Yorkshire I


Ben Richards, Dave Wilson, Fiona Hartley, James Wilson, Ana Teck, Ellie Pizey, Leo Antwis, Astrid Rao, Julien Jean, Laura Temple, Kevin Sohn, Jergus Strucka, Magor Pocsvelier, Thurston Blount, Ashley Wong, Hao Hao, William Robinson


In the annals of weekend trip reports, this one might just clinch the title for the earliest inception, penned as it is from the backseat of the minibus while being violently jostled from side to side amidst the relentless barrage of speedbumps as we try desperately to escape the clutches of London. Peak efficiency.

Packing the bus

Packing the bus took absolutely ages and we eventually pulled away as the casio chimed 7. In an attempt to optimise the amount of kit available for tree training, we did a single, chaotic SRT packing fiesta amidst a particularly dishevelled stores. The chaos increased further as we discovered a scandalous deficiency in our metalwork inventory, prompting frenzied digging in pursuit of every last krab.

Fortunately our chauffeur being late after some urgent survey fixing made little to no difference, but as we left stores we found a sea of coaches spanning the entire length of Prince Consort Road, on both sides, loading and unloading crowds of people in military uniforms. Presumably, all this was for some remembrance day rehearsal in the Albert Hall.

I successfully convinced one of the coaches to relinquish a sliver of space, into which we wedged our minibus and began loading with a classic human chain. James had also noticed that the coolant level of our noble steed was so far below the minimum level that it was completely out of sight. Flashbacks of Hidden Earth and burning pandas were suppressed as we topped it up from a jerrycan.

The roof rack is completely terrible on this bus so we took an age to tie things down with slings, ropes, krabs and all sorts of bizarre knots ranging from woefully inadequate to medical tourniquet. At long last we've made it onto the motorway, and so far the bus seems to be doing just fine.

Update - having awoken to a beautiful clear night sky and icy temperatures, we've made it to the YSS. Why is this place so hard to navigate and also why does it have communal showers? Sadness. We also went shopping and Leo and I made an incredible spreadsheet to manage the quantities required, holding ourselves back from creating an AI cooking overlord to automate the entire process. One day.

Looking through the bunk rooms Laura exits a room to say a person is sleeping in there already. After disappearing, she triumphantly returned 5 minutes later to excitedly say she'd immediately woken up the human and found it to be a very sleepy Ellie. Time for bed all around.

Ben R

Unlike Ben, I’m writing this report a month later, hoping that I’ll remember at least some of the interesting things that happened and ridiculous things that were said. On Friday, Kevin and I spent an eon packing the half roof rack on DXB, threading an old rope through every single bag handle to stop things falling off the roof for lack of a proper frame, and then trying desperately to tape down the full-sized tarp. James eventually took pity on us and helped by tourniquetting some straps for the excess tarp at the back. We only had to tuck some of it back in place at our shopping break, where we picked up Leo. We arrived at the YSS under a beautiful clear starry sky, parked in the parking lot by the pub, and tried to unpack the roof rack speedily before our fingers could freeze off.



Rowten Pot: James Wilson, Astrid Rao, Julien Jean, Jergus Strucka, Magor Pocsvelier

No one wrote a report for this trip, we'll never know what happened that day :(

Bull Pot: Ana Teck, Ellie Pizey, Leo Antwis, Laura Temple, Ashley Wong, Hao Hao

I tried my best to stay in my sleeping bag as late as possible but was violently chased out of bed by the aggressive fire alarm. I had been scheming to do a fresher-friendly trip to a dry-ish cave I had not been to before, which limited the options to Bull Pot. I had heard good things and was excited to see another classic Kingsdale stream cave. We made a crack team of Laura and Leo to learn rigging, Ashley and Hao to go on their first caving trip, and Ellie to chill at the back and teach SRT. It was unfortunate I would not get to go on Fiona’s 100th trip, but leader distribution meant that Ben was needed there to document the candle - pie set up, while James and I would go on the other two trips. We sunbathed on the minibus roof while waiting for everyone to get ready, but once again the half-roof rack is inferior in every way, even for sitting on.

