Long Churn

Yolanda, Scott, Yulia (3rd caving trip), Andy (1st caving trip)

Report from Yolanda:

Long Churn is a classic trip for a novice caver. On Sunday, Scott and myself took Andy (first ever trip) and Yulia (third ever trip) for a potter around Long Churn. We clambered around double shuffle pool and plank pool before wriggling through the cheese press. There was a queue at Dolly Tubs, so we carried on exploring the cave. After a lot of falling in while trying to ascend the waterfall above Doctor Bannister’s Handbasin, we went back above ground for a bit of a break to dry out before going back to Dolly Tubs for a descent and a look round. After a good couple of hours underground we made our way back to the surface, with a bit more falling into pools on the way out. The Yorkshire Dales looked magnificent, and I suddenly realised in a flash of understanding that Long Churn was the first cave I did when I went for a caving trip with my university back in 2014! Thanks Scott for leading us on a great trip.



Rumbling Hole

Darren, Tim K, Tim D, Steve, Ray

Rumbling is always a great trip and this was no exception. Every pitch has something of interest.

Darren (our fearless leader for this trip) arrived early and got a head start on the rigging. The Tims followed shortly after, with Steve & Ray bringing up the rear. As seems normal this year, the midges were out in force at the entrance, so it was good to finally leave the surface. A bit of a scramble through the undergrowth at the top and it’s soon down to the famous hanging rebelay. Great fun! And all in daylight above a rather large drop. It’s always worth spending some time on the entrance pitch as there are a few things to see, including the waterfall over to one side and the traverse to the Dead Bobbin Series to the other.

At the bottom of the main hang is a nice descending traverse to a final drop to the floor (still all in daylight). Then it’s underground along an awkward little passage to the remaining pitches. Some have awkward take-offs, others have tight sections, others have both. Tim D decided to turn back before the final couple of pitches as he and I had been there not long ago. The rest of us were soon at the bottom, anticipating the long journey out.

Actually, the outward journey didn’t take long. Once back at the cars, Darren treated us to a nice cool beer. Cheers Darren, who also took most of the photos.

Lost Johns

Tim D, Tim K, Steve, Pete, Bob, Ray

A classic Dome-Centipede exchange, with Tim D rigging Centipede, followed by Bob & Tim K, and Ray rigging Dome, followed by Steve & Pete. All went smoothly and according to plan on the way in. Water levels were surprisingly low, not that it matters once you get past the entrance series. Team Centipede were at Dome Junction first, as would be expected, but they didn’t have to wait too long. Everyone did the full exchange, with Tim K derigging Dome and Ray derigging Centipede.

On Centipede, Steve went first, with Pete in the middle. Getting back to the cars, Ray was most surprised to find a Steve, but not a Pete. There was really only 1 possibility – Quicksand Passage! Obviously Pete must have zigged on the way out, when he should have zagged. There was nothing else for it – someone had to go back in to find him. Unfortunately, as Steve was already changed, it had to be yours truly. Thankfully, Pete was easily found and shown the correct passage.

Meanwhile, things weren’t going quite as planned on Dome. Bob had somehow managed to get lost while trying to locate the short prussic up to the window near the bottom of Dome pitch. The result was that the Tims had to partially derig the pitch and lower the rope to Bob. Bob was also a bit cream crackered for the rest of the exit, not having done much caving this year due to his broken shoulder.

Another great Wednesday evening trip!

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.

The Mistral

Tim D, Ray, Shaun (1st KCC trip)… and Tom(-ish)

Mud glorious mud… and a very interesting sculpture.

Was it really an accident, or a deliberate ploy to avoid the mud? Perhaps we’ll never know, but, either way, Tom managed to turn up without his wellies. He did at least get some exercise by walking over to the entrance with us. He even planned to climb down the initial climb, but the flies around the entrance got the better of him. He was last seen running away, waving his arms in a most violent way and swearing the air blue. He taught those flies a lesson or two!

The initial climb down is easy enough and protected by an in-situ handline. It leads to about 15 minutes of easy crawling and squeezing. Back in the day this was a nightmare section of passage, but is now much enlarged following a difficult rescue, so doesn’t pose any particular problem, even for larger cavers. At the end of the entrance crawls we popped out into the Hobbit and things got comfortably big. Through Dusty Junction and Hall of the Ten and we were soon at Hall of the Mountain King.

This is were it all got a bit messy. The mud is deep, wet and particularly slippy. Luckily we all managed to keep both wellies (just!), but I imagine there are a few lodged deep in the mud from previous unfortunate souls. Interestingly, the mud isn’t the most remarkable thing about this area. That accolade has to go to the life-size sculpture. Words can’t possibly do this justice, so I won’t try. If you’ve been, you know. Overall, I think I probably prefer the Hall of the Mountain King in Craig y Ffynnon.

Eventually we dropped down into Leck Fell Lane, where the mud was thankfully replaced by a running stream. A short distance along this, the water crashes down a number of (particularly wet) cascades from Cigalere. Tim and Ray climbed up some of the cascades, but Shaun didn’t fancy it – he’s a very wise man. In the author’s opinion, Ray was very brave indeed to get as far as he did up the cascades, given his intense dislike of water. But even he had to admit defeat at the mere mention of an 8 foot deep canal at the top. So back we went… now almost completely devoid of our muddy coating, if a little bit on the moist side. Lovely!

We continued to the end of Leck Fell Lane, past some nice formations. The passage ends at a choke of glacial fill, which is worth seeing in its own right. There was a climb up just before the end, but none of us fancied it.

The journey out was made much more interesting by now being wet. This certainly didn’t help on the climbs back up the various mud slopes. Tim’s new wellies seemed to make a difference. For every 1 step up, he was only sliding back down the equivalent of 0.9 steps. For poor Shaun and Ray, on the other hand, the equation was tipped the other way. Hmmm. Luckily, a different way was eventually found and we all made it back up. Phew!

