Ingleborough Cave

Well it was the morning after the night before, when a large hung-over party left the comfort of Bullpot, Farm in the aftermath of the auction party. A convoy of cars set off down the lane through snow drifts and by the time the main road was reached it was snowing heavily.

By the time I arrived at Clapham car park & had taken out my gear from the boot & finding my frozen swimming trunks and wet suit socks, everyone else was ready for the off. I managed to thaw out my underwear on a car radiator., but this didn’t do much to thaw out my enthusiasm, Ah well, a brisk walk up to Ingleborough Cave might do this I thought

On arrival at the entrance to this famous show cave, I found to my amazement that the main show was going on outside the cave, with the Red Bose concert party milling about consuming goodies (pop & chocolate) ,from the cave shop, Rumour had it that the 50p that I was clutching in my sweaty palm was  necessary for paying to get in. However after a night of too much home brew & whiskey, I was in a dehydration situation. The temptation proved too much and I joined the ever increasing throng drinking the fizzy liquid. I began to regret this extravagance later on when confronted with ample drinkable liquid in the wallows.

After a whip round for the entrance fee, Frank Croll led the way through the show cave This terminates through a pool at a massive choke. The way on is up left into Cellar Gallery, a fine phreatic half-tube over 500ft long. This eventually breaks out into Giants Hall, a high chamber where the caving
really starts,

The way on is down a sandy bedding plane into 3 sections of’ unpleasant passage known as Far Eastern Bedding Plane, Near Wallows & Far Wallows respectively. These certainly live up to their names. At the outset Frank had been very keen to bring  along candles, which at the time I couldn’t see the necessity for. But now here I was, lying flat out in a wide bedding plane three quarters filled with snow melt water trying to find the best way on. Behind were continuous pathetic cries of  Get a move on”, “How much further?” and “My zip has broken, I’m going back!

Very suddenly it became .Ominously quiet, except for the noise of ice cold rushing water. I was all alone. A few seconds before I had been in the middle of a vast throng of Red Bose members, now those behind had found the cave too much for them (some people just can’t take it). Those in front had obviously found me too much for them and I’d sped off into the gloom. I groveled slowly on into increasingly deep water, diminishing air space & continually lowering passage. With one ear scraping the roof and the other immersed in water I suddenly emerged into a chamber. (Well you could stand up.) I shouted for those ahead but this was fruitless as all other noises were being absorbed by the crash of falling water from across the other side of the chamber. This was the start of the Inauguration Series. I was about to set off across the water floored chamber at a brisk pace when I remembered my inability to float even in a wetsuit. So I gingerly waded around on ledges & sand banks on the right hand side & climbed up the waterfall.

The passages beyond took on much grander proportions and it was here at a large junction that I met some of the others. The rest seemed to have disappeared, but we eventually found them returning from a very cold swim up to the sump at the end of Terminal Lake.

After a quick look at the stals & avens in Inauguration Cavern’s it was unanimously agred to return as we were all feeling the effects of the very cold. Water. We returned quickly through the Far & Near Wa1lows and followed the flowing water down a short walking streamway to Lake Avernus. Here Bill proved he had more guts than the rest of us ( plus a new wet suit), by swimming to the end, and finding the way through to Lake Pluto sumped.

After this minor diversion we continued on out, passing Frank & Steve on the way in. We returned quickly to the show cave in order to warm up, to find Jim, Graham & hangers on taking photos. On being asked why he had turned back Jim was heard to mutter “That’s not what I call a bloody pothole”. Well you can’t please everybody all of the time. On reaching the surface, the fools whose brains had been numbed by the cold, decided to do Beck  Head Stream Caye. After brushing away the snow & ice we descended to the stream This was followed upstream to Broadbent Falls, a spectacular ten foot waterfall, where Jim again performed with the camera. Above the falls the sump into Ingleborough Cave was soon reached. Here we spotted blind white trout & Graham played with it for a while. The trout that is!!)

By the time we again reached the surface it as dusk. After a brisk walk down to Clapham & a quick change I was presented with coffee & sandwiches, (Shouldn’t that, be scrounged? - Ed.) A fine end to a cold but interesting trip.

A. Hall.

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