Volume 37 Number 4 Article 4
Cherry Tree Hole
Saturday 22 July 2000
Members present : Peter Dale, Andy Whitney.
After meeting at Malham Tarn car park, we headed off to Darnbrook House to seek permission to descend Cherry Tree Hole. Finding the farmer, we were granted permission to park on his land and enter the cave, once we had found it! Whilst getting changed we attracted the attention of a herd of inquisitive cows that just wouldn't stop pestering us, and as we headed off up the hill using the map in Northern Caves 1' and some vague directions from the farmer, they turned their attention to our cars!
After finding the shooting hut that the farmer had told us about, we headed diagonally towards the general area of where we thought the cave was. Due to the inaccuracy of the map, and not our poor navigational skills, we managed to walk too far up the hill, so started making our way back down. The guidebook described the entrance as a large, square sided shakehole with a wild cherry tree in it', but none of the shakeholes we could find fitted either of these criteria. In a desperate last attempt, after an hour wandering around in the blazing sun, we headed back up the hill towards the Pennine Way when our luck finally changed. Just over a slight hill we spied the top of what looked like a tree! As we had not seen a single tree anywhere our excitement grew and our tired walk picked up pace as we headed towards it. At last, we had found the place!
As the shakehole loomed into view we could see it was indeed square sided like the guidebook stated, and did contain a wild Cherry tree. What the book didn't mention was that the hole was about ten metres deep! First impressions were "You must be ******* joking!", but after closer inspection we found a free-climbable route down which was very easy. Once down and out of the sun we put our oversuits on and found the way down through a lot of loose boulders to the head of a small 4.5 metre pitch. A spit was located, but we hadn't got any hangers (a typical well planned club trip) so a suitable, not too dodgy, natural was found and a couple of slings used to hang the ladder. Carefully climbing down the ladder we found ourselves in a small boulder filled chamber leading to a figure of eight section of passage with the stream in the bottom section and a crawl along the top. Shuffling along above the stream we continued until a flat block was encountered at a junction, with North Stream Passage straight ahead and Crossover Passage to the left. We headed left through a pool and a squeeze down between some boulders, and continued down a rift passage with lots of flowstone covering the floor and walls. A climb back up through some boulders and then down a boulder slope brought us to Main Junction.
At Main Junction there are two ways on - upstream along Far Stream Passage or downstream along South Stream Passage. We decided to investigate both, starting with South Stream Passage as far as the top of the pitch leading down to the sump. Heading off down a fair sized stream passage (which was nearly dry) we dropped down some small cascades until we arrived in a very large fault chamber floored with many large fallen blocks. We agreed that this area was quite Easegill-like in character as we clambered over the unstable ruckle, until we got to the far end of the chamber with no obvious way on. We backtracked a bit and found a way on by dropping down a gap in the boulders to regain the stream. We followed this for a while until it started to look tight (whimps!) before deciding to head back to Main Junction and try our luck with Far Stream Passage.
Back at the junction we stomped off upstream along large, high rift passage with some good avens. Climbing some small cascades and ducking under some large blocks we encountered a large choke blocking the passage. Climbing up we made our way over the choke, which had created a false floor and a separate higher level. After a short distance the stream was met again just beyond the choke until we came to a large boulder wedged in the passage. The way on was a low wet squeeze between the wall of the passage and the rock, and after a bit of moaning we were through. A few metres further on, through a pool, a cascade of about three metres was encountered with enough water coming down it to get a reasonable soaking. As I was still bone dry and there was not much chance of us going a lot further, I decided to stay dry while Pete climbed up for a look. Despite trying to convince me to join him, and some failed attempts to dam the water and give me a soaking, I stuck to my guns and refused to budge. Eventually Pete realised I wasn't going to give him the chance to drench me, and he admitted defeat and came back down.
On our way out we had a brief look at North Stream Passage which was also quite a large passage, but ended after a short distance in a boulder choke. Back on the surface we located some landmarks to make finding the cave easier when we no doubt return for a better look. As the guidebook states, there is considerable potential in this system, but due to the highly shattered nature of the majority of the cave and the masses of boulders and chokes, some pretty serious work would be needed.
Back at the cars we found the cows had lost interest and were now munching on the grass. However, they hadn't left without first licking all the windows and much of the bodywork! Apart from this it was a great, if poorly attended, club trip and although Cherry Tree is a bit of a drive from Ingleton, it is well worth a visit.