Stream End Cave, Mossdale (Ian Cummins, Simon Beck, and Adele).
I still feel fairly new to this caving malarky, but I have always had big plans in life so why not with caving ? I’ve written several reports about Mossdale to remember a time 90 % of which has only been shared with Simon and Ian. Not sure why I feel a bit shy, because generally I aint.
The moment Mossdale landed on my radar – that moment is recalled with great clarity. Having not grown up around caving or basically known fuck all about it till I was 40 years old when my climbing buddies said did I fancy a trip underground ? Leif showed me an article regarding Mossdale and it pricked my interest. I’ve had a fair few trips into Mossdale: summoning spirit to progress in this place has never lacked, but I’m a pragmatist. A trip with Simon in May of 2017 being my 13th caving trip was never going to be a trip to the far reaches. What I recall is being struck by the changing nature of this cavern – it had everything that I loved in caving – water, boulders, fine stream passage and the potential of much more.
A brutal start of 7 am in Yarm, made Ian land at my place looking like he needed a few hours more in bed. This will be my 30th trip to one of my most favourite places, it’s the cave I’ve caved in the most. I’m ecstatic both my friends are along, Simon and Ian have a long history of trips like this. It’s a joy listening to these 2 chat on about various varied caving experiences. Walking up Ian is singing Abba SOS; this evokes the semi-superstitious side of me. Well mate hopefully we won’t need an SOS!
Walking up from Yarnbury seems a total pain in the arse today. I had imagined beautiful blue skies, the sun shining and the birds tweeting for my first trip to the arsehole end of this cave. Sadly that wasn’t to be delivered.
The forecast mercifully lacked rain; however windy overcast conditions that could have been lived without. Simon and Ian seem to be having a competition as to who can walk the faster, trundling along behind it’s great to see my friends.
I didn’t really feel concerned about this trip, in terms of flood safety. I have coping strategies, and about 5 weather app’s on my phone. But that’s not really enough; I’ve come to have vague ideas on how the water moves through this place. If you visit a cave frequently you notice certain characteristics. Where are the risky bits, where shouldn’t one linger too much? The conditions were as good as could be expected. I would describe my mood as chomping at the bit.
Plan is for Simon to head to the dig, me and Ian are having a trip to stream end cave, see what the duck is like, and have a poke around.
Quickly changed, feeling lean in my 2 ml wetsuit, Ian’s carrying a small tackle bag; I’ve invested in a “waterproof bum bag” Simon and Ian chuckle at my prep. “That’s gonna get fucked Adele” Simon exclaims. Erm no mate I think it will be ok…. little did I know how much I would curse this item.
Moving down the entrance feels super, I like this bit because I know where all the comfy foot holds are now on the down climb, when to come to a seated position, when to roll over. Simon moves ahead carrying his tackle to the dig. We have agreed a signal at the serpent that will allow me and Ian to know if Simon is still at the dig. Catching up with Simon, the familiar route is quickly passed. This is a great cave, reaching Boulder Hall following the stream we sidestep to move towards The Serpent. Quick catch up chat with Simon, we leave him at 11:30 – heading towards Rough Chamber. I remember I’ve missed the turn here before and ended up in Great Aven. Primed up, quickly Rough Chamber is found. As a little reward to myself I thought I might have a smoke before we progress, but Ian scurries around and before long he heads off. Thinking to myself it will be a nice treat at the end of Marathon. I’ve always been big on keeping spirits buoyant in caves; I have wine gums and smokes packed up – having a love of liberally singing silly songs.
The going aint bad, crawl- crawl, water -water – possible points you can stand and slither – but why bother ? Just crawl on through, seeing the small cascade that marked the extent of our previous trip. Ian is moving at a fair lick to keep warm. Crawl crawl, Kneewrecker Junction passed; crawling on the sandstone seems pleasant enough. I’m trying to keep a mental picture in my head as to where we are in relation to the survey. This is like moving through a place I have often imagined. Commenting to Ian, this aint so bad mate I kind of like it. We chat about the progress forward – excited to see the blocks to squeeze under “omg Ian – I know where we are … I’ve read about this bit”. Chat continues about previous trips and what is ahead. Aware there is a more flat-out bit ahead, I’m kind of looking forward to this as a change of scenery. So what’s this next bit like … well its ok. It’s a bit of a pain. Motivation to get to the end helps, and I feel in a cheery mood. Well I usually approach flat out stuff, dragging my sell on my arms, with toe propulsion….. this quickly gets a bit boring. Mossdale is hard on me here, having little wimpy arms. Adopting a sideways slide, using my legs on right wall on the bedding plane seems the way forward.
Spotting a blocked passage with a cobble slope Ian tells me we need to dig it out. For some odd reason I thought this would be a simple process. Whisking aside larger cobbles, the smaller ones, then sand took a while and being able to see the passage above this place helps keep you going.
Having lan in the water for 20 mins watching Ian sharply dig his way through, he was nearly up the slope, in a space I reckon might be a bit lean for me, so I offer a shoulder foothold. Whilst Ian is sorting himself out at the top, it seems a good idea to move as much of the cobble slope as possible. This has both a positive and a negative effect. Whilst the passage up maybe slightly larger, having removed the cobbles, the sand slips me back down on my initial attempt. Deciding enough was enough of sitting in the puddle, Ian offers a hand.
Arriving below, the climb up to the High Level Mud Caverns seemed a chill point and whilst we chatted about forward motion, I thought I might sneak a quick ciggy. Finding out my waterproof bum bag had a large hole in it sent a shiver up my back. I realise this is a ridiculous situation. My level of pissed offness is formative.
Salvaging 3 cigarettes….. I smoke 2. Feeling a little cold now – we best crack on, passing Minicow inlet and feeling colder in the water now.
Reaching the duck/sump at Stream End Cave, Ian confirms this is gonna be a free dive. Time to head out; we are 2 hours since leaving Simon, its 1:30, and we stop for a qucik picture.
Turning around thinking about the joys ahead of the passage out, we have a quick sugar treat of wine gums. The trip out is a slower affair than heading in, motivation shifts from let’s get down and experience this place to let’s get to the pub and have a pint. The flat out bit seems to pass slightly quicker. Ian is on fine cave ferret form and climbs some dodgy looking bits on the way out. Giggling to Ian what we must look like as he stands on my shoulder to explore areas above.
Crawl crawl crawl, no moved slower on the way out, looking after knees – all good fun but where the hell are the little cascades. Hearing the water perks me up. Moving forward, awaiting Rough Chamber is a good laugh- we are on our way out, mission achieved. Well last job – meet Simon make sure he hasn’t had an issue in the choke.
Feeling super impressed that I saw the turning on the left that leads back to The Serpent I am feeling ready for out. Its 3:30pm when we land, noting Simon is still at the dig, its smoke time. Ian my super lean mate looks a little chilly. Learning that my wine gums have now bitten the dust as well as the majority of my ciggies send me in to a ‘ right I’m gonna go look for Simon moment’. As if by magic Simon shouts, ‘’Adele is that you or am I smelling your smoke from somewhere else?”
Feeling fairly keen to head out, my feet are getting a tad cold. Moving forward I pick up the rear and reflect on the day – I’ve thought about this trip a long time. Do I feel jubilant – no not really although I thought I would? Do I feel like I have worked hard – yes? But this place is special.
Walking back the chatter is of plans and times gone. I am rewarded with sausage and mash at Hebden.