and love, indeed that we take our name from, as the true rocky Craven country starts.
Apart from the distant view of Wharfedale, inspiring enough, looking left nearer landscapes stretch away toward Malham and Fountains Fell; in the foreground of this view wooded limestone scarps contrast sharply with the tame but bare lands below on Threshfield Moor. Although closer inspection reveals a modern field structure imposed on these high grounds they communicate a sense of the ancient, primeval landscape of a Britain whose only borders were the sea and anything else you could defend with your own strength. Crossing Rowley/Threshfield beck and the North Craven Fault at the same time in minutes you pass the Grassington road and on into Upper Wharfedale. To west now lie some of the most mysterious uplands in Yorkshire. Geometrically arranged fields whose boundaries run predominantly SW NE or SE NW are focused around ancient heights whose boundaries follow more natural or defensive positions. These are known as High Mark with various individual differentiations. The "Marke" shares a root with "Mercury", "bright or noticeable place or object", deutchmark in Danish or Saxon. Links with money, brightness, shiny objects hark to the common sight of ancient bell-pits where lead veins were worked from the surface here. These sites are commonly in association with ancient settlements whose boundaries bear no relation to the modern field systems typically.
Once I loitered here seeking something which I saw on the map; a ring contour which appeared at first sight to be a hilltop, but which emerged as a depression. Geologically this area contains some of the highest Great Scar Limestone elevations, reaching directly to the Silurian Pediment exposed where Ammerdale meets Wharfedale. Here I found a small stream sinking under a huge perched boulder, the Gauntlet. Gauntlet Pot turned out to be a short natural passage leading to an impenetrable sink. This has been followed by mining technique, with major effort by Pete Jones and Barry Andrews amongst others, in hope of entering an integrated drainage system; work continues.
If the bid is successful the land will be held by trustees appointed by the PDCMG and will be administered in accordance with the policies and constitution of the PDCMG. If the bid is unsuccessful then donations will be returned as far as possible although some funds will have been expended as part of the process of making the bid. Your Committee has already pledged an initial £100. If any members wish to make a donation to help ensure access to this site of national caving importance, then it should be sent to:
Hon Treasurer of PDCMG
87 Melrose Avenue
Tel: 01222 255096
In Chapel-le-Dale the newly opened Bargh's Entrance (dropping into the Hurtle - Jingle complex) has been used to consolidate the lines here and further pushes at the very deep upstream Hurtle passage should now be much safer. At 40m deep this is a fairly serious site from the decompression point of view. Ian Lloyd made another heroic effort on the Bradford winch meet recently in Gaping Gill's Deep Well. The visibility was dreadful but he managed to get a little further before losing the way in an area of silt banks. At about 170m from base this point is only some 60m from the divers part of Ingleborough Cave. Meanwhile around the hill at Alum Pot Jason got another 180m of line out at the end making the downstream limit 780m from base. It's still a long way to Footnaws and even further to Turn Dub. If only we could find a way in at the resurgences!
Finally, and really belonging to The Lake District, the survey of the Beck Head resurgence sump near Witherslack has been completed. I did this whilst convalescing after my elbow operation when dry caving was out of the question. The upstream limit is 140m from base at the bottom of a narrow rising shaft. It looked like there might be airspace above but we're leaving this until all the team are present. Much line tending was indulged in (including the use of bolts in the sump floor) but there are still some nasty squeezes here. All the above dives plus several surveys will be published in the July 1997 CDG Newsletter.
Former CPC member, Graham Huck, together with Dave and Sue Eccles, et al did sterling work in reopening the shaft and began work in the 'downstream' rift passage, at various times aided by a transient roll-call of willing assistants. Interest soon waned however, and an imminent collapse of the entrance shoring and frequent inundations threatened the loss of what must be one of the more promising sites within the Black Keld catchment.
Around 1991 Denis Round, Howard Beck and Bob Evans adopted the then abandoned site, yet before work could restart at the terminal end they spent some weeks installing a more durable entrance shoring, together with flood gates at two points to prevent the blockage of the rift passage. It is gratifying to note that after six years these defences continue to serve their intended purpose well. In addition to remedial work, the fill in the 'downstream' passage was entirely removed using an efficient aerial bucket-way to prevent flood waters shuttering shingle into and blocking low points in the passage.
