White Scar Cave by Ian Cummins

White Scar Cave: Emma, Chris, Jeff, Matt, Dave, Phil and Ian (4th September 2011).

Another superb excursion into what must be one of the finest streamways outside of Wharfedale and Weardale !  My plan was to explore the Sleepwalker series, but due to a combination of relying upon NC2 and my own useless navigation, couldn’t find it…….again!  The most likely looking inlet being atop of a nicely calcited wall, bearing no resemblance to the climb over boulders that I was expecting, so it wasn’t ascended to its top.

The day started well, when Viking, now dressed as a hillbilly, reported to the cave office and was informed that entry was only £2.50, not the £8.50 I had expected……must read the small print more closely next time.

We were all well wrapped in black stuff for the swim and had a quick peek at the Battlefield Chamber on the way in – I think all caves should have those nice purple lights as well as those soothing tunes they play at Sealife centres – wouldn’t that be a trip.

The wet weather made for a roaring stream under the scaffolded walkway and the swim was started by me with a doggy paddle, followed by breaststroke and finally a front crawl, with the result that my numbed, ungloved hands were nicely shredded by underwater projections.  After waiting to enjoy the involuntary gasps of my chilly chums, we followed the line through the choke to emerge in the fast-flowing streamway.  Unlike my visit last year as a BCC guest, the water was cloudy, deep and noisy, with plenty of shin bashing on the many underwater traps – especially for Viking, who lost a boot sole on the way in (and another on the way out).  Good man though, carried his trash all the way in and back out – you have learned well Grasshopper.

Looking for Sleepwalker series, I paused at each of the many roof inlets, without inspiration, until reaching the ducks at the end – oh dear.  Exactly as happened last year, the duck under the right wall was missed at first until an aven had been investigated and the aqueous route was followed.  Despite the much higher stream level, these ducks weren’t much worse than I remembered and with helmet off, 1 ear could be kept dry at least and I think we all enjoyed the meandering route for airspace until the expanse of the sump chamber was reached.

With a pleasant romp back downstream, the swim was again enjoyed, with Matt actually overtaking me on one of the wider sections.  After a bit of a wait on the platform, the welcome sounds of splashing and gasping heralded the arrival of the rest of the party and we headed out, whereupon I took the opportunity of a final shower under a fine inlet.  Meeting an incoming party of cavers wearing dry grots and carrying large cameras and tripods, I managed to encounter 1 large chap right at the humorously-named ‘Squeeze’.  If it wasn’t on the way in, it certainly was now.

Brilliant caving – thanks to the cave staff for letting us in and to my hirsute chum, Emma, Chris, Jeff, Matt, Dave and Phil for coming along.