Saturday, 6 September 2014
As the date of the permit drew nearer, the forecast was good so we decided to get a trip going. Shezi unfortunately injured herself while cycling. Her place was taken by the youngest Brook who was happy to be on the rigging team.
We met at 7 at the chapel and packed ropes, taking tackle for the Big Pitch route which Sam Allshorn had recommended. We ate at the Settle Down caf and checked the forecast, which had deteriorated. At Brackenbottom we consulted with various cavers and the consensus seemed to be that the cave would be ok, but the Big Pitch should be avoided.
Arriving at Dale Head we found a few YSS members. They had been in Dale Head Pot which turned out to be excessively damp. Alex agreed that Gingling would be fine up to the Ammered Ole, so they were invited on our trip. We sent them off with our tackle and set about getting changed.
When we were almost fully changed, Brendan announced that he had forgotten his helmet. After a discussion in which we tried to avoid the inevitable, we started to get changed back in order to drive to Brackenbottom, the location of said helmet, when Ian, Mike and Nat appeared clutching the offending article! Pleased that we could now get going, we walked across Fountains Fell to the entrance.
Unfortunately, the shakehole was full of midges. We waited on the surface, only going to the pitch head upon hearing rope free. Rigging my descender in a cloud of midges was not pleasant.
We met the YSS group at the top of the second pitch. Further easy caving took us to the impressive Stalactite Chamber, where the CRO was formed. We traversed to the right to bypass the fourth pitch.
The cave was only in average water conditions. When everybody reached the chamber, Alex and I set off in front. Fools Paradise was particularly impressive and the following pitches were soon passed. We stood in the chamber above the Ammered Ole, which I will have to come back to sometime to finish the cave. We returned to the bottom of the sixth pitch, waited for the others to come past then headed out. We made sure the others were not far behind us and reached the surface three hours after entering. Gingling Sink was quickly looked at, which was taking a fair amount of water.
On the way back to the car, we encountered the derigging pair who had finally turned up after a bout of lethargy. The weather was much better than forecast, offering an impressive view of Penyghent.
The Crown in Horton was tempting so we met up there, along with several other YSS members. An enjoyable evening was had with friends, food and beer, then Kristian and I retired to the Craven hut.