Tuesday 22 July 2014

Three Days of Caving in The Yorkshire dales National park with The Scouts. July 15th - 17th 2014

From Tuesday to Thursday. Iain's services as a Cave Leader had been secured by the Scout Centre at Great Tower Scout Camp near Windermere in The Lake District.

For three days, Iain took a different group each day caving in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. On the first day, we went to Long Churns - the very venue that we generally use for all of our Introductory Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

Photo one shows Iain's first group enjoying some lunch in Long Churns lane before we went underground on yet another lovely day.

However, today we were not the only group at Long Churns - in fact there were some four other groups already there and then a fifth arrived. This meant that there were going to be some 60 - 75 people moving arround the cave system which would mean a lot of waiting to attempt challenges such as The Cheese Press and when attempting to pass other difficult sections such as Double Shuffle Pool. Not fun!

To avoid the other groups, we entered Long Churns via Middle Entrance, made our way through Cross Passage and headed into Upper Long Churns exiting via Doctor Bannister's Washbasin. Photo two sees the group a little while later as we entered the delightful little Wilson's Cave. Wilson's is actually separate; although adjacent to the main Long Churns cave system; and because of it's wet "sting in the tail" tends to get considerably less use than the main system!

Wilsons starts off with an easy climb down in to an open passageway which meanders just under the limestone pavement for quite a way before gradually descending. At first, there are a lot of views up to daylight before the roof closes overhead for good.

Further on, we descend two short waterfalls in quick succession. Photo three sees some of the girls in this group of Belgian Scouts as we descended the second waterfall.

Wilsons is a pleasant cave (apart from the wet crawl that was yet to come!) and as such, Iain felt that it would be ideal for a group of this size & age. It certainly seemed to work perfectly as they were all absolutely loving it! Also, importantly from Iains perspective - we were not having to stand around waiting for other groups to get out of the way!
After some 200 metres of delightful passageway, the roof lowers abruptly to a low crawl - in water!

This low crawl continues for around a further 200 metres and eventually one is reduced to crawling in all fours through the water which can be quite chilly.

There was certainly a lot of shouting, screaming & general laughter from the group as we all made our way one behind the other to the low exit as seen here in photo four. But at least when we all got out it was into warmth & sunshine, so we all warmed up again really quickly.

And then it was off to Inglesport to return the caving helmets and enjoy a brew & some cake in their fantastic cafe!

For the next two days, Iain decided to go elsewhere for the groups caving sessions. Iain wanted his groups to have their own caving experiences free from the stress that comes from the pressure of large groups of users. Above all, he wanted them to enjoy their caving sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park.

In photo five, Iain had taken the second group to Great Douk Cave. Getting to this cave involves a 1km walk across fields, then a walk up a shallow valley before crossing a wall into a wood.

The wood surrounds the walled in chasm that is Great Douk Pot. This is the remains of a collapse where the roof of the large cave fell in. Descending into Great Douk Pot - one heads towards the sound of the waterfall where the stream from Great Douk Cave emerges into the open pit.
Great Douk Cave starts at the foot of Simon Fell - a kilometre distant from Great Douk Pot. The passageway - followed generally upstream, is quite roomy at first and then lowers again before one emerges again in daylight at Little Douk Pot.

Upstream from here one follows a pleasant meandering passage climbing up a few cascades until the passage lowers and narrows and then the water appears out of a low passage on the left with a larger dry passage continuing straight on.

Here, the wet passageway can be followed back to the dry one and presents a wet low crawling challenge that many of Iains group were keen to try (photo six) None of these Belgian Scouts seemed to be afflicted with Claustrophobia ( a fear of small spaces) - this was good news as the way on ahead lowered to a flat out crawl in water for some distance!

Photo seven was taken the following morning with Iain's final caving group of the week.

Again we had gone to great Douk first; and followed the cave right through to its final flat out crawl ultimately emerging in the rock outcrop by the sheep fold at Middle Washfold Caves. (photo seven)

The mountain in the background  is Ingleborough Hill - one of the areas "three peaks". The other two "peaks" are Whernside and Penyghent.
Ingleborough Hill can also be seen way in the distance in photo eight - with Simon Fell just to it's left.

This photo was taken by Iain as he emerged with his group from one of the Runscar Caves at Ribblehead - a short drive up the valley. On the second & third day of our Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park, we had followed our morning caving session underground in Great Douk with the afternoon spent in the great little caves at Ribblehead known as Runscar & Thistle.
Out of the two cave systems at Ribblehead, Thistle is the drier one. It also has many small side passages or fossil caves  - challenging small crawls and ideal for small children.

One can emerge from an upstream walk through Thistle Cave, and then walk along the limestone pavement to the upsteam entrances to Runscar where there are four separate parts to the system. Usually, only the downstream three get used by caving groups though; and our photo looking from the inside out  was taken from the second one of these.

The final part of Runscar Caves involves dropping into a canyon which then turns into a cave. After 150m or so, the roof drops to a flat out crawl in water - very much like that described at the end of Wilson's Cave although this wet crawl is very much shorter!

It does however, end with a much tighter squeeze out than the exit at Wilson's and that exit is seen here in photo nine. After this - as with the previous two days, we went back to the vehicle to get changed and then returned to The Lake District via Inglesport  returning the caving helmets and enjoying a drink and a slice of cake or a traybake in the cafe.

In every case - it was a great end to a great day and Iain would like to thank Jonhny Hartnell at Inglesport for getting him this caving work in the first place.

As you can see from this post, caving is great fun and can be enjoyed by children of all ages as well as adults & Stag & Hen Groups. Our prices for these sessions start off at £45 per person for a four hour half day session or £70 for a full eight hour day. You'll be provided with caving oversuits, wellingtons, helmets with lights and caving belts as part of your fee and if you are lucky - you'll be guided by Iain who is a knowledgeble and experienced Cave Leader. To book your Introductory Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales National Park - contact us here. You can be assured of a great adventure!!

No comments: