Blog Caving

Knock Fell Caverns

Published: 24th February, 2022 · Tagged: caving

Knock Fell Caverns is a unique trip for the caver who fancies something a bit different than the typical Yorkshire Dales stream cave. Located under the summit of Knock Fell, which is conveniently accessed from the A66 at Appleby-in-Westmorland, the cave presents a hugely varied series of interconnected passages running in a broadly north-south and east-west direction. Wikipedia states that the cave is the “most extensive maze cave system in Britain” and the navigational challenges within are not to be underestimated. The total length of the system is around 4.5 kilometres.

The publicly available survey (also available without annotations) highlights the complexity of the cave. What the survey does not show, however, is the huge variety of passage located within the system. This is a cave that has almost everything; most trips into the cave will encompass tight squeezes, as well as generously sized chambers, beautiful formations, unpleasant muddy crawls, impressively tall rifts, leisurely walking passage, boulder chokes, and (of course) testing navigation.

Gracie and I, when visiting on 19th February 2022, got the impression that the cave does not receive a lot of traffic. Perhaps this is due to the location outside the main Yorkshire Dales caving area, or the intimidating complexity - either way, it seems a shame! Many of the passages within looked as if they had barely visited (even on the main ‘trade route’ marked on the annotated survey). The impressive, orange-tinted formations located throughout the system were very well-preserved.

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— Authored by Andrew Northall · Permanent link

Titan - the largest natural cave shaft in the UK

Published: 5th January, 2022 · Tagged: caving

On New Year’s Day, Gracie and I had the opportunity to take a trip down to the bottom of Titan, the largest natural cave shaft in the UK, which comes in at 141 metres from top to bottom. The total vertical distance covered in the trip is 174 metres (including the entrance shaft) — 16 metres taller than the Blackpool Tower. We had been looking forward to this trip for some time and the excitement was palpable when we picked up the keys at 10am. Originally, we had been a team of six, however due to the events of the night before (New Year’s Eve), only the two of us remained — we were not looking forward to carrying three backpacks and two drybags full of kit one and a half miles up Castleton Fell between us!

I have made a video of this trip and it is available on my YouTube channel. I’ve narrated the video with some information regarding the history of the cave and I really think it will help you get a better idea of what it is like to be down there. Text and images don’t quite do this natural wonder any justice — but then again, I’m not sure video can replace being there either.

The walk turned out to not be as bad as expected — the weather was dry and overcast, although quite windy, and we managed to reach the entrance in around an hour maintaining a slow and steady pace. The route through Cave Dale to the top of Hurd Low (where the entrance is situated) was beautiful, even if we did get some strange looks from the early morning holiday walkers.

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— Authored by Andrew Northall · Permanent link

County Pot to Lancaster Hole trip

Published: 3rd January, 2022 · Tagged: caving

On Christmas Day, 2021, I undertook a solo through trip of the Ease Gill cave system, from County Pot at the upstream end to Lancaster Hole at the downstream end. I’d previously explored the Ease Gill over a couple of trips — one into Lancaster Hole, and one from Lancaster Hole to Stop Pot and back — however this would be my first time going into County Pot and navigating the Manchester Bypass route back to the high level passages that form the “trade route” down towards Lancaster.

The entire trip was filmed using my helmet mounted GoPro, and the footage is available on my YouTube channel. The footage is quite good in places, especially the first half of the trip where the passages are smaller. Unfortunately, when I arrived into the gigantic dimensions of Monster Cavern where the passages enlarge significantly and remain so for the duration of the trip, the video quality degrades considerably.

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— Authored by Andrew Northall · Permanent link