We then took the minibus to Kingsdale for a sunny change and a pleasant walk up the west hill through the gate just up the valley from Jingling to find the cave entrance in a cluster of exposed rock above Shout Scar just below the turbary road where the stream disappears into the ground. We remembered to soak the ropes in the stream before I rigged down the first pitch, which benefits from a few extra meters of rope for the approach in wet/icy conditions, but this was not required today. Then Laura learned to rig at the second pitch. There are two ways to rig the traverse to the first pitch, one way is walking along the bottom of the passage and then climbing up to the bolts in the ceiling near the pitch, or (the better option for freshers) traversing along the ledge from the bottom of the first pitch to the first traverse bolt and rigging the full length of the traverse (which requires a slightly longer rope than on the topo). This would be easier if there was one extra bolt, but the un-roped traverse is less slippery than it looks. Laura did a great job rigging the reasonably tricky traverse, while I was happy to teach rigging for a change from teaching fresher SRT. Down the second pitch, we chose to go down the slot route for the third pitch. The shelf and slot were very dry with only a trickle of water, and was perfectly pleasant to hang out on, while Laura rigged the rebelay. Both Hao and Ashely did a great job getting down the narrow pitch and doing their first rebelay in a cave. Because rigging for the first time takes a while, we decided that we wouldn’t have time for everyone to go down the 4th pitch.

We had an extended break with enough food variety to call it a picnic, for which I found a very comfortable ledge climbing up next to a random bolt. We consumed chocolate bars, sliced Soreen (much inferior to biting chunk out of whole Soreen loafs in my opinion), and high quality smoked cheese, which Laura promptly dropped down the rift. I initially offered to fish it out but very quickly changed my mind when I realised the water was elbow deep. Once everyone was sufficiently cold Ellie, Laura, Ashley and Hao started heading out while Leo and I went to the 4th pitch for him to also have a chance to practice rigging. He did an impressive job swinging across the entire chamber to reach the second deviation, after missing the (really very essential) first one. There were some very pretty fossils and an impressive, layered limestone spike at the bottom, which nearly impaled me on the way down. Leo did tell me the geology name of this feature, which I have now sadly forgotten, and I learned that it is still unknown how these form. We had a quick look at the climb towards the next pitch, but decided to head out since we did not bring rope for the next pitch. We had a fun speedy trip out, and I had a great time derigging the swingy deviation on the 4th pitch. While it is sad that the others did not get to do more caving, I am glad that we didn’t try to get everyone down this steep deviation in a rush.

We had a chilly change at the bus, where the others from our group were already consuming post-cave pies in the warmth. Just as I was trying to peel myself out of my wetsocks, we saw a lonely light heading down the fell from Rowten. To make sure everything was alright, and to save them the walk, we got our stuff onto the bus and drove one layby closer to Rowten. As expected, everything was fine, Magor had just walked ahead. While we waited for the others, I took the opportunity to go on a brief walk for some star gazing, rudely interrupted by Leo and the bus’s full beams. James appeared not too long after, and Leo switched the entertainment to Marco Pierre White cooking videos. As we got back to the YSS, complex fajita making was underway and I luckily got out of the kitchen before the chilli gas incident. After dinner Fiona abandoned us to get ready for a night-time running thing the next day (far inferior to caving of course). Located conveniently close to a pub, we headed there to join Durham for a few drinks, before coming back to the hut for many rounds of caving games.


Scanty Lardos Pot and Alum Pot/Long Churns: Ben Richards, Fiona Hartley, Kevin Sohn, Thurston Blount, William Robinson

A Saturday day trip. I have been fully consumed by armchair caving lately, so it was a shock to the system to go caving on my legs instead of my butt.

Fiona did indeed go caving.

In pursuit of my 100th website trip (which doesn't account for all my Sundays spent dossing) and 50th trip report with the club (years of drivel, this one included), I arrive at the YSS with just enough faculties to manage a fresher SRT trip. Mmm caving. I want to go to Scanty Lardos despite being unsure if it will be dry enough, so we do, though with a back up plan and a couple of spare ropes. The no-walk aspect of Scanty is excellent as it is right by the parking. It means Ben can start rigging while Thurston discovers his feet can't get into his wellies. Ben can learn the cave is indeed ‘sporting’ when the surface stream is running, while Kevin and I slit Thurston's wellies open (RIP dry feet).

