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Present: Anthony, Julia

What with it being the week after the dinner meet, and a random novice failing to show up, the “Valentine’s Day Special Meet” had a cast of two. With neither of us feeling up to anything ‘ard, we opted to check out Kettlewell for gear shops and cafes, then check out Dow as a possible novice trip, and take a look down Dowberghyll passage with a view to a Prov-Dow through trip at a later day.

Results: (1) Of the two cafes in Kettlewell, one is dead posh (carpets, tablecloths etc) and will do breakfasts for £5-25, and the other is much more scungy and will do beans on toast and a pork pie for £3. The gear shop sells a limited range of caving stuff, doesn’t look like you can hire lights etc.

(2) Dow is dead impressive, but a bit short for a novice trip – about ¾ hour in and out as far as the dodgy boulder choke (which looks horrible – mega hanging death)

(3) Now for the fun bit: We hoped to go down Dowberghyll passage as far as Brew Chamber. Laugh. Got through the duck, I did a bit of unnecessary traversing while Julia stayed at stream level, and arrived at a boulder blockage with a handline hanging out of the roof. Climbed up it a little way but it looked awful, so went in through boulders. Climbed up onto a boulder and saw a hand traverse heading off, so thought it might be Hardy’s Horror. I went along until the handholds ran out, and dropped 12′ into the stream. A bit further on were some more boulders completely blocking the passage, so turned round.

Getting back onto the traverse was more than a little knackering, completely smooth walls being the problem. Any interest in continuing had now completely evaporated, so we left to emerge in about 1½ hours. Guidebook reckons the way on from Hardy’s Horror is up past a big slab – didn’t see that so don’t know whether that’s where we were. My arms ached like I’d just prussiked half a mile, and my elbow which I bashed is still bad a week later. 1½ hour trips are too much for me.

DUSA: Probably the softest caving club in the world.

Anthony Day