Tuesday 22 March 2016

Guided Caving Days in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. February 29th, 2016

Winter here at Kendal Mountaineering Services has been pretty quiet. The awful prior to Christmas wasn't conducive to encouraging people to venture into the outdoors, however once we were into the New Year enquiries started to arrive.

One of these was from Alice Courvoisier who was interested in booking an Introductory Caving Day for herself and friend Jess.

By the time we ran this day for the pair, the weather had settled down and was dry & calm if not a little chilly. Photo one is taken in front of the Alum Pot - one of the Yorkshire Dales deepest potholes at 104 metres.

Iain met the pair at Inglesport in Ingleton - our favourite meeting point for Introductory Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales National Park. We then drove to  Long Churns lane, got kitted up and headed underground for a morning exploration of Long Churns - the area's best Introductory Caving Venue. We had a good explore all around Long Churns - marvelling at the many Speloethems (Limestone formations) to be seen and enjoying challenges such as the famous Cheese Press seen in photo two.
After lunch, the pair decided that they fancied the idea  of something a little more challenging. Iain took them straight across Ribblehead to the Calf Holes/Browgill Cave System which is definitely a "step up" from Long Churns.

Long Churns is termed a Level One or Introductory Caving Trip, Calf Holes & Browgill is a Level Two Caving Trip and definitely not somewhere you would take novices for their first caving trip - not via the Calf Holes Pitch anyway! Level One Caves are deemed to contain vertical pitches of more than 2 metres in height whereas a Level Two Caving Trip can have vertical pitches of up to 18 metres in height.

Photo three sees  Alice being lowered by Iain down the Calf Holes Pitch which although only 11 metres high is still quite challenging - and a lot more exciting! Jess was the next one down, followed by Iain.

At the bottom of the pitch, we all took off our harnesses and stashed them as we would be coming back. We then headed downstream to the point where the water sinks into the floor on the left and continued down a lowering dry passage which leads to a small hole also on the left - Hainsworth's Passage.

We crawled about 5 metres through this and then dropped through a  hole in the floor (The Slot) re-emerging next to the stream which we followed down a deepening canyon to the top of a waterfall. We could have done another lower here, but it was quicker to bypass the waterfall by climbing up & out of the canyon into a parallel passage which leads, via a down-climb in to a big rift beyond the fall. From the far end of this rift, the way is again, on with the stream, to emerge in daylight at the entrance  (or downstream exit) to Browgill Cave (photo three).
All we had to do now was retrace ours steps  back to the foot of the Calf Holes Pitch. This route, is, in fact, only classed as a Level One Caving Trip as far as the Calf Holes Pitch - it's that climb back out that makes it Level Two!

On the way back, we took a slightly different route emerging into Hainsworth's Passage from the challenging looking "Letterbox" crawling back out over The Slot and out of Hainsworth's. Ten minutes later after a further 500 metres of stooping along the low passage, we arrived back at the Calf Holes Pitch.

We got harnesses back on and then Iain jumared back up to the pitch head before lowering the caving ladder down to the pair waiting below. Climbing a caving ladder is strenuous work - especially if you don't so it right, but Iain had instructed Alice & Jess to keep their bodies straight and climb moving alternate hands & feet.  Iain was prepared to "haul" if necessary, but that wasn't needed as both climbed up & out  rapidly. Jess is the last one out in photo four.

So that was it - we packed up and walked back to the vehicles before parting company. Two very satisfied clients!

Alice & Jess paid just £75 per person for the full day out of caving with Iain and that fee included the use of caving over-suits, wellington boots, helmets with caving lights, caving belts and harnesses as well as a full day of guiding by Iain. As this trip proved - Caving is something all of the family can do in Winter when it is too cold to do anything else; and you'd be surprised how much shelter you get underground!

Contact us to book your caving experience in The Yorkshire Dales this Easter - we look forward to working with you!

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