Saturday 9 April 2011

7th April 2011 - Swinsto to Valley Entrance

"Well, the water from Rowten runs into Valley entrance and the water from Swinsto does too, but joining a bit further along. If Valley entrance is in line with those trees and it must run generally in that direction. Now it can't be as far as Aquamole because that water runs into..." It had turned out lovely again and our objective for the night had been switched to Swinsto, which unfortunately we hadn't brought the description for. Luckily Dick's logical assessment of the hydrology of the pots above the Turberry road soon found us at an entrance he recognised. We left the rope on the first pitch in place 'til he was sure we were in the right place and then he was off down Swinsto's long crawl. I'd almost have preferred it had it just been a long crawl, the constant changing between hands and knees crawling and stooping putting me off my stride. At least it wasn't painful on the knees, the cold water numbing them quite effectively. The roaring of water grew louder and louder until the sight of Dick's light once again confirmed we were at the next pitch. As soon as I arrived he was down the pitch, the pace helping to keep us warm. It would have been nice to say that we then got into a steady rythmn of one person derigging the previous pitch while the next was being rigged, but Dick's fluid rope work tended to be heavily punctuated by my less than fluent efforts. "So if I'm abbing on this end, then the knot needs to be....". Still I suppose it's better to get these things right. One thing that did remain constant however, was the excitement of descending each of the spray lashed pitches, the water being the perfect temperature to provide maximum exhiliration. The through trip really is one of the Yorkshire classics, an active streamway, followed through constantly changing cave to a master cave, with the added benefit of a thirty second walk back to the car at the end. To top off a great evening we needed a good pint of proper beer, a large packet of crisps and an open fire to sit right next too. These three were amply provided, along with a very warm welcome at the newly opened Marton Arms. As with calculus and rural post offices, suppose you either use it or lose it.

Tuesday 5 April 2011

1st April 2011 - Sunset Hole

With the end of the season rapidly approaching, Sunset seemed an aptly named cave to visit. Driving up the Lune Valley, large ponds of water in the flood plane gave testament to how wet it had been recently, but we hoped it had stopped raining long enough for a trip down this very active system. In all our memories it's just a wander down fine meandering passageway with a couple of little, free climbs before arriving at the main pitch. How different a place can be with a bit more water running down it. Both "free climbs" were rigged, the second especially, well clear of the water.

Having dropped down the main pitch, a rope ladder hung enticingly from the opposite side of the chamber, offering a way on into parts of the system I'd never visited. While the cave leading to the main pitch had been walking down a streamway, in this side of the caving we were crawling through what appeared to be washed out shale beds, almost from the off. A second in situ rope dropped us down into another bedding at the end of which lay a "final" chamber. On the return to the rope, Tom took a slightly different path and discovered the not so inviting corkscrew squeeze that leads further into the system. Fortunately none of us felt like even giving it a try, as we later discovered that it leads straight on to the top of another pitch. At the top of the squeeze lay a good number of chocolate bar wrappers. Evidence of someone spending a little longer in the squeeze than anticipated?

Emerging into daylight we made our way to a packed Craven Heifer. John's alibi for not going caving with us next week - he's going caving.