Birkwith 1 & 2 plus Bar Pot by Ian Cummins

Birkwith 1 and 2 (27th August, 10th Sept) Bar Pot (24th Sept 2006)

After a 20-year break from caving, what made me start again.  Curious really – scouring Teesdale last winter for the bouldering motherlode, I came upon a sinkhole and felt the urge to investigate – but sensibly decided to go home instead.  A few months later on the 3 peaks walk took a detour to Juniper Gulf – the name evokes a scene of natural grandeur and the sight of that long, narrow rift was enough to make me want to cave again.

Hence the wonders of the Internet brought me to the White Rose site.  Abby said yes I could come along and even better, Steve would lend me some gear.

Birkwith 1

First cave Calf Holes.  This is obviously a very popular novices cave, but is not without interest.  Plenty of water, a bit of crawling and squeezing and the fine waterfall chamber.  I really wanted to free-climb the fall, but reckoned that everyone else might think I was being a bit gung-ho for my first trip, so I resisted the urge.

Second cave – God’s Bridge – it almost got dark in there.

Finally – Old Ings – nice walk-in entrance into fine, clean streamway with a few deep pools.  This felt almost Mendip-like in its character.  We ended at deep water next to the sump, where I was reminded of why I used to cave in 4 mm of neoprene!

All in all a fine re-introduction, with thanks due to Abby and Steve.

Next weekend saw me and family in Inglesport buying a hybrid undersuit: • Guy in shop ” Na – don’t need one of those – Yorks caves are mostly dry”

  • Me ” I was up to my neck in water last week – I’m buying this”
  • My son “Dad you look funny in that” Birkwith 2

As Steve reckoned trip 1 was incomplete, a further meeting saw me, Steve and Dave Walker meet up again.  See Steve’s report for our attempt on the old Dismal Hill entrance.  Dave disappeared during this time and we ended up descending the rift, which was fine – an easy chimney leading to some flaky holds.  We went both ways from here and I went alone along the rope traverse, into the waterfall chamber and up the other streamway to its end – no Dave!  

Returning back, Steve was on top talking to said missing caver, who had exited via Old Ings.

Next over to Birkwith Cave where I tested the insulating properties of my suit – that canal was cold and deep!

A fine day, leaving me wanting to find the connection used by Dave.

Returned next week with friend from Durham Uni club and finding Dave’s marker stone, we found the blasted crawl.  Emerging from Old Ings, we had enjoyed the trip so much, we went straight back in and did it in reverse.  This is a fine, varied trip with 3 different streamways and the waterfall chamber past the rope trav is a fine spot.

A couple of weeks later I went to meet Gary, Abby and Tony at the factory to check out SRT gear prior to Bar Pot.  It had been a long time since I jumared out of Alum Pot, although I have had a few adventures ascending 9 mm climbing ropes on El Capitan!

Met Tony for the first time and he put me through the mill passing rebelays etc.  

Bar Pot

See Gary’s report also, but for me a very fine trip.  

The main pitch in Bar Pot is a fine sight and the main chamber was incredible.  Curiously, Gary found a large, live frog down here.  Did it grow up down there or does a frog have a low terminal velocity?

For me the most memorable part of the trip was a long, high rift traverse, requiring a lot of concentration!

I was very impressed by the young cavers who came along and learned a lot watching Tony rigging the pitches.  All in all a brilliant trip.

Off to California shortly to climb, so I’ll miss the next trip, but looking forward to the one following.