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A Yorkshire Trip

This article, on the recent Yorkshire trip at least goes to show that club trips DO come off and that caving DOES get done!

As a result of the short notice of the trip, only four B.E.C. members arrived in Yorkshire.  John Dukes, Bucket, Graham Wilton-Jones and myself were joined by Fred Weekes (Ashford Speleological Society) and Ted Popham (A Cerberus exile in Nottingham).

Graham awoke at eight o’clock and started to dress.  John and I remained inert until a sickening thud announced that Ted had forgotten that he had been sleeping under an oak beam.  The resulting laughter revealed that John and I were awake, so we dressed to humour Graham.

During breakfast, Bucket arrived with Fred.  Despite a lecture on the wonderful weather and the subtle charm of Yorkshire beer, Bucket still wanted to go down Rowden Pot.  We had hoped to abseil the 240 eyehole entrance so that Bucket could learn the art.  Unfortunately we had insufficient rope and so had to make the alternative descent, Bucket and Fred arranged a line down the seventy foot slide at one end of the shakehole, and we descended by a variety of abseil and free fall methods. After this we threaded ourselves through the bedding plane that leads back to the eyehole, eighty five feet down.

Here, we rigged a further hundred and ten foot drop to a ledge.  Again, we did not have a long enough rope to bottom in one abseil. John abseiled down Bucket's sixteen year old rope, to find that the ledge was way off to the right.  After some fearful acrobatics, he arrived at the ledge and we joined him.  Soon we had the wet pitch rigged and we all descended the fifty feet to the bottom of the eyehole.  Even now, some misty daylight filtered down with the ice-cold water from the moor above.

The main route then leaves the stream for a few minutes and follows a dry by-pass, rejoining the stream at a twenty five foot pitch down to a pool.  John and I distinguished ourselves by tripping over the ladder and falling face down in the pool.  After another pitch we got to the sump pool which separates Rowdon from West Kingsdale Master Cave.

Bucket, Fred and Ted were determined to free-dive the sump.  John and Graham preferred not to, and I remained undecided.  However, the relative warmth of the pool after the stream persuaded me to go, through.  The sumps are fitted with a good line and are quite roomy.  On arrival in Kingsdale, we floundered through until the approach passage to Deep Rising was found.  We grovelled off down as far as a sump - not the boiling cauldron that I imagined from the name Deep Rising - but a sombre, glooping pool with a diving line as thick as a bootlace and as stretchy as knicker elastic.

We returned to the sump area and then joined the stream that leads towards Valley Entrance at the master cave junction.  We followed the stream to its sump, and then Bucket and Fred climbed the nineteen foot pitch to rig a ladder for Fred and myself.  Last time I saw someone try his hand at this climb, he sawed his lifeline in half, but Fred and Bucket performed better and soon afterwards we slithered out of the Oil Drum entrance into a sunny afternoon.

Bucket suggested a Swinsto/West Kingsdale through trip, but fortunately Graham and John were still pushing their way out of Rowden Pot.  Before Bucket's scheme could be put to the vote, I changed and suggested a walk back to the peat cutters track to collect John and Graham.

On our arrival back at the eyehole, the air was rent with Graham's swearing.  He was not prussiking very well on my cloggers.  I'd lent them to Graham for the return trip, as I wanted to pass the sumps without hindrance.

Eventually Graham, John and a heap of tackle arrived at the ledge.  We lowered them a rope and hauled the tackle to the surface to save the drag through the bedding plane.  Graham and John soon surfaced and Graham immediately demanded my cheque book to buy some Jumars in Settle as cloggers cramped his style!  After a fine morning as guests of Fred, Ted left to attempt Black Shiver Pot and we were joined by another A.S.S. member, Brian.  Fred was keen to do the link from Dow Cave to Providence Pot.  His main reason being to practice route finding. I make no excuse for omitting details of the trip - Northern Caves is far more precise in its description.

The trip, as I remember it, is one long traverse, besides which the traverse of O.F.D. III pales. Wearing a pair of joke boots didn't help and in several places I needed a rope.  At one point we even rigged a Tyrolean Traverse.

Providence Pot is much easier to find now that there is a telephone wire to trace, although this is doubtless a shocking breach of ethics.  Providence Pot is aptly described as the bowels of the earth! Nevertheless, we survived and will doubtless recall the trip with tender memories as time gradually obscures the boredom and terror.

A good weekend.  Let's hope there will be more like it.