Wednesday 10 June 2015

Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales. May 25th 2015.

After returning from running Blyth & Kate's Scrambling Skills Training Course in North Wales, Iain was out the following day working for Great Tower Scout Activity Centre, who were acting as a base for a group of children from Russia who had been brought to the area by Cambridge International School.

If it sounds complicated - it's not, but basically, Iain had been booked to come in and take this group on an Introductory Caving session in The Yorkshire Dales. All he had to do was arrive at the centre with his caving kit, meet the group and travel with them, then take them underground in a couple of suitable caving venues.

Apparently, this was only one half of a bigger group who had been taken to Long Churns the previous day. They had neither liked the long walk in; or getting soaked. So, as Valley Entrance in Kingsdale is right next to the road (photo one) Iain took them here instead.

He didn't tell them they'd get soaked pretty quickly though!

Photo two was taken some time later; and as you can see from the dark tide-mark on trouser legs the group had gotten rather damp. Valley Entrance is a rather long & low phreatic passageway and very shortly after entering, one has to crawl (in Iain's case on his hands & knees) through a water filled, low passageway. The water is always cold and wet; and the air was filled with screams as the children splashed their way through this bit.

We walked/crawled the 500m or so to the point where (in Iain's eyes) Valley Entrance becomes interesting - ie the descent into Kingsdale Master Cave. However, this was only meant to be an introductory Caving Session for these children so we about turned; and after having a shufty with some of the more adventurous children up & down the wet hands & knees crawl of The Milky Way Passage, we all headed back out into sunlight.

Many of the children in the group decided that after their "Valley Entrance experience", they were not keen to go into another cave despite Iain's promises that the cave would be a lot bigger and drier.

We drove a short distance up the road and then walked up a short hill to get into the almost park-like enclosure that surrounds Yordas Cave.

Photo three sees Iain's much reduced caving group as we went to go into the cave via the square cut entrance behind. This entrance had been enlarged in the 19th century by someone wanting to turn the massive cavern into a show cave - fortunately for us, this idea never took off!

Yordas cave is massive - the main chamber is 55 metres long and 15 metres wide and of to 10 metres high. At it's downhill end, the water sinks into a small passage which, if the water is low enough, can be followed down and then upwards to emerge at a different exit.

Upstream in the massive chamber, the reverberating rumble of a waterfall can be heard and this sounds truly awesome in moderate water conditions. Two openings - one carrying the water entering the main cave, can be followed to the spray lashed Chapter House Chamber where Yordas Beck enters via an impressive 9 metre waterfall.

Although the main chamber is large, it doesn't take long to walk around it, so Iain decided to take the group for an adventurous scramble up the dry valley outside (photo four)  to fill in some time. The dry valley is very pretty in Spring being full of Primroses and many other plants - not to mention the variety of impressive trees

On ascending the dry valley, with its rock steps & dry pools, one eventually gets to some large holes in the floor leading leftwards in to caves and it is down these that Yordas Beck pours when in flood. "P bolts" have been placed into the rock by cavers to allow them to enter these caves in such conditions.

Continuing up the valley, the sound of running water can be heard and one soon arrives at the point where Yordas Beck tumbles down a couple of small waterfalls and then disappears in a shingle pool on it's way to the main cave. The children enjoyed splashing around in the stream (photo five) before we walked back to the bus, got changed and then went off to Inglesport to enjoy some tea & cake - a good way to end the day.

Caving is a great adventurous sport and most children absolutely love it - it is definitely something to think about doing with your family for the Summer Holidays! We run some great half day Introductory Caving Sessions in the Yorkshire Dales National Park - four hours for only £45 per person including all of the personal protective clothing that you'll need; or if you fancy something more challenging - then book one of our Level 2 Caving days at a cost of only £80 per person for a full day out and get to see; and do, a lot more underground!

You can read about a great level 2 Caving Day we ran in both caves described here - last Autumn. Contact us here to book your caving session on the Yorkshire Dales National Park. We look forward to working with you.

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