Yorkshire I


Fiona Hartley, James Wilson, Rebecca Diss, Ana Teck, Matti Mitropoulos, Mia Jones, Johannes Girsch, Margherita Buraschi, Astrid Rao, Julien Jean, Erica Keung, Kevin Sohn, Hiro Nishimura, Jergus Strucka, Pascal Skipness


Truly it's a struggle to think of anything interesting to write regarding Fridays when you aren't in the minibus. You drive to a caving hut (this time the Bradford) and after someone (this time Ana) messages to relay the bus's ETA (this time 2am), you go to bed.


We were without roof rack because of minibus chaos, so we had piled up all the kit on the two spare seats, and all the remaining stuff in the gaps between seats – Ana was trapped in the lone seat on the back row. I was driving the country road section this time, and I insisted the Yorkshire drives playlist be played to complete the experience. I also sacrificed a plump bunny to the caving gods to keep us safe over the weekend.



Bull Pot: Rebecca Diss, Mia Jones, Johannes Girsch, Astrid Rao, Julien Jean

Simpson Pot: James Wilson, Matti Mitropoulos, Kevin Sohn, Jergus Strucka, Pascal Skipness

There was quite some discussion around which caves to do, as we were limited by the wet weather and location of the Bradford, but ultimately we decided on all in Kingsdale – Aquamole, Bull pot, and Simpsons.

The trek up to the entrance had us all sweating as we entered the gloom, dragging enough rope to get us to the duck and 2 pitches beyond should we choose to pass it. I began rigging the first cascade, mostly leaving Jergus and Pascal to do their own thing; Jergus did end up rigging his descender wrong and not realising, but fortunately the drop was short enough that he just jumped down. Now to The Pit: a tight traverse over a deep hole where the water disappeared into the void. Jergus was having trouble getting over the mental barrier, so asked Pascal to go ahead to let him observe the movements. Pascal hopped across with ease, and soon after Jergus made it over too. Onwards to the Chandelier.

Here we met another group – I didn’t catch what they were called, but they were very friendly and waited for us to descend. They mentioned that Storm pot was quite windy that day so we assured them we’d take a look and see if we felt like going down. At the bottom of the next short drop we ate some sour patch (which I ended up eating most of again…) And headed on to Storm Pot. It was indeed quite stormy, but I decided I wanted to see the duck so headed down anyway.

Everyone made it down safely, and we took some time to assess the duck – I decided the enthusiasm wasn’t really there to follow through with it, so we didn’t do it. Except Kevin who decided to go through anyway just for the experience.

Smooth way out – James derigged and we were out by half 7. We decided to have a cheeky peek into Valley entrance to extend the trip a little since we had the time. I had only been in here once in my first year, and only to the drop, so had forgotten most of it. It was a surprisingly lovely little cave passage, leading us through a series of stoops and crawls to the 20m drop into the stream.

Onwards we stomped at a rapid pace set by James who was understandably slightly nervous about being in a cave which we didn’t have a call out for. Nonetheless, eventually we reached the nasty wet crawl that fed us out into the impressive waterfall chamber where Simpsons ends. We turned around and bolted out. Back at the bus, it became apparent that the Bull pot team had exited back to the hut but the Aquamole team was still underground, so we waited for them to return. We gave them a lift back to the car along the road, and then sped off into the darkness. I specifically requested to drive back in the dark whilst Tubular Bells Part 1 was playing, and it was every bit as surreal as I had hoped it would be.


Aquamole Pot: Fiona Hartley, Ana Teck, Margherita Buraschi, Erica Keung, Hiro Nishimura

Hiro: What's that?

Me: Mushroom juice.

Matti: It looks like soup.

Me: It isn't.

Kevin: I bet it's not that bad.

Matti: I kind of want to taste it after saying it looks like soup.

Ana: Ew no.

Matti: drinks

Me: How is it?

Matti: Not like soup. But…

Kevin: Not that bad.

Matti: Not that bad.

Me: Ew.

After breakfast we ran a refresher session on the rope training bit outside the women's room. Somehow we weren't any more ready to leave after this even though half the group hadn't been involved.

At the top I pointed out Rowten to Margherita, whereupon two dog walkers (and their dog, who had a lot of opinions!) told me that it looked like there was smoke coming out of Rowten. Could someone be in trouble in there. Making absolutely no move to investigate, I looked deduced from the audible waterfall inside that the cloud was water vapour.

