Return to Shark’s Tooth by Ian Cummins

Shark’s Tooth Cave: Ian and Adele (15/05/2019)

Despite having endured far too much crawling in Fairy Holes over the past couple of weeks, Adele accepted the invite to try to complete this tortuous little horror after our previous frigid and painful experience.  We decided to start off the trip with a pint in the pub in West Burton; perhaps more would have been in order, since the cave is not technical but requires some resistance to pain and cold.

Calling at the farm again, Bill the owner was pleased to hear of our continued interest in the cave and followed us down to watch us crawl in.  Adele led the way, first scouring the entrance with a branch to scare off any spiders, before commencing the steady crawl ahead to the sound of falling water where the roughest terrain begins.  Knowing that I could just blindly crawl without seeing ahead, I kept my helmet on, looking to my right, hearing the painful cries of my chum ahead.


Approaching the end of the sharp bits.

Noting the rabbit guts still wrapped around one of the rocky teeth in the floor, I managed to throw them off to the side to reduce the smell, crawling on to reach the point at which we had retreated previously.


After the worst of the crawling – the wet bit to come.

I assured Adele that the worst was done and we continued on, crawling over slightly better ground, much of it covered by a mat of fine tree roots, waving in the flow like horse tails in the wind, where Adele was able to crouch and take some pictures as she rested her aching limbs.  With neoprene gloves beneath a heavy protective pair and the loan of my chum’s rubber kneepads, I was in much better shape than last time and with a 5mm wetsuit was also quite warm unlike my companion, shivering under 2mm of neoprene.


A bit cramped – tree roots in the streambed.

The terrain ahead looked very wet, although more spacious and Adele was too cold to face a ducking, so I decided to race to the end.  A crawl through a pool, with a float up a canal section led to a squeeze over a jagged block at a bend, led to a section of rough hands and knees crawling in shallow, fast flowing water.  Nothing much of any beauty here, save for an appreciation of the raw rugged, dark rock, until a final jumble of blocks signalled the end, as far as I was concerned anyway, eager to get back to make sure my companion was OK.


Pretty much the only formations of note – between the nasty bit and the wet bit!

Thankfully, back at Camp 1, no sign of Adele and it was just a case of steady-away; don’t fight the rock, use body tension and toes to inch along, every inch a small bit of progress to the exit.

Down the small jagged drop and the final easier section – some light ahead – and a pleasant exit to the warmth and a wash in the pool below the cascade.  The pleasant change done, Mr Price had finished his tractor work and invited us for tea and biscuits in front of the farmhouse, where we learned that the hill to the west was in fact the back end of Buckden Pike and informed our host that he was unlikely to get enough cave visitors to keep a café going.

Like a lot of hard trips, this was great in retrospect – not too long to become tedious, but requiring significant effort nonetheless.  The complement of bruises on my thighs was rather insignificant to Adele’s collection – where she appeared to have taken a savage beating.

Will we be back….well of course, it was a bit less painful this time and it would be satisfying for my chum should see the end.