Gaping Ghyll   -   The Far Country

I did a nostalgic Disappointment-Bar exchange via Clay Cavern during the Craven winch meet with Johnny Wilkinson. The trip itself was unexceptional, other than far the presence of a squad of RAF cadets from Cranwell. We gave them an hours start & passed them just after the first pitch, and eventually caught them again on the big pitch in Bar. You cou1d say they were taking their time, but to be fair they had very little experience for the most part. They were polite to the, last as we helped to haul them out through the greasy slab & up the entrance and we were constantly amused by remarks such as, “I say, could you give me a hand, I’m so awfully tired that I don’t think I can manage this bit - etc, etc”. The amusement wore thin as one of them gut jammed for fifteen minutes at the top of the entrance, but we all got out somehow.

Anyway the point of this article is not to talk about the trip, but to publicise the Far Country itself. It has a lot to offer as a tough caving trip and it has good potential for extensions. It has a reputation, as grotty low & lengthy trip, which it is; but I have to confess to being an enthusiast. I see looking back, ‘that I went there I7 times in 1974 and averaged 11 hours a trip in the search fur passages leading towards Ingleborough Cave. The fact that I didn’t succeed doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t. Parts of it are very active with stream ways criss-crossing the main passage, sand washing in and out of chokes, and bou1der piles, especially in Mountain Hall, of monumental proportions. It needs constant checking for the appearance of promising black holes.

Currently the extremities of the system - Clay Cavern, India Chamber & Mountain Hall come up smack against the Hurnel Moss Fault. This area of shattered blocks, fault breccia, etc. is the key to a dry connection with Ingleborough Cave (if it exists) Get through it or along it, and you could be onto a winner. The s-second point I would like to make Is that I am sure, as a result of observations I made when caught by floods the wrong side of Southgate in Easter 74, that an epiphreatic, fairly flood liable series of passages exists under Far Country. I. say this because it was evident that. as the flood pulse passed through, water was forced up into Southgate and flowed down First Cross System to join the stream running down to Mountain Hall. The next point is that it was not the duck that trapped us, we could not enter Southgate at all. This, coupled with the fact that when the water began to drop, it did so swiftly, will suggest to those of you familiar with the passage that it must have come up and gone down in several places at once. Concentrate your search along Southgate or around First Cross and again you could be lucky.

Finally as a carrot to induce you to go and really check the place out, organize a lone, leisurely photographic trip. Along with the grot are Some formations of. fantastic quality not just in comparison with their surroundings but as objects of beauty in their own right. Particularly to be recommended is a group in Northgate by the junction with Sahara. Go & have a look at it, and remember, the person who finds Clapham Junction will bathe in glory ever after.

J. Sheldon.


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