Dow Cave: Phil, Brian, Steve Warren, Geoff Dudman and Ian (20th February 2011).
I reckon most dales cavers have been down this cave many times, as have I, but after this trip I realised that there was so much I had missed on previous visits, with much more to explore in the future.
A grey, cold day meant it was a relief to get underground, with new members Phil, an experienced campaigner and Brian, on his first trip, making for a pretty large party. Steve pointed me at a muddy hole to see if it would go – and so it did, to a lethally-poised jumble of clay and boulders and it was a relief to wash off in the rather aqueous going through Hobson’s. The chilly meltwater and howling draught made standing around a bit unpleasant in places, but the cascades are always a delight and we removed the ancient hawser, which probably anchored Noah’s Ark, replacing it with a red kernmantel – so don’t nick it please! Pausing here whilst the party ascended the climb, I actually noticed the amazing Goliath stal in the roof for the first time – pretty awesome it is too, hanging from the roof way up above.
Phil led off through Dig A, with its rusting jumble of scaffolding, until we turned back in the cobbly stream just before Albert Hall, with the water rising and making the final squeezes a bit too hazardous to complete the trip and we returned to be shown the rather squalid Dig B by Steve.
A final detour to take in the first part of Dowbergill was made on the way out – one can’t tire of this bit of cave and we emerged to the gloomy afternoon. Sticking my frigid mitts into my armpits on the walk back to the car, I managed to get some life into my fingers before we retired to the King’s Head to inspect Steve’s latest surveys, whilst Brian proved that it is possible to get served whilst wearing a wetsuit!
It was generally agreed that another Dow Cave meet should be planned for later in the year, as well as the annual Dowbergill trip (up and down?).
Pic by Geoff Dudman.