Scotshire Summer Tour Part I: Yorkshire


Christopher Bradley, Dave Kirkpatrick, Dave Wilson, David Wilson, Fiona Hartley, Jack Halliday, James Wilson, Laura Harrison, Louise Ranken, Rebecca Diss, Rhys Tyers, Ana Teck, Matti Mitropoulos, Alan Deacon, Alex Sterling

Saturday 21st August

Mayday Hole: Dave Kirkpatrick, Rebecca Diss, Rhys Tyers, Ana Teck

Rift Pot: Christopher Bradley, Louise Ranken, Alex Sterling

take the Bob Ross route:
happy little rebelays
to a big chamber.


Sunday 22nd August

Notts 2: Christopher Bradley, Louise Ranken, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Alex Sterling

climb the monkey bars
and wade down through the streamway,
keeping nipples dry.


Jingling: Dave Wilson

Long Churn Caves: David Wilson, James Wilson

Borrins Moor Cave: David Wilson, James Wilson

Me and James got rained out of Alum, so we went to Upper Long Churn and Borrins Moor (from the side entrance) instead. It was damp, but enjoyable.


Monday 23rd August

Rumbling Hole: Christopher Bradley, David Wilson, James Wilson, Louise Ranken

 abseil fence and tree
 on through the grabby window
 to the cake* below.

* There was no cake this time :(


Bull Pot: Dave Wilson, Fiona Hartley, Rebecca Diss, Alex Sterling

Meregill...? No.

Something relaxed was on the cards, and so, a chill non-fresher trip to the bottom of the fourth pitch of Bull Pot occurred. I only had the vaguest memory of being below the second pitch. Mentally, I had condensed the cave into a traverse and water. Not so! Bull is a nice cave, and all the nicer in dry weather when the water just adds ambience and the occasional cold spray (or full drenching in Diss’s case) to wake you up.

We escorted Alex on his quest to find dead sheep mud. This is mud that only feels like a dead sheep - actual dead sheep are not desired. His book “Selected Muds and Silts of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” will be released in the future and make him a world-renowned author.


We also found it is possible to sing Vengaboys songs underground, thanks to the following exchange:

Alex: I can sing ABBA hits or songs from 90s bands…

Fiona, immediately: Vengaboys?

Alex and Fiona: Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom!!

This is quite a difficult song to sing while prussiking quickly.

A nice evening had us barbecuing until the sun went down.


Tuesday 24th August

Melon Steps: Christopher Bradley, Fiona Hartley, James Wilson, Laura Harrison, Louise Ranken, Rebecca Diss, Alex Sterling

Meregill... no.

The faff infected us before we even awoke. Faff starts early, making you sleep in a bit and have a lazy breakfast with plenty of tea and idleness. It makes itself apparent in not even picking a cave until half 11 despite pleas from Laura via text for a plan to form. The faff-cell count increases, causing your choice of a singular route for seven cavers. A member of the party forgets their helmet: is it even their fault since this is entirely symptomatic of faff? And having to drive back to the hut to find said helmet is the most acute manifestation of faff experienced so far.

I wanted to go back to Marble Steps because I’d only been to the upper main chamber. There was plenty of wariness given sorta recent damp experiences with Masongill, but given the good weather it was a good target, and eventually we settled on doing the Gully and the Ninety to the bottom.

Thanks to the peak faff, Chris and I reached the Gully at about 3pm, still in audible shouting distance of the riggers (Diss and James) and Alex’s joviality. Wearing PVC was a massive mistake; even with the oversuit peeled down to my waist I had sweated enough on the walk up to completely dampen the inside of my undersuit. I tried to dry off at the entrance but was bitten by insects and so had to tog up for protection, sad.

I’ve always found the bolt placement in the Gully route weird. I’d forgotten the second pitch is entirely skippable. Nevertheless, we got down to the main chamber. There was absolutely no water in the cave, so I regretted the paranoia that had caused me to choose PVC all the more. Thanks to all my sweat I was cold, and thanks to the amount of faff I was already thinking about our 10pm callout even though it wasn’t yet 4pm.

