Rowten Pot

Dave, James, Ray

Rowten has always been a favourite trip of mine. Back in the day it was a great Sunday warm down after some epic or other on the Saturday. These days it’s the perfect evening trip.

As has been common this year, entry into Kingsdale was marked by a thick mist descending. The beck was in full flow too. While this may be ominous for planned trips to other caves, Rowten just gets better in such wet conditions as the rope can be rigged clear of the water.

We entered via The Eyehole, with the usual fun and games on the 2nd rebelay over the lip. On the main shaft, we took a hybrid route. This route descends from the 1st Y-hang in the bottomless rift, then swings over onto the opposite wall about 20m or so down to join the various rebelays encountered on the Gully Route. This has several advantages over the straight hang from the end of the bottomless rift. First, it breaks up the big pitch, which can speed things up on the ascent. Second, it keeps well clear of the water in even the wettest conditions. Third… it’s damn good fun!

From the foot of the main shaft we followed the Flyover Route, probably the only option in the conditions. The 1st rebelay on this, just round the corner in the perpendicular rift, is always a real pain. After that it was plain sailing to the bottom. James was particularly keen to have a look at the sumps, but even he had to admit defeat when faced with the thundering waterfall through which we would have had to climb to get there. Next time.

The ascent went without a hitch. Once again, this was a big step up for Dave & James… and once again they smashed it. Great effort guys. As far as I’m concerned, you’re both up to any SRT trip now.

Photos by Dave & Ray.


Dave, James, Ray

We had such great plans. Dave and/or James could put their recent rigging training (courtesy of Scott) into practice on the first 2 pitches. I would rig the Chapter House traverse/pitch. Then James and/or Dave could derig the whole thing. What fun we would have. Sure, it would be a bit on the wet side, but isn’t Yordas best in such conditions? There’s nothing better than traversing and performing various aerial acrobatics out over the raging torrent then finally sliding down alongside, but safely out of, the deluge.

The first sign that things may not go to plan was the thunderous sound of the waterfall before we even got to the bottom entrance. Inside, the main chamber was a vast swimming pool. I say swimming pool, but no-one could actually be tempted to swim.

Hmmm. Never mind. We didn’t intend to come out the bottom entrance anyway. Our way in (the middle entrance) would be nice and dry. We would meet the water coming in from the top entrance and get a bit wet in the crawl to Chapter House, but then we would be safely clear of the water.

It became clear that plans may have to change long before we got to the middle entrance. Again, the sound and then the sight of a raging torrent suggested we may have to rethink. We had intended to go in via the more upstream of the 2 slots constituting the middle entrance. This was taking a massive stream, much more than I’ve ever seen before.

Not being a team to be put off by such trivial matters, we entered via the more downstream middle entrance slot. Even this was taking some water, but it was at least passable. Dave took the lead and did an excellent job of rigging the first short drop. He carried on rigging the 2nd pitch, but looked a bit concerned about actually going down it in view of the thundering waterfall that may not be avoidable for the last few metres. I wouldn’t have blamed him for deciding against it. In fact, I was hoping common sense would prevail and we could have an early pint in the Marton Arms, rather than an early shower.

In the end, Dave made it look easy to stay relatively dry by bridging out away from the water. I followed and did a passable job of staying relatively dry. James, on the other hand, took the option of an early shower.

If I’m being honest, I kind of knew where the trip would end. Just around a left hand bend is a short climb down with a pool at the bottom. This is usually just a bit of fun in normal water conditions. Tonight it was a positive death trap. It would certainly have been possible to get down (not necessarily under control), but may have been impossible to get back up against the force of water.

So that was, indeed, as far as we got. James valiantly offered to derig. I think his logic went essentially along the lines of “I can’t get any wetter”. Dave and I weren’t about to argue. At least we would both have someone to hold us out of the water for the first bit. James took his inevitable drenching with a stiff, if slightly moist, upper lip. He did an excellent job of derigging.

After a particularly slippy-slidey walk back down to the cars, we retired to the Marton for a bit of “rehydration”. Although we didn’t get very far, this was actually a most enjoyable evening. It’s great to see such caves in full flow and gain a bit more respect for the sheer power of the water that forms them.

We will all be back very soon to finish what we started.

Photos by Dave & Ray.

Bull Pot Kingsdale

Helen, Pete, Matt, Ray

Another case of a hastily rearranged trip in view of the weather. The original plan had been Red Moss, but that was certainly off the menu given that it hadn’t stopped raining for at least 40 days & 40 nights. Yordas had briefly been discussed as an alternative, but quickly dropped in favour of a look at the newly bolted Monolith Traverse & Pitch in Bull Pot.