Eventually work was able to progress once more at the terminal rift, widening this with plugs and feathers and increasing its depth by approximately 20 feet, at which point the way on appeared to then be horizontal. With sights set upon Kathmandu it was at this juncture that Denis departed, with Sheila to cross Europe by velocipede. The dig then ground to a standstill until, that is, it was once again targeted by Howard and Andy Roberts, together with Peter Rose, Karen Lane, Baz Andrews and several other club members.
Permission from Mr Roberts, the gamekeeper and tenant farmers was sought and kindly renewed for the next five years. Work in the cave progresses once again with high hopes of a significant breakthrough before too long. Recent work has included repairing the perimeter fence, renewing it on the flood damaged upstream side with the inclusion of a stile and a flood debris catcher.
Anyone who is not shy of hard work and who is interested in helping out at the dig would be most welcome, either at weekends or mid-week evenings, on a casual or regular basis. The dig can be managed (just) with four people, though five and better still, six, would make life easier. Work continues to be a case of widening the terminal rift and manually transporting spoil back up the passage by the recently re-installed aerial bucket system. The dig is usually comfortable necessitating only dry grots, though wet feet may ensue in crossing a pool if wellies are not worn. Access includes a two mile return journey on foot from the car park at Yarnbury House, above Grassington.
Anyone who has doubts about the promise of this cave should feel the draught and witness the volume of water disappearing down the shaft in flood. Not convinced? Then consider the distance between Gill House and Black Keld, and bear in mind also, that Mossdale caverns and Langcliffe Pot sit on top of the greatest thickness of limestone in the Dales and also drain to the same outflow. Anyone interested in helping out should contact Andy, Howard or Pete (phone numbers in the Record).
Our attempt on Goyden Pot
The Dunbabin family congregated to see us into the Pot. While the goods and chattels were being unpacked we made a little sally into the entrance, the young Dunbabins scuttling in front with candle stubs, and Mrs. Dunbabin skipping along with me, giggling like a schoolgirl. Mr. Dunbabin chuffed along behind with Kenneth's torch. Oh, an excellent family, irresponsible and empty of stodginess.
We turned back at the fall to find when we emerged that young Joe had built a fire in the dry bed of the river. Mr. Dunbabin busied himself making tea and we settled down to a classic feed of salmon, mixed fruit, baked beans and bacon. It was the farewell meal that had not materialised in the barn the night before. While we ate two couples of fellows, stoutly dressed and roped, entered the mouth and disappeared. Gordon and Kenneth ate on indifferently as though all the potholes in Yorkshire would not affect our priority. Meanwhile Kenneth's torch conked and Mr. Dunbabin sent young Joe home on the motor-bike to get half-a-dozen candles.
Grub over, Kenneth and I hopped over the wall to change into bathing costume and shorts and shorts and sweater respectively. Gordon was champing at the mouth when we returned and wrapping cameras, grub and candles in a groundsheet which he then shoved into a rucker.
We were ready. Handshakes all round, rope (150 feet of it) and rucker shouldered, a last look at the sun and we entered.
Our eyes soon adapted themselves to the pitch dark and what were feeble glows from the torches became strong beams. We passed through the first chamber and pushed straight downstream easy going and just as we were entering new country met two of the chaps whom we had seen enter. "How is it?" "Can't get past. Too much water". We went on, a straight walk down river, until the water babbled out into a flat pool and the roof sloped down to meet it. So the first impasse had occurred. I waded out to the thighs, shining the torch round, but no current whatsoever was evident. Light coloured fish were swimming about. There should be some outlet. None was visible and I funked diving, so came out.
An upward-sloping passage went at right angles to the stream and this we followed, hoping for a transverse passage which would swing round to the stream. It seemed hopeless, for the stream apparently bent right and we were now going in the opposite direction. A strong breeze was coming down and we periodically happened upon the footprints of the two fellows who had preceded us. Finally we came to a little low opening which seemed to broaden out below. It necessitated laying on the back and kicking until sufficient rocks had been knocked down to allow a body to pass through. After a struggle we got in, but alas it sloped upwards and gradually the passage became so low and narrow that we had to shuffle forward on our backs, feet first, using the back of the head as a leg. Soon even this was impossible and we had to return, by no means an easy matter.