The section of cave below the main chamber turns a bit stream-washed and generally more pleasant to look at, more like what one expects of a Yorkshire cave. Still, the unhappiness didn’t really leave me even though the company was grand. Laura and Alex were a lot of fun to chat to, though they wandered off at some point with their tacklebag of fruits. Probably just entertaining themselves while James rigged Stink Pot and onwards.

We waited in a rift with a sharp flake for a while as James rigged the head of the Ninety. He said he thought the rigging was a bit nasty though he’d done his best (not his fault, awkward cave shape). It was basically a relatively low Y-hang that you needed to swing out to. With my bad vibes I admitted I didn’t feel like tackling this. Everyone was very nice about it.

So Diss and I waited while Chris, James and Louise hit the bottom (“as disappointing as the description made it sound”), and Laura and Alex continued to entertain themselves by each doing half the Ninety before changing over and coming back up. Alex wanted to hitch a lift to Manchester with Laura so they mooched off, though without much determination. We sent Louise after them as soon as possible as they had her car keys, then quickly refound her on the roped climb between Stink Pot and the main chamber.

Murderous Nina

Not long after we’d all arrived in the main chamber and the procession of ascenders had commenced, there was a loud bang, promptly followed by Chris exclaiming, “Are you kidding me?” or something less printable. The melon in the tacklebag of fruit had fallen out, rolled down the second pitch and exploded on impact with the floor beside Chris. This caused Alex and Laura to both return to the base of the pitch using the climbable bypass and mourn their lost melon, whose parts had already been scooped up into Chris’s SRT bag at that point. The cave and Chris did thus smell quite nice on exit. Again, this craic lent itself to a convivial atmosphere and to the cave being temporarily renamed Melon Steps. The story soon morphed into the surviving pineapple becoming a murderer named Ana, until we renamed her Nina because of the unfortunate association with president Ana.

It felt long but the trip was probably less than 5 hours in total. In the evening (or maybe it was the previous evening, who knows) Diss exclaimed END THIS very emphatically and changed the way we talk to each other forever.


 dead bird, mossy rocks.
 pitches tall and optional
 lead us to nowhere.


Wednesday 25th August

Canyoning in Hell Gill: Christopher Bradley, James Wilson, Louise Ranken, Rebecca Diss

splish splash canyon yay!
eight wellies went a-swimming
and seven returned.


Thursday 26th August

Lost Johns': Christopher Bradley, James Wilson, Louise Ranken

 down to the botton
 we fruitlessly crawled through mud -
 our picnic ruined


Friday 27th August

Rowten Pot: Christopher Bradley, James Wilson

 the noisy water falls
 past the rock bridge and window.
 ...these ropes are too long.


Jingling: Dave Wilson, Jack Halliday, Alan Deacon

Valley Entrance: Jack Halliday, Rebecca Diss, Alan Deacon

Saturday 28th August:

Alum / Diccan exchange: Fiona Hartley, Jack Halliday, Rebecca Diss, Christopher Bradley, James Wilson, Matti Mitropoulos

Just Alum: Dave Wilson, Alan Deacon

Meregill... no. Instead Alan did Alum (one day, Deacon will do Diccan and this fateful name will be fulfilled).

I always forget how cold Alum can be, even in nice weather. Another occurrence of going into the wrong crawl at the Diccan start and dunking my chest in a pool (I’ve only ever gone into Alum via the Diccan entrance and yet I still do this lol). We had to wait for a while at the head of the Dollytubs pitch due to instructors on ladders as usual, before deciding we would use the actual SRT route down – first time I’ve been that way!

There was much more water coming down Diccan than the only other time I’ve done it. The rigging, though, keeps you in the fun place where the water is nearby and loud but doesn’t touch you except for at the spray-lashed ledge near the base of the first pitch. The bolting has also been improved. The traverses are less tricky for the short of arm and there are loads of new deviations through drilled threads that serve to make each rope manoeuvre less swingy.

Diss and I played rock, paper, scissors to determine who would carry the bottom bag out. I lost. It felt very heavy on the final pitch. Thankfully Diccan is blissfully close to the surface once off the pitches and the bag floated along in the water behind me. A super(soaker) trip.


god I love Alum.
oh so bright and green and tall.
beautiful Alum.


