Members present: Myself, Thomas Smith, Olly Hall

I must warn you that this tale is no happy one, it is a dark story of a man that by the end has been both mentally and physically broken. You may get a better story from Olly, but I don’t think there ever will be a cheery report of this god-forsaken hell hole.

It all starts when I awoke from a slumber of two hours, feeling the effects of the night before. People were still cooking breakfast so I lent a hand stirring beans and still managed to let them stick to the bottom. Breakfast was eaten, some washing up done and then we were on our way to Kingsdale.

We arrived and it was fairly misty with fog on higher ground which was going to be fun finding the entrance as it is in a shake hole, but also made worse due to the fact it is surrounded by many more shake holes. We were ready quickly and were on our way up the side of Whernside, a few breaks needed to catch our breaths back from the steep ascent. Visibility was around ~30m, so finding it was going to be fun! We could just see other shake holes in the distance thinking that it could be one just to arrive and see it was a metre deep and was just filled with mud.

We eventually arrived at the entrance, and I pottered down to make sure this indeed was correct, which when I initially looked, thought that it couldn’t be. I went back to the surface, and had another look around to make sure. Then we came back and Tom went down and confirmed it was the cave, so in we followed and the torture begins. You can tell it isn’t a regularly visited cave because the rocks aren’t polished at all. Shit, now I realised I have left my knee pads in the van.

Grinning and bearing it, I shuffled into the passage which was a flat-out crawl above a rift. The rift was too thin for a human, but big enough to fit a tackle sack in and get it wedged. So, it was a case of move, sort out bag, stop yourself slipping down the rift, move and repeat. This is unfortunately what it was like throughout the cave. It is a really awkward but impressive entrance series but not quite what I was expecting!

The pitch heads are a nice escape from the claustrophobic passages as these are reasonably exposed and allows you to just sit there. But, after the first pitch, you head back into a vadose which is slightly larger and can accommodate people shuffling to the side. This point involved me getting myself stuck and worked up quite a lot and made the trip all that better for me. I kept slipping down into the vadose beneath and getting stuck and having to try to get myself out and pull the bag up as well.

We got to the top of the second pitch which we were free climbing and I decided I wouldn’t be able to come back up if I went down because I was too exhausted, so I made the decision to sit and rest at the top whilst Tom decides the plan of action. The crawl in the streamway didn’t sound all that appetising so they decided to come back up.

Heading back was even worse as my energy levels just kept on dropping (due to lack of sleep), I really struggled getting off the first pitch head which required Tom’s aide.

I really struggled with this cave, it was like being chewed up and spat out of the devil’s mouth. The darkness outside resembled the darkness that was my soul. And as I write this trip report, I am mainly feeling sorry for myself with a cup of tea and in a fair amount pain with cuts and bruises from neck to toe. I must be faint-hearted!

But, I won’t let this defeat me, I am determined to go again at some point in the not so near future, and get to the end. Although a part of me was broken, a better one will rise!

7/10 would cave again.