Ribblesdale Camping Weekend  -  July 6th.-7th.    Cherry Tree Hole.

I arrived quite late at the Craven Heifer in Stainforth on the Friday night, to find, the Crolls & Lewis’s were already several drinks ahead. It turned out that the campsite was a right rip-off at 2.5O per night, so I decided to put my tent up very late and only pay for one night. Graham Leach also joined me instead of sleeping in his car so this made for some fun for the others as I struggled without assistance to put up-my tent in the dark.

Saturday began bright & pleasant, so Cherry Tree Hole looked a possibility. I was down as meets leader, but I did not even know where the entrance was. We set off following the other from the campsite. Diana said turn left, so I did & eventually we ended up in Settle. After a quick look at the map we eventually arrived on the side of Darnbrook Fell. Here were the others Keith, Graham & Frank Hardy getting changed. When I explained what had happened they looked at me rather disbelievingly. We eventually set off with Graham taking compass bearings and explaining how difficult the entrance was to find. When we arrived in the right area, the others set off in one direction, so I went the other way & found it at once. From the entrance shakehole a route down through boulders leads onto a short pitch into a chamber. Several ways lead off but only one goes, a roof tube above the stream, This leads on into a larger passage. We carried on upstream for several hundred feet to a rather dodgy looking boulder choke from which we made a rapid retreat. We returned to the large passage and turned right through some boulders then along a well-worn route until we reached a larger passage with the stream flowing from right to left, Main Junction.

 Setting off upstream, reasonable progress was made for several hundred feet until cries of anguish were heard from the rear of the party. Wally’s light had disintegrated. This was greeted with no great surprise, as most of his gear looked worse than my cast-offs and they are pretty bad. I shouted for Keith to hang on for a minute. Keith’s reply was as suttle as ever. “Tell him, to wait there. We’ll only be a couple of hours. I’m not ‘*÷:+ing waiting for him. Tell him to buy a decent lamp.” I passed on this message to Wally, adding my own advice that when he got out the best thing he could do to his lamp was to throw it in the bin.

The five of us set off leaving Wally to ponder these pearls of wisdom. The next section of the cave led along a rather sporting streamway with cascades, pools & traversing. This ends abruptly in a small rift chamber. When I arrived with Diana, Graham who had been leading so far was waiting allowing me to take over the lead. I soon found out why .The way on goes through a low, wide bedding cave, almost full of water. After about 15 feet the airspace lowered to about 2 inches for a short distance. Then the roof rises quickly and you can pop up through boulders into a well decorated chamber. After much spluttering, with my nose scraping against the roof, I passed this obstacle & shouted for the others to follow. Graham was not far behind, followed by Keith. Diana was next, but she has no wet-suit. I didn’t really expect her to follow, but after a few gasps & shreeks she appeared, much to the surprise of us all.

The chamber beyond the duck, as I said before, has some fine formations. Especially noteworthy are some very long straws & some nice crystal pools. This chamber, Graham informed us, was Aurora Hall, but we still had to find Blackstone Chamber, which was supposed to be even better decorated. The way on was a hands & knees crawl in water under masses of fallen blocks - most unpleasant, but it didn’t last long. Graham & I soon emerged in an even larger chamber. We seemed to have lost Keith, who was last seen muttering to himself at an awkward corner. Frank eventually arrived, as Graham & I returned from the terminal passage beyond Blackstone Chamber. We all admired the fine formations till I set off back with Graham to find Keith & Diana in Aurora Hall then we returned through the duck as quickly as possible. What about Frank?! Was he lost? Keith & Graham agreed to wait for him, while I set off back with Diana, who was a bit cold by now, to find Wally & slowly make our way out. The two of us made rapid progress down the streamway and soon found a rather bored looking Wally. We continued back to Main Junction and stopped for Wally to catch his breath and wait for the others. This gave me a good excuse to look downstream. This is mostly large passage leading to a terminal sump. When I returned the others had still no arrived so we set off out. Back at the cars, the others eventually arrived with Frank, who had been on to the bitter end - Morass Inlet, a low crawl in glutinous mud for over 200 feet.

A. Hall


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