Volume 41 Number 3 Article 1
A Good Night Out
Team: Ray Duffy, Andy Whitney, Sam Lieberman
No it's not a story of drunkenness in the fair village of Ingleton as you'd expect but a tale of daring do from the Tuesday Night team. It's not often you get to cave from your front door so me, Andy and Sam were looking forward to changing at my house and setting forth to Storrs Common. We would have invited Hugh but his modem was plugged in and his mobile turned off, no change there then. The week had been dry, sunny and warm, yes it can happen in Ingleton sometimes, so gearing up outside my house was a very pleasant experience indeed. Finding our cave proved a bit difficult as only one of the team had any idea where it was, Andy, and he was groping around as much as the rest by the looks of it.
However, we found the entrance, a most unlikely site almost on the top of a long ramp out of the upper 'Old Quarry' and over to the left.
Bolted ramp out of lower 'Steam House' quarry (by the Waterfalls Walk path)
From the top of the lower ramp follow the crumbling steps up the side of the next ramp. Near the top of this ramp is a concrete slab about 3m square, just beyond this at the top of the slope is the hole.
The large slate that had obviously been covering the hole was smashed and the large concrete block holding it down was now in the hole.
Looking down the upper ramp towards the River Doe with pallet covering hole
After a bit of effort we removed it and in went Andy, Sam and a little more warily, Ray. There was a small drop to a steeply sloping small passage, the floor of which was covered with very large chippings from the quarry, almost as if someone had tried to block the entrance, which is highly likely. The roof started to rise a little and at the first corner there had been some hobo living there with his bottles of beer, cans and general detritus. Further on the size reached walking, quite a surprise to all of us, however, as usual this did not last long enough for us. Soon a flat out crawl over wet gours (I guess that's where the name came from) that had me in particular worrying about how tight it was going to get. Andy didn't have to flatten himself into the water and was soon way out of sight so I was left floundering on my own trying to catch him up, while a below par Sam, suffering from glandular fever struggled behind me. One particularly low section stopped Andy for a while and proved very wet for me but then it enlarged and we found ourselves stomping along in a deepening vadose trench. We could not believe it but we finished up traversing in a 5m high stream passage, admittedly not very wide but not at all what we had expected to find on our doorstep.
All this fun had to end and it did, the roof lowered, the floor had risen and we arrived at a choke. This is supposed to be right beneath the quarry and did reach the surface at an earlier time, but like all good quarrymen, they filled it. Someone had the good sense to put a mesh across before this was done, though that doesn't seem to have kept out all the crap. Jed, one of the original pioneers, later told us that it is possible to dig over the top of the mound and into the continuation. I'm not sure I totally believe him from what I saw it looked fairly terminal. Apparently there is a large chamber further on and then it degenerates to a wet, mud-filled tube which has at one time been dug. Our return was quite hard work as it feels like about a 20 degree slope you're climbing up all the way. The good thing was we had emptied all the gours, so the way out was drier than the way in.
I'm not sure I'd want to be there in wet weather as you almost block the passage at times which could be quite entertaining with water flowing towards you. Emerging into the sun, warmth and greenery was an unusual sensation. I trooped off to find a pallet that the kids were using in the quarry for a bike ramp so that we could cover the hole properly.
By this time we were all well and truly slimed-up, so as the night was yet young, we continued in the line of the ramp and arrived at Lower Arch Cave.
Lower Arch Cave entrance is about 1m high but a restriction just in from the entrance means the first bit is flat-out. There is a prominent path running just above the entrance running from the main road to the Waterfall Walk. The spoil heap makes this the easiest cave to find.
This was dug by the dan der dan dan Black Rose, one original and other less redeeming characters. However, the small arched, phreatic entrance belies the size of the thing. It's a shame it hasn't been handled better, (the locals complained about the eyesore), because it could be a fairly large cave. A crawl on boards above the muddy water leads quickly to a reasonable sized phreatic rising tube, apparently water gushes out of it in really wet weather so there's open-ish space somewhere. At the end where the dig face is the cave dips at the same angle as the rest of the area, steep.
Skirting along roughly the same direction and just before reaching the main road to Chapel-le-Dale we came to Norman Arch and Eeltrap Caves, not welcoming sites, as they are full of detritus and nettles. A little further still and nearly at the road are the newer Black Rose digs with their piles of spoil reminiscent of a good James Henry dig.
(These few are probably best approached from the main road, via a path near the wall at the end of the common furthest from Ingleton.)
By now we had stomped all over the common and were in need of liquid refreshment but on our way back we made a detour to find White Rose Cave and Beezley Caves 1 and 2.
(Just to the right of Cave 2 is a huge and very steep ramp of gravel that runs from Old Quarry up to the road that goes from the main road to Beezley Grange house.)
The former is only a couple of metres long at present and small, while the latter are best left for freezing winter when the smell and poohy water will not be so bad.
A quick change and off down the pub and we still hadn't touched the gem-like caves of Upper Storrs Common, well another night perhaps.
So the next time you're in Bernies, wondering what you can do, you've got no excuse, it's only a few minutes walk away.