Two in the Pink, Two in the Stink: Yockenthwaite & Nick Pots
Tuesday, 9 August 2016 – Wednesday, 10 August 2016
I had returned to Leeds the previous night so caving was to be done. After an analysis of the weather and consultation the night before and Tuesday morning, we settled on Yockenthwaite as the cave for that afternoon and decided to stay out in the dales and play it by ear the day after. Jumped in the vehicle, all gassed up now imma slang me a rock. The journey consisted of George and I getting ridiculously stoked and pumped up due to the music available (Death Grips, Nails and Behemoth ‘“ the residents of Ilkley seemed somewhat shocked) whilst Brendan sat in the back looking slightly upset.
At Yockenthwaite for 2:30pm and underground by 3:30. Don’t walk straight up from the stone circle; instead, keep heading west until you get to a path heading diagonally northeast up the hill. When you can see that you are in line with the stone circle cross a barbed wire fence and head for the circle of small trees surrounded by another barbed wire fence. I was pleasantly surprised when a tawny owl flew out of the shakehole a few metres from me! Easy rigging until the fourth pitch where I couldn’t find one of the bolts so backed up to the rope for the third pitch instead. The head of this pitch is a tad awkward. You could easily descend the third, fourth and dry pitches with one 35m(ish) rope. This cave could do with being rebolted if anyone has the time as the bolts are quite oddly placed and not in good nick, with at least 3 being quite badly recessed and one (on the third pitch) being a bit corroded. Still, all were useable. ‘Fhiiine’ .We bypassed the dry pitch by doing the ‘exposed step’, which is really not that exposed. The free climb after is a bit loose. The fossil passage was rather nice with some nice formations (50cm straws, some nice flowstone and some nice stalagmites and small columns) which definitely made the trip feel more worthwhile. Soon we were at the notorious double bend, which I had a stab at and turned back (with difficulty) after the first proper bend as I could see no enlargement of the passage beyond so deemed it a bit pointless. I’m quite glad I did leave it at that as it was a pretty tricky reverse; some serious brute force was required. Then we headed out with George derigging. Out at 6:30 making it a nice 3 hour trip. The sun was shining nicely upon my exit, and we briefly utilised the ‘splendid gear washing facility’ of the river Wharfe. Definitely a worthwhile and ‘fhiiine’ trip.
After a pint and some chips in the Blue Bell in Kettlewell we headed to the coop in Settle and then to the Bradford where we found Newcastle Uni cavers in good number having just got back from Marble Steps. This time Darkthrone was on in the car which Brendan really objected to. Curry and beer went down well and then we all talked shit for a few hours, with Brendan remembering everyone’s names (though he had some trouble with Roisin, a loud Irish woman). He also showed everyone a VR caving app. We had decided, based on the forecast rain for the afternoon, to do the Vulcan Pot route in Nick Pot the day after.
After a somewhat restless nights sleep I got up at 8am and started on breakfast. We had left the hut by 10: efficiency almost unheard of in an ULSA trip. The morning was glorious and all three peaks looked awesome. Underground by 11:30. The entrance crawl/thrutch is awkward but has no real ‘squeezes’ as suggested in NFTFH. I again assumed rigging duties as I was at the front and found this cave a real twat compared with Yockenthwaite. The first pitch wasn’t too bad, but I found it a chore and by the time I was starting on the main hang I was a bit cheesed off. It took me 4 attempts to sort myself out and head through the slot onto the rebelay bolt at the pitch head. George said he had never seen me so angry before. The rigging after this was straightforward but involved some rather large bridging steps that were a tad awkward. Soon I was on the Trouser Flake and had found the 2 rebelay bolts. The step involved here was very awkward for me being a bit of a short arse and the rope join was a bit faffy (made use of a double fishermans isolated in an alpine butterfly after the y hang) and then discovered my y hang was a bit crap and might rub a bit later so installed a deviation off a natural thread about 1m below, which worked ‘fhiiine’. Soon we were all at the bottom. It’s quite a nice shaft. I inspected the sump pool over the free climb and reported it was a bit boring so the others didn’t go and look. George and I then left Brendan to derig; this he did most efficiently, packing the bottom 35m into a bag and then paellaing the 60 and top 35m up to us, which worked very well. Soon we were out. 3:20, meaning that we were underground for just under 4 hours, which considering the frig I made of the top of the rig was quite impressive. Out and back to Leeds in reasonable time. We finished changing just as it started to rain.
Overall, the trips were ‘fhiiine’, the company was ‘fhiiine’ and the efficiency was ‘fhiiine’. Thanks to all involved for a good 2 days.
Just read Noel’s rant from 2009 on Yockenthwaite whicb also mentions an owl living in the entrance – awesome! wonder if its the Sam Allshorne one?
Thursday, 11 August 2016