RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 37 Number 2 Article 6
July 2000

Sell Gill Holes

Sunday 28th May 2000

Members present: Andy Whitney, Sam Carradice, George Carradice, Alan Kerr

Following the previous days Flood/ Stream exchange, something a little less arduous was planned. Sell Gill was chosen, and Sam's dad decided to join us. After the long-ish walk up the Pennine Way the two entrances were arrived at the lower being the dry, fossil entrance and the upper the active, wet route. After a short discussion it was decided that Sam and myself would descend the dry route while Alan and George would go down the wet route. We would then meet in the main chamber at the bottom and do a swap with Sam and his dad coming back up the dry route, and Alan and myself doing the wet.

The entrance pitch of the fossil route, (6m), is approached via a steep gully cut by water, to an easy rebelay and short descent down a pleasant daylight shaft landing on a boulder strewn floor. From the bottom, the way on is down a slope of loose boulders to a traverse on a large ledge overlooking the second pitch, (12m). Care is needed when approaching this pitch as it is very easy to dislodge boulders onto anyone at the bottom of the pitch. The large Y-hang provides a clear descent, landing in a roomy chamber with the third pitch, (12m), nearby.

Descending the third pitch lands you in a high rift, and just beyond, the water from the active route comes crashing down a forty metre aven to the right as you enter a huge boulder filled chamber. Just as Sam and myself arrived, Alan was spotted high above, about to descend the Goblin Shaft. We sat in the spray lashed chamber, and watched as he made his way down, followed shortly by Sam's dad. At the rather awkward rebelay just before the final section of the pitch, George seemed to have a few problems passing it, but soon sorted it out and joined us at the bottom. It turned out that Alan had been forced to join the ropes at a rather inconvenient place; right on the rebelay loop, thus making a knot pass necessary. This was to prove even more entertaining on the way back up!

Making our way along the chamber, over large boulders, we noticed some large mud banks created by bad flooding. By following a route down over smooth rocks we climbed down to a small streamway, but this quickly degenerates into a wet crawl ending in a silt-choked sump. Considering how short the cave actually is it has some remarkably impressive chambers. Once we had had a good look round we split up again to make our way back out. Sam and George disappeared up the fossil route, while Alan and myself headed out the active route. Just as I was about to prussik up the Goblin Shaft we spied a light at the top. A party of two had split up and rigged down each route for a practise trip later in the day. I waited for a while, but the light disappeared. The person rigging the dry route suddenly appeared and told me not to wait, and to start making my way up, so I did. Passing the rebelay with the knot pass was a little awkward, but was soon negotiated and I arrived on the first of two ledges. This provided a convenient place for the member of the other party to pass, while Alan made his way up, derigging.

Heading up the final section of the pitch, the way on is through a low, flat-out bedding plane leading directly onto the next pitch, complete with water cascading down. Getting a little wet here is unavoidable, but you are soon at the top where a traverse in an oxbow and over a rift gains a clean washed stream canyon. A short walk up the stream and daylight is soon spotted, with a slightly slippery climb up bringing you back to the surface. Once out I headed across to the dry route to see if the others were anywhere to be seen. George was just starting his ascent of the entrance shaft, so I took the opportunity to snap a few pictures. At the bottom of the shaft Sam discovered he had lost a sling, so headed back down the second pitch to recover it while we waited on the surface.

After he had recovered it he had a look down Calcite Way, and said that I should come down and see it, as it was very nice. I didn't need asking twice, and I was soon down the pitch and heading through the crawl at the base of the opposite wall. The flowstone that covers part of the floor is pure brilliant white, and very impressive. It appears to be a little-visited section and is in almost pristine condition- well worth a look. The passage continues beyond the flowstone for a short way to a small pitch, and rather than walk over the formations, an easy crawl through a gap underneath prevents damaging them.

Sam in Calcite Way

After a good look and more photos we headed back out and began the walk down to the cars. Although there have been problems in this system with parties having long waits as other groups pass them, we had no such problems with the party we encountered, who were most considerate. With a little co-operation delays are minimal and nobody ends up getting cold and annoyed.

Andy Whitney

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