caving in Settle

Guest blog: Five best caves for beginners in Yorkshire

caves for beginners in Yorkshire

This weekend sees the Spring opening of the winch descent into Ingleborough’s Gaping Gill – the 98m pothole with the stream Fell Beck flowing into it. Normally accessible to only the best cavers, local pothole clubs divert the stream twice a year to allow mere mortals to be winched down into its depths. We went last year and it’s an incredible experience and highly recommended. Don’t worry if you miss out, we got Dave Gallian of Yorkshire Dales Guides to tell us about his top caves for beginners in Yorkshire.

There are all sorts of reasons for trying caving. It’s an adventure, especially your first time, but it can still be an adventure when you learn more advanced techniques to go deeper underground. More often than not, people are apprehensive on their first caving trip, as hey think it will be dark, full of tight squeezes and wet passages – but this is not the case.

One of the best things about our job is how amazing it is seeing and talking to people when they emerge into daylight having overcome those initial fears and been caving for the first time. They find they have learned something about themselves, as well as having tried something so different from their usual activities. They learn how the caves and the formations inside were formed and the sheer magnitude of the time scales involved in the process. If they like it and want to go further, then it’s an activity that can take you all over the world … but the beauty is there are undiscovered caves and passages right under our feet in this part of the Dales waiting to be found.

Gaping Gill

The Bradford Pothole Club Gaping Gill winch meet 2017 (£15 per head) is from this Saturday, May 27 to Friday June 2nd 2017. Further information Bradford Pothole Club web site

The Craven Pothole Club do their descent from Saturday, August 19 to Sunday August 17.

The minimum age is seven years old (at the leader’s discretion). Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Five best caves for beginners in Yorkshire

Remember caves are formed by water running through them so they are affected by the weather, check the weather before and forecast for the day of your trip. Wear a minimum of head torch and helmet – always let someone know where you have gone.

Birkwith Cave
Ordnance Survey National Grid reference: SD 804 769
Just off the Pennine Way and not far from Pen-y-ghent, this cave is part of a much larger system, most of which is only accessible to divers, but short sections are explorable by non-divers and without the need for any ropes. As such, it’s an excellent cave for novices to explore. To find it, in Horton in Ribblesdale take the small road towards New Houses until you reach High Birkwith Farm where you need to ask for access.
Click here for Google Map

Browgill Cave
Ordnance Survey National Grid reference: SD 80020 77740
Also off the Pennine Way and next to Brow Gill Beck, you also need to head to High Birkwith Farm to  ask for access to Browgill Cave. There’s a good 200 feet walk into the entrance before you have to start crawling, so this is a really easy cave for people to simply stick their head in and have a look around with little more than a torch in hand. There are sharp ‘knives’ of limestone at the entrance that make the cave look quite impressive.
Click here for Google Map

Dow Cave
Ordnance Survey National Grid reference: SD 983 743
Dow Cave is located in Caseker Gill, a tributary to Park Gill, itself a tributary to Cam Gill which flows into the River Wharfe in Kettlewell, right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. The cave was a favourite of romanticist painter JMW Turner who learned of it on a trip to Yorkshire in 1816. Today it’s again a cave that’s pretty easy to access and walkable for a decent distance from the opening.
Click here for Google Map

Old Ing Cave
Ordnance Survey National Grid reference: SD 8074 7684
The folk at High Birkwith Farm must have cavers knocking on their door on a regular basis asking for access to the three caves on their land in our list. One can get a good 200 metres into Old Ing without any serious challenges, making it another great cave for beginners.
Click here for Google Map

Thistle and Runscar caves
Ordnance Survey National Grid reference: SD 765 797
Technically two different caves, these can be treated as one system. They offer pretty easy walking and crawling access with a few low ceilings and a number of ways out. Many caving clubs use them as a great base for first timers learning the ropes, so they can be on the busy side.
Click here for Google Map




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