By the time we got back to the entrance crawls we were once again covered in a glutinous coating of particularly slippy mud. On the positive side, this made the crawling slightly easier. It did, however, mean that washing our kit wasn’t going to be easy or pleasant. As I write this, 2 days after the event, my oversuit is once again pristine… but my marital relationship may be forever damaged.

No photos this time, I’m afraid. Mistral is no place for a camera!

Coniston Coppermines

Tom, Chris H, Yolanda, Vikki, Ray

A sunny Saturday saw 5 of us squeezed into a Berlingo and heading up the much improved track as far as the Youth Hostel. A steep walk up the hillside beyond and we were soon embarking on a leisurely pootle down through 5 levels of the Coniston Coppermines, from Levers Water down to the Hospital Level.

As usual, not far inside the mine we took a quick detour to visit the Stemples of Doom! Apart from a few longer-than-entirely-comfortable steps, they’re not too bad to cross, and they are protected by a traverse line. Some people prefer not to look down the gaping void below though.

A short bit of easy passage and a couple of pitches soon brought us to the jewels in the crown of this particular mine: the Green Pool and the Blue Boulder, expertly photographed by Chris. The photos below show the colours as they actually are… not some artificially enhanced version!

Another short section of passage then leads to the final pitch down into the Hospital Level. This pitch always has a lot of loose rock at the top, so it was strictly one person moving at a time. Once down to the Hospital Level, it’s an easy journey back to the surface.

A satisfied crew then made their way down to the Black Bull for a celebratory pint, apart from Chris, who unfortunately had to head straight off.


Hardrawkin Pot

Darren, Sophie, Helen, Tom, Pete, Jason, Ray

This was sort of a continuation of last week. when we did High Douk. Hardrawkin starts in the same shakehole as the lower HD entrance, but goes downstream, whereas HD goes upstream. The 1st obstacle is the incredibly slippery climb down into the entrance. The 2nd obstacle on this particular occasion was a frog blocking the way. This was delicately, if unceremoniously, manhandled along a human chain out of the cave, but insisted on hopping straight back in. I can’t say I blame it, given how much cooler it was in the cave. Eventually the frog was sent on its way upstream towards High Douk and we were on our way.

I always think of Hardrawkin as a miniature version of a classic Dales pothole. It is essentially just an entrance passage leading to 2 pitches. The entrance passage is quite nice, well decorated even in some places, but not quite as large as you would like, necessitating a reasonable amount of crawling, but with the odd walking section. We made quick progress through this and were soon at the 1st pitch. Darren set to rigging this, with a long queue waiting expectantly behind him.

The 1st pitch had been Sophie’s nemesis for a number of years, but she made short work of it in the end. Phew!

This pitch is always wet, even in these almost drought conditions, so we were glad Darren had put both deviations in. Although it’s not the longest pitch around, it is very nice indeed.

At the bottom of the 1st pitch are a few short climbs down to the 2nd pitch.

The 2nd pitch lands almost in the final sump pool, which (for some reason no-one could quite understand) Jason decided to traverse over, even though there’s nothing on the other side! Whatever floats your boat… although, not having a boat, it’s just as well he didn’t fall off into the sump.

There was nothing to do at this point, but turn around and head out for some solstice beer and carrot cake. Not a bad way to spend a summer solstice evening!

Long Churn

Yolanda, Pete, Nat (Pete’s son), Andy (friend of Pete’s), Steve (1st KCC trip)


Report by Yolanda:

On Saturday, the crew went for a trip down Long Churn, in the foothills of Ingleborough. We had a rather warm 20 minute walk before reaching the lovely cool cave – the lower entrance to Long Churn. The stream level was much lower than usual due to the warm weather, but when we reached the first pool, Pete lost his footing and went in with rather a splash! I was a minute or so behind him and hadn’t realised it was an accident, so not wanting to be outdone, I leapt into the pool myself – very refreshing after an uphill walk in my caving kit, although possibly not worth spending the rest of the trip in wet clothes.
Andy, Nat, and Steve managed to climb around the edge of the pool, and we continued through the cave to the Cheese Press, which I’m happy to say we all made it through! After a bit more scrambling around we then went back via a different tunnel before arriving at Dr Bannister’s Handbasin. This is usually a beautiful and tranquil pool but on Saturday it was the site of some kind of ‘take your kid caving’ event as there was a group of about a dozen parents and children. The youngest were about four and hopefully there were some future KCC members among them! Our group then scrambled up the waterfall out of Long Churn’s top entrance and back into the sunlight! A great little trip and hopefully a good introduction to caving for Steve.
Report by Pete:
Another trip for a first time caver courtesy of Yolanda with Steve joining us for the ever popular Long Churns. Andy and Nat have both visited before but the opportunity of a repeat trip appealed.
The dry spell meant there was no water at all at the entrance, and none to speak of in the lower churns. Not that that stopped me soaking myself well at Double Shuffle Pool – which puzzled some of the party who wisely opted for staying dry.
Nat happily led the way through the Cheesepress and we were soon at Dolly Tubs.
Heading back up stream we soon met a family who we’d seen as we left cars, the youngster of the group seemed to be having a great time. Andy took the branch into a low passage which turned out to go further than I remembered, spitting us out in the upper churns
On we went to Dr B’s where a brief rest was taken as we waited for a party coming down the chute. This turned out to be Bradford Pothole Club on a family day out, as Yolanda said it seemed we’d chosen “Take you child caving day”.
Soon we were back on the surface just in time for a feeble attempt at rain.
Thanks to Yolanda for organising this.