Ben pops out of the ground like a meerkat, hood up and PVC shining, and says it's too wet. Alas, it really is a dry conditions cave. While he derigs we all get into darkness briefly, then drive to our back up plan, Alum.

The inferior greasy slab route

After quickly packing the extra ropes we're off again. Outside the Diccan entrance, I realise I've left my gloves in the car this go around. Sadness. We have a nice chill(y) time in Alum. I think all of us slip over at some point. It's a scenic, slippery place. After the SRT, we try the cheese press squeeze above Dollytubs. Ben glides through; Thurston retreats with a great rustle; I decide it isn't worth the discomfort of compressing my chest; Kevin's metalwork scrapes alarmingly.

We opt to wander through the Churns to complete our day. Ben went as a wee lad and I think I've been once, but both were long ago so it's an exploratory bimble. At the base of a waterfall, Ben smells the surface and disappears, while I find a bypass to the right and climb up. Emboldened by movement, by the next junction Thurston gets his exploration hat on as well and pushes upstream. We go for a while before hitting another pool and waterfall at Dr Bannister's Handbasin. Here Ben and Kevin catch up. Will and Thurston head up the water; I use my first aid kit for something other than painkillers for headaches or period pains for the first time ever to Steri-strip a shallow cut on my finger closed (remember, gloveless is sadness). Will looks like he's going to climb back down but slips and we order him to stay at the top of the waterfall before each climbing up over the jet of water. The surface is pretty much immediately beyond.

Under a tree and out onto the moorland. We should do more of Long Churn more often. We head downhill, across a limestone pavement and a stile, seeking a wall to guide us back to the Diccan entrance, then the Alum trees. Although everything looks different in the dark we successfully stomp back to the car, boots crunching on the frosty grass.

Hours of food preparation follow as we construct the most complicated fajitas known to mankind, complete with weaponised chillis that destroy everybody's throats as they're fried. They're so deadly they get quarantined in an oven for a while. Everyone agrees the next trip's Saturday dinner is just going to be your ordinary pasta bake. When everyone heads for the Helwith Bridge Inn I head for my car, destination: Bed Pub.


For a variety of reasons this is up there with one of my favourite caving days in a long time - great company, incredible weather, a double cave day, more leader-ing practice, and finally managing to visit a cave I wanted to see for (wow it surely can't be) over 6 years at this point - Alum!

Laura holding the dog (before she realised it was covered in piss)

The morning was blue skies and frosty grass. Although I was not awoken by a fire alarm this trip (the same can't be said for W2...) I walked into the kitchen and into the fog of war against the eggy bread. The windows open a ridiculously small amount, but with both open everything seemed to be going fine until some others trying to be helpful opened all the doors, immediately setting off the fire alarm in the corridor. I'm sure this made us incredibly popular with Durham, who were also staying at the YSS that weekend for their SRT training, given the amazing SRT wall around the back. While Laura was violently wafting the heat detector in the kitchen with a kitchen towel, I was busy punching numbers and reset codes into the panel around the corner. This had the duel effect of 1) stopping the fire alarm and 2) making Laura think that her wafting had been successful.

Some caves were decided and I managed yet again to get my way onto the pie party trip, this time with Fiona for her 100th cave (and I've now learnt 50th trip report trip). We were headed for Scanty Lardos, which was promised to be possibly the shortest walk of any caving trip in the country (you'd have to park in the cave itself for it to be any shorter) and so we packed the bags, with a little help from some very old and quite adorable small dog, who pissed all over the bus.

The drive was wonderful - passing by where Fiona and I had parked before for FOUL pot, this time realising how many views I'd missed beforehand, hardly even being able to see Pen-Y-Ghent before with such awful weather. With clear blue skies and beaming sunshine, it almost felt unrecognisable. Eventually, we made it to the cave and as promised it was right beside the road with a car park opposite. A small stream also disappeared into the ground next to the entrance hole as it ran across gravel. Pretty cool, were it not to cause problems later on. Fiona popped into the cave to see how wet it was and although she could hear water ahead, she thought it might be fine so we decided to go for it and suit up. It had been described as "sporting" when the stream is running, and the stream was visible if only looking like a small trickle from afar. Close up perhaps it was about a couple of litres per second but nothing to normally be worried about. Apparently in the summer beforehand it had not been visible at all when Fiona and Ana had visited.

