Thursday 2 March 2017

Half day Caving Sessions in The Yorkshire Dales with Kendal Mountaineering Services. December 27th 2016.

What sort of activities can you do in the outdoors during Winter when the weather is likely to be cold and wet; or if you are lucky, snowy!

How many people actually think about going caving? Provided the weather is not too wet, caving can be a great deal of fun and a great adventure - following passages into the unknown, squeezing through smaller, narrower tunnels, feeling challenged, maybe getting a little wet in an active stream passageway - we will do our very best to make sure you don't get soaked though.

And you can have all of this fun under the cover of a rock ceiling, so you can get away from the wind, rain and cold. True - caves are not warm environments (around 8 degrees centigrade), but we'll keep you moving and you will stay warm in the caving over-suits that we provide; and the wellington boots help a lot too!
Matt & Ellie chose to come caving with us again in Winter having done the same thing two years previously on their way up north, after Christmas, to spend time with family near Glasgow for the New Year.

Last time, Iain took the pair to Long Churns Cave System near Ribblehead for their first underground experience. Understandably, the pair didn't want to go back there, so Iain took them underground in Browgill Cave - right across the valley from Selside where Long Churns is located.

Photo one shows the pair as we entered the downstream entrance to Browgill Cave. Photo two sees them again, about ten minutes later as we squeezed through the narrow part of the big rift. Ellie looks quite relaxed whilst Matt looks a bit nervous Lol!
Browgill is a good progression from Long Churns. It is a more serious cave; and like Long Churns, should be avoided in wet weather as it can flood quickly. Fortunately, that wasn't going to happen today!

After entering the system a walk with the stream quickly leads to a lowering roof and a crawl leads to a very high and wide passage (the big rift). This narrows (photo two) as one heads towards the rumble of a big waterfall which we visit before back-tracking slightly and climbing up through another rift to reach the ceiling above & beyond the waterfall.

Getting back to the stream entails an entertaining squeeze (photo three) which Ellie made look easy! (Well - it was easy for all three of us really!) However, for some people, negotiating a bedding plane crawl like this would be most challenging.

Above the waterfall, the stream appears to come from several directions at once; and if you attempt to follow any of the passageways, they eventually become so low it is impossible to continue.

However, a good and knowledgeable Cave Leader won't waste time here, but will take you straight to the "hard to spot" routes to the upper streamway via Hainsworth's Passage. There are two ways to get there - The Letterbox - an impossibly tight looking crawl in the roof of a chamber; and The Slot - a squeeze up through the limestone past a large slab resting only on a sliver of rock. Both routes are challenging and hard work, but worth it for what is to follow!

A hands & knees crawl leading to the sound of the stream quickly gets higher; and then it's on in the streamway for a further 500 metres to where daylight illuminates the waterfall crashing into the cave from Calf Holes (photo four). We do, often run Level two caving trips where we lower people down the Calf Holes pitch, make the journey to the Browgill Cave exit; and then return to climb a caving ladder back out at Calf Holes. These level two caving trips provide an even bigger level of challenge; though they will cost you only a little more money!

Today was another Level One Caving Trip for Matt & Ellie - so no ropes/harnesses and no ladders.

We retraced our steps and then crawled back into Hainsworth's passage, dropping back out to the middle level by way of The Slot (we'd entered Hainsworth's from The Letterbox).

In photo five, Ellie & Matt marvel over some Speleothems (limestone formations) produced when limestone laden water drips on to; or flow down rock leaving a deposit of Calcite behind which grows over time - (a very long period of time!) to create what we see. The tiny Limestone Straws in the background take 50 years to grow a centimetre.

That's why we always tell people to "Look - but don't touch!"

Matt & Ellie paid just £90 between them for their Half Day Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales with us and the fee included all that they are wearing. Contact us here to book your Caving Session in The Yorkshire Dales. It's a great adventure to do in winter as you can get out of the cold, wet and windy conditions underground and have fun! We can guarantee you'll love it!

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