Dowbergill Passage
Thursday, 2 January 2014

After convincing myself to get up I hopped in the back of Chad’s car and asked what the plan for the day was. ‘Dowbergill Passage,’ they said. I was sure I recognised the name from somewhere.
We stopped at Sainsbury’s in Harrogate for supplies then headed to Grassington for breakfast. We went to Lucy Fold Tea Rooms which is to be recommended for good, cheap food and large portions. We were kept amused by a wagon attempting to reverse up Garrs Lane.

It was not very warm at Park Rash where we got changed, ensuring we would not take very long. We reached the entrance around an hour later and got caving.
Providence Pot was quickly dispatched and we made reasonable speed through Dowbergill Passage, where the water was lower than we expected. It wasn’t long before we reached Bridge Cavern. Yet again, I was unable to locate the eponymous bridge. Am I looking in the wrong places or is it now laying on the floor?

Fast caving took us through 800 Yards Chamber, Brew Chamber and The Narrows and it felt to me that we were nearing the end when we passed through the Rock Window. The next section of passage was not enjoyable for any of us. I’m sure the water is much warmer in summer.

Somebody has put new handlines on the Gypsum Traverse climbs. The old ones were in desperate need of replacement but the new ones are not knotted, and probably not long enough to reach the bottom with knots put in. It’s hard to imagine they’re used for SRT (isn’t one of the attractions of the place that you don’t need to faff about with string and gear?) but it’s conceivable that they are for rescues. Some through bolts have been put in at the first climb up (right next to the existing P hangers) and a rope has been tied directly through the bolt hangers, which will probably decrease its lifespan. We used the old knotted ropes and soon reached Dow Cave.

After an enjoyable stroll we were back on the surface. I always enjoy Dowbergill trips as the caving is highly enjoyable, there is minimum faff and it is a through trip. This trip was as good as always. The strong team meant the trip was reasonably efficient and we were underground for 2 hours 15 minutes.

We headed over to Greenclose, where we were staying, and heard about some recent progress near Malham by a well known caver.

The next day was spent failing to locate Wizard’s Chasm. Dave Ramsay later put us right.