Scanty gang.

I volunteered to investigate the "sportingness" of the cave and so headed over in my PVC while everyone else was still getting their gear on (including slashing some wellies I later found out). The first part of the first pitch, worryingly named Misery Pitch, seemed fine and at the bottom entered a small chamber, a metre wide, and a couple of meters long and tall. This had a small 2 metre waterfall where the stream from above entered, joined by numerous other trickles and mini-waterfalls from the other sides of the chamber. Turning around to see the continuation of the pitch, I found a two foot diameter tube heading down into the floor from the end of the chamber for at least 10m, with all of the water splashing and falling directly into the middle of it. At this point the naming of the pitch became clear and I had doubts as to whether I should just call it a day and leave.

Then again, I had been looking forward to the end of the cave, since supposedly there's a nice decorated chamber which would have been perfect for a pie party. I decided to descend into the pitch to try and get a better look. Getting very wet, I couldn't see it getting any better and given Thurston and Kevin were wearing fabric, and that it was Will's first caving trip ever, this seemed certainly too sporting for today. For future reference, people in PVC who don't mind getting completely soaked immediately could pass through, as although the water would be directly in your face, there wasn't enough volume to push you around much. It would just make you incredibly wet and unhappy. It had been reasonably dry the day beforehand, but high water levels would make this impassable. "Can I have my pie now?" said Fiona. Unfortunately, a surface pie party is unacceptable, as was the prospect of us all standing around watching Fiona in the entrance hole eating pies by herself. Thus we planned to celebrate Fiona's centenary in her 101st cave instead.

Misty point and shoot camera lens feat. Kevin.

Everyone popped in the cave for the cave count and then we headed off to Alum, our backup plan. Another beautiful drive, we were a little concerned to find a CRO Land Rover parked in the car park, but a brief conversation later we learnt that no rescue or training was happening, they were just out for a drive for whatever reason. Kitting up and walking up the hill, I tried hard to remember what I'd done before. In school I'd been on an Army cadets adventure training course up here, a week of non-SRT kids caving, and one of the trips had been to Long Churn. I remember the guides telling us that Alum was just around the corner, and had wanted to visit ever since seeing the photos.

We entered via the Dolly Tubs and headed on towards the main chamber via the greasiest of slabs. From the window onwards the topo didn't show a second bolted way down to the right, so while we went down on the left I rigged the right-hand route for the others to head back up as it was considerably drier. We had Fiona's pie party celebration at the bottom of the slab with an amazing backdrop, and while the lighter didn't work given the mist from the waterfalls all around us, the pies were great and the party successful. Kevin rigged down to the bridge so we could have a poke over the edge to see the bottom of the chamber, at which point we decided to head back as it started to get dark. Having not brought a backup light and forgotten to change the batteries on my Fenix since W2, my headlight suddenly started to flash, indicating it would turn off at a moment's notice. Great.

Pie party

Despite having done two caves already and an entire pie party, we actually had a while before our callout so we went for a cheeky explore through Long Churn. Up until this point I hadn't recognised anything, but inserting myself into the cheese press I got out the other end and looked around to the left to find the bypass which I remembered quite clearly, given the squeeze was far more intimidating back then than I found it now. That said no one else went through the squeeze, so perhaps I've not grown as much since then as I thought I had. We headed upstream and past the Diccan entrance to see what lay beyond. When we rejoined the main stream I remembered the two-inch airspace swim we'd had just beyond there, and didn't feel like a repeat this time round. Instead, we headed upstream further until we got to a small waterfall, which at first I mistook for Dr Bannister's Handbasin. It was not. Instead, I smelt the sweet smell of ozone and followed my nose to a hole in the roof, and a climb around up to the left. I then found another entrance which bypassed this waterfall and met the others on the far side.

