Roaring Hole Ed, Sophie, Paul, Jason
I’d wanted to revisit Roaring after a previous attempt under Mr Gordon’s leadership two years ago only got as far as the 2nd boulder choke due to the volume of water cascading down it.
It was new to the others, and my memories of the route to the cave were hazy – perhaps because of the blizzard that had been blowing at the time. Consequently our search for the entrance (in a “prominent shakehole west of Braithwaite Wife Hole – you can’t miss it”) took a good half-hour of quartering the limestone pavement on Ingleborough. (For future reference, turn off the path to the right only about 50m after the sharp right-hand turn in the path as it starts to pass BWH on the left).
Down the entrance climb/slither, then the first ‘boulder’ choke (more of a scaffold choke) and the giant’s staircase made of rubble cemented into retaining walls – pausing only to wonder at the engineering effort that had gone into it all. Ed rigged the first pitch, all the way to the top of the second boulder choke. I skipped the second half of the abseil, not wanting to miss the airy tiptoe round the Bandstand. The choke was much drier than previously, but what water there was magically found its way down the backs of our necks. A short crawl followed, then another hole in the floor leading to another boulder choke apparently named after Morecambe Pier – again generously scaffolded.
This led to another chamber, where we had been warned by Helen of a ‘committing’ vertical squeeze. Coming from such a hardened explorer, this caused some nervous anticipation – so the consensus was that Sophie should try it first (the slimmest, and least argumentative?) She did so, having removed her SRT kit, so I followed. It was snug, but the drop far from abyssal – by exhaling slowly, one slides down a couple of feet to a gentle landing below. Paul pronounced his physique too manly for the attempt, so Ed came next but pronounced it ‘uncomfortable’, so retreated (a radical idea that – that caving should be comfortable !) Sophie and I continued down a short walking passage and a climb down into Slab Chamber. Here there is a near-vertical slope onwards and downwards. It looks intimidating at first, but on closer examination it’s well-provided with handholds and makes for an entertaining climb.
At this point, Sophie generously left me to it, and returned to Ed and Paul. True to form, at the bottom of the climb, there is another hole in the floor and another boulder choke leading to a streamway which goes on to the Rift with a pitch to the bottom. However, I turned round at this point in case the others had tired of waiting.
The return journey to the Bandstand is easy, if more strenuous than before. As I was still not kitted-up for SRT, I was tempted to investigate the in-situ bit of looped tat that adorned the first part of the pitch. Together with a metal bracket someone had helpfully bolted to the rock, it is possible to haul oneself up the start of the pitch, after which free-climbing becomes eminently possible. However, any feelings of achievement I might have had after that were dispelled when it came to getting up the beginning of the final climb out. This involves a surprisingly awkward upward thrutch without the benefit of any kind of foothold. Fortunately, Ed’s knee, and a shove or two, provided the necessary impetus.
Apart from that, I thoroughly enjoyed Roaring Hole, a nice clean cave without being too aqueous, plenty of fun scrambling about and – I believe – can reasonably easily be done without ladders or SRT, which is always a bonus.