Sunday, 28 April 2013
Weathercote Cave in Flood
Seeing is Believing!
This afternoon I was lucky enough to be in Chapel-le-Dale when a flood pulse hit Ingleborough. Weathercote Cave was only a short distance away when the rain began. You have to get permission to enter and sign a disclaimer ... and it really is risky business getting down there - (not for the faint hearted) but take a look at this!
Normally there's just the single waterfall - but you can tell the cave is flooding when that smaller fall from the 'chimney' appears at bottom left. If rain continues for several days, the cave can flood to the brim and the water overflows down the valley. The water can get to be over 100 feet deep.
This was the initial view from the limestone terrace above the 'bridge.'
This is 'the bridge' into Weathercote Cave, and you can see left of centre where you pass underneath to arguably the most awe inspiring sight in the Three Peaks area. The route down under the bridge is usually dry - but not today. A full stream was cascading down out of the cave mouth on the right.
Descending underneath the bridge is spectacular in itself.
Water was really gushing in from the cave mouth. I've never seen it do this before. This was a first.
I had to traverse across that wall on the right, out of the water - with one magnificent sight opening up ahead. Notice the flood debris rammed into the crack in the bridge on the right. Scary!
Looking back up at the bridge - showing the amount of water that was filling Weathercote Cave from this side. It was quite easy to stay relatively dry up to this point, but every step had to be taken with extreme care.
This is what came next. Quite simply beyond description. At this point you just stop, stare, and feel the force. Even 100 feet from the waterfall, the spray drenched me to the skin. 'Mohammed's Coffin' is the huge wedged boulder guarding the water's entrance into the daylight shaft, before it once again sinks underground to emerge a mile away at God's Bridge.
A little closer and the spray was so intense it was difficult to use the camera, but it still had a nice effect.
I managed to film the spectacle. Apologies for the spellbound commentary.
Weathercote Cave, once worshipped by Georgian and Victorian tourists, is on private land and can only be visited with permission from Weathercote House. It is best to write, stating your intention, and potholers and cavers are not encouraged. The owner allows access for sightseeing in reasonable conditions, but children are not permitted. The cave is unstable, awkward to access and dangerous, and anybody visiting must sign a disclaimer before entry. It is particularly popular with American tourists who are keen on Turner's paintings. He completed a famous picture of the cave 'half filled with water' in 1818.