Fiona and the gang then headed on upstream to explore further, as I headed back to get Kevin. Kevin didn't seem to want to follow, so I instead tried to find Fiona gang. After 5 minutes of wading upstream, there was no sign of them at all and no eh-oh response, so I headed back to stick with Kevin as surely my light would turn off soon since I was tempting the caving gods by being by myself and a little bit lost. Dashing back to Kevin, we finally met up with the others as they were climbing up the handbasin waterfall, another experience I acutely remember from my first visit many years before. I also remember one of the other kids falling off and being wiped out by that waterfall and thrown backwards into the deep pool, so I looked on in fear watching the two freshers gingerly scale the climb. Fortunately, both of them did great and everything went smoothly, despite one moment when Will turned around and tried to come back down with his foot through his footloop and the deafening sound of the waterfall preventing him from hearing us attempting to explain the situation. All was fine.

So much foooood

Popping out the top entrance into the frosty Autumn air, we realised we had no idea where we were. Aiming down the hill seemed sensible. Eventually, we rejoined a path and despite my best attempts at leading us in the wrong direction, we found the familiar Alum trees. Shockingly my headtorch lasted the entire time back to the car - 18650s to the rescue.

A monumental fajita dinner lay ahead of us and we got to work while Leo was still in the cave, unfortunately, since he had grand plans for certain ingredients the rest of us weren't aware of. Regardless, we gave it a shot and much of the meal was in fact edible. This did not include Leo's chillies, which when cooked caused mass coughing, eye watering and general screaming in fear. Even after they'd been taken off the hob the taste bud torpedoes had to be removed from the dining room and quarantined in the backup over to prevent further casualties. 30 minutes later and they still caused mass coughing when brought in from the kitchen. Back to quarantine the flavour grenades went, with only tasting samples permitted on the dining table. Naturally, Leo thought these dental detonators were decisively delicious and continued eating them throughout the weekend to everyone's horror.

Magor's pize winning Greek Toes.

Post fajita feast Laura and Ellie devoured vast quantities of leftover food such as tomatoes, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and tomatoes. Durham beckoned us to the pub and I had a very enjoyable evening chat with them all about their club, exchanging cave stories and logistics tips. A lovely if slightly crazy bunch, as all of us cavers seem to be. After the pub closed at midnight and so we all headed back for a squeeze machine off (which Magor naturally won) followed by pot and sling (which Magor's toes single-handedly won, helped by Thurston) followed by finally being shown that weird tins game that Perry keeps on rambling about, in typical Perry fashion. "The tin game" as it's supposedly called, turned out to be highly entertaining despite warnings that another Durham caver had lost a front tooth after collapsing into a stone floor. Magor naturally won this as well, with Thurston. Despite telling us that he simply had Greek toes, the pinnacle of pedal beauty, I'll let you come to your own conclusions based on the startling photo evidence from that night.

Ben R


Notts Pot: Ellie Pizey, Julien Jean, Kevin Sohn, Magor Pocsvelier

No one wrote a report about this trip :(

Death's Head Hole: Dave Wilson, Ana Teck, Leo Antwis, Astrid Rao, Ashley Wong, William Robinson

On Sunday we all went to Leck Fell, except for James who was ill. We have definitely entered the season of winter caving now. At the bus, the wind and rain got progressively stronger, trying to turn us into ice blocks before we had even finished changing. I was very glad for my rain poncho as we trudged across the fell, following Astrid confidently leading use to the wrong cave entrances, until we eventually found Death’s Head. Because it was already quite late, I rigged down quickly, making it from the bus to the bottom in less than an hour, which was definitely not at all motivated by trying to get out of the rain. As is typical with freshers trips, Will got himself tangled at a rebelay, so I probably should have rigged that one slightly less speedily. I am still very unconvinced that the open shaft is 80m, and a quick google suggests that it is in fact 64m, which is still pretty impressive to be fair. After a long wait at the bottom, I quickly volunteered to head up first, and we agreed that we would head back to the bus as soon as the second person (Will) appeared at the top, to avoid the cold. The higher I prussiked, the stronger the freezing wind got, so I tried to stay as close to the Will below while huddling against the wall. As soon as I got to the surface, I crouched in the storm shelter, which was trying very hard to turn into a sail and lift me off the fell. We rushed back to the bus, possibly concerning some nearby walkers by carrying the bright orange bothy, and arrived back at the bus just as the Notts group did.

