Tutman’s Hole by Adele Ward

Tutman’s Hole: Ian Cummins, Adele Ward (5 May 2018)

Bank Holiday weekend is always a hassle to escape from. The dales are filled with cars and cyclists, especially given it’s Tour de Yorkshire weekend. Tutman’s hole has been mentioned a couple of times by Ian; it’s just round the corner to Ian’s place. The weather is glorious, blue skies, and sunshine. Perhaps this is the long promised summer?

Questions are had as to if there has been a sufficiently long dry spell to allow progress past the long ducks. We decide to have a look. It’s glorious Weather. Oh I’m feeling excited! Alston traffic diversion must be a royal pain in the arse for the locals. A large detour is had, I have resisted quizzing Ian about this cave. My mate seems enthusiastic.


Parking up to pick up the Pennine Way track, I let out a little groan. ‘Ian how long is this walk?’  ‘Erm it’s not too bad going Adele, just a little uphill, then it’s easy going” . The walk ain’t so bad. Mental sheep look like they are imminently going to charge me just for being too much of a townie.

Picking up the old mining track and following the shooting butts down, this is a missed place; it’s truly spectacular. Following the contours of the gill it becomes obvious where Tutman’s Hole is. The stream we are following suddenly dries up and the bulk of the water emerges from a boulder slope. The water looks crystal clear. We knew this would be a shortish trip, so it’s nice to take time kitting up, have a chat, a quick smoke and a snack.

Approaching the entrance, the breath of the cave is observed with water vapour rising. It looks rather trippy. The entrance is not what I was expecting: a large hole at the top of a surface boulder slope leading to a big chamber with rocks covered in a fine network of what appears to look like watercress.

Straight away this cave is pretty. Huge formations that remind me of cathedral organ pipes confront us. Traveling along the passage is everything that’s great about caving.  Heavily scalloped rock that’s shaped similarly to to Cliff Force. Protruding from the side it reminds me of Indiana Jones movies. Long story!

This cave has it all for me. Easy crawl, bit of water, no boulder slopes of certain doom, no massive pitches of certain tears. Winner! The only issue this cave has is it’s not very long

Easy progress is made in superb passage. I am really enjoying myself. What semis-lurks at the back of my mind are the long ducks required. Trying to forget Ian looks like he is prepping for a free dive. Crawling in clear water, Ian leading the way, we avoid several white fish. God knows what species they are but everyone seems to call them white trout. This is an unusual thing to me, if anyone can offer more reasoning please let me know. This is a really short cave. It’s basically an oxbow of the surface stream. Don’t these little fishies have to be down here a while to be white?

Anyways moving forward, Ian uncannily reacts to circumstances in a rather shocked manner. ‘Oh there is a big fish, it swam past my hand!’. Thinking to myself fucking hell this must be a big fish to startle my ever-cool buddy, I ask a simple question: ‘erm how big?’ I have no clue how big the fish could be in this environment. Ian passes the fish to the right. I can’t quite believe I’m feeling nervous. Spotting said fish I began to laugh. ‘Ian I thought you meant there was a shark down here mate!’


The going is pleasant. Photos of the helictite formations don’t do this place justice.

The ducks are reached. Ian is leading and suggests progress with helmets off . This looks ok. Heading forward Ian suggests a more horizontal position is required. Rolling on my back this feels like sporting good fun! Reassurance by a favourable weather forecast is always to be advised.

Inner smile

The next passage I’ve leant is called Venice canal . This place stops me in my tracks. Getting my iPhone out, that’s stuffed in my wetsuit, taking my glove off to type in the pass code is a fag on. But I’m determined to capture some bank holiday snaps. Ian has to sit around for a bit.

Reaching the conclusion of the cave it seems like there should be more. I could hug Ian I’ve had such an excellent time!  I’ve really enjoyed this cave. Heading out it’s nice to view the formations from the opposite direction. And wow!

Heading out I wish I could get the camera not to over focus on the bright light and pick up the green sea that awaited us.

Pleased to see sunshine and blue sky Ian opts for the usual river washing duties, lacking enthusiasm for river kit washing a quick ciggy will do. The walk back saw us looking at various shake holes on route; this always yells a bit of fun. 

A quick Pint at the Miners Arms in Nenthead. Definitely a cave that needs a gentle hand. The formations are impressive, but go canny.

Great Day out. Thanks Ian!