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A No Name Article

By Michael Palmer

A White Scar Caving trip was arranged for 14th Jan. '78 by Martin (how green is my) Grass and so, to use a well worn phrase, a small band of BEC members drove the boring Motorway route to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to be the guests of the Bradford.

The party consisted of two groups, the Palmer family with Greg Villis and Christine, and Martin, Glenis, Pat and Paul Christie.  Martin had hoped for slightly better support of the trip but as it transpired the numbers were adequate.

En-route the Palmer group we’re fortunate enough to stay the Friday Night at Fred Weekes' Paddiham 'put you up', where they enjoyed fine hospitality.  The other group made it to the Bradford Cottage in time to find enough space for their sleeping bags.

Saturday morning, early but not so bright, saw the groups assembled in the White Scar Cave car park, where the events of the drive up in the fog and snow were discussed at length, while secretly hoping that the leader wasn't going to turn up.  He did, accompanied by a few friends, and so we all had to change in the freezing cold and prepare ourselves.  The route had to be changed because the usual air space at Big Bertha boulder choke had sumped.  This was fortunate in some respects, since the alternative was the higher level Battle Series which only a few dozen parties have previously visited.

The route at this point is upwards through a naughty corkscrew squeeze, emerging into an extremely large chamber.  From this chamber the leader took us to the caveable extremities of the Western Front and the Northern Front to look at very nice formations and a wonderful crystal pool which unfortunately was dry.  On the trip out Paul Christies wonder light failed again and to cap it all he later lost the Carbide lamp, loaned by Greg, while negotiating a swim in the cold streamway.

At the entrance the women had prepared welcome hot cup of tea, having returned early from their shopping in Settle.  After a quick change and a thank you to our leader we made a hasty return to the Bradford Cottage for a shower and hot food.

The hut warden had made a double booking, so bunk space was scarce.  However, after a little bartering and swearing sufficient room was found for the women, Martin and Paul, while Michael and Greg slept in the van. At the Helwith Bridge later on Saturday night we were blessed with the presence of a lost sheep, one Andy Nichols, who reported that he is fine and enjoying his change to Northern climes.

A trip to Swinsto had been organised with Fred Weekes for Sunday morning, which found the men once again standing by the roadside in the freezing cold changing into wet wetsuit. The women folk did a more sensible thing by going walking from Ingleton to see Thornton Force, which is a very impressive sight after wet weather.

Except for Fred this was everyone’s first trip into Swinsto, so there was lots of speculation about the sort of trip it would be.  The arrangement was that we would abseil through the system, pulling the rope down behind us, into the Kingsdale Master Cave and leave by the Valley entrance.

Sufficient articles have already been written about this trip so enough said, but it is relevant to record that this is a fine sporting pothole and the grand finale of the Kingsdale Master System is worth the effort.  The only bad spot of the trip was when the rope nearly didn't free itself from the top of the main pitch

We were all by this time on the ledge which divides the pitch into two; we were also being blown by an icy cold wind, caused by the swollen stream descending the pitch. After only a few minutes we were all very cold and subsequently decided in the warmth of the hut that it would not take very long for exposure to set in if trapped on the ledge under such conditions.  So, as a safety measure it was considered advisable to take a second rope of about 60ft, to avoid the danger of getting stuck should the main rope become stuck in any belay.  Feeling very pleased, with ourselves we returned to the hut for a hot meal before saying our good byes.

The weather was not too kind and the accommodation was overcrowded, but two fine caving trips made the weekend worth while and thank you to those who came and to Martin for organising the main trip.