Cherry Tree Hole by Dennis Bushell

Cherry Tree Hole: Denis, Jane, Ian. (11 April 2015).

We met at Kettlewell, had breakfast and a look at the surveys. It was a ladder trip making it a pleasant change from the clutter of SRT. Ian working his magic with farmerÕs wife allowing us to park at the farm, more sheltered. It was a very windy and cold day. The walk up to Cherry Tree came with its usual problems of location. New fencing slightly disorientated our perceived direction. Ian located the shake hole with said Cherry Tree Hole.

Laddering the first pitch, Ian, Jane and myself life-lining. All down with numerous options to way on. I said selfishly to Ian would it be OK to visit South Stream Passage first as I had a few problems at home and would like to exit on our return journey out at the junction with Far Stream Passage. This would allow Ian and Jane to visit  the rest of the cave as far as Blackstone Chamber. I had taken that route many years ago and had not seen the large chambers of South Stream Passage which I was looking forward to. We had several false dawns on the way in meaning total exploration of the entrance series.

South Stream Passage lived up to its reputation of large chambers and did not disappoint. Final passage to pitch and sump were mainly boulder ruckles and short squeezes. Last chamber had to be at high level far side of chamber. Ian said give it ten minutes and I will look elsewhere for continuation.

Within two minutes Ian shouted he had found way on. I shuffled back out and joined Jane through squeeze down to stream, Ian by now rigging final ladder pitch. Jane said she would sit this one out. Ian and I eager to descend the broken pitch second section: I not so eager. I said to Ian I will stay here unless more passage had been discovered since the 1971 extension, the sump being in the final chamber directly below ladder hanging in full flow of waterfall. Ian descended being engulfed by water and minutes later was reporting termination of cave, boulder choke with sump to left.

I thought I had noticed a high level chamber from my position on the split ledge and went for a look. The ladder descent reminded me of the Bung in Peak Cavern, a maelstrom of thrashing white water. Ian had always enjoyed wild water, I not so sure on stepping of the ladder. I headed off for the boulder choke but on looking up through the large blocks I realised it was the same chamber just on the far side which did total shut down. Now both wet to the core and very clean we continued up the ladder pitch to Jane faithfully waiting, had five minutes, and decided to exit the cave as a team instead of splitting  up.

At Far Stream Passage progress was steady Ian suggested I take the ladder and exit he would keep Jane company and it would ease congestion in the narrow passages. This I did. It was hailing when I exited and the strong wind chilled me. I now wished it was me keeping Jane company. We spent little time waiting around – straight back to the cars for a quick change. We left in different directions but the drive over the open fells of the Yorkshire Dales with clear blue skies, heat on full, classical on radio, made me feel happy to be alive in this wonderful landscape of shades and shadows.