Cramp Cave on GIAG day
Saturday, 13 February 2016

It was GIAG day and I was driving an MPV. I met Lincoln at 8.10 and we headed for Salfords, hoping that was where the MPVs were hired from as we hadn’t actually been told. Luckily they were expecting us, and the vehicles were picked up without too much trouble.

I arrived at Chapel for 9, and went to fetch 20 L of water from Tesco on Rachel’s request. I quickly loaded the first freshers to be ready into the MPV and set off while Rachel was still taking the register. I had arranged to meet Tony Seddon at the Bradford, and was hoping to achieve this and still make it to the thief before anyone else. Unfortunately the other road users had decided that they were going to drive at little more than walking pace, so by the time I’d picked up my shiny things from Tony and made it to Inglesport, we were the last to arrive.

Mike Butcher had returned from somewhere called the South (sounds awful), and we got chatting over his filter coffee that he had paid for by scrounging off students. I told him of my plan to visit the little-know Cramp Cave, intrigued by its ‘visual connection with Calf Holes’. He thought this would be more exciting than fresher duty, and told Rachel that we would be doing our own thing owing to the vast number of leaders present. She agreed, and the plan was formed.

When we arrived at Birkwith, the rigging team (Nat and Sarah) hadn’t returned from their trip into Dismal Hill yet, so weren’t able to take their place as leaders. Cursing their tardiness I dressed and resigned myself to fresher duty after all.

Me and Nathan headed into Browgill with 7 freshers, almost convinced one of them the way on was up the waterfall and made steady progress through the cave. My mood wasn’t improved when we passed a group of 5 leaders with 3 freshers and a pineapple. It was the shoddy sharing out of leaders that frustrated me – not the pineapple.

I headed up the ladder at Calf Holes and slowly started to bring freshers up while Nathan supervised from the bottom. Soon Nat appeared having completed his Dismal Hill trip and started to lifeline the second ladder. Progress was quickened somewhat. Only one of the group had to be hauled, but I don’t think she understood what was happening, and despite my repeated instruction, she refused to let go of the ladder, and brought it up with her.

When we had all made it to the top, Sarah took my spot in the group with Nathan, and Nat was free to replace Mike so we could sneak off as planned. I said goodbye to the group and Mike levitated up the pitch to tell me he’d changed his mind and was going to stick with Rachel. I decided to proceed to Cramp Cave on my own. Who needs Mike Butcher anyway?
Armed with survey and description me and Kristian set out to look for the entrance. He was my call-out and so I wanted to make sure he could find it. After a short while searching, we removed the large rocks covering the entrance and I was on my way. The survey had been drawn by Watty, and there were sections labelled as squeezes, as well as more exciting names such as ‘The Backstabber’ and ‘The Organgrinder’. From what I’d heard, if Watty thought something was a squeeze, it wasn’t likely to be easy. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find I made quick progress through the cave. The passage was rarely high enough for hands and knees crawling, and most of the way was flat out keeping below the stals on the roof, or sideways through calcite-walled passage. Route finding was straight-forward and there were no junctions until the very end of the cave – only 120m from the entrance.

The junction at the end has daylight coming from the left. This is the visual connection to above the dry Calf Holes pitch, but the bedding is about 3m long and only a few inches in height. Definitely not passable. Round to the right only continues a couple of metres further before the bedding closes down and a small protrusion in the ground prevented my chest from passing. The survey stops at this point, however it looks like the passage opens up again only a metre ahead, though it’s impossible to see how long for. The constriction is only just too tight for me to pass and someone with a slightly smaller chest could probably do it. Maybe Mike Butcher is required after all?
I headed back out of the cave, filled in the entrance, changed and waited for the others before driving back to Leeds for a curry. All in all a good day out, and something a bit different to do when in Birkwith.