Weather: Dry, Cold NE wind
Where: Ingleborough, Yorkshire Dales
|Kevin on the Second Pitch - Wet Route|
By the standards of this year the last week or so has been dry, the ground is still holding a lot of moisture but the recent high pressure system has at least prevented it from falling from the sky.
Meregill has been on our "to do" list for a long time, situated on the flanks of Ingleborough at the edge of the great scar limestone boundary it is an active cave that can respond quickly to rainfall. As such this gap in a wet year provided an ideal opportunity for a first visit.
The well forecast cold air had began to arrive in the form of a chilly north easterly wind as we changed in the lay by just just up the road from the Hill Inn. The trudge up the main Ingleborough path was familiar in the fading light: past Great Douk; through the limestone pavement; Braithwaite Wife Hole; a right through the gate & past Sunset Hole. From now on though we were in new territory and it was just at the time we needed to switch on our headlamps that we were searching for, what for us at least, was a new hole in the ground. After a short period of ratching we found the Aven entrance and after a bit of squirming around decided that the mere entrance might be a better bet. When we try to tackle a new cave on one of these evening sessions its this kind of stuff (finding the cave; experimenting with unfamiliar routes) that often limits the scope of the initial exploration & once again this was the case this evening. More time spent locating the bolt by the tree at the Mere entrance & finally we were on with rigging the first pitch an abseil of 15m or so saw us at the foot of the waterfall next to the mere. For this first trip we couldn't resist the temptation to explore the mere, tonight it was low and we had to scramble down a good 6m or so through flood debris and settled silt before we reached the dark pool. Back up to the foot of the pitch and a short crawl soon enlarged into a good sized passage which connects the Mere entrance to the Aven entrance that we had earlier rejected as an entry point for the cave.
After this some classic clean washed Yorkshire stream passage followed, meandering steadily down to the second pitch. Kevin rigged this one (I did the surface - "mere entrance") via the lower wetter route. Its a good pitch featuring a deviation, followed by a re-belay from a small chamber where the water lands before its conclusion at the foot of the waterfall.
Continuing on down further fine stream passage we reached the head of the third pitch, as described above we often run out of time on these evening trips, so a good scope of the options here was as much as we could allow ourselves before beginning the re-tracing of steps and a couple of prusiks up the ropes we had previously rigged saw us back out of the cave at half past nine. It was a brisk walk off the moonlight fell, is it Venus that is very bright in the sky at this time of year? The sky was magical & it would have provided perfect conditions for a night in the fells navigation being easy in almost "day-like" conditions. Back at the car at three minutes to ten, we just made our call-in time! The air temperature was by now just 4-5 decC.
A great evening's caving - we'll now get back when there is more time & do more!
|A Murky Scene in the Connecting |Passage Between the Mere & Aven Entrances|