Newby Moss Cave
Sunday, 27 November 2011

Had been wanting to have a look down this for a while. Newby Moss Cave is a relatively new pothole up near Hurnell Moss Pot which was pushed to a depth of around 120m by the YRC a few years back. Having only the article in Descent 185 (August/September 2005) i packed a few ropes plus bolting kit and headed up reaching the entrance just after midday.

The entrance comprises a scaffolded climb down to a short scaffolded horizontal section and boulder slope down to another scaffolded climb and the top of the 25m pitch into Sealey’s Fault Cavern. This was a very wet spot today after the previous days rain and after some deliberation as to whether to continue on i decided to go and have a look and see if it was do-able. Rigging the rope to the scaff bars, a rather moist narrow hole between boulders led to a significant enlargement at the top of the pitch. Here, a y-hang re-belay and then two deviations allowed to keep out of the worst of the waterfall. The landing is a massive bouldery ledge in a very impressive rift. At the other end of the ledge is the 15m pitch leading to a slope down to the 5m pitch. Road signs for Newby ensure you dont lose your way 🙂

From here there seemed to be a choice of routes. Left was a scaffolded climb, ahead was another one (blind), while to the right a passage led down a couple of narrow slots under dubious boulders to another scaffolded crawl in the stream. After a few metres, the water dropped down a narrow slot and a dry crawl in solid rock led on to the top of a large rift. Going back on myself here soon led to the top of a muddy pitch complete with old ladder, but i rigged my own rope.

From the bottom a climb led down into a high narrow streamway which was followed to a short crawl in the stream and then a traverse to the next pitch. Since ladders had been used during exploration for this pitch, there was only a dubious flake to rig off and so i placed a spit here for a y-hang before dropping the rope down through a minute slot. Climbing down next to this and then going back underneath a couple of wedged blocks led to a narrow squeeze through to the rope.

From the bottom, the stream was followed in the narrow rift through a couple of low wet sections to a boulder choke and wet, scaffolded crawl under boulders. This quickly arrived at a choke of nastiness and so i quickly retreated and after a bit of searching (i was now off the rough survey it would seem) i found the continuation next to a load of scaffold bars leant up against the wall and still full packet of walkers crisps (best before 2005). Clambering over boulders led to a narrow slot to the right through into a large bouldery passage. The way on was at the far-end where a couple of small climbs between boulders led to a short section of narrow rift on the right and the top of another pitch.

Since i didnt have a rope for this i had to backtrack to the previous pitch to cut the excess rope before returning to descend this short pitch. At the bottom, the water re-entered down a short cascade to
the left before sinking in more boulder chaos. However, a red rope was followed up a mud slope to a short 1.5m crawl and then down a mud slope to the stream which now flowed in a large passage with large mud banks. There were also some nice straws here. Continuing on in the streamway quickly reached the sump under the right wall.

Pleased to have finally made it to the sump after a faffy descent i steadily headed out. Back at the pitches into Sealey’s Fault Cavern it was found to be just as moist as when i descended a few hours earlier and i was pleased to be back above them.

A few minutes later i was back on the surface after a very interesting and varied 4.5hr trip. Grade wise, 3-4 would seem about right and care is required with boulders – this is not a well-travelled cave.
Rgging info (there are old ropes and ladders, plus some metalwork in place, but dont look in a very good state and shouldnt be trusted).

Sealey’s Fault Cavern – Three pitches of 25, 15 and 5m according to the survey. I used a 60m rope which wasn’t really long enough but sufficed since i was on my own and didnt have anyone following me, so could remove a lot of slack between pitches. I would recommend at least 70-75m, but each one can easily be rigged with separate ropes of, probably, 35-40m, 25m and 10m. For the 25m pitch, a sling/krab is required for attaching to scaff at the top, then 2 hangers/maillons for a y-hang re-belay a few metres down and 2 slings/krabs for deviations maybe 5m and 20m down. For the 15m pitch, 4 hangers/maillons are required – 2 at the top and 2 for re-belays. For the 5m pitch, 2 hangers/maillons are required at the top.

Mud pitch, 11m according to survey. I used a 20m rope though 15m should be sufficient. 2 hangers/maillons required for the top (NB: could be bolted better for SRT by traversing out at the top), and rope rubs but against soft mud so not too bad although care required.

The next pitch is around 7m and again prob requires a 15m rope (i used 20m). Requires a hanger/maillon for the new spit, plus sling/krab for rigging a y-hang at the top. Drop the rope straight down through the tiny slot before continuing on 1m and climbing down. A narrow squeeze then leads under wedged blocks to the rope – CARE!
The final pitch requires a 10m rope plus 2 hangers/maillons.

Enjoy! 🙂