Text Box: Caving with my "minders"




It all started when Lionel asked me if I'd seen the "bison bone" in Valley Entrance. When he said Valley Entrance, I was very sceptical but having not been caving since heart surgery two years ago, I was easily persuaded and quite keen to be underground again at last. Lionel, Terry, and I were all going to the archaeology talk at Bull Pot that Saturday so we decided to go down Valley Entrance beforehand. On the day, we met at Bernie's and after a bowl of soup set for the cave. We had just got into Kingsdale, when it started to hail. However, changing under Terry's tail gate wasn't so bad as Lionel's oversuit, which he kindly lent me, was 2 sizes bigger than mine. Terry's Custom Duo lamp was a bonus as well, compared to my Oldham. A quick sprint across the field and I slid down the oil drum and onto my hands and knees. My hands were quite numb and cold, and the fact that I had difficulty regaining my old crawling rhythm didn't help. I eventually got to the first chamber and was amazed by a wall of white calcite. I realized why Terry was so enthusiastic about the Duo light."Not bad for 30, eh, Terry?!" We were passed by 3 people who I thought were "ironmongers" as they were jangling musically down the passage. We found the small rift, just off the main passage, holding our target - the bison bone - and photographed it. Well, at least Terry did as my camera failed again! The bone is about the size of my arthritic fist and at head height in a small rift in the limestone wall. Back in the main passage we were passed by 2 more parties before returning to the entrance and a dry evening. Later, we attended the archaeology talk, which I found to be an excellent lecture on how archaeological finds in the Dales caves, such as bone spoons, are on a par with French cave paintings, such as those at Lascaux.


James Newton


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