We hit the main stream again and followed up awhile. Gordon and Kenneth were ahead and soon left me behind. The while I carefully examined the left hand wall of the cave with my torch. It was pitted with holes, but at one part near the roof the light seemed to pass through, promising a chamber behind. The other two returned and we climbed. To our joy it did lead to a chamber parallel to and higher than the main stream.
We passed down eagerly on a sandy bed, but to our disappointment it ended in a stagnant pool. There was one alternative. In the right hand wall was a cleft, the steep (almost vertical) end silted up with sticks and debris. It seemed unlikely that we should be fortunate again. However I went up, finishing with a spot of rock climbing at the top. This was followed by a spiral which climbed steeply. I hailed Gordon and he followed with the 30 feet of hemp. A pleasing traverse above a deep chimney brought us to a little chamber like a miniature chapel.
Here we belayed the rope round a convenient spur and I descended the 10 feet while Gordon went back to fetch Kenneth and the tackle. Apparently it took some getting through for the wait seemed interminable. However they arrived.
A narrow winding passage led from the chamber, cut clean through the limestone, with one foot to two foot of water most of the way. Very soon we heard a low murmur which was the river, and almost simultaneously the passage ended, coming out into the side of a big chamber with a dead drop below. We turned on the torches and could not see the bottom. There was only one thing to do. Bless Gilbert for teaching me the chair knot. We fastened the two 60 feet lengths together, made the chair knot, I slipped into it and they lowered me. It was a most unpleasant journey. Loosened mud spattered about me and I was very grateful to reach the sandy bottom. High up above were fugitive gleams that were the torches of the other two. They had paid out about 58 feet of rope, which, allowing for the knot, meant a depth of 50 feet.
From here the river was roaring loudly. It was broad and low, rattling along a pebbly bed. The roof was also low, which meant that I had to get on my back in the water. Strangely enough it was not very cold, but it smelt like a sewer. The roof came lower. I went over a shallow fall and came to a full stop. My heel touched bottom and my toe top. There was a possible hole to the left half blocked by a log. I did my best, but short of moving a few boulders it was impossible, and had I been unable to turn round beyond there would have been no return. If the torch went out?
I felt a bit scared and so returned upstream. The water emerged from a large motionless pool in which were one or two fish. I went in, well out of my depth, clinging to the rock at the side but there was no sign of an opening. It was getting colder so I returned to the rope and they prepared to haul me up. I felt them take the strain and heave, but nothing happened. I was still at the bottom. The rope was belayed round a spur which added to the friction. It was too thin to climb and so they had to haul it up and knot it. Working in a confined space it took them about half-an-hour and by the time it came down again I had gone to jelly. Wet through and shivering I remember saying to myself "When I get out I shall sing the 'Te Deum Laudamus'." (A propos: I went to chapel the following Sunday and the first verse sung was "He drew me from the fearful pit and from the miry clay")
Somehow I got up and the return journey was hell. Gordon took command magnificently. He lowered me down the slopes on the rope which I am ashamed to remember and shared the tackle with Ken. Actually it was a pretty straight forward journey encompassed in about an hour.
When we got out we found it was about 8 o'clock and we had gone in at 12. We looked wrecks. Gordon's shirt and shorts hung in rags about him and we were all caked in mud. A pity that the snaps did not come out.
That day we had one meal and two fags a terrible business.
The Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Vol VI (1930-36) pp 223-224 refers to the events above commenting that Gordon Daley, Kenneth Smith & Winston Farrar had entered Goyden with the idea of searching for the passage entered by Gaskell in 1888. Winston's notes on copied pages of this Journal make it clear that the Pudsey Ramblers had not heard of Gaskell and their re-discovery of the passage was fortuitous.
Collected by Robert Scott
I wandered lonely as a Beck,
That flows on high through pools and rills,
When all at once I cricked my neck,
While gazing upwards at the hills,
Along the path, beneath the trees,
A line of tourist Japanese.
