Mayday Bank Holiday Weekend, Wharfedale.

The Official Meet Leaders Report.

Neil, Giles, Ray and Keith Lewis arrived at the
Kings Head in Kettlewell. Keith had already set up his marquee so we were able to shelter in that for the night. Neil slept outside in a bivi bag hoping to get reduced fees, he didn’t and had quite a miserable sense of humour failure when the farmer charged him for a tent, tee hee!

Saturday was very sunny so we went to find the Master Cave behind Sleets Gill. Walked up to Dowkabottom where Ray and Neil initiated a major dig near to Dowkabottom, actually with a hole in the bottom. Ray picked up a particularly large boulder with muscles rippling only to fall over backwards into a huge patch of nettles which got right up his bum because he only had boxers on!
Giles and Keith
walked off over the plateau looking for potholes eventually arriving at the top of Cote Gill where a very promising shakehole field beckoned. Unfortunately as it was nearly 3.3Opm Keith decided that there was a serious risk of missing first orders - so he setoff back. After inspecting some shafts Giles walked down the very Interesting Cote Gill, past Cote Gill Pot. However Keith had been so anxious to get in his first order that he drove off without Giles, I can tell you that the walk along the road to Kettlewell is not too pleasant (stop moaning, I had to walk from Grassington, Ed.) Beware if you go walking with Keith, take your own carl

It rained in the night, Youth turned up on Saturday evening, so did Simon Cundy (from
Derbyshire) Simon managed to con Youth into handing over most of his weekend food. Ray and Giles had seen this all before. On Sunday morning it rained, Youth leaned out of Neds car window and uttered the immortal words
“How do you fancy Mossdale now Neil?”

 Mossdale was the plan for Sunday! Simon Cundy and the Bagshaw Kid did Strans Gill Pot and unfortunately didn’t get stuck. Meanwhile we sat and waited for Jim Newton to turn up for the Hagg Gill trip as arranged. Jim didn’t turn up so we waited a bit longer expecting him to have got lost or worse. Eventually we gave up hope and as it was late. Neil, Youth, Ray and Giles walked up to Mossdale for a look. Impressive!

On the way back after Neil had disappeared off to Birmingham but Ray, Youth and Giles walked down to Gill House Sink, a 25 ft open pothole in a very significant area. We decided that we would have to come back for a further investigation. This is one of the most promising sites in the Black Keld catchment as it lies at the lowest section of the Mossdale sequence in altitude and the bottom of the pot lies 15 metres lower and possibly below the first grit layer. It is also lower than Langcliffe. We will be back with some serious excavating gear on the way to Black Keld.

actually went caving, Claire turned up on Sunday with the Savage Brothers family who then left when we arrived. We decided to go in Sleets Gill which is supposed to be interesting. Simon and the Bagshaw Kid turned up just as we were about to enter the cave. Sleets Gill starts as an archway and a steep scree leads down for a long way. In the end it levels out after a couple of low bits and you arrive at a huge railway tunnel with stations and sidings in it, there’s also a signal box early on and a big turntable! We wandered down the railway track till we got to the buffers which were made of some big boulders. Claire had managed to fall over into a water trough on the way while we took some photos of Thomas the Tank Engine and Henry the Green Engine. The next stage was going down a branch line called Hydrophobia - which was serious! Claire was cold so she turned back with Ray (The Fat Controller), unfortunately Simon and the Bagshaw Kid met us at this point coming out. They wouldn’t back up so we had to let them past, Ray and Claire followed them out but they went the wrong way down a miserable canal and Claire had an epic.

Youth and Giles carried on up Hydrophobia Passage which is fiat out more or less with freezing cold rushing water and no turntables! Eventually you get through into more walking passage with mud formations from the last flood everywhere. At the end of this is a huge incline with a Rack and Pinion line up it called The Ramp. Youth didn’t want to catch this train but Giles forced him to. Lt is about 200ft high and at the holds are kicked in mud. At about 150ft you get above the flood level and there are some superb stals. By now we had warmed up a bit and we returned down to the horror of Hydrophobia.

Make no mistakes Hydrophobia is not suitable for furry gear you need a WETSUIT. Youth and Giles shivered their way back out down the main line and up the entrance incline noting all the way the horrific and catastrophic flood potential. First of all the passage at the entrance slope sumps and then the whole cave fills up. Not a journey to be forgotten in a hurry! Sat in the sun for the rest of the day and then went up to Littondale to look at some sinks above Litton, dug a hole and then went back to meet Mel and Sandra at the campsite.

Quote of the evening from Youth  “I suppose I will have to go and talk to my mother now”  who had completely gone to pieces by this time faced with an appointment with fear and proceeded to turn down a lift to Bradford and caught the train from Skipton instead. Ray and Giles however had a leisurely meal followed by a coffee in the pub and then set off home.

Giles Barker.

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