Monday 4 July 2011

Introductory caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. July 3rd 2011

Darren & Becky booked an introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services, whilst on a long weekend break from their home in Teeside to The Lake District National Park.

The starting point for most of Kendal Mountaineering services introductory or advanced level caving sessions is to meet at Inglesport Shop & Cafe in Ingleton - an excellent place to buy caving equipment for your session or indeed any other outdoor pursuit in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The Inglesport cafe is renowned for its food - there is no better way to start your caving session with a pint of tea and a bacon butty first!

Iain met Darren & Becky at Inglesport and then we all travelled up into the Yorkshire Dales National park area of Ribblehead and on to the cave system of Long Churns. The first photo shows Darren & Beck at Alum Pot, very close to the Long Churns Cave System - there is a 340 foot drop just over the wall behind them!

As it was a Sunday, there were very few other user groups in the cave system. Long Churns is an excellent venue for an introductory caving session which makes it very popular with many outdoor centres and this can cause queuing at various points underground. However, today, Iain, Darren & Becky were able to keep moving without any holdups and due to the recent dry weather, the water levels in the cave were very low and after the heat of outside, underground was a pleasant & cool place to be.

We made our way in to the system via Middle Entrance and travelled down lower Long Churns to the famous "Cheese Press" and this is where photo two was taken as Becky squeezes easily through this foot high horizontal gap. Unfortunately, the Cheese Press was just a bit too tight for Iain & Darren,
but of course there are other ways around this part of the system.

Having done the round of lower Long Churns including taking a peek at the daylight entering from Alum Pot, Iain took the pair back out to daylight via Diccan Entrance and in photo three Darren slides through the narrowest part of that route.

Here, Alum Pot Beck disappears underground for the last time before plunging in to Alum Pot via Diccan pot - but that is no place to go with novice cavers - being a fairly serious SRT trip.

Once at the surface at Diccan Entrance, we did a short wet crawl to keep us cool before heading back underground, upstream in to Middle Long Churns.

Photo four shows Darren & Becky in the stream passage of Upper long Churns and here, we were en route for Doctor Bannister's Wash Basin - having done the Babtistry Crawl trip along the way. Babsistry Crawl is a fossil passageway famous for its calcite formations and "The Font" - a crawl through a pool with a calcite formation overhead.

Having exited Babtistry Crawl, Iain took the pair downstream in the main cave passageway back out to Middle Entrance and then we returned upstream by way of the entrance waterfall and back to Babtistry top entrance - thus having completed everything to be done in the Long Churns cave system to that point.

Iain allowed Darren & Becky to lead on upstream from here towards Doctor Bannister's Wash Basin. One of the great things about using Long Churns for introductory caving sessions is that it is a safe cave system without many hazards such as loose rocks and bigs drops and in many places novices can be allowed to self lead. This doesn't mean that as a cave leader you leave people to get on with it themselves everywhere in the system. Areas such as Lower Long Churns and Doctor Bannister's Washbasin are places where clients need to be managed carefully!

Photo five shows Becky ascending the waterfall at Doctor Bannister's Washbasin. Just above here, Alum Pot Beck enters the Upper Long Churns Cave System having exited the Borrin's Moor Cave System only some 75m upstream.

At Doctor Bannister's Washbasin, the beck plunges 5m down a chute in to the washbasin - a 10m wide pool 1.5m deep. Whilst the climb up or down is an easy prospect for an experienced caver, it is a place where a slip could turn into something more serious; and so it should be roped for novice cavers.

There is a resin bolt and a backup thread for use at the top of the pitch; and it was an easy job for Iain to set up an assisted hoist and bring the pair up one at a time. After this, only a short walk remained back out to the sunlight.

The final photograph from this introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park shows Darren & Becky standing on the limestone pavement above the Upper Long Churns Cave System with distant Penyghent - one of the Yorkshire Dales National Park's famous "three peaks" behind.

Both thoroughly enjoyed their introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services. Additional photographs from this session can be viewed here.

For £45 per person you can book your own session and you get all of the equipment the pair are wearing as part of the fee - making it fantastic value for money. Larger groups get discounts so contact us if you want to book your own caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National park with Iain

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