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Present: Phil, Chris R, Chris S, Al, Andrew W, Goshka, Ben, Suzanne

This was a DUSA weekend meet in Yorkshire but a group of us drove up on Saturday to meet the weekenders just for the day to do some caving. We split up into two groups, SRT’ers and a shorter but very good fun ladder trip. This is an account of the latter.

Humorously you slide into the cave through a rusty old oil drum stuck in the ground, and enter the wet world of Valley entrance cave. The stomping and crawling to the pitch was uneventful. The twenty foot ladder led to the streamway below. The spray from a nearby waterfall that showered you on the climb was just a taste of the wetness and coldness to come.

Due to the recent rainfall the stream was in good voice. We waded manfully up the raging torrent and into the further depths of the cave. Leaving the streamway, after some crawling and almost full immersion of the body in cold water then some more crawling a consensus was reached to turn back. A couple of us decided to head intrepidly (stupidly?) on to find the aven. A wet belly crawl led to a duck with a couple of inches of air space. Plunging through we found ourselves in the aven. Chris R immediately realized that there was an alternative route that we could have taken to avoid this nasty wet crawl. We gratefully took this exit on our short trip back to rejoin the others.

The trip back down the streamway was superb, we slid down on our backs reaching top speeds that Anthony’s Lada would have been proud of and when we reached the bottom near the pitch some of us headed back up the streamway for another go. Thoroughly drenched, the wait to go back up the pitch was to say the least, very cold.

Chris S remembered that the pitch was said to be free-climbable in a sort of dodgy, old rope, wet slippery rock kind of way and decided to climb it. I was also bizzarely keen to attempt it. We reached the top Ok and felt rather chuffed. The others had sensibly taken the ladder.

Goshka from Poland was on her very first caving trip, Ben was on his second cave after horrible muddy little Lay-By Pot and I think Chris S’s girlfriend Suzanne had also just started caving. They all did superbly in this very wet and cold but good fun introduction to the caving world.

On our way back up we took a side tunnel towards Toyland, which I presume is meant to be rather pretty, we never saw it. Al climbed an awkward pitch/rift in the rock and rigged a ladder after squeezing through a rather narrow gap. It was decided that it wouldn’t be wise for everyone to attempt the climb without a belay so we turned back and headed out of the cave.

We recovered over a beer in a traditional cavers’ haunt, the Marton Arms.

Andrew Webber