Volume 40 Number 1 Article 7
Cliff Force Cave
16th February 2003
This was the second half of the monthly caving meet. I was unable to go to the first half, Devis Cave, due to my grandsons birthday celebrations. Luckily Lionel was able to pick me up on the Sunday and off we went to Swaledale.
Cliff Force is a cave I've fancied for years, ever since my first visit to Buttertubs, yonks ago, when I looked but couldn't find any cave near the rising. We arrived at the Buttertubs at 11 o'clock on a sunny but freezing day, with large patches of snow on the surrounding hills, to meet Neil and Tanya, Bill Holden and Dave Thompson. It didn't take us long change and nip across to the entrance on the opposite side of the valley. Quick photo of the team, then down into the tortuous entrance series. This took a bit of sorting out, but with plenty of keen leaders and one-and-a-half surveys, (C.P.C. and Moldywarps), we arrived at the Ducking Pool (something to recognize). A couple more twists and turns, and we were in the streamway. As I was trying to keep dry in the many sandy oxbows, I didn't appreciate the passage and we eventually ended up jammed on a sand bank, which we thought must be close to Fault Chamber. We retired to a dry spot to study the surveys and Neil suggested trying again on the grovelly bank, so Lionel and I went photographing. We clicked our way back down the streamway, easily wading our way down the main passage. As we had a survey with us we decided to look for Spar Passage, which runs parallel to the streamway and is recommended as an escape route in time of flooding. After thrutching in several oxbows, the length of the streamway we gave up and climbed up into Showerbath Chamber and were filming and exploring this when we heard the others coming back.
Apparently, the way on was an upward squeeze off the sandbank we had been resting on! They said it was a nice passage from then on till the Room of Dangling Doom, after that it changed to gloomy black rock to the sump. Not very photogenic.
We quickly exited, although I had a couple of looks at the S-shaped squeeze above the Ducking Pool. If I hadn't come in that way, I would have thought it impossible! However with two trusty porters carrying my Ammo box and being well greased up, a quick two-footed push and I was through!
The sun was still shining as we climbed up and out of the entrance tunnel. No hanging about though, as it was freezing in the shade as the sun went down. Our quick change antics tickled the turoids, viewing the Buttertubs!
Later, at home on a larger and cleaner survey, I found the route to Spar Chamber was by bolting up the side of Fault Chamber and although there is a narrow climb down, it looked desperate to climb up!