Monday, 9 September 2013

Let's Go Caving!
Underground Adventures in Kingsdale

Last Tuesday I had a great time at one of the most exciting 'beginner' caves in the Three Peaks.  Rowten Cave leads off the lonely moor into the awe-inspiring depths of Rowten Pot - a massive and spectacular tree-fringed chasm.  You don't need ropes or ladders ... just enthusiasm and a few items that can be carried in the rucksack ....

Squeezed into my rucksack:  orange tackle bag, cagoule (it's seen better days), helmet and lamp with back-up light attached, waterproof box containing spare bulb and battery, map and 'wetsocks'.  I also have a big towel in the car and a bin liner containing a complete change of clothes.

I almost forgot to mention .... wellies!!  All this lot goes in my big rucksack quite easily. There are two great shops in Ingleton that will let you hire a charged lamp and helmet for about six pounds. These are both legendary: Bernie's Cafe and Inglesport.  If you really do fancy a bit of caving though, wetsocks are a godsend.  They fill with water which is insulated by the material so it feels as warm as walking in a bath and makes all the difference to your enjoyment.  

Wetsocks are somewhat sexy, really.  They give you a very pronounced calf that King Henry VIII would have been proud of. !!!

Wellies on!  As my dad used to say 'Red and green should not be seen, except upon a donkey's arse.'  Well - and on a caver's leg, I suppose.

Trousers then cover the wellies: nice and snug and very elegant.

Helmet on ... and ready to go.  

The cave entrance is located where the beck rushes off the Yoredales of Gragareth and meets the Great Scar Limestone.

Glancing back out of the entrance ....

The passage opening up ahead, as things become pitch black.

We'll soon be round the bend .... literally!

There's now only a tiny chink of daylight at the entrance.  It will soon be gone.

This stonefly larva has climbed out of the water to pupate in the pitch dark.

Attractive formations decorate the main stream passage.

Flowstone in this cave is pristine.  Not many come this way to disturb it.

Here's another example.

Soon the streamway drops to a flat-out crawl - but it's not that bad.  Nothing worse than crawling under your bed - although it's wet and cobbly.  

Here we go, then ....

Once you have decided which way to turn your head .... you must keep it that way until you're through.

Nearly out.  I'll soon be standing up again.

Emerging into the walking passage - and it changes in character once again.

Superb scalloping in the stream passage - caused by water action.

Archways of flowstone and moonmilk are a great sight.

This is what caving is all about.  

Wonderful calcite features.

Bizarre colour contrasts in the flowstone.

The beautiful keyhole-shaped vadose passage.

Another great view of the wonderfully carved stream passage.

The stream surges round an acute bend in the scalloped floor.

The narrow side passage of Jingling Cave comes in on the left.  I diverted from the main stream to explore it for a while.

Jingling Cave has a stunning, teardop-shaped profile - one of the finest in the Dales.

Its walls are beautifully scalloped.

A waterfall chamber is soon reached, with a rather tricky three metre climb up.  Being without ropes today - I didn't risk it.

In the waterfall chamber, thin beds of shale can be seen between the main beds of limestone.

Here's one in close-up.

Looking up into the ceiling of the chamber in Jingling Cave.

I then retraced my route back into the main passage of Rowten Cave.  Things get higher, but all is still beautiful.  Look at the serrated edges of the flowstone here.

Moonmilk now becomes a feature of the ceiling - decorating it in white splendour.

The eyes of a wise old snowy owl can be seen in this ceiling feature.

It's a stunning place to be - it really is.

Silver water droplets add further beauty to the moonmilk on the ceiling.

Heading down the passage as the sound of roaring water increases ...

Stunning scenes are everywhere for the camera!

Golden flowstone - typical of active stream caves such as this one.

A bizarre ceiling feature protruding above the passage.

Gorgeous beds of limestone form a 'sandwich' where alternate shale beds have been eroded away in between over thousands of years.

There is so much variety in such a small section of Yorkshire streamway.

Close-up of the limestone sandwiches created by erosion of the shale beds.  I love this area.

This section hid something very special on that shelf at the top of the picture ...

It was well worth a climb up to these gorgeous gour pools, arranged in a line.

A spooky pair of eyes in the walls of the passage.

A typical beding plane ceiling with walls of Great Scar Limestone interrupted by thin beds of shale.

A pair of mating bears, perhaps?

Delicate beauty.

Encrusted, bulbous stalactites.

Honeycombed, flowstone features with tiny pools of water in the hollows.

Passing briefly into daylight beneath a 'skylight' into the system.

An unusual view of the sky.

The skylight fringed by ferns. The water beneath it is particularly cold!

Looking back to the skylight as I head for the final waterfall chamber.

The stream pours into the final chamber.  A thrilling spot.

The final waterfall chamber in Rowten Cave, just before the cascade breaks out into daylight inside Rowten Pot itself.

You don't leave places like this in a hurry.

Emerging at last into Rowten Pot - with the 'chimney' climb out to the surface, which is actually far easier than it appears to be in this picture.

A spectacular situation.

A dramatic view from the cave exit of the stream cascading noisily into the pot.

Rushing past my feet ...

Rowten or 'Rowan Tree Pot' - dropping to hundreds of feet in several stages.  From the surface it is impressive indeed.

This is a unique adventure for the intrepid explorer.  Nowhere else in Yorkshire can you enter a pothole through an adjoining cave and climb out of it without any gear.  It's  a gem of an experience if you love the truly wild places.

Rowten Pot with Braida Garth and Ingleborough in the distance.

The nasty little 'Eyehole' at the southern end of Rowten Pot is even deeper than the main shaft itself - and falls in a straight drop of over 200 feet.  Don't even think about it!

Count three walls after the Braida Garth Farm turn off and you will see a layby on the right where a car can be parked.  A gate gives access up through Shout Scar to Rowten Pot and the caves are just a few yards to the west. (SD697780)  

Stephen x