Stoneycroft Ghyll

Scott, Yolanda, Rubee, Tom

After scrapping our original plan of doing the Esk due to high water levels, we had a cracking day of ghyll scrambling with a bit of light abseiling in Stoneycroft Ghyll in the Lakes. Slides aplenty, a bit of ropework and diving through an underwater rock arch were all highlights of the day!

Bull Pot, Kingsdale

Quick sneak down BPK on a rainy Wednesday evening to reinforce some SRT skills with some of the newer folks. It was interesting seeing it going from dry and silent to flowing waterfall during the course of the trip.

MackFest 2023

Darren and Emma once again put on a fantastic MackFest this year, their annual barn party. This year saw local band The Howling Clowns performing, somehow more wood-fired pizzas than last year (and we didn’t learn our lessons from the last fest of everyone bringing far too much food than could be eaten), as well as an experimental zipline which was definitely 100% safe and certified for human use. 

Thankfully, minimal zipline incidents occurred, alcohol was drunk, fires were lit, and everyone had a cracking time. Cheers again Mackenzies!

Marble Steps

Tim K, Tim D, John, Jason, Bob, Rhod, Maz, Steve, Tom, Bex (guest)

Decent turnout for an exchange between Gully and Sidewinder routes. As we gradually choked up the top of Masongill Lane with our cars, the team assembled and Tim K headed up to start rigging the entrance climbs. When the rest of the team arrived we split into two and parted ways. A smooth descent from both groups saw us landing in the lower main chamber, and while a couple of folks headed on down to see the start of the lower cave the rest of the team began the re-ascent. 

Top performance from all, especially Maz undertaking his first decent sized SRT trip, Bob returning after breaking his shoulder and Steve de-rigging Sidewinder.

Dow Cave

Yolanda, Vikki, Ray, Steve (2nd caving trip), Yulia (1st caving trip)

A nice little novice trip with Yulia (from Ukraine) on her 1st ever underground outing and Steve on his 2nd.

After quite a drive (albeit through some of the best of the Dales scenery), we parked up at Park Rash, just at the bottom of a very steep hill. The flies were something to behold, although thankfully they weren’t of the biting kind. The number of cyclists was also impressive – none cycling up the hill! A very pleasant walk took us to the entrance in about 15 mins. It’s just up the valley to the right in the following photo:

Soon we were heading down into the depths of hell. Too dramatic? Fair enough.

The streamway is a reasonable size for most of it’s length. Thankfully water levels weren’t too high, which was a concern given the recent rainfall. The stream could be avoided in some places, but there is also quite a bit of walking in the water. Being a climber, Steve valiantly attempted to traverse:

Unfortunately he lost all his kudos just after the above photo was taken as he fell into the water for more of a soaking than he would have had by simply walking in the stream. There’s a lesson there!

Shortly after a climb up and over a slope (near the Treacle Mines, I think), an inlet headed off to the left. We followed this, leading us into Gloop de Loop, an “interesting” oxbow passage leading directly to the Old Final Chamber. Yolanda bravely led the way.

Gloop de Loop is mostly a crawl, mostly in water. Never as big as you would like, but never too constricted. Yulia and Steve coped admirably. The passage ends at a balcony overlooking the Old Final Chamber… but some 5m up. Luckily there are anchors for a rope to aid a safe descent, unluckily we didn’t have a rope. So we improvised, with Yolanda & Ray forming a human chain down which the others could be safely(?) passed.

At the end of the Old Final Chamber is Hobson’s Choice – a huge boulder choke which, depending on who you believe, is either lethally dangerous or perfectly stable. Choosing to give the latter opinion at least a hearing, we ventured a short way in, until the inevitable “You will die!!!” signs curbed our enthusiasm.

One of these signs warned that novices, in particular, should steer clear. This is presumably due to their more feeble frames compared to experienced cavers, whose resistance to being squashed by 100 tonne boulders is much greater. Whatever the reasoning, having 2 novices seemed too good an opportunity not to take advantage of, so we turned round and headed for home, this time following the main passage the whole way, apart from one detour…

Of course we couldn’t resist a look up Dowbergill Passage on the way out. The echo at the Dow end of this passage is incredible. A very eerie place indeed. We pushed on through the duck under the Buddhist’s Temple. The duck had plenty of airspace on this occasion.

We eventually turned back where we would have had to climb up out of the water and start traversing. Another day! By now we were thoroughly drenched and beat a hasty retreat to warm, dry clothes and a cafe in Kettlewell.

A note on water levels: These were fairly low in Dow and did not appear to rise at all during our trip. However, the whole of Littondale and Penyghent Gill was much wetter on our return trip. While the Skirfare had been gently flowing in the morning, it was a raging torrent in the afternoon. The Scanty Lardos entrance was dry in the morning, but under a significant stream in the afternoon. Makes you think!

Sunset Hole

Sophie, Tom, Tim K, Rhod, Maz, Steve, Yolanda, Ryan (3rd KCC trip)

Report from Sophie:

A rather soggy trip down Sunset Hole on Wednesday night. A classic little Yorkshire stream way. An enthusiastic turn out with Tom, Tim, Rhod, Steve (wonderful to have you back buddy!), Maz, Sophie, Yolanda and first-timer, Ryan. A good, if wet, time was had by all and the caramel cake was an absolute winner.

Simpsons Pot

Scott, Tim D, Tom

An unsettled morning saw us parking up at Braida Garth with a minibus full of scouts kitting up for Valley Entrance. With Scott and Tom in wetsuits, the march up the fell was a sweaty lark, with Tim enjoying a pleasant stroll in normal kit on the promise of sacrifices later in the trip. As we neared the entrance, another group of cavers was on our tail and followed us into the cave – oh no, were we going to be double rigging and leapfrogging the whole trip? Were we ‘eck – by the time we’d quickly freeclimbed the 5 Steps we heard them calling Rope Free on the first step.

Scott’s cunning plan for this trip was to take 2x 40m ropes in 2 bags, tying them together for Slit Pot at the bottom when we needed it. As we rigged the first pitch, the plan came crashing down as Tom discovered that not only had he forgotten his Stop, but that the bag he’d picked up was a duff one whose bottom fell out, spilling its ropey contents everywhere. After a couple of pitches carrying 80m of rope in one bag, Tim had an ingenious idea to nip together the break in the bag with a maillon. This worked an absolute treat and we were back on course, with Scott kindly sharing his Stop with Tom or sometimes just Hitching down. 

We made good progress and reached everyone’s favourite bit, the Duck. No problems here, particularly for the wetsuit contingent. Onwards and downwards, until we reached Shuffle Pot. Initially we traversed far too high, and although we reached a set of bolts, Tim had a rayt struggle squeezing down the pitch from here. However he soon spotted another set of bolts from a lower ledge, and we realised we could traverse back and then forward at a lower level to reach a much more comfortable hang. 

Onwards down to Slit Pot without any drama, and Scott hooked up his double 40m pullthrough rope and headed up to the overhead bypass to Slit Pot. Flawless descent apart from rigging from some maillons on a bit of tat. The descent was pretty damp, and the stream pouring in from Swinsto at the bottom was much more ‘sporting’ than it had been a month ago when we did Swinsto in drought. The final pitch into Great Aven was really hammering, and we crossed our fingers that there hadn’t been a cloudburst outside that had swollen the master cave.

Thankfully the Master Cave was fine, although it had risen enough for a few toboggan slides down in the water for the wetsuit folk who were still nice and toasty at this point. At the roof tunnel pitch, the scouts’ ladder hung as we made an efficient ascent and the usual back-breaking exit from Valley Entrance.