What followed was a long wait for everyone else to get back. An hour later, Ellie and Kevin decided to walk towards Death’s Head and Shuttleworth to see if everyone was ok. Not long after, the Shuttleworth group returned, reporting that no one was at the top of Death’s Head yet. Having taken the bothy with us, I was getting a bit worried about the rest of my group. Luckily, two hours after leaving them, they all showed up in good spirits. It turned out that Ashely had gotten very stuck at a rebelay, but Leo and Astrid managed to help her up eventually. Much behind schedule, we tidied the hut as quickly as possible, inhaled some pizza, abandoned Laura with the last remaining dishes, and stacked everything in middle of the bus to avoid the roof rack this time. We pulled up to the union to the tunes of Bella Ciao, threw everything into stores at high speed, and cycled home in the rain. A successful first SRT trip of the year.


Shuttleworth Pot: Ben Richards, Laura Temple, Jergus Strucka, Thurston Blount, Hao Hao

All on Leck Fell! A porridge breakfast due to the continuing austerity measures (slightly controversial given the extravagance of the fajitas the night before) left some grumbling but being a porridge enthusiast I had no complaints.

I led a team to Shuttleworth (my first trip being the only "competent" leader come to think of it), including Jergus' first-ever Sunday trip somehow and ticking off yet another cave I'd wanted to see for absolutely ages. Incredible levels of faff meant we didn't get to Leck Fell until gone 12, where we met up with DW, and we all frantically changed in truly howling icy winds.

Interestingly none of us in the group had ever been to Shuttleworth before, and there was no also rigging topo so I crammed on the bus and hoped for the best. Poring over Google Maps paid off and we skillfully found the entrance, and the route finding turned out to be very simple as well. I bombed down the pitches, managing to rig every pitch faster than the freshers behind me could descend them in a feat of outstanding efficiency. Some pitches were apparently a tad tight according to Laura but hey, neither fresher complained about any of the rebelays and nobody got stuck anywhere.

We blasted right the way down to the bottom where we headed off to find the legendary straws. First I popped over to see the sump and diving equipment which was very cool - there's a great piss spot overlooking the pool. The main chamber at the bottom is way bigger than I was expecting, it was very impressive actually. I sent Jergus off to find the straws chamber and report back for the sake of time efficiency and I followed up with Laura and two freshers, Hao and Thurston. We eventually crawled and twisted our way to the straws, along the way stopping after every other step to "ooo" and "ahhh" at 3m straws, helictites, enormous flowstones formations, giant stals, black flowstone decorations and a whole manner of other pretties. The straws were actually more impressive than I'd hoped they'd be! I'd love to visit again with more time, as the photo potential is limitless down there. I attempted to instil a sense of urgency in the others, knowing that heading up always takes far longer than expected on freshers' trips, so despite complaints of being rushed around, we all headed back to the main pitch and began climbing back to the surface.

Hao on the big pitch (Diver's pitch) of Shuttleworth

I headed out first with Hao, leaving Jergus to derig at the back. Hao and I reached the surface at 3:30, just when Ellie had instructed us to aim to leave the caves, however, it would be another hour and fifteen minutes before Jergus emerged at the back. Freshers trips do be like that. I took shelter behind a small cliff with Hao as we hid from the icy storm rushing over our heads, and when Laura emerged we all sheltered in her group storm shelter. Note to self, the first one out should take a shelter in the future!

We all then headed back to the bus, greeted by friendly faces wondering if everything was okay. Fortunately, we weren't even the last ones out, with the Death's head team being held up on a hanging rebelay. Hiding in the bus we then changed and headed back to the hut.

Some faff later we then headed back to London, significantly later than planned given the trips had run over. We consumed the odd variety of leftover foods available, mainly white rice with tortillas, with optional danger chillies. Given we were behind schedule we formed an enormous wall of bags down the middle of the bus rather than loading the roof rack, which was surprisingly comfy to sleep against for many people. A brief stop at a completely deserted and oddly shiny McDonalds later we made it to the union at around 1:30 am. Definitely up there as one of my favourite weekend trips, other than the NPC it had it all!

The straws!

Ben R