Scanty Lardos by Ian Cummins

Scanty Lardos Pot: Richard Bendall & Ian Cummins (3rd July 2016). 

Has this etymologically-challenged discovery been introduced to an eager public yet?  I can state that if one descends a drain look-alike somewhere in Wharfedale then a fine caving experience awaits.

A rare midweek trip for me to meet Richard Bendall after an invite to do some squeeze-testing and free-climbing found me ‘somewhere in the dales’ on a beautiful day and the exhausting 5-second approach trek to the aforementioned entrance led us to the sound of roaring water.  Even large people can get down this cave and we climbed down the capped rift section where Richard tried to tie a knot and rig the 25m pitch that was the only one with tackle not in-situ.

Pleasant stream passage with jointed twists and turns with several short pitches led us to the final choke.  Richard had been bolting up here and we ascended his fixed rope to a stance with a calcite bulge leading to a hole above.  I tied on to lead-climb, draping a sling over a boss for a runner and pulled over the obstacle above to climb a few more feet into an impasse – a muddy pool and a tiny crevice.  Reversing, I could not feel the crucial foothold below the bulge and called to Richard for direction.  With foot placed I was soon down and we were back to the bottom.

The choke in the streamway was investigated and looked to be eminently passable to me as I shifted a few blocks whilst lying in the water until reaching one that was stuck.  A further gap in the choke above was investigated by me, so that I could poke my head into a large chamber, but not get past an overhanging block – unfortunately it proved to be the same chamber Richard had seen from the rope we ascended and getting down I got horribly stuck, having to remove my wetsuit jacket from a curled position to get myself out – ouch!

The exit to the surface took about 30 minutes or so and we surprised some tourists on the road as our heads popped into the daylight.  Finishing my flask and butties in the sun, I enjoyed the fine vista before driving home via Pateley Bridge for my customary coffee from the Costa machine in the garage.

My thanks to Richard for the invite to check out this super cave, wherever it is.