Mossdale Kneewrecker and More by Adele Ward

Mossdale  Kneewrecker and more.

Ian and Adele.

20th April 2019


Watching the weather this past week has been torture for me, will the met office do that weird thing whereby they suddenly change the forecast?. It was looking good. February 2019 was the last time we visited this area; we have both been chomping at the bit to return. At the time it was apparent that there was a lot to see at the end of Kneewrecker. Mossdale will never fail to amaze me, boulder chokes, high muddy caverns, watery avens, small crawls, grand stream ways. Ive always thought this was a fabulous cave – it gave us a bit more today. 

There are 3 approaches to Mossdale that I know of (suppose Nidderdale would be a big hike), up the wall of the moor, across the moor from Yarnbury and over the top from Conistone. My preferred is across the moor from Yarnbury.

Ian fancied an early start so he could get back to family, so 8:30 am departure was had from Yarm. Driving over, the roads are filled with suicidal pheasants and tourist clogging the route. Arriving at Yarnbury and stuffing kit into packs, wonder how I can seemingly have exactly the same kit as Ian yet my pack looks twice as big and twice as heavy. Chatting about last adventures here, this is gonna be fun as post-trip research has clarified our previous limits of exploration. This will prob be the first ever report I have tried to describe a route… but I will still throw in my feeling on the experience. 

It’s a warm day, with little breeze, although breaking out of the stone wall yielded a little. Ian is working on double-quick mode walking so scurrying alone we are quickly arriving at the scar. Hearing a familiar voice – we see 2 fellow enthusiasts. Friends have noticed us walking over to the entrance  Andy commenting there are 2 lasses coming. Sam commenting are you sure it aint Ian and Adele?

Changed with a bit of dithering from me – have I got, did I pack? Ian leads through the initial boulder choke, carrying the bag passed to each other. My lights seem a bit iffy, and Mossdale seems surprisingly gloomy to start which semi-unsettles me as I don’t like a familiar place looking different. I’m happy enough leading so after Fossil Chamber this is our groove. Slide over blocks, slithery easy bedding planes, to Assembly Hall. Sliding down further boulders and arriving at Blackpool Sands – woo! The past floods have done some work. I haven’t a clue how to describe the volume or weight of the fresh-looking cobbles and sand….but it’s a bit different from usual. These are all going to eventually wash down into the system is my thought on the matter. 

Keeping warm through the swims, the water seems a little higher and Confusion Passage aint my favourite place as have gone wrong here before. Reaching Cigarette Junction, finding the right passage of a familiar route, Rough chamber is quickly reached. Both Feeling fresh beginning Rough Crawlthe water is lower than last time, but still as cold. Things have moved, new cobbles are lodged in the stream – Ian spontaneously decides to move a huge boulder that is causing a backlog – it looked the same size as my dinky friend. 

Trundling along, trying to commit different features to memory for the journey I can hear the fall of the water before the cascades. This is met with joy and also some concern – “Ian I don’t remember this bit being so wet  its way over elbow depth?” Popping round the corner we see that the previous flood has deposited debris which we freed.

Water in Rough Passage is a lot lower again since last trip, I keep hoping that the duck at the end of Kneewrecker will be not so chilly. Arriving at the junction the water whips round the corner of the smooth-floored passage that quickly diminishes to nearly flat out. It’s kind of the size where if you crawl your bum rubs on the roof. Ian got the bag so a steady pace of shove, shuffle begins. Various forms of movement are engaged all designed to keep hands warm and usable as possible. Turning a corner and spotting white foam from last flood on roof, thinking to myself  brilliant this must be that duck. I rive off my gloves to try to take a picture.

Turning the next corner or so, realising I’m wrong – this is the gloomy bit. Water isn’t as high and we manage to proceed without the faff of hoods, but both of us understand why Relief Passage is this named.

Leaving the bag and taking Ian’s camera so we can take some photos of this place to aid our location on survey at a later date, familiar boulders in the impressive stream lead us to False Fourways. Continue on and squeezing down into the stream through a boulder is passage very akin to that of Kneewrecker. Telling Ian I think this is a bit shit and any ideas how long, Ian suggests we give it a few mins and then turn around if the going doesn’t improve. After a nasty section with little airspace, we popped out into more comfortable surroundings, thank goodness.

We make some progress up Dull North, however we are aware there are several obstacles to tackle on the way out, so let’s commit this bit to memory and come back at a later date. 


Returning to Relief Passage we head up North Relief. The sculptured rock here has us both feeling amazed that this area is so infrequently visited. The passages here are coated in mud: floors filled half way with cobbles this stand in contrast to other areas.  Time check and retuning to the bags, feels a good thing to do. Knowing I can be the clumsy sort I generally don’t rush, but picking up the pace to get warm for the immersion of the duck all of a sudden I’m aware that the ground it rapidly approaching and my feet are sliding….. I never realised how many thoughts can flash through my mind in a nano second. With only a sore bum and bruised and feeling a little embarrassed from making my mate concerned, it’s back to the task again. Taking the bag – I am determined we are getting through this bit as quickly as possible as arrival at the drafty Rough Chamber frozen wouldn’t be good. 

The time goes quickly and Rough Crawl done, the lower section of water after the cascades reminds me I can still quickly get cold. Once we are back in Rough Chamber, this almost feels like we are out to me. Chatting about the evidence of cobble movement and sand in Mossdale seems to be my favourite pastime. It does make bits look a bit different. 

Testing Ian in the entrance series is fun – ok mate which way? Look for the black block – yippee he remembered! I chuck our bags out and hurl myself out. The walk back is beautiful, the sun is cooler, and there is no major rush so we take time to enjoy the benefits of the walk, I’m a bird spotter in training. 

Great trip – thoroughly enjoyed. Thank to Ian for putting up with my constant pecking to cave here.