Continuous as the cars that shine,
In twinkling queue on motorway,
They stretch'd in never-ending line,
Eroding half the path away.
Ten thousand saw I tramping there,
Their Guidebooks held with loving care.
Their maps beside them flapped, but they,
Their Guidebooks read with fervent glee,
Howard could not but be gay,
In such a cultured company!
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
What wealth they to the gift shops brought.
For oft, when in my pit I lie,
In mood induced by excess ale,
There flashes on that inward eye,
A vision of the Wordsworth Trail;
And Howard's wallet fills with ease,
As he dances with the Japanese.
It was a day of heavy rain and no one was going down the pot. We had no "beer tent" in those days but tinned beer was available in the leader's tent. The leader was Jim Hill and "his tent" was a large square bell with centre pole and 5 feet high walls. His tent was the camp headquarters and in bad weather it was a gathering point for the few in camp in those days. Of course Jim had his own luxuries: a camp-bed, bed side table and chair.
Alf was having trouble with his primus stove, so as there were no descents he decided to dismantle his stove and thoroughly clean it. He took up his position sitting on a box just inside the open door of Jim's tent where he could get some light as the tent walls let no light through. Across his knees he had a paraffin stained rag and on the rag were all the constituent parts that are necessary for the function of a primus stove. Alf was cleaning each bit in the most meticulous way when Bob and I arrived. When we looked into the tent Alf and his array of bits and pieces of a primus stove seemed to be an incredulous sight to Bob who, in his rather insensitive manner said to Alf "What the bloody hell are you doing Alf?" Alf quietly replied "I'm investigating the microscopic dimensions of the aperture of my cooking apparatus." Bob said "WHAT?" Alf retorted in a quiet and yet decisive manner, "Well to someone like you who has no conversational acumen, the bloody jets bunged up!"
At another Gaping Gill camp on a lovely sunny day a party consisting of Len Cook, Johnny Frankland, my late brother Ted (who was a CPC member in those days) and myself set off from Gaping Gill to do Sunset Hole. When we asked Jim Hill if he could allocate some ladders for the trip he said that we could take the ladders from another nearby pot as no one was going down it that day. Unfortunately Philip Tyas (known as Pekoe in the Club) who was something of a "loner" had gone down the pot on his own without checking with the Gaping Gill Meet leader Jim Hill. Hence Pekoe spent some lonely hours hopefully awaiting his rescue.
Meanwhile the Sunset Hole party had been down the hole and were sitting in the sunshine eating their packed lunches. A family of walkers, on their way to Ingleborough stopped to engage us in conversation. The father of the family, speaking to Ted asked him "Are you what they call pot-holers? Don't you get very frightened down there below ground?" I suppose that Ted being a newspaper reporter could be excused for his reply: "Well I suppose that even the bravest of us feel a little trepidation at times". But that is nothing compared with what Pekoe had to say when he was eventually found many hours later and released from his tomb.
Some years later after I had gone to live in Scotland I came down to Gaping Gill with my eight year old son Guy. It was pouring with rain as we arrived and we took shelter in the large square bell tent where we were given hot soup in mugs. It was in fact so hot that Guy spluttered and spilled some down his new anorak which was part of his full mountaineering suit made by his mother for his use when camping in the mountains with me in the Highlands in winter. He looked at me, no doubt expecting a sharp reprimand, for at home I always insisted on good table manners. Guy was obviously relieved and also felt that he was in special company at Gaping Gill when I assured him: "It's alright Guy, there are no rules up here at Gaping Gill; we live in a different world altogether up here!"