We cut a sorry sight struggling up the hillside, with both Helen & Ray limping along on their respective walking sticks. No route straight up the fellside tonight, rather a long sweeping loop out to the right and back. That left us with only one problem on top of the fell – finding the cave. Luckily this didn’t take too long and we were soon swinging off the normal 1st pitch, around a rock buttress to find the 1st bolt of Monolith Traverse. The traverse is quite nice, generally with good ledges on either side of the shaft, leading into a tube with a nicely-placed y-hand at the end. A bit cramped for rigging/derigging, but nothing too bad.

Monolith Pitch lands nicely at the old high-level traverse to the 2nd pitch. 3 or 4 anchors then take you round a couple of bends to the top of the 2nd pitch. There was quite a lot of water flowing down this, so the deviation (thankfully already complete with tat) was very welcome. From there it’s just a couple of metres down to the ledge. The slot was really the only 3rd pitch option in the prevailing moistness. This was quickly descended by all, past the easiest rebelay in the Dales. At the bottom, Ray went on to have a look at the 4th pitch. His rather drenched appearance on returning seemed to be enough to put everyone else off even having a look. Needless to say, descending the pitch was not an option. We did all agree, however, that we should definitely return to bottom the cave in drier conditions. Matt even agreed to lead such a trip… perhaps after a bit of pressurising.

Pete offered to derig. No mean feat, given the water levels and the fact that the top pitch was brand spanking new to all of us. With Matt offering moral support, he did a great job. There’s no going back now for you Pete! It wasn’t too long before everyone was safely out and slip-sliding back down the hillside.

A great little wet weather trip. Congratulations to the team that set the new Monolith route… whoever they are.

Valley Entrance

Dave, Jordan, Ray, Tom, Vicky, Yolanda

First trip for new recruits Dave and Jordan, and it were a damp un. We headed in to find the master cave pretty heaving, close enough to call it but we sent brave volunteers down to test it out and it turned out to be just about passable with a lot of legwork. But with this kind of flow the waterslides become pretty fun, and we enjoyed riding the river right back down to the pitch, with the adrenaline cancelling out the hypothermia. Jordan laddered back up and the rest of us SRT’d up including Dave’s first ever attempt at SRT, which went swimmingly – he’d watched enough Youtube vids that he’d pretty much taught himself already 🙂 Yolanda cracked out the Bounties before heading back out to a chilly change and a pint at the Marton.


David ‘Tom’ Holden Memorial Outing

A fantastic turnout of members new and old, to honour one of the club founders, David ‘Tom’ Holden. Great to see the Old Guard, and a lovely time was had by all.

The morning kicked off with tents and tables set up outside the entrance to Yordas, before active members headed up the hill for two trips – Darren leading from the Top Entrance, and John leading from the Middle Entrance. As trips finished and people congregated at the bottom entrance, food was conveniently ready, with fantastic home-made soup and cakes aplenty. 

President Fred and Vice Pres Andy both said a few words about Tom’s life and efforts at maintaining KCC; we looked through some folders of old photographs that Fred had brought along, and the KCC cake was cut jointly by the oldest and youngest cavers present. 

We then headed into Yordas together with sparklers for some photos and light writing. By this point we were well fed and entertained and ready to start making our ways to places warmer than Yordas, with some having been there about 5 hours.

Big thanks to all who attended, organised and made the day special. Here’s to Tom Holden!


Maz, Scott, Tom

What a damp evening. The initial plans for Aquamole were scrapped and we’d planned to visit Heron instead. However, on the walk up the rain set in really heavy and didn’t look like it was stopping so we decided to turn back and head to Yordas for a play instead. We headed in the middle entrance, Maz had a try of his new foot ascender on the short pitches then we headed to the traverse to rig and have a general SRT practise

Jingling Pot

Darren, Chris D, John, Miranda, James, Maz, Tom

Multi-route rigging, with the big hang, the pretty big hang and the Lateral Cleft all being rigged. The teams went their separate ways, and while Darren yo-yo’d up and down the big hang to practise for expedition, people made their way down and back up.

A bag was sent for a flying lesson down the hole in the floor of Lateral Cleft which may or may not still be down there… 

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.

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. 

Swinsto Pot

Tom, Darren, Tim K, Pete, Steve, Rhod, Ray

A classic pull-through in dry conditions with Darren rigging. All went smoothly. No hang-ups or jammed ropes. Photos by Ray.