Friday 11 November 2016

10th November 2016 - Changes

When all is going mad on the surface, it's great to be able to retreat to the subterranean world where everything feels constant, where changes normally take thousands or tens of thousands of years.  It is easy to forget that sometimes dramatic events can take place in our caves too, caused by events such as the catastrophic flooding that hit the north of England and Scotland at the end of 2015.

While the moon light picked out beautifully the dusting of snow on the fells, unfortunately it washed out most of the stars. There was nothing it could do though to diminish the stunning views of a number of planets, lying low on the horizon. So it was, invigorated by the chill in the air, we made our way over the moor to the cave entrance.

Preparing to head undergound
Dick quickly set off rigging down the opening pitch and we followed, admiring the engineering of the entrance.  The initial climbs soon opened out to where the main pitch descends into a large chamber, one of the rebelays airily positioned on a nose of rock.

Rebelay on the "last" pitch

Descending the "last" pitch

The landing of the pitch was on a slope that showed definite signs of movement, but provided an easy walk down to the sump which in the past we had had to access by rigging first a traverse and then a short pitch.

The difference in the sump from our last visit was incredible. Where once a thin rock bridge had arched metres above a sump and the air echoed to the sound of the waterfall feeding it, there now lay an eerily silent and foreboding pool.

Dick and Sharon at the sump pool in 2012

Dick at the same spot, but taken from the opposite direction (due to my inability to swim with a camera) in 2016
Another view of Dick standing on the "bridge"
How much debris had come down the slope to cause the backing up of this pool can only be guessed at, but it must have been an incredible sight to witness.  Returning up the slope we visited some of the other areas of the cave, before returning up the pitches.
Returning up the main pitch
The air was crisp as we emerged once more into the moonlight and retraced our steps across the moor. 

Emerging into the moonlight
While we would normally have headed back to Kirby for a pint in the Snooty Fox, a bit of quick thinking from Tony saw us in the Whoop Hall which offered a pretty decent pint.

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