Sleets Gill
Thursday, 7 April 2011

It was decided that Sleets Gill would be a good choice as the weather had not been too bad. Paul regaled us with tales of dragging diving bottles through Hydrophobia, which he described as carrying a small stream, but with the main problem being sharp rocks.

We left Leeds at 9. Passing through Ilkley, Paul swore profusely for several minutes when he realised he had forgotten his wetsuit.

Reaching Littondale, we admired the scenery and sunshine. Paul found a spare wetsuit jacket which he put on top of his furry.

We climbed the hill and arrived at the entrance. After proceeding down the ramp and the following crawls, we were in the impressive main gallery. The walls and formations are covered in mud as a result of serious flooding. Walking along, the entrances to the Wharfedale sump, the downstream end of Hyperthermia and Boireau’s passage were noted.

We continued over mud banks and gour pools along the phreatic tunnel. After a few minutes the end was reached. We dropped down the hole on the left and I crawled straight on down the passage. When the passage veered left it was apparent that this led to Hyperthermia so I backed up and took the right hand passage.

This soon led to a canal about 4-5 m wide with 20-30 cm of airspace. I set off with James reluctantly following. The beginning of Hyperthermia was passed on the left and a significant stream could be heard ahead. Soon, the low, wet crawl of Hydrophobia was entered.

We pushed up this passage for several minutes. Any particular abundance of sharp rock was not noticed due to numbness caused by the low water temperature. There was just about enough airspace for us to keep our noses and mouths out of the water with our heads on our sides. In static water this would not be too bad but here there all the water was coming straight at us. This was fairly intimidating!

Eventually I could not find a way on. The passage appeared to be sumped. Looking around I noticed a small airspace about 15 cm wide and 5 cm high. Turning my head to get a better look, I got a noseful of freezing water. I therefore decided that continuing would be unwise. Expressing my displeasure, I found I could not turn around but by laying on my back I could float feet first downstream. Reaching the canal was a joyous occasion!

It was decided that with water levels in Hydrophobia being that bad, Hyperthermia would be ridiculous.

We headed back out into the glorious sunshine. At the car I discovered I had forgotten to bring some dry boxers, much to my displeasure. We headed off to Grassington and enjoyed food and beer in the
Black Horse.