Saturday, 19 May 2012

Introductory caving sessions in The York shire Dales National Park. May 12th 2012

Paul Ogden booked an introductory caving session for himself and his mate Phil Bartlett with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering services and they drove up from Manchester last Saturday to meet Iain at Inglesport in the village of Ingleton.

Phil (at right in photo one) was particularly nervous about going caving - having heard stories from a mate who had been out with another caver  (not a qualified cave leader like Iain but someone-elses mate) apparently, this chap had not had a good experience at all!

Iain has been caving for over 20 years and has a lot of experience of working with people of all abilities. He also knows how to structure caving sessions to get the best out of people and also make sure that they get the best out of their caving sessions with us!

Because of this, he chose to take the pair to Long Churns in The Yorkshire Dales National Park - an ideal venue for your first introduction to caving.

There are three separate easy ways to get in to the Long Churns cave system but Middle Entrance is by far the biggest & easiest route underground. Iain felt it was best to take the pair  in via this route and then, if they appeared comfortable, gradually introduce them to the smaller sections of the cave system as we went along.

Photo one shows the pair in Long Churns Lane prior to going underground and photo two shows Paul about to be lowered down to Double Shuffle Pool where a tricky move to his right saw him avoid going into water up to his neck. This place is in Lower Long Churns - downstream from Middle Entrance and en route for The Cheese Press and the route into Alum Pot.

It's amazing sometimes how things can develop on a session because photo three shows Phil - who had previously been very concerned about trying caving at all, trying to squeeze through the most challenging and notorious part of the entire Long Churns system - The Cheese Press.

Phil wasn't successful and had to back out, but just having the bottle to try was really quite an achievement! Well done Phil!

Prior to this, we had already been down to the lowest point in this level one introductory caving trip - the head of the Dolly Tubs Pitch, where daylight could be seen coming in from the shaft of Alum Pot.

Something somewhere had obviously made a big difference to both Phil & Paul's confidence as next - we all exited Lower Long Churns via the low crawl through to Diccan Entrance and then followed this by taking the wet upstream route from Diccan Entrance back in to Middle Long Churns at their request - way to go guys!

Following that, we headed up through Babtistry Crawl - a small fossil passageway linking lower Long Churns with Upper Long Churns and then once back at the main streamway, we headed down to come back out to daylight having completed almost everything we could have done at that point on the pairs introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Next we climbed the entrance waterfall before heading upstream in Upper Long Churns to arrive at Doctor Bannisters Washbasin.

Daylight is not far beyond here, but one has to climb the waterfall plunging into the pool to get there and in photo four Paul joins the pair of us already up above the fall by way of an assisted handline.

The final photograph shows the pair on the limestone pavement with Penyghent away in the distance. Having successfully completed a traverse of the Long Churns System, both were beaming from ear to ear and can't wait to go underground with Iain again.

On the agenda for next time? The guys fancy trying a level two caving trip ie one with vertical pitches of up to 18metres (60 feet) as opposed to a level one trip generally having vertical pitchs of no more than 2 metres. This will involve a lot more specialist equipment - more ropes and ladders too, but it is a good progression from Level one and Iain is pleased that the pair are so keen to give it a go - so watch out for another blog post about Iains exploits underground in the Yorkshire Dales national Park with Paul & Phil.

After our session, we all returned to Inglesport for a brew and cake in the cafe. Phil & Paul also wanted to buy a copy of the Long Churns Survey so they could show all of their mates where they had been!

So, we all had enjoyed a thoroughly fantastic afternoon underground! To book your introductory caving session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with Iain from Kendal Mountaineering Services contact us here. Half day (four hour) sessions start at £45 per person and these include the provision of caving oversuits, wellington boots, a helmet & light and caving belt. Other photographs from Paul & Phils session underground can be seen here. We look forward to working with you

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