Monday, 30 April 2012

All day caving sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Sunday April 29th 2012

After working on a Lake District Based Ghyll Scrambling Session on Saturday, Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services was back out the next day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Steven Finkill and Sally Stevens had travelled up from Manchester on the Saturday to go caving with Iain on Sunday and had arranged a whole day underground. Iain met the pair at Inglesport and then off we went to Long Churns.

The forecast for the day was, quite frankly, hideous. Very strong N Easterly winds, temperatures close to freezing on the mountains and heavy rain forecast. Definitely not a great day to go caving and Iain thought the pair keen - they certainly were!

Photo one shows the pair in Long Churns Lane as we were lashed by the weather. Stevens face says it all, Sally had the same smile on her face all day long!
After getting fairly battered by the wind on the walk in, getting underground in Long Churns was considerably more pleasurable. Iain had been concerned by the weather forecast as a cavers main danger underground in wet weather is being trapped by rising floodwaters.

However, despite the forecast, it wasn't really raining all that much; and the stream flowing through Long Churns was very low. We had great fun making our way from Middle entrance down to Lower Long Churns and on to The Cheese Press where photo two sees Sally having successfully tackled this famous challenge.

After The Cheese Press, we went on to the Dolly Tubs where, with lights off, we could see daylight entering from Alum Pot. We could also here the wind roaring outside as well.

We went back out to daylight via Diccan Entrance to check the weather before going underground - again at Middle Entrance; and down to Babtistry Crawl - doing this and then emerging in Upper Long Churns.

To complete the circuit, we went back to middle Entrance and then climbed the entrance waterfall before heading on upstream to Doctor Bannisters Washbasin and the final climb out of the upstream entrance to Long Churns. Steven & Sally were full of enthusiasm - having experienced pretty much all we could do in Long Churns. Photo three is taken at the upstream entrance.
Having started at 9am, but only being a party of three, we had swiftly covered all three kms underground in Long Churns and it was only just mid-day.

The weather above ground was wild & cold. but little rain had fallen, so we nipped up to Borrins Moor Cave for a short circuit around there. Steven felt the need to check out the wet downstream exit from Borrins Moor (heaven knows why!) and got himself fairly soaked in the process.

Borrins moor is an interesting caving experience with four upstream entrances all leading to the wet & low downstream exit. Iain chose to take the pair to the west entrance which is initially a walk in before one arrives at the wet & muddy bedding plane crawl leading to the wet downstream exit.

Given the temperatures - none of us really wanted to experience that so Iain took the pair out via a tight little exit which they found quite exciting. In photo four, Steven is last out of this exit.

Photo Five shows Steven & Sally at the entrance to Browgill Cave at Birkwith after we had sat in cars with engines & heaters running in order to get warm again following our bone numbing walk back from Long Churns.

Some warmth, a hot brew and a bit of lunch put the pair in the mood for another good cave and Browgill is just such a place with lots to offer so, off we went there.

Long Churns cave system is a walk in & out (level 1) trip where roped sections do not exceed ten feet in hieght. Browgill can be done without the need to take a rope at all provided you do not abseil in from, or climb out via Calf Holes - in which case it then becomes a level two trip.

Iain is a BCA qualified Level II Cave Leader which means that he can do many interesting & challenging caving trips in The Yorkshire Dales National Park and he has over twenty years experience of caving in the area.
Despite the fact that we could have made Browgill a more callenging level II through trip, Iain thought it was better to keep the pair moving. We were all fine underground - it was just the fact of getting chilly on any walk ins or walk outs. The wind had picked up since the morning and was truly bitter.

Browgill Cave starts with a walk in upstream that lowers to a crawl before one can stand up again in a high rift passage. The rift narrows as one heads towards the disconcerting rumble of the waterfall which should be visited (we did!).

To get upstream of the waterfall, one has to climb up a parallel rift with a fixed rope ( Steven is climbing this in photo six) to get up to the roof & then crawl back down into the stream above the waterfall.
Upstream of the waterfall, the roof quickly lowers and one has the choice of two passages (both tight) to gain Hainsworths passage which links the lower part of Browgill Cave with the upper passageway.

Photo seven shows Sally emerging in Hainsworths Passage having just followed Iain through "The Letterbox". After this, 300m of passage found us at Calf Holes looking up at the waterfall where Browgill Beck enters the cave.

We then reversed the entire route back to the entrance taking a different route out of Hainsworths Passage via "The Slot". The pair had experienced a fairly hardcore day, but whilst the weather above ground was very poor, conditions underground had been fine.

After getting changed we all drove back to Inglesport where Steven & Sally were able to change into dry clothes and then we all enjoyed a pint brew and a bacon & sausage butty before heading our separate ways with everyone having had a great day. Iain would like to thank Steven for the brew & butty.

Steven & Sally were underground with Iain for around 6 hours as part of their all day introduction to caving session and had visited three different cave systems during the session. The pair had paid £70 each for their day with Iain as their guide and as part of the fee they were provided with caving oversuits, wellington boots, belts and helmets with lights. Iain also provided them both with a hot brew at lunchtime!

They had a great day caving in The Yorkshire Dales National Park with Kendal Mountaineering Services - and you can too! To find out more about our introductory caving half & full day sessions - contact Iain here.

The rest of the photographs taken during this caving day can be viewed here. We look forward to working with you.

1 comment:

batfinki said...


Thanks for a brilliant day in the caves.

I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone and don't be put off by the thought of being underground. I considered myself quite claustrophobic beforehand but it was surprising how quickly it felt natural to be squirming through the tiny passageways. Iain was always on hand reassuring us both so there were never any worries, and there are alternative routes around all of the tight squeezes if you do wimp out!

Iain takes loads of photographs, a great touch which ensures you've got a brilliant souvenir of the day and don't need to risk your own camera in the damp atmosphere.

Great fun and can't wait to do it again.