6 - 7th January 2018 - Olly King
NPC New Year Yorkshire weekend.
Well a New Year has come around quickly, and as is traditional with the DCC a New Year trip is essential to get rid of the Christmas gluttony; and boy was it needed!
The plan, to stay at North Pennines Caving Club in Yorkshire. Anton and Gina swung round my house on the Saturday morning, where I was just getting ready for our weekend away!
Our first port of call, McD’s for a sausage and egg breakfast along with a strong coffee, and so away we went!
Saturday’s trip was meant to be Irby Fell. One I have previously only partially completed, but was still eager to return and bottom!
It turns out weather had been fairly wet, and for the fact we had a newbie with us we decided on Sell Gill Holes in Pen-y-gent instead. Far friendlier pitches and little threat of being flooded out.
We made our way through the Dales, amongst the snow-capped hill tops that surrounded us. It was cold, very cold. We finally all met in the Pen-y-gent cafe for (in our case, a second) breakfast. Can never have enough food prior to caving!
Now full, we made our way past Top farm and to the entrance of the pot. Costas wowed us all with his ultra-shiny kit. Never have I seen so much new stuff on one person at one time! We were determined to see it look used by the end of the day!
Andrew and Pete sorted the first pitches out Costas, Rob, Anton, Gina and myself decided to make full use of the warm winters sun that was just about keeping us thawed out.
Our entry was via the ‘dry route’, a small pot carved in to the hillside. This was Gina and Costas’ first experience with a rebelay, although with a ledge, so ideally suited to first timers!
We finally got inside and on the way down the cave revealed some rather lovely Avens and generally very nice cave on the way down.
The next pitch was rigged by Gina, under the watchful gaze of Andy. She did a great job.
After some more challenges for the newbies we finally hit the river cavern at the bottom. We followed the river down in to the further reaches of the system where we found ourselves in much smaller calcite-formed passages that meandered and weaved from side to side. We were finally confronted with a tight and extended duck. There would be no going on today, but with large chambers beyond this will be worthy of a return trip some day!
On our way out we had a look at the wet route in to the river passage. Andrew said he would attempt this if it had not been for lesser experienced cavers present. It was too wet for anyone else today, and probably borderline for all.
We all made out way out with relative ease, and of course the one thing on our minds was the pub. Off to the Helwith Bridge Inn we went and were greeted by a nice fire and a very cute miniature Jack Russel. Filled with chips and beer, we then made our way to the NPC hut for the evening.
We all pitched in and were handed jobs to do for our main meal. It seems we had picked a busy weekend to stay as the NPC were having their general meeting. They all took meals in to the library and disappeared for an hour, while we sat down to a huge plate of some sort of bolognaise we had conjured up under Gina’s guidance. Very nice though!
It seems the NPC dine in style on their meeting nights and they all finished the night off sat round the table eating fancy cheese and drinking wine!
Rob had to unfortunately leave us, and so after dinner we had a rather frustrating game of ‘cards’. Early to bed we were, a new cave was calling!
Next day there had been another change of plan. Firstly, we assembled in Ingelsport café to meet up with Yvonne and Callum. Costas and myself had the ‘Fill your boots’ breakfast option. It certainly did that! We then set off for another new cave for me, Bull Pot of the Witches. “It’s only a 20 minute drive” said Anton. Seemed like 2 hours! We finally got there and after much frustration of not being able to gain access to the Red Rose facilities at Bull Pot farm we finally persuaded ourselves to brave the sub-arctic conditions and man up. It was bitterly cold!
Off to the pot. I had a quick natural break to make. Not what I wanted in this weather but when nature calls! The moss was lovely and soft as it partially defrosted though!
We got to the main entrance. Andy rigged again and we were all soon on our way down.
This was another nice pot. The pitches were interesting, although smaller, and perhaps not as impressive as yesterday’s offering. Again, Gina had a go at rigging some of the trip. We got to the bottom of the first three pitches and we suddenly realised we were running short of time. Nothing new there then!
Yvonne and Costas and myself continued on using the in-situ ropes to reach the bottom bedding plain. It was clear here the cave continued, but it was very wet and we had all agreed we would all stay as dry as possible today and so we turned round!
Great weekend, superb facilities at the NPC with perhaps what is the best drying room I’ve used yet!
One last thing that has to be said - Costas still looked like he had barely touched a cave, so we’ll have to take him somewhere particularly gruesome in Derbyshire and Yvonne definitely looked like she hadn’t, and never does, so if mud don’t stick a new nickname might, I think Callum or Anton suggested Teflon-Von :-D
Thanks to Anton, Andy, Pete, Gina, Rob, Costas, Yvonne and Callum for a great weekend; looking forward to a few more trips to Yorkshire this year!
Below 1: Entrance to Sell Gill Dry Route © Robert Stevenson Below 2: Sell Gill final pitch to streamway © Robert Stevenson Below 3: Costas and shiney! © Robert Stevenson Below 4: Gina Rigs © Robert Stevenson