Wednesday 27 November 2013

Stag Events with Kendal Mountaineering services. Caving in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Saturday November 23rd 2013.

After his two days of Navigation Skills Training in Borrowdale, Iain was straight back out the next morning - but this time in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with a group of lads on a stag event arranged by their mate Alex Mathews.

Alex had decided to arrange a Stag Event with a difference and liked the look of our Caving Sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. He had contacted Kendal Mountaineering Services some time previously to book a full day out for himself & the lads.

Photo one sees the group near to Alum Pot. The party had met Iain & Al at Inglesport (our usual meeting point for all of our caving sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park) and then we headed off to Selside to park, get kitted up and walk in the half mile or so to Long Churns - one of our favourite Introductory Caving Session Venues in the Yorkshire Dales National Park and a great one for adults & children alike!

As we arrived in Long Churns Lane there were no other vehicles - then suddenly about another six arrived - all full of people intending to go underground. One couldn't blame them, the weather was good, dry & sunny if cold, but with little water around - just what we really needed, but we didn't need the other groups there!

Photo two sees the lads underground in Long Churns and en route to the famous Cheese Press - one of the most talked about and remembered caving challenges for anyone who has been there.

Mention caving and Long Churns and soon, someone is bound to say "is that where the Cheese Press is?" Sometimes it gets called the "Cheese Grater" much to our amusement!

Out of  today's caving group of eleven, only eight turned up! The first night of Stag partying had taken it's toll with a few people feeling rather the worse for wear. The guy nearest Iain for example, looks really pale - but don't worry, that's only because of the camera flash!

Right at the start, we chucked this group in at the deep end. Usually, on an Introductory Caving Session, we would enter Long Churns via Middle Entrance - a larger & easier route in to the system, but on this occasion, with a horde on our heels, we wanted to get the lads to the Cheese Press without having to queue and besides...the crawl encountered just before the chamber in photo two is ideal prep for the even tighter squeeze that is the Cheese Press.

Photo three sees Ben coming out of the Cheese Press and we say "Good effort" to him because this guy really didn't feel too great at the start of the session. It has to be said - caving is a great hangover cure!

After success for five at the Cheese Press, we headed back out via Lower & Middle Long Churns to Middle Entrance and then on upstream to emerge above ground at the top entrance with everyone having enjoyed the challenge of the waterslide at Doctor Bannister's Washbasin. Most of our Stag party were still pretty dry so, after having some lunch without getting changed; and attempting to locate two of the missing party who turned out to be at The Station Inn at Kendal (Not the Station Inn, Ribblehead!) we turned our attention to what to do with the Stag Party for the afternoon.

This bunch of lads from The Wirral were a tough, strong lot, but a few, already weakened by the effect of the "night before" decided that "enough was enough" so, it was with a smaller group that Iain & Al were to head down into Calf Holes and Browgill Cave.

The lads had already done a level 1 Introductory Caving Session in the morning and had coped well with that, so Iain decided - why not give them a taste of more vertical caving as in what we call a level 2 caving trip? Level 1 caving involves vertical pitches of no more than 2m/6 feet. A level 2 trip involves vertical pitches of 18m or 60 feet so is more of a challenge.

The drop into Calf Holes is only 11 metres but is enough to give anyone a first intro to level 2 caving and an opportunity to try the strenuous (but not too strenuous if you do it properly) task of climbing a caving ladder. In photo four Alex, the Stag Party organisor is lowered by Iain down the 11m pitch and to his right can be seen a caving ladder typical of the types used to climb such pitches. We do, of course, belay you with a rope during such ascents to protect you should you fall off the ladder!

The final photo of the day sees the Stag Party at the downstream exit to Browgill Cave along with Iain's assistant for the day - Alyn Griffiths.

To get the lads to the downstream exit, we firstly had a 200m walk down a roomy passageway to the point where the accompanying stream sinks out of sight on the left and the way on lowers to a crawl and a hole disappearing on the the left (Hainsworths Passage). The route is through this passageway and dropping down through a tight hole in the floor brings one back to the stream. Beyond here, the passageway gains in height on its way to a 6m waterfall which is avoided by a crawl to the right and climb down to the foot of the fall. A high rift passageway leads onwards to another short crawl next to the stream and a walk out to daylight - as in this photo. A truly great introductory level 2 caving through trip!

We could have turned around, retraced our route and climbed the ladder at the pitch, but time was getting on, the light was starting to fade and the lads in this Stag Party were very satisfied with what they had done during their Stag Event with a difference. Apparently, they have done many activities in The Lake District during previous visits, but reckoned this was the best one by far!

We were pleased to hear that this Stag Group had enjoyed their Caving Day in the Yorkshire Dales National Park with us and we enjoyed providing them with a day out packed with excitement, variety and challenge; which was what we figured they wanted.

We always try to go the extra mile to give all of our clients the best outdoor activity session or skills training course possible and if you were disappointed then we would be too. So far - touch wood, we have never disappointed and hope we never will, after all our motto is "Giving you what you want!"

To book your Stag or Hen Event with a difference contact us to arrange a memorable day out - after all, that is what you want on such a special occasion. We look forward to working with you.

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