Then there was the time that I brought a mixed party of International Scout and Guide Club members from our camp in the Dales to see and hopefully go down Gaping Gill. On arriving in Clapham it was obvious to me that by the quantity of water going down the beck that descents would be out of the question. However they all wanted to see what Gaping Gill was like especially in flood conditions. They were impressed by what they saw. The dam had burst and the flooded Fell Beck swirled around the petrol engine we used in those days. We sheltered from the rain in the old 14ftx14ft ex-army tent being used as the "headquarters tent" pitched where we have the booking in tent these days. One of several CPC members offering hospitality asked "Can we get you a hot drink?" whereupon I said (with tongue in cheek): "Yes, seventeen teas please!" The party was surprised when the CPC rose to the occasion. Several primus stoves were already producing hot water. The only problem was what to drink out of. Everything that could conceivably be used to drink out of was lined up on a form: four enamel mugs, two plastic mugs, two aluminium beakers, two thick glass beer mugs, a pewter tankard, two empty but clean Heinz bean tins, an army type mess tin, two empty milk bottles and a small item of pottery - a tea pot (for drinking through the spout similar to the one that Roy Taylor at one time used). Hot tea was served to the amazement of my party. You just cannot beat the CPC for hospitality!
Reduce your speed when approaching sheep. They have absolutely no road sense and, as a result of years of roadside breeding, they are chronically oblivious to car horns and flashing lights.
Scientific American, February 1895
"Practical synthesis of carbon and hydrogen on a small scale in the laboratory has represented one of the triumphs of chemistry. The commercial production of carbon and hydrogen as exemplified by acetylene gas formed one of the most striking exhibits of the Atlanta Exposition. The gas was shown in practical shape, produced from a portable evolution apparatus, and also as burned directly from compression cylinders, in which it was stored in liquid form. The gas was burned from open burners and in different types of car lamps, one of its prospective uses being the lighting of railroad trains."
"A simple and inexpensive portable fire escape which may be packed to take but little room in a travellers trunk or bag, is shown in the accompanying illustration. It consists of a clamp adapted to slide upon a rope, to which may be attached body and shoulder straps. The clamping or frictional pressure upon the rope can be readily controlled by the person using the device. When the escape is permanently fixed in houses or factories, the rope is preferably attached to a hinged arm secured at the inside of the window."
Scientific American, December 1895
A series of explorations begun by the descent of Gaping Ghyll were continued by the Yorkshire Ramblers Club at Long Kin, on the lower slopes of Little Ingleborough. A Mr Calvert was the first to reach the bottom- where he apparently found a crowbar and a cap! No formation of any kind was visible in the cave, although members described how detached rock "rose up like pillars, their edges being so sharp it was possible to sharpen pencils on them".
(Craven Through The Years)
Cave Tragedy Remembered
Churchgoers will help to commemorate the tragic deaths of six young potholers at a special service next month. The six, all from Leeds University, lost their lives while caving in Mossdale Cavern, Upper Wharfedale, 30 years ago. Now, a service of commemoration will be at St Mary's Church Conistone on Tuesday June 24th at 7pm. Heavy floodwater was blamed for the tragedy and the rescue operation involved members of the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association and other willing helpers. At the inquest the coroner recommended that the bodies should be left in situ, and the cavern sealed to prevent further loss of life. A stone in St Mary's churchyard lists the names of the six young men who died.(A Craven Diary)
Caves of the Northern Dales form a unique part of our landscape. The sensitive maintenance and protection of them is of paramount importance not only for ourselves but also for future generations. To be able to achieve this we, as a Club, should be prepared to work closely not only with landowners but also with the statutory conservation bodies. Through them the caving community can become more responsible for the preservation of underground features.
The same dictionary defines exploration as a means to travel; to discover and find out; to learn about. The exploration of undiscovered passages is the key element toward the future of caving. We only enjoy our caving today because of those early explorers. It is probably only fair to say that the most important discoveries, and extensions, have only come about through excavation, though this has helped us to increase our understanding of cave systems.
To be able to carry out any cave excavation, it is widely recognised that equipment and techniques, such as the construction of dams and the use of explosives must and have been used, although this should only be done where indiscriminate digging will not lead to the damage and loss of important sediments and archaeological deposits. Modern equipment used in cave digging should be appropriate to the site, this should take into account the sensitivity of the site.
It is fair to say that the largest impact on the future of our cave systems lies within our own hands, to manage and maintain the recreational use of the systems. Conservation, inevitably, lies within the hands of the cave user.
