Monday 11 July 2011

Caving and rock climbing activity sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. July 10th 2011.

Jamie Windows & his girlfriend Katie, booked a Level Two caving session and a Beginners Rock Climbing Session in the Yorkshire Dales National park, with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services.

The pair were over in The Lake District on holiday with family; and had contacted Iain to see if he could put this package together for them - caving for Jamie & climbing for Katie.

Iain has a wealth of knowledge about venues for activities all over the northwest of England. Caving cannot be done in the Lake District National Park and some might think there isn't that much climbing in the Yorkshire Dale National Park either - but there are venues where it is possible to run both a half day caving session and a half day climbing session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Anyway, the pair booked their day out with Iain and another reason for that was that Iain was prepared to work with just the two of them. Apparently, another business had said no to working with the pair as it was "too small a group size". Well, don't forget, at Kendal Mountaineering services we pride ourselves on putting together a bespoke package to fit your requirements - provided you are prepared to pay a little more for the experience!

Iain thinks that the good thing about working with individuals or pairs is the speed with which you can get things done. Caving can be potentially wet and/or cold so you won't want to be hanging around.

Fortunately, last Sunday was a hot & sunny day, so we had no such worries. Iain took the pair to Birkwith to do the Calf Holes/Browgill Cave level Two Caving Trip; and in photo two, Katie is being lowered down the pitch in Calf Holes.

A Level Two Caving Trip differs from a level one trip in so much that one may be required to descend/ascend pitches of up to 18m (60 feet) in height and so harnesses, cows tails and a whole range of other equipment come in to play. Clients can be lowered down pitches using a Petzl Stop as seen here in photo two. A lever two cave leader is skilled in using this sort of equipment as he may have to revert from a lower to a hoist - mid pitch if necessary!

Once Iain had lowered Katie & Jamie down the Calf Holes Pitch, we set about completing the Browgill through trip which is essentially, a level one caving trip. The first part of the trip is a walk along the active stream passage, but then the water sinks away through the floor and the passage lowers to a crawl ending in a squeeze to get in to the lower part of the Browgill system.

The way between is known as Hainsworth's Passage and in some places this is no wider than one's body.

Photo three shows Katie and Jamie who has just entered the lower cave system from Hainsworth's Passage via "The Slot".

After this challenging crawl, the way on rapidly gets higher. In actually fact what really happens is that the stream cuts down rapidly to the top of an 8m high waterfall in to the chamber below. As with the Calf Holes Pitch Head, there are resin bolts here - so one could set up a second lower and climb beside the waterfall. This would have taken quite a bit of time and as we were only on a half day level two caving session, Iain decided to give it a miss although he did take Katie and Jamie to the pitch head.

Instead, to get down to the foot of the waterfall, one climbs back up and over into a series of fossil passages that lead to a climb down with a fixed rope.

In photo four Katie & Jamie are descending that climb which is easy as long as one takes their time - the rocks have been polished smooth by thousands of visiting cavers!

After the down climb, one enters a high & narrow fissure (known in caving terms as a joint) although this one is wider than most due to the fact that it has been enlarged by the erosive action of Browgill Beck which has been flowing through the cave since the end of the last ice age 15,000 years ago.

After a short distance the joint widens dramatically and the floor becomes littered with large blocks of limestone that have fallen out of the roof. The way on finishes with a short "bedding crawl" beside the stream before one exits at the Browgill Cave entrance seen here in photo five behind Jamie & Katie.

Many people are satisfied to call it a day here and walk back over the fields to Calf Holes. Jamie & Katie both wanted to reverse the trip and climb out at Calf Holes - so off we went back in again!

On the return trip, after a quick visit to the foot of the waterfall, we climbed back up and then reached the challenging part of the trip through Hainsworth's passage. There are two ways through this - the slot which we did on the downward descent; and the letterbox which we did on the way back out. Both are fairly tight but Jamie & Katie managed them with out any problems.

In photo six Katie finishes off the crawl through Hainsworth's with Jamie following behind.

The final photograph from this half day level two caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park looks down on Jamie & Katie - who is about to climb the caving ladder (also known as an electron ladder) back up the Calf Holes pitch to Iain who is belaying with a safety rope and using a device called a "Pro-traxion" - basically a pully-jammer, also made by Petzl.

Prior to bringing up Jamie & Katie, Iain ascended a single rope using a system of chest and foot jammers (Jumars) to get up to the pitch head
and rig the ladder. The technique of ascending a single rope in this way is known as SRT (Single Rope Technique) and is used by experienced cavers, Level Two Cave Leaders and people holding the Caving Instructors Certificate (CIC).

The afternoon beginners rock climbing session was easy for Iain by comparison.

Iain took the pair to Twistleton Scar in Chapel Le Dale near Ingleton which has a wealth of climbs suitable for the novice climber. The weather was perfect as can be seen in photo eight, dry, hot and sunny - just as well really because this was limestone climbing and it's not great climbing in the wet at all.

Iain rigged up a top rope/bottom belay system for the pair, taught them how to tie in and belay and then coached them on good climbing technique.

In the background is Ingleborough Hill - one of the Yorkshire Dales "Three Peaks". The other two are Penyghent and Whernside.

When we arrived at Twistleton for our beginners rock climbing session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, we were in the company of a group of Army Cadets who soon disappeared and save for a few small groups, we had the place to ourselves and in this final photo, we have moved to a different part of the crag.

Here, Katie belays Jamie up one last climb before we called it a day

To see more photos from this great day out you can view them here.

Did Katie & Jamie enjoy their day out with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services? See their comment left in the "post a comment" section at the foot of this post.

It would be easy to add a "what the customers say" page to the Kendal Mountaineering services website and make up loads of comments about the good standard of service we provide - but one thing we like about our blog is that the comments added are added by real clients - like Jamie & Katie!

So if you want to know real people think about what we offer - check out our blog and see what people really do have to say about us!

To book your caving and rock climbing session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, contact us here. We look forward to working with you.

1 comment:

Jamie said...

Hi Iain!
Thank you for a fantastic day!!!
Caving was awesome, with really good variety, exactly what we where looking for, really exciting yet reassured that we where in safe hands!
Climbing was brilliant too, it gave us a good taster and I can't wait to do it again! Not to mention we had the perfect day for it!
Overall a brilliant experience with a great guide!
Thank you again!!!
Katie and Jamie.