It was a pretty late start to the trip. Ana at least was in the cave by half 2. We proceeded down the pitches slowly. Aquamole is entirely rebelay until it becomes entirely big huge pitch and deviations. Ana had deployed the 4-person group shelter immediately at the bottom of the big one and I was really impressed by how much less miserable it made the waiting game. We ate cheese and chocolate and generally got to know one another in this strange place at the foot of a drippy 40m drop until it was time for each of us to prussick.

Back up the pitches we went, slowly. Margherita derigged under my supervision while Ana was with Erica and Hiro, and inadvertently I ended up with two stuffed tackle sacks for the entrance rebelays. I hooked one to each hip and was remarkably fine until the rift became mean and narrow. Being twice my normal width and only able to use one leg due to the orientation meant I made a lot of strained noises to get through said narrowing. It sounded like I was in mega distress, I’m sure.

Thankfully Ana returned to aid me from above, whisking away half of my rope burden and also Erica and Hiro to the bus. When I reached the surface I knew why: the cold wind went right through me. A maillon wedged itself into a crack to make sure Margherita didn't have the best exit experience either. Marching down Kingsdale didn't warm us up, but did keep us from getting even more cold.

The idiot check at the car confirmed I had five idiots to take back to the BPC (myself included of course). We also collected another idiot's belongings: Diss left expensive items on the roof of her car and then drove off without them, scattering them across the road. I tell you this so that she may feel chastised, because I was unimpressed by this additional task when I wanted to eat pasta bake ASAP.

At the hut the drying room wasn’t on, so I pressed various buttons to get it to be on. A Bradford member said, “Ooh err, if I were you I wouldn’t touch anything; it’s very temperamental.” As unimpressed by this advice as I was with picking up Diss's stuff, I continued to push buttons until the humidifier came on and I triumphantly returned to the kitchen, the only warm place in the hut. Convivial socialisation over mugs of hot liquid yielded a heated discussion about the best flavour of vitaminski. (Orange!)

The women’s room at the BPC really isn’t warm. Once again my down sleeping bag proved its quality.



Yordas Pot: James Wilson, Ana Teck, Kevin Sohn

Sell Gill Holes:

Someone: What's the NPC like?

James, thoughtfully: It's a lot like this [the BPC], only all the annoying bits have been fixed.

I got up at 10am, ate breakfast while looking at the BPC's glistening kitchen walls, and tried to think of a cave to go to that wasn't Sell Gill. A road closure in Horton made it impossible to go to Alum. So three light rope bags and a bothy later, I went to Sell Gill. It cost an excruciating 5 pounds to park in the National Park Horton car park.

The walk to Sell Gill is longish but the gradient is generally fairly gentle. Water flowed down the footpath at various points. The sun even occasionally came out, although it went in as I started rigging the dry route, which was moderately wet. The wet route was very wet.

I'm not the fastest or most practised rigger, and the 11mm was dry and stiff. Still, I rigged a thing and nobody died which is positive. The second pitch has maybe the worst case of bolt rash I've seen. I rigged a massive y-hang pitch head and attached a couple of slings to different spots but I wasn't convinced of the ease of my rigging when there was some struggle to descend. Would try a different method next time; maybe by not missing a traverse bolt so I could rig a Y-hang off the left wall alone and use the bolts on the right wall for a deviation.

The rush of water was getting louder as I rigged on. Hiro followed. Julien eventually followed so Hiro and I went on down and got dampened by spray and wind in the river passage. The wet route was really throwing the water down.

Julien got hung up at the final rebelay, and one culprit was that the adjustment strap of his chest harness had slipped into the mechanism of the chest jammer, preventing it from gripping the srt rope. Yikes. My spare sling came in very handy here as a footloop/safety attachment point/ thing to grab etc. We deployed the shelter at various points on the ascent. On the walk down, Julien slipped and hurt his hand. My phone leapt from my car into the watery leaves on the floor of the carpark while changing (read: I accidentally flung it there presumably when moving clothes around), but I found it undamaged an hour later.

I found the Fisherman open in Settle at 7pm. Euphoria! Chips and sausage for tea is a wonderful conclusion to a trip: low-effort, tasty, and very, very hot.


Shopping for Cheese: Everyone else

My desire to cave was exceptionally volatile today, but ultimately the pull of the Cheese Shop was stronger than that of caves…

The Cheese Shop: a mystical place, renowned for its exquisite aromas, warm orange lighting and buttery smooth dairy. The man behind the counter takes out cheese after cheese, telling wild tales of how each is handmade in a small farm just down the road, all with their own unique flavour palette. Each one has a personality: some sharp, some milder; some mature, some fresher; some firm, some smoother. Eventually your olfactory systems are overloaded and tongue saturated with fatty goodness, and you are forced to purchase only your favourite cheese for fear of bankruptcy.