Dismal Hill Chris H, Andy G, Jason
A skeleton crew of three tackled Dismal Hill – obviously the rest of the club had done it before!
In fact, they missed a fine trip; not long, but full of variety and interest.
The entrance is tucked away in a hollow just to the left of the path from High Birkwith. A brief crawl led to a couple of nice climbs. Turning left, I knew I was looking for a tight bedding plane, and quickly found one about 8” high with 6” of water. If this was the way on, it was to a short trip indeed!
Fortunately, Andy had turned right along a short passage well supplied with sheep bones and found a slightly more spacious bedding plane, which he was kind enough to let me investigate. It started off tight and continued that way for what felt like a long time (probably about 50m!) until it emerged – much to my relief – in a nice decorated streamway.
Turning downstream, a narrow but pleasant passage goes for about 150m, getting deeper until you have to swim if you want to get to the sump. We declined.
Upstream also gets deeper, but a thoughtfully-provided traverse line allows you to stay dry – at least above waist-level. The scum on the wall showed the water level had recently been much higher still.
A climb up leads to another crawl, soon emerging at an impressive waterfall – we were now in the sump bypass part of Old Ing. An exciting climb up the waterfall (fortunately roped) led to some more damp passageway. A little before another sump, there’s a climb up to yet another flat-out crawl (Mick’s End) that showed signs of having been blasted out – ie lots of sharp rubble to inch over. At least it was fairly short.
This emerged in the roof of the main Old Ing streamway via a particularly tight bit, which Andy’s manly chest proved too much for. A pity, because the exit was only a short upstream stroll away…
After establishing that the squeeze really wasn’t in Andy’s size, he engaged reverse gear to come out the way we’d come in, followed by me, while Chris went out of Old Ing to fetch a ladder to save us the trouble of at least one of the crawls.
Meanwhile, Andy and I positively raced along – it’s amazing how much time you save by knowing where you’re going and not trying to stay dry! – and decided not to hang around for Chris in the streamway. Again, we made good time to the exit, but not quite soon enough to stop Chris rigging the ladder in the ‘new’ entrance and descending to the streamway! Never mind, at least he clocked up 3 different entrances to the system … And he did find out where the ‘new’ pitch comes out – just before the traverse line in the upstream end of the passage, so now you know…