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Present: Hannah, Ian, Al (DUSA), George (RRPC/DOSA), Jake

Dowbergill Passage is a classic trip in every sense! The walk up to the entrance seemed a lot further than the 1.3miles shown on the signpost in Kettlewell. Fortunately the weather was being unusually pleasant, which was a good thing with regards to both the walk in and the fact that the water levels in the Dales are quite high enough at the moment anyway. I wasn’t keen on being added to the Dowbergill rescue statistics.

Once inside I was surprised by the quality of the caving in Providence Pot. The Blasted Crawl certainly adds interest, I was fortunate here in that being at the front I could see the depth of the water before dropping into it. Once I had stirred up the mud however the others did not have this luxury. Steady progress was then made all the way to Stalagmite Corner (the junction with Dowbergill Passage). The water levels here seemed about right – high enough to be sporting and yet nice and clear. From there we made good progress to Bridge Chamber, navigation in this part of the cave is none too hard due to the passages being fairly low. The awkward climb down towards the end of the chamber provided a notable moment of anxiety for most of us – slipping here would not be fun.

Following on from Bridge Chamber is the start of the rifty stream passage that seem to typify the low level route through Dowbergill. These are fairly benign until 800yds chamber is reached after which things get a bit tighter. It was at a small chamber about 100m before 800yds chamber (that we mistakenly thought was 800yds chamber) that Hannah, Ian and Jake decided to turn around and Al and I continued. At times we got our route finding a bit wrong and passed through a couple of nasty squeezes which turned out to have simple by-passes. Eventually we reached the Brew Chamber Choke where I spent about 10minutes trying to pass through a very small hole. After much thrashing around I gave up and almost immediately found a less obvious, although significantly larger hole just above. Unfortunately for Al and I we both have rather long legs so we still found this bit a bit awkward.

After Brew Chamber the going eased considerably although the water also deepened to slightly beyond the critical point. Rapid progress was made through this section in order to keep warm. The climb up to the gypsum traverse was a bit sketchy and it is worth noting that the bolt to which the tat is belayed to at the top (poorly placed to begin with) has seen better days. We’d bought a rope with us for the ‘handline’ (looks like a pitch to me) climb down at the far end of the traverse and we swiftly pulled through down this into the canal. This was followed into Dow Cave and we were soon stood outside in the daylight, a respectable 4 hours after we had entered, rather pleased at having done such a damn fine caving trip.

To get a bit more exercise we walked back down to Kettlewell and then back up the hill to Providence Pot in order to pick up Al’s stuff and hopefully meet the others. Fortunately they were just leaving as we reached the entrance. Rather bizarrely Al and I both saw a dog walking between Hannah, Ian and Jake when they were about 100m away – they however didn’t see it. Anyway after this encounter with the paranormal we buggered off to the pub.