10 Jan Easegill Caverns
24 Jan Ireby Fell (SRT)
7 Feb Cherry Tree / Darnbrook Ian Robinson
14-22 Feb 1. Lake District Bob Jenkins
2. Scotland Howard Beck
28 Feb Hagg Gill
14 Mar Swinsto / Simpsons (SRT) Karen Lane/
28 Mar Short Drop / Gavel
10-13 Apr 1. South Wales (Easter) Steve Pickersgill
2-4 May Kettlewell (May Day)
9-10 May Cottage Working Weekend Steve Pickersgill
23-25 May 1. Dentdale (Spring Bank)
2. Anglesey Ian Robinson
(May/Jun) Birkwith Area Pete Jones
13 Jun Penyghent Pot
14 Jun Hunt Pot (SRT)
27 Jun Stream Passage/Flood/Bar (SRT) Rob Dove/Barbara
11 Jul Birks Fell
25 Jul Sell Gill (Ladders / SRT) Terry Shipley/?
15 Aug GG Tackling
22-29 Aug Gaping Gill winch meet Edward Whitaker
5 Sep GG Detackling (if reqd)
12 Sep Magnetometer Pot
26 Sep King Pot (SRT?) Gemma Connelly
10 Oct Out Sleets Beck
24 Oct Mongo Gill (Great Expectations?)
14 Nov Dowbergill Passage
15 Nov Bull Pot Kingsdale (SRT)
28 Nov AGM
29 Nov President's Meet Ken Chappel
12 Dec Lost Johns Hole - (ladder)
Box Head (SRT) Simon Ashby
28 Dec Great Douk / Sunset
This proposed list has been compiled by Henry Rose and not all permissions have been sought or received. If you would like to suggest alternative meets, dates or to volunteer to lead one of the proposed trips then please contact Henry with your suggestions or agreement to lead a meet.
I first met Rob in October 1973 as a group of us were changing by the entrance to Pippikin Pot on a CPC meet. My memories are of a bedraggled student from St.Martin's College with the standard appearance of the day (long hair, beard, flared jeans and "cooling fin" wellingtons) bounding over the fell with a gigantic rucksack and asking if he could join us. It soon became obvious that he could handle himself as well as any of us underground and he radiated an infectious enthusiasm for everything he did. We became firm friends from that day on and my diaries are full of stories about the antics our group got up to.
Rob had a tremendous sense of adventure which rubbed off on everyone. Why else would we have found ourselves abseiling through from Rowten Pot to Valley Entrance one balmy summer's day wearing only swimming trunks? He never forgave me for "cheating" (I'd secretly taken a face mask for the free diveable sumps!). Those were good times indeed; we got up to all sorts of ridiculous pranks and did a lot of hard caving and hard drinking together. He was never happy just going underground for the sake of it; there had to be a real challenge. Rob was almost certainly one of the first people, along with Pete Gray, to abseil into Alum Pot, pull down the ropes and then calmly free climb back out. He played a significant part in more than one of Sid Perou's films of the time but inadvertently caused a classic example of lack of continuity; he was clean shaven when setting off up the big pitch in Alum Pot but had apparently grown a beard on arrival at the top! Rob was very much involved with the Cave Rescue Organisation around this time as well as the folk scene. Both were combined when he organised a number of social events for the CRO which helped swell the coffers at a time when money was sorely needed.
Our group was very much caught up in "the cause" of new cave exploration and, almost inevitably, Rob became interested in cave diving. Like most newcomers at the start he had some near misses, but soon learned the trade and began to take on some significant sumps. The connection of Gaping Gill and Ingleborough Cave was near the top of his list and I clearly remember Chris Baldwin and I struggling with the diving gear to Shallow Well sump in the Far Waters of GG. The trip took us round the clock and well beyond; the three of us were so tired that before I self lifelined my ascent of the Big Pitch ladder in Bar Pot I tied the rope to Rob's foot so that I could wake him up by pulling from the top. Rob was also responsible for finding the way on in the downstream sump of the Kingsdale Master Cave, demonstrating his visionary qualities. Yet despite his irrepressible urge to explore some of the most challenging sumps both at home and abroad he always retained a sense of humour. His report of the 1976 expedition to push the terminal sump of the Grotte De La Cigalere began with: "The "British Expedition to Climb a Tree somewhere in France" said, from the tree, that its aims had been achieved. Soon after, it fell out, and, upon standing up, fell over."
