Birks Fell Cave

Saturday, 1 September 2007

A lack of things to do at work means I can write some rant…

It was good to finally tick this excellent pothole, which has proved fairly elusive in previous years (was raining/ hungover/ went to watch lots of cars smash into each other)
When our party arrived at Buckden, Sma, Martin and Tom had not long since already set off to rig the cave. This proved to be a little annoying as none of us had a copy of or had read the guidebook to find the cave’s location and so had to use a little guesswork. After commandeering a passing walkers OS map and a little chat with the very pleasant landowners at Redmire (or ReDavid Moss?) farm, we worked out where the entrance was and made our way up.

This is an excellent cave mostly dominated by a fine stream passage with a wide variety of obstacles. Splitting the party in two seemed to work out well as it allowed minimal faff at the pitches (which are all small and simple).

The passage and route-finding seems to be in a very similar vein to Dowbergill passage, with seemingly straight passage complicated with vertical boulder mazes and parallel rifts etc.
The route finding is a little complicated in places without reading a description and a few dead ends were explored then reversed and a few alternative pitches found not rigged leading us to temporarily think that the others might not actually be down the cave. But the way on can be fairly easily found by trying to re-join the water wherever possible.

We encountered the others after Shale pitch, on their way back out, and after getting the guide from Sam Allshorn (probably wouldn’t have found the sewer series without it) continued on to the end. This is again different from the style of the rest of the cave with traversing in a rift and then climbing up an alternative rift and crawling to the head of the slimy slit free climb which seemed to startle Chris as he nearly fell down it out of the crawl (thats what you get for not listening to my description). Then a little moist wading and almost swimming (probably swimming if you’ve got little legs like Holly) and the final sump. This section was not nearly as bad as Sam Allshorn made out although it did take until about halfway back out for us to warm up.

The return trip was equally as fun with the usual joys of the tackle bag although the small amount of tackle required for this cave makes this seem allot nicer than other similar trips IE King Pot – not that I mind carrying tackle or anything, just thinking of some of the ‘frailer’ members of the team :0)

An excellent, varied trip which Martin thought should rival Pen-y-ghent for title of ‘Finest stream cave in country’, although this may be because Martin was one of the freshers on our infamous fresher breaking Pen-y-ghent trip.

Highly recommended, one of the best trips around.