The forecast for day 2 was for heavy rain. We woke to fairly heavy rain, so decided a trip to a show cave was in order. First stop was breckie at a local Cafe - Settle Down cafe. Being fussy I tried to get them to let me swap the veggie sausages on the veggie breckie for something else, but they refused. So I had them anyway, and they were yuck. They also wouldn't do us any tap water. And the bill arrived before we asked for it, and before we had finished. Ah well one to avoid for next time..
Food related angst over we drove to Clapham and Steve had to do a dash to a cafe to get change for the parking machine. We then set off to the start of the walk to Inlgebrough cave to be confronted by yet another parking type machine asking for money to pass through the estate leading to the cave. I don't resent paying but it's a shame you can't just pay at the cave. Do not forget your change if you are going to do this trip!
Then it was onwards in drizzle along to 2km to the cave. Probably the longest approach I've ever had to a visitor attraction, but I liked it that way. We arrived and only had about 20 minute wait for the tour so we sat and ate by the river. The cave was pretty good as show caves go, the guide was informative and knew quite allot about it, and the formations were impressive (aside from the broken ones). The tour was a bit too fast for my liking though, I'm used to stopping and looking at things when caving. The group was fairly large due to the weather/holiday period. As we were waiting for people to catch up before we went out we asked if the cave had ever flooded. The guide explained that it had, but just the once, some years back after a period of snow, then rain which forced a load of melt water through. It took out all their lighting and other things which all had to be put back in afterwards. The cave has been connected to the Gaping Gill system, but only a handful of people made the connection before it closed off.
You can see where the lake water level used to be before it was taken away many years before
The guide reckoned you could see a face in the rock.. I couldn't see one..
Anyone want to take me on a non tourist trip there?
Plans were a bit fluid at this stage as to what we were going to do next. In the end we plumped for a stroll up to Trow Gill, which turned out to be an impressive Scar, and climbing spot. No climbers there today. Emma enjoyed the mini scramble up through the upper end.
We still had some time to kill so we decided to have a nose at Gaping Gill. On our way up to it we passed the YSS cavers from the previous day who'd just finished a trip there - they encouraged us to go down in the winch to the bottom. Emma wasn't sure so we decided to go an have a look. For those you don't know during spring and summer bank holiday there is a winch set up to winch people down into the cave for a fee by Bradford Pothole Club. The drop down into the cave is somewhere round the 100 metre mark. After chatting with some of the people running the winch Emma decided she really didn't want to do it especially after taking a look a it.
As we headed off though she stopped in her tracks and said she wanted to think about it some more, then said she'd changed her mind (she was probably thinking about the lolly the cavers had promiced her!) So we headed back down to put on some oversuits and to take our tag (given to you so they can ensure they keep track of everyone going in and out of the system). Steve H went down first without hessitation, then it was Emma's turn. The winch seat has a little gate which bolts but for extra security they clipped her in with a krab and a sling. She seemed very confident now she had decided to give it a shot. Without a second to think we was off.
The chair winch
Then it was my turn to feel scared - I've always had a pretty bad fear of heights, I tend to manage to ignore it okay when underground as there isn't much time to consider the drop. I nervously asked the winch man how long it would take - only a minute or so he said - which made me feel not so bad about it. Then it was my turn...
Being in the seat meant that it was quite hard to look down, so I didn't feel too scared - it was so impressive when the it dropped down at the walls lit up, it kept going and going, longest drop I've ever experienced underground. It was good to get out and look around the huge, huge cave. Emma was buzzing from her trip town, and loved the cave. We'd wished we'd taken our caving lamps so we could have seen things a little clearer. Once we'd explored it was time to que up for the winch back up. We'd had no wait coming down, but coming up was a different story -think we waited an hour and a half in total. I wished I'd brought something warm to drink down with us, but we were treated by the people running the winch to some hot squash which warmed Emma up. Everyone in the que was chatting and friendly so the time soon passed. I wasn't looking forward to coming back up as I knew I would see more of the drop. I went up first this time round, managed to just about keep my eyes open, but I was pretty scared. It was great heading back to the light, and the experience is something I'm very glad we did. Emma came up grinning, then Steve who'd been worried his legs would crash into the wall of the hole on the way back up..
We then had a mad dash along the top of the hillside (the opposite side of the valley this time round) back to the carpark to the car.
We attempted to eat in Clapham but the pub was rammed, we missed the next pub back on the way home and ended up back in Settle at the fish and chip shop... which had sold out of fish!!! - our attempts to eat out weren't proving to be too successful...
An amazing day and certainly two caves I'd love to visit in the caving capacity with the right company for some guidance.