Dowbergill Uphill! by Ian Cummins

Dowbergill: Ian, Simon and Paul (BCC) (27th October 2007). 

After the strenuous trip of the previous weekend, I wanted a cave requiring no tackle – hence the return to Dowbergill, with the aim of doing the trip in the direction of Dow to Providence, which neither Simon nor I had done.

The morning was pleasantly settled and still, with fog on the high ground in Coverdale. I always look out for the Highland cattle when I take this route and I found them standing in the road, appearing from the gloom and obviously not caring to move at all. Even as I weaved through the herd, they seemed oblivious to my presence and just carried on chewing the cud.

Meeting up in Kettlewell, Simon introduced Paul, who was looking for a bit of exercise to kick-start his fitness campaign and after enjoying a very strong coffee we left Paul’s Land Rover at the Provi. end and drove off to Dow.

Simon led the way and it was apparent that the water was even lower than our trip in February, with the duck having head and shoulders airspace. Further along, where Simon and I climbed over a jammed block at the normally short sump section, there was a small airspace and Paul just dived through to avoid the climb!

With such a dry spell the caving at stream level was very pleasant, with the only high level traverse being required at the point where the fixed knotted ropes are present. The ascent of this last part of the rift is very slippery and after trying to get my feet to stick to the glassy walls, I resorted to pulling up on the rope.

Regaining the stream we had a bit of a delay at The Narrows, whilst Paul squeezed himself through and then continued into the more spacious chambers before the Blasted Crawl. Indeed, I found that these chambers looked more impressive approaching from below and I was able to take more time to appreciate some of the fine formations hereabouts.

Upon reaching the exit at Providence Pot, we suggested to Paul that we should reverse the trip, only partially in jest, but our mud-smeared companion was having none of it! Again we had enjoyed a relatively straightforward trip, due to the low water levels and after a wash in the stream we walked out in the atmospheric mist and drizzle, feeling satisfied for a few days at least.