The Hydrophobic Butcher
It was leg day. It’s always leg day.
We had such good plans. Go to Mossdale, Finish off the Great Aven bolt climb, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, and wait for this all to blow over. But Mike had to go clubbing the night before and the morning just was not working at my speed. By the time we both gained enough energy to mention that we were keen to go Mike was reading thunderstorm warnings and anyone who knows Mossdale know to stay away if that word in in the forecast, however faint.
The backup plan of Sleets Gill Cave was formulated, and Dave Brook was consulted for after cave tea. He mentioned the resurgence was in good flow so Hyperthermia was off the cards, but we would give Hydrophobia a good shot.
We packed out wetsuits and set off at 12. We got to the parking and found the trees there had been cut down, so we felt very exposed changing in full view of the cows. But we showed them all and set off up the hill.
Sleets Gill was entered, and we made good progress down the train tunnel like main passage, but I could tell Butcher was hanging out his arse and usually he caves rings around me but this day he was showing his age. Personally, I think it all that hair is holding him back whereas I have given up that ghost and am a better human being for it. Really, we should all be hairless minus pubic hair, but I should get back to the caving.
Entering the lower passages, we made our way to Hydrophobia which was in good flow. It’s a good passage. It’s a great passage. Couldn’t breathe on account of having so much fun (an exaggeration), at the worst bits there was about 4 inches of air space whilst crawling upstream in a sewer drain of a cave passage with the whole water flow of the system going through it. I got past the worst bits and was home free and looking forward to finally seeing The Ramp. Then I hear this whine behind me saying something about too wet and turning around. Butcher rinsed me!!
The upside was I got to be washed out of Hydrophobia which is like a cold-water birth for an adult baby. Mike was nervous as it was much worse than when he did it last and it would only take a little more flow for us to became trapped and seeing as it was forecast for more rain that day it was unwise to proceed. He was right and if you’re not all into it you should proceed, I think. Then he had the gall to say he’d already been to The Ramp, so it wasn’t as important for him to go. Little rinser.
Uneventful trip out we still had loads of time, so we decided to tackle Dowkabottom Cave which is further up the hill from Sleets Gill. I had last done Dowkabottom when I was 12 with my dad and we did not go far into the cave at all. But I had a rough memory of where it was, and my navigation skill are legendary to those in the know. We changed the callout after my cars autolocking system made me look a fool and set off.
A small walk and we made it! 19 years and I got it second go after running round a field for a short time while Mike looked on from the hillside chuckling like the smug hungover git he is.
Dowkabottom is a fine little cave which actually has much larger dimensions than I thought. The most noteworthy thing was the remains of the Victorian archaeological dig that was done to excavate human remains found in the cave. The cave ends in a thumping canyon passage and from what me and Mike found there is active digging down there so there may be further discoveries in there some day.
We got back to the car and set off back to Leeds stopping for fish and chips (in my case scampi) with Dave Brook who said that from what we said Hydrophobia was in a similar condition to how he did it when he first pushed it. Which was famously done in flood conditions. Further reading on that can be found in the ULSA reviews.
Good trip. Would do again. Both trips on their own are good evening trips from Leeds. Both done together (in full) would make for a grand day out.