The projects Rob took on became increasingly ambitious. He did the second British trimix cave dive at Gavel Pot, as the NPC were exploring towards Gavel from Notts Pot. This is still currently the deepest point yet explored in any Yorkshire sump. He was the driving force behind the first expedition to dive the Blue Holes of The Bahamas at a time when few people accepted the idea of exploring a submerged cave for its own sake. Indeed he became very involved in scientific studies in these and many other underwater caves and worked passionately to promote conservation measures amongst the cave diving community. One of his most notable British explorations involved some impressive dives in the Cheddar Caves, the terminal boulder choke of which has still not been reached by anyone else.
Rob was never afraid to be controversial. There were times when some might have described him as arrogant but those who knew him well would tell of his tremendous motivation and unending love affair with underwater exploration. Rob's larger than life public character was simply an act which he saw as necessary to achieve his often hugely ambitious goals. Deep down he was a genuine and sincere man. He would without fail do his utmost to share the benefits of his many contacts in the diving trade with anyone who needed help. He was also a man who greatly valued his many friendships both within and outside cave diving circles.
Rob did a lot more for the Cave Diving Group than many people realised. He contributed much, both directly and indirectly. He was editor of the CDG Newsletter for a time in the 1980's and contributed frequently to meetings aimed at developments in sump rescue techniques. He was a great ambassador for cave diving; more than once I have heard it said that in many ways he has done for us what the likes of Chris Bonnington has done for the climbing world. Rob wrote extensively and the caving and diving literature contain literally hundreds of his articles. His books have allowed so many people to understand the fascination of our sport. Rob was European Director of "Technical Diving International", an organisation which now teaches advanced diving techniques all over the world. He leaves behind the legacy of an infinitely safer diving scene for us all to enjoy - indeed, that we should continue to do so would have been Rob's greatest wish.
There are those who would subscribe to the view that it is better to be a tiger for a day than a sheep for life. Having once been described as the "world's foremost adventure diver", there is no doubt that Rob's attitude to life went far, far beyond that. He did everything with a vigour that few could match and we shall miss him, enormously.
A quote of £200 for rewiring Ivy Cottage was accepted. It was noted that the furniture currently in place in the Cottages did not meet BS7176 and was therefore no longer legal for use in the Cottages. Agreed that a group of visiting Macedonian cavers could stay at the Cottages free of charge for a short period. Noted that a member had written suggesting possible changes in operating procedures at GG but the GG sub-committee believed that the suggestions would create more hazards than they solved.
Noted that the new GG trailer should be available within the next few weeks and that the beer tent roof had been taken in for repair. Noted that Geoff Yeadon had agreed to be the speaker at this year's annual dinner. Agreed that the GG catering tent could be loaned to the Horton Show Agricultural Committee for the period of the show. A request from a non-member that he be allowed to join the Club without attending the minimum of four underground meets was refused. As a consequence of the upsurge in digging activities it was agreed that additional battery packs would be purchased for use with the club drills.
It was noted that we had still not received the detailed analysis of the Malham water tracing tests as had been agreed when the Club agreed to make a donation towards the costs of the tests. Noted that the CNCC Technical Group had replaced two "loose" hangers in Rowten - it took 8 hours to remove them and insert replacements! Agreed to purchase new furniture for Riverside and Ivy Cottages at a cost of approximately £1000.
Paulette Easterbrook, Stephen Horne, Araceli Sarria-Nunez, Damian Sheeran, Martyn Wigfield.
The following have been accepted as Probationary Members and will probably be atttending meets during the next few months:
Beth Milner, Wendy Helen Ripley, David Wilkinson.
Change of Address:
Stephen Antcliffe, Norman Brindle, Darren Ongley, Paul Spence.
Angie and Mal Goodwin oin the birth of their son (or is it a giraffe), Ian Andrew
Nick Thompson and Anne on the birth of their daughter Hannah Rose
Tony Whitehouse and Ann on the birth of their son Rowan
SRT Leadership: The following has been added to the list of approved CPC SRT Leaders: