Saturday, 9 April 2016
Ralf fancied a trip in Dowbergill, having done it in the past. He recruited several CPC members and Vicky, who in turn recruited me (via Kevin Francis and Maz).
My alarm went off at 0545 after minimal sleep. I was not too happy about this but managed to eat some porridge and walk across York in the rain. Vicky drove us to Harrogate where we met Ralf and transferred to his Audi for the journey to Kettlewell.
In contrast to York, the weather in Upper Wharfedale was glorious. We parked in the car park on the right just after the bridge. Ralf had the excellent idea of bringing two gas stoves, crockery and food. This meant we could eat bacon butties while standing in the sunshine waiting for the Craven. Wonderful!
Craven members appeared in separate vehicles. We agreed that we should split into two groups. We took John from the Craven and set off walking through Kettlewell.
The walk up Dowber Gill was very pleasant. It was very sunny and it is always a sweaty walk but it is much gentler than the walk to Penyghent Pot or Gaping Gill. Upon reaching Provvie we stopped for a rest and a drink.
Steady progress was made through Providence. The Blasted Crawl relieved us from the overheating on the walk up. A small plastic object resembling a squid or similar was found in the Dungeon. Vicky was unimpressed.
Everybody was impressed with Stalagmite Corner. I suppose the formations and streamway are unexpected after spending time in Providence. We continued through Skittle Chamber and Bridge Cavern (where Cavelink has made the Heyphone aerials obsolete, so they have now been removed) to the best part of the trip: the streamway leading to 800 yards chamber. There was a mouldy dead frog on a rock about a metre above the stream, demonstrating that the cave had flooded fairly recently. Unusually there was barely any foam on the walls or around boulders so it cannot have flooded that recently.
The squeezes beyond 800 yards chamber were noticed by the larger chested members of the group. We all went through the Brew Chamber boulder choke and descended to the Narrows. Unfortunately the tightest part (near the end) was too tight for Ralf’s chest. The other group had caught up with us by this point so, after some confusion, Ralf joined them and traversed over the Narrows while we continued as a group of three in the stream.
The section between the Rock Window and the Gypsum Traverse was as unpleasant as usual. The climb up to the traverse was more exposed than I remember. Surprisingly, the water level was low below the flowstone duck.
Soon we were in Dow Cave, enjoying the big streamway. We bumped into Paul from the Craven who was having a wander in the cave. Eventually we were climbing up the entrance slope into the Wharfedale sunshine.
The walk back was very pleasant, with a short stop to discuss our trip with a car occupant. Unfortunately another motorist nearly ran over John.
Back in Kettlewell, we got changed before having a pint outside the Blue Bell. What a nice end to the trip!
Many thanks to everybody who came for a very enjoyable trip.