Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Caving in Yorkshire is awesome!

Trip date: 17th-18th June 2017

Team; Stuart Bennett, Bob Hall, Elaine Hall, Duncan Hornby, Helen Hooper, Andy Jones, Richard Sore and Claire Vivian

Everyone arrived in Yorkshire on the Friday to stay at the excellent Bunkhouse at Hardraw run by the SWCC members Helen and Andy. Duncan managed to break his record of getting to Hardraw now taking no less than 8½ hours to get there…

Hardraw Old School Bunkhouse in the glorious sunshine.

Whilst having a cheeky pint in the Green Dragon, Richard and Stuart arrived looking just as frazzled from their long drives. With a fairly early start and knackered from driving it did not take too much for everyone to retire!

Saturday - Meregill Hole

The SWCC group split into two groups; the advance party rigging pitches 1 and 2 but going no further and the rest following an hour later to complete the rigging to the bottom. The reason this was done was that Andy had two clients (Ariana and Lee) who were on an improver SRT course. They were improving their skills and a full trip to the very bottom would not have been appropriate. Andy gave Duncan the opportunity to rig pitches 1 and 2 which he jumped at under his watchful eye, dispensing best practise and advice. Bob joined the advance party and went no further than pitch 2 as he was recovering from a shoulder injury.

An excellent description and rigging guide can be found on the CNCC website here.

Andy and his SRT clients (Ariana and Lee) at Meregill entrance.

Andy abseiling the first pitch.

Stunning rays of light in the Mere entrance.

Pitch 1 was relatively easily to rig as it was at the surface, pitch 2 had an “interesting” traverse line that lead to the pitch head. It is high up near the roof and you find yourself desperately trying to jam yourself into any place that will hold you as you attempt to rig.

Lee passing the deviation on the second pitch.
Bob arrives at the base of the second pitch.

Whilst waiting at the base of pitch 2, to our surprise 3 Wessex cavers came shooting past and overtook us. Stuart, Claire and Richard arrived and Duncan joined their team. Bob, Andy, Ariana and Lee then returned to the surface. Apparently Andy put them through their paces getting them to repeat some of the skills they were learning, so no rest for the wicked!

Stuart and Richard continued rigging the pitches, made more fiddly with the Wessex rigging in place. Big pitches and several hanging re-belays made for a “lonely” trip until we all gathered at the base of pitch 5. It was at this point the Wessex team blasted past us on their way out...

Aware of time we decided to keep the exploration short. With various options lying ahead Stuart who has visited this cave before announced he had “not been this way” and this was reason enough to give it ago. I now know that if Stuart says “not been this way before” that is reason enough not to go there! A painful hands and knees crawl with SRT kit was not what I wanted! Almost at the point of turning around I could hear Stuart ahead saying he was in a stream way which eventually rejoined the obvious stream way which we had ignored.

Stuart in the Meregill stream way.

The team (Duncan, Claire, Richard and Stuart) near the base of the 5th and final pitch.

After our team photo we headed out; again a lonely journey as we strung out waiting for each pitch to clear and people derigging. We de-rigged the pitches we had rigged. I was secretly pleased with this as poor old Richard and Stuart dragged out the heaviest bags from the deepest parts of the system, kudos to them! As I (Duncan) had rigged the 2 pitches at the entrance I was the last out and was welcomed by a glorious sunny evening with spectacular vistas that only chapel-le-dale can offer.

We got back to the cars, quickly changed, Bob had been a trooper and waited for us, then a mad dash back to Hawes for food. We were joined by Jo White and the rest of the evening was spent in the Green Dragon in Hardraw talking about Richard’s pants, a topic that just kept on giving…

Sunday - Roaring Hole

A rigging guide can be found on the CNCC website here.

Due to time constraints Sunday had to be a short trip and Roaring Hole in Chapel-le-dale fitted the bill. We said our goodbyes at Hardraw and headed over to park up and change. The weather was glorious and was promising to be a scorcher.

Stuart came over but the weather was just too good to get him underground, so only Duncan, Claire and Richard entered Roaring Hole.

The entrance is within a section of limestone paving just off the main track.

Duncan, Richard and Claire at the entrance of Roaring Hole.

At the car we had re-evaluated what we planned to do and with time against Duncan and Claire we decided to just do the first pitch and get as far as we could before turning around.

Looking out or Roaring Hole - saying goodbye to the sunlight.

Duncan installing rigging at the first pitch.

The first pitch is a nice friendly pitch with easy access, no desperate hanging rebelays as in Meregill the day before.

Duncan about to descend the first pitch.
There is a wide ledge for the second half of the first pitch which allowed us to take a few action shots.

Claire descending the second part of pitch 1, Richard in background.
We continued our exploration passing through boulder chokes seemingly held up by rusting scaffolding poles.

Duncan near some pretties.

We passed through a few damp patches and finally arrived at Masons Chamber where a rather tight and awkward squeeze into more boulder choke had to be passed. No problem for Claire, a bit more worrisome for Richard and I!

Richard in the squeeze out of Mason’s Chamber.

We eventually got to what we believe is Slab Climb which would have required using a bit of kit to get down safely. This turned out to be a suitable turn around point.

We retraced our tracks and exited into scorching sunshine.

Ingleborough in the sunshine.

We said our goodbyes and then Duncan and Claire made a dash for Newbury so Claire could catch her connecting train. Richard met up with Jo and they visited Mistral to pick up some data loggers.

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