Caving Trip – Yorkshire 2011
Brackenbottom, Yorkshire, 14–19 September 2011

Author: Sean Miner

Rocky and Major took Major's Da's Hilux crewcab over to Scotland. Muh took his disabled-boot-door Focus with Miner, Barney, Brian Mc-Faffin-Gavin and Captain Cumshot. Most of the gear was in the rear of the Hilux.

The breakfast on the Stena boat lacked value and I was chuffed at selecting a rather nice fresh Deli-lights sandwich. All the students passed out on the voyage cos they ain't used to getting up so early. Steve being Muh had to be talked to constantly whilst driving. McFaffin was high on the prospect of going caving and kept telling us that he'd been awake for the last 365 hours.

I joined Rocky and Major in Scotland and we found an ace deli/sandwich place in Dumfries handily near a Wetherspoons.

Note to anyone embarking on an extended trip. Do all your supply shopping before you go. Although having said that we found heaps of exotic drink in the Tesco in Dumfries. I found Sweetheart Stout and Appleby Rum.

We arrived in the Dump sometime during daylight, having stopped at a wee village full of twee quaint shops. No Starbucks, Maccy D's, nor Apple stores. Here I had to convince myself "no, I don't need to buy a former Exocet missile ammo box", though I really was looking for knee pads for caving. I was offered riot squad shin guards.

Anyway the Hoo – shit – mean the Dump is far enough away from anywhere that I can't describe to you where it is. Great motorbike roads round here, but plenty o stone ditches either side of the road.

At an early stage we discovered there was an "Americana festival" that weekend in nearby Ingleton.

After unloading camping and food provisions we headed off to Sell Gill. Twas dark by the time we got to the entrance. Major and Miner didn't fancy caving so Major whipped out some music and chilled out the "first time caving in England" tension. We now think some sort of cave wide mobile music supply system should be invented. Oh ey just remembered Nicky joined us. She was there to go caving with Stef – an Irish caver now living in Yorkshire. But Stef blew her out. So Billy-no-mates Nicky tagged along.

In the meantime back at the dump, Miner showed Major how to make Spag Bol with marmalade and banana.

The cavers got back and we had a feed and drank some ale. Yorkshire is Ale country but I think Fosters is universally available in every pub in England. My Sweetheart stout turned out to be easily washed down, after 4 of them I still had no heartburn. Turns out the bastarding stuff is only 2%.

Next day we went to some cave , whose name I have meticulously recorded in my Crayola colour-in diary ...err... no I'm still at a loss. Crap we did this ages ago and it's become muddlied with my first time in the BAC cave. All I remember is there was a heap of SRTing. Hold it there, I think we had a late start by going for a lunch at Bernies in Ingleton. [Brian tells me this cave was possibly Marble Steps.]

The next day [the day after Marble Steps] after fattening up on breakfasts and splurging out on caving gear in Bernies and Inglesport we went a caving again. This was up near the University of York Caving house way up at the end of a road up an isolated Gill (Yorkshire talk for a valley I think). Tha cave wor yon topo dale. And had a steel cover and collar round the top. The steel collar had what appeared to be rope burns grooved into it, Christ them are strong ropes. It was a bit pissy as we walked up to the entrance and it were getting tad cold waiting around topside for our turn to descend. The first wee bit was tight enough to wedge/climb down but yea needed to be roped up as it opened up quickly into nothingness but nice bouncy air that helps carry you to a sudden impact. So there was some SRT features and second rope was rigged. By the time I was near down it the God of non-alcoholic-wet-stuff-falling-from-above let rip on those waiting to get in the cave. Some lightening was observed I think, and by the time the last were descending a fairly uncomfy amount of water was coming down their line of descent. We left off our SRT gear at the bottom and went a wandering. I cannae remember much of this cave but it was dark, hard surfaced and was a memorable cave. [Brian tells me it was Lancaster Hole into the Ease Gill system.]

Another day we parked in Clapham and with Tony from Starless River, Stef, Nicky; we walked the hour long walk past the Ingleborough showcave and on upwards onto the Dales. By this stage I was all too happy to have lost my D-ring the previous night whilst washing my gear in a stream outside the Bull Pot farm caving house. This only became apparent after walking the hour long walk. Adam also couldn't find his descender. So I took one for the team and let Adam cannibalise my kit. Tony regaled me of the many drinking establishments in Clapham. I took a rather leisurely 2 hour dander back down to Clapham, posing for American tourists and flicking mud at the Millets-clad ramblers of England.

So our intrepid cavers had split up into 2 parties and went UG but it was around about Gaping Gill. I don't know where as I was busy trying to capture a pheasant for dinner. Gaping Gill had a strong flow of water going into it and would have been a wet and vertical drowning experience for anyone going in or out of the main entrance.

Gaping Gill is a bit special. In the Summer the Bradford Potholing Club diverts water flow from the main access and sets up a home bodged winch and lowers the paying public down into the main chamber. They are true cavers are the BPC and share the caving experience with normals by erecting an Ale tent way up on the moors.

I was told I had missed out on a real cool cave. I told them they had missed out on a real nice medium-done ribeye and chips. And so they had, the last peeps down off the hill was around 11pm.

Another cave we conquered was again way up a fckin mountain. The higher we got the less inclined I was to put much effort into my caving career, at least I wasn't weighed down by heaps of shiny new gear. We had wetsuits on. On the track up I was thinking I could've driven up here even in Major's Da's Rollux.

I was starting to get peeved with the number of middle-class southern English ramblers in Yorkshire with their rah, rah, rah voices, lurid-coloured Argos gear and the click clacking of ski poles. What the hell use are ski poles in the summer, duuuhhh. Parking their Volvos and dogs shitting all over the place. Makes you think how special we have it back home, that thankfully the English don't know what we have. It is fairly crowded over there even in the pishing rain.

Right, rant over. But now I have an Eastenders voice playing in me head, shouting across the Mourne Mountains "RICCKKEEEEE" and Glens of Antrim "WOTCHUULURKINAT" and a stupid, gaggly, slobbering boxer dog curling one out on a column on the Giant's Causeway, beside a toddler picking seashells. arrgggghhhhhhh.

I think I've sickened myself now. I can't even face going back and getting the paragraphs into chronological order.

Forgetting about the last 2 paragraphs. I and all those involved in the Yorkshire trip would recommend such a trip to anyone. Before going make sure you know about SRT though, or you'll become fairly knackered fairly quickly.

One last note, there's a real good deli/butchers in Ingleton, does real good Cornish pasties, mmnnh I'm hungry now.