Friday 30 August 2013

Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. 25th August 2013.

Last Sunday saw Iain doing two half day introductory caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Originally, Iain had only one half day caving session in the afternoon but our friends at Live For Today Adventures in Yorkshire had a pair who wanted to go underground and asked Iain if he could provide them with an introductory caving session - which of course he could in the morning!

So, Iain met Christian & Phil at Inglesport at 09:00 and then off we went to Long Churns for our caving session (photo one).

This photo shows Phil (left) & Christian in the main streamway in Middle Long Churns as we made our way down to Lower Long Churns and the famous Cheese Press.
Photo two shows some of the marvellous things to be seen on an Introductory Caving Session. Some very strange things can be seen and we ask on all of our sessions that people don't touch but ask about anything instead.

What you are looking at in photo two are called Speleothems or cave formations. The Limestone rock in which all of the caves are formed is soluble in rainwater which is slightly acidic due to Carbon Dioxide Gas that gets dissolved in the rainwater.

Rain hitting the surface of the ground percolates down through the limestone and picks up a load of dissolved limestone (known as Calcite) which then gets redeposited within the caves leading to flowstone formations where the water runs down the walls of the cave ( the pale brown & cream formation in photo two) and stalactites (top of photo) where the water drips off the ceiling. All of the formations are fragile and certainly stalactites take 50 years to grow a centimeter - they are so easily destroyed by inquisitive fingers and this is why we ask you not to touch!

After Phil & Christians morning Introductory Caving Session in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, Iain nipped back to Ingleton to collect Darran Greene who had been underground in Long Churns many years before. Darran wanted to introduce Robbie & Ben to the delights of caving whilst they were on holiday in the area.

Photo three sees (left to right Ben, Darran & Robbie) on our walk in to Long Churns. Behind the three can be seen a small wood which rings the 80 metre deep shaft of Alum Pot which is connected to the Long Churns Cave system. What a lovely afternoon it was!

Photo four sees Ben & Robbie exploring a short Fossil Passageway off the main streamway in Middle Long Churns. Many school children get introduced to the delights of caving if they are fortunate enough to attend a "residential" at one of the Lake District's Outdoor Education Centres, it is an experience that remains in the memory of many people forever.

So what is limestone and where is it formed? Well, the answer is on the bed of a tropical ocean from the remains of marine plants & animals - in effect, this rock is the remains of an ancient coral reef such as the Great Barrier Reef to be found off the east coast of Australia. In the Yorkshire Dales National Park the Limestone layer is up to 200m or 660 feet thick and actually consists of many layers or "beds" stacked one on top of the other each between 1 & 6 - 8 feet thick.

Imagine that each successive layer consists of interlocking pieces like a jigsaw puzzle and you can imagine what the Limestone layers are like! At the end of the last ice age 15'000 years ago glacial melt water flooded down the gaps in the layers and between layers to form the caves seen to day.

Of course many of these caves are now largely dry (the fossil passageways) due to the fact that as the glacier receded water levels dropped - although today some of these passages can still fill up in times of very wet weather and Long Churns is notorious for trapping unwary novices.

The final photo in this blog post sees Robbie & Ben next to the "entrance waterfall" in Middle Long Churns in the main streamway. This fall is only six feet high and here, was not carrying a lot of water, but it's ominous sound rumbles & reverberates throughout the cave system for quite a distance!

Both Christian & Phil and Darran, Ben & Robbie thoroughly enjoyed their Introductory Caving Half Day Sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National park with Iain who hopes they all return again to explore and enjoy this great environment. Caving is fun and everyone should try it!

To book your half day (or full day) caving session with Iain - an experienced & knowlegable Caver Leader, contact us here. Prices for a half day (four hour) caving session start at £45 per person with all of the equipment you see people wearing provided as part of the fee.

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