Foss Gill Cave by Ian Cummins

This cave is truly a little gem – rock and water, nowt else.  No mud, no formations to speak of, no really tough obstacles and not much length, but for me a short blast of total enjoyment.  Perhaps it’s the fact that caves like this are washed clean, removing any evidence of the human passage that turns me off the well-trodden areas of Easegill and Gaping Gill, leaving the impression that one has seen and departed from a pristine natural place.  Anyway, it’s in Wharfedale, which is a bonus and the walk up is also a total joy, ending just as the wooded hillside gets even steeper and more muddy, if one is making the further journey to Foss Gill Pot.

Adele and I had a quick look at the cave a few months back after getting rained off from Redmire, finding the gill to be foaming and white, leaving only the minimum of airspace at the entrance.  I stuck on a hood, snorkelling in, whilst Adele waited and took a few selfies….I was tempted to say ‘it’s always like this – safe as houses’, but after previously inflicting 3 hours of solitude upon my companion in our ‘Provi Pot Episode’, I decided to come clean and we headed off for Dow.

Selfie 999999 plus 1

Adele looking unimpressed by the airspace.

Fast forward a few months and we had a couple of hours to get a trip in before the club dinner.  It was bloomin’ cold but dry and we decided to have a quick foray into Foss Gill Cave.  Elise and Louis joined us for the walk to the Wharfe and headed off to Kettlewell, whilst Adele and I walked up the gill.

Foss Gill 1

The fine lower cascade.

Finding plenty of airspace at the entrance we were soon making our way along the very chilly canal sections, where I was thankful for my layers of neoprene in the perfectly clear water, before pausing at the remarkable sump to enjoy an immersion.

Foss Gill sump

The vertical slot of the sump – diveline in my right hand.

We continued upstream, passing a boulder blockage where the ensuing rift had water so still and clear it appeared to be invisible until it was disturbed, making our way to the squeezes that mark the approach to the final dig.  I passed this section to where one has to make a further squeeze into a dry bedding to get to the final mini-chamber, deciding to avoid this and do a contorted inversion to exit, determined not to get my head soaked by the frigid water.

Foss Gill squeeze

Exiting the wet squeeze.

On the way out I asked Adele to lead the way whilst I got pics of the 2 canal sections, as my model showed admirable fortitude in maintaining a steady pose despite the temperature.


The upstream canal – not too deep, but still chilly.


Adele in the exit canal – not a place to linger!

Foss Gill exit

A clean exit.

With a chill north wind blowing, we made a rapid retreat down the gill, sharing our single pair of Dachsteins to ease frigid digits, before making discreet changes in our cars in the village.  Next stop The Bluebell in Kettlewell, finding the teens already in-situ, for a welcome beer.