Sunday 29th August

Not Out Sleets Beck (Bull Pot of the Witches): Dave Wilson, Fiona Hartley, Rebecca Diss, Matti Mitropoulos

Meregill... again, no.

Well, it was yet another day of good weather and cave decision faff. DKP left us to it, choosing to spend the day driving to Scotland instead. He took lots of our bags and gear to lighten the eventual loads Diss and I would drive with; he basically had all of Jack’s stuff, Jack saying, “All I need for one night is my caving gear and a pair of pants.” Okay then!

I suggested not-quite-Sunday cave Out Sleets Beck Pot. Eventually everyone agreed, even DW, who didn’t remember much about it. James needed to go to Inglesport, which is in the opposite direction, so it was about forty-five minutes before we got to the parking spot just before Penyghent Gill (54.151286, -2.222686).

On the drive over, however, the weather turned bleak. The further we got into the valley (which also holds Fountains Fell – coincidence? Doubtful!), the greyer the sky got. DW and Diss were both fully togged up at the parking and talking about the very chill wind. Matti and James and I got out and were immediately nervous. Out Sleets Beck Pot is basically in a river, so it is not a place to be if it starts raining.

Diss and I bemoaned our lack of preparedness for being cold on the surface. James put on a jacket. A few spots of rain fell across our windscreens. We noped out and held a brief discussion, suggesting Kingsdale and Chapel-le-Dale as we had done that morning, then Bull Pot of the Witches. The wind drove us into our cars to reconvene at the NPC.

Half an hour back to base, then. Chris had to endure us interrupting his blessed solitude. I probably ate some more lunch. James decided to leave us to it, opting for a shower and a leisurely drive to his grandparents’ house instead of a mad rush as may have occurred if he’d still come caving. People said their goodbyes after a long week, and then Matti, Diss, DW and I drove over to Bull Pot Farm.

It was so late that only two other cavers were still there, getting changed after a through trip from Pool Sink. “It might be dry enough that you can crawl up the sumped sections at the bottom,” said one. Hmm. Maybe it was about 4pm by the time we started caving. Matti was selected for rigging duty as is normal at the moment. He started the ropes outside BPOTW's chimney entrance and when standing in a normal tunnel realised soon that his first rope was actually for the chimney pitch itself and not for protecting any of the approach. DW derigged the two bolts and Matti started again, in the dark this time.

This rope for protecting the slippery approach (30m ish?) on the path between the trees still isn’t on the CNCC rigging guide. Maybe it never has been without handwritten annotation. I’d guess it’s because it doesn’t feature ‘approved’ anchors installed by ‘trusted’ persons, as if all cavers aren’t untrusthworty lunatics by their nature. Thankfully the CNCC very recently decided to move to now including such anchors on future topos, and to mark them as being installed by persons unknown.

We bumbled off down the chimney to the second pitch. DW entertained himself for a while doing rerigging and some of the cave bits that don’t involve ropes. I have never done any of those bits – something for yet another time. For now, all of the cave below the second pitch was new to me. I really didn’t appreciate that there is any cave at all down BPOTW, but there is. Some climbs and a small passage later I happened upon a big hole in the floor and a single, near-invisible P bolt in the ceiling above it. We faffed and did some interesting manoeuvres to switch order so Matti could rig and Diss could advise. DW, very quiet since rejoining us, now decided to head out.

With DW having abandoned us to our own devices, we continued to bumble down the pitch with many remarks about whether we’d be able to get back up. (It was fine.) We then found the main stream chamber. Uninterested in finding out where any of it went today, we opted not to crawl in any water at all and just left. Diss remembered to pee at the last second; happily she was also derigging so nobody was traumatised, except her when she dropped a sling or her marbles or something on the second pitch and had to go back down.

Things I have no memory of presumably happened: changing, driving back, eating. Matt and Gary showed up during the evening. They probably had tales of their own recent visit to the Grampian in Scotland, but I mostly remember them talking about drinking with the locals of Jedburgh and then enthusing about Draenen in Wales. Note to self, return to Draenen. After that we all went to bed, ready to travel to Scotland in the morning – or not in Jack’s case, because despite DKP already having taken all his stuff, he still hadn’t decided if he was going to come.


Well-wishes from Nessie Dubz for the Scottish section of the tour.