Thursday 3 November 2011

An all day caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services. October 28th, 2011.

Andrea Ubhi booked a half day introductory caving session and a half day rock climbing session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park for herself and her three children with Kendal Mountaineering services - to take place during the Autumn half term holiday.

Iain met the family at the Inglesport Cafe & Shop in Ingleton - gateway to The Yorkshire Dales National Park, before we all headed to Ribblehead to go underground.

In the first photo - left to right are Matt, Ellie, Andrea & Nick, dressed up ready to go caving. Some people may recognise the view in the background (Alum Pot), the venue was Long Churns near to Ribblehead - one of the areas best places for introductory caving sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

In photo two, we had already been underground to do some pretty meaty caving. None of the family had caved before so Iain felt it only appropriate to take them into the easy Middle Entrance at Long Churns and we then headed downstream into Lower Long Churns.

Nick & Matt proved themselves to be very keen & capable by getting through The Cheese Press whilst Iain lowered Andrea & Ellie down the pitch into Cathedral Cavern. They had been told to wait until Iain got to the other side of the Cheese Press to see them through - boys will be boys!

After that, we had a quick visit to the Dolly Tubs so the family could see the light streaming in from Alum pot before exiting via Diccan Entrance which is where photo two was taken.

We went back into Middle Entrance on our introductory caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park and Iain let the family lead on upstream in the roomy & safe passage of Upper Long Churns having told them to stop when they got to a large pool and waterfall (Dr Bannisters Washbasin).

Photo three shows Andrea climbing up this waterfall by way of an assisted handline. Ellie had come up first and Andrea took her out to daylight where she could warm up. The plan had been that Ellie would leave us at lunchtime, she had done very well for a first time underground and had thoroughly enjoyed her introduction to caving with Iain. The two boys followed after this photo was taken - both on assisted handlines of course

Iain changed the afternoon plan for a number of reasons. We had initially intended to do an introductory rock climbing session at Twistleton Scars but whilst the day was fine & dry, there was a cold wind that would have made a rock climbing session untenable in the conditions; and apart from that everyone had enjoyed the morning caving session so much that they wanted to do more in the afternoon.

Iain had come prepared for this eventuality and so offered the trio a slightly harder trip - that being a level two caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. In photo four Matt, Andrea & Nick are coached in the use of cows tails on traverse lines in preparation for the next caving trip .

A level two caving session with Kendal Mountaineering Services differs from a level one trip in so much as it is a more technical type of caving trip. A level one caving trip is essentially a walk in & out trip which may contain vertical drops and climbs of up to six feet - Long Churns is a fine example of such a caving trip.

Photo five shows Matt being lowered down a pitch which is considerably more than six feet - more like forty five! Level two cave leaders can take novice cavers on trips with vertical drops of up to 18m or 60 feet. These trips involve more rope, more technical equipment for lowering and belaying climbers using ladders to climb pitches and the skills to use cowstails on traverse lines such as had been set up to get Matt to the pitch head from where this photograph is taken.

The cave Iain chose to take the party to was the Calf Holes/Browgill system near Birkwith in The Yorkshire Dales National Park - pretty much directly opposite Long Churns in the Ribblehead area.

To get to this point, Matt had traversed 30 feet on his own using cowstails and a traverse line above the 45 foot drop where Browgill Beck plunges down the Calf Holes shaft. Well done Matt!

Having lowered Matt, Andrea & Nick in to Calf Holes, we all set off downstream in the active streamway passage. After about 500m the stream sinks in to the floor on the left and the way on gets lower & lower until one has to crawl through a small hole in the left of the passage - Hainsworths Passage. This is a quite challenging crawl through a small, tight passageway.

Hainsworths Passage is the connection with the lower part of Browgill cave and the way on past the waterfall and rift passage that leads out to daylight. In photo six Andrea emerges in the lower part of the cave having just crawled through The Slot in Hainsworths Passage with the two boys having followed Iain through first.

We followed the stream on to the head of the waterfall and a had a look down that before taking the descent route down to the foot of the fall and the rift passage.

Eventually, we arrived at daylight, but the plan Iain had offered the trio was to turn around and return underground to Calf Holes so they could experience climbing out by caving ladder.

Back at Hainsworths Passage, Iain took the family through via a different route - The Letterbox; and in photo seven Matt has just followed Iain through the tightest bit - smiling as he did throughout the day.

The final photograph from this day sees Andrea reaching the pitch head at Calf Holes after a strenuous climb up a caving ladder. Matt had climbed out first and made his way along the traverse line to safe ground and Nick was the last to climb out of Calf Holes into the sunlight.

Calf Holes is a great introduction to level two caving sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park and bearing in mind how readily the family had taken to caving in the morning session Iain had felt confident about their ability to succeed in Calf Holes in the afternoon.

The family had a fantastic experience caving with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services and they did extremely well.

We base all of our caving sessions around your ability and aspirations and know many appropriate venues where we can go and have a great exprience in this exciting & challenging environment. All of the pictures from Andrea, Nick, Matt & Ellis caving day can be viewed here.

To book your half or full day caving session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here, Prices start from £45 per person for a half day caving session. All of the equipment worn in these photos by Andrea & her family are provided as part of your fee.

Iain's next post will be about the upcoming Navigation Skills Training Course in The Lake District National Park this coming weekend. Lots of fun in the mountains learning how to use a map & compass. Read about it all on the Kendal Mountaineering Services Blog!

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