Whilst on a summer expedition with Biggin Hill Venture Scout Unit, I had the good fortune to bump into club member Dick Northam who was staying with 2nd Ordington Venture Scout Unit at Selside Farm. After some old chat I suggested a little caving so Dick joined us at our campsite at Ludton (near Kirby Lonsdale). Here follows an account of our caving activities.
Friday 16th and Saturday 17th August
Before Dick arrived I had a couple of trips underground in the company of the leader of Biggin Hill Venture Scouts, Wendy Waller, and John McGowan from Unit Two. The first, Rumbling Hole, was a highly surprising trip with 4 pitches providing some challenging rigging and awkward SRT. This was followed on Saturday by a trip into Jingling Pot, a single large pitch. The whole place reeked of rotting sheep and the fag smoke of some Mendip refugees.
Sunday 18th August
A short trip into Alum pot accompanied by Wendy Waller. Rope was rigged from the popular south east corner route. Rigging this pitch is fairly simple; the surface anchor is a tree with a rebelay at 2 metres down, a further rebelay at -30m, a third rebelay and a deviation to clear falling water for the final 12 metres. Following the water via some pools leads to another 11m pitch via a short traverse, then a brief "stomp" and a sneaky little used side passage to miss the worst of the water and down to gaze at the sump. The journey out (up into the Cascade and out of Diccan) was entirely uneventful, although prussiking up the main pitch was hot stuff in the bright sunshine.
Monday 19th August
A much less noteworthy trip. This involved taking Venture Scouts into Upper and Lower Long Churn with a ladder rigged down the famous Dolly Tubs pitch. Enjoyed by all.
Tuesday 20th August
Today I decided that Dick had to be "gobsmacked" so it was off to Clapham and up onto Ingleborough Hill in some atrocious weather to find Hurnell Moss Pot. Eventually we found the thing. The shakehole had undergone a number of changes since my last visit. Hurridly we donned our gear and started rigging. The entrance is a short tube with an anchor point in the ceiling and a deviation immediately below the ledge leading to a sloping boulder strewn floor. Two short sections are rebelayed followed by an awesome ariel traverse involving 5 bolts before the walls close in again and a Y hang can be rigged for the 26m Posioday Pitch. This leads to a further Y hang and a pitch of 32m to a rock strewn floor. There is another pitch but we decided to abort and leave as it was decidedly wet. Things got worse on the way out and I caught a stone in the face whilst Dick was derigging. By now there was water everywhere and back on the surface, a collapse next to the entrance was very loose and decidedly hairy. The whole area is changing as the shakehole collapses; eventually the entrance pitches will probably be replaced by rubble and the cave will be a walk in rather than a grovel.
Wednesday 21st August
Whilst the scouts were off to Malham to abseil Malham Cove, Dick led a group that consisted of myself and two ventures who had caught the caving bug in Long Churn to Swinstow Cave for a trip into Swinstow and out of Valley Entrance. This was an interesting trip with 6 pitches to abseil and pull the rope through. The trip was varied with wet crawls, chambers and ducks, eventually ending up in Kingsdale Master Cave, and exiting up a ladder pitch (rigged earlier). Both ventures were completely knackered at the end of this trip!
Verdict: Not a bad 4 days caving, and a most enjoyable summer expedition.