The First Post (of 2017) – Above and Below Ground in the Yorkshire Dales   8 comments

It’s Christmas time and rather than mistletoe and wine, for us its a bunkhouse in the Yorkshire Dales with our little troupe of friends from years gone by. The Old School Bunkhouse has been our home for the past 3 years and despite the fact the weather has been largely miserable, we love it. Well the adults do anyway. Some of the kids now think we should be staying somewhere more sophisticated (more shops, Starbucks etc and less spiders and damp) or even possibly abroad (Amsterdam was suggested, can you believe). Back in the real world this place does us fine, loads of space and huge kitchen make for a very convivial atmosphere

Well this year we actually had a reasonable forecast. In the event there was a great deal of cloud (apart from EWH who always walks around in his own deluded blue sky sunny interval) but it stayed dry and that’s the main thing

On the Saturday a small group tackled Ingleborough while others lazed and went shopping. This included my partners in crime The Dangerous Brothers. I’m an honorary DB, less for my love of danger and more due to my calamitous, clumsy nature that finds danger where no-one thought possible (benign beaches, avocados that sort of thing).


It was an atmospheric day as cloud swirled around the summits and gave us occasional glimpses above and through to sunnier skies above.



The climb up the steep slopes to the plateau were taxing and we’d hoped we’d break through the cloud as promised, but promise was all there was. Once we pushed up towards the top that was the last we saw of blue sky and the end of the photos



The summit was actually bitterly cold, highlighted by the fact that DB Jr had come out with only a T-Shirt under his cag. Cue the comical sight of him wearing ED’s fleece over the top. The size differential is on a cosmic scale. To his absolute credit he barely complained and seemed in chipper spirits the whole day. It was a harsh day and I was mightily impressed how the young ones coped with the inclement weather and longish walk for them

The evening was the usual mix of stories and cooking, treated this year to catering by TBF and her sous chefs ( a very fine shepherds pie). I joke many times about the fact we re-tell many old stories but these gatherings are so important to all of us. Thirty plus years of friendships has given a huge comfort of familiarity. We all do our own things or group together depending on how we feel with no animosity if people feel the need for some “me” time. There is lots of gentle ribbing and mickey taking but no offense is ever taken.We do have some more serious discussions safe in the knowledge that we are all of a similar mind and on the odd occasion we disagree its never taken to heart. I can’t imagine starting my Xmas break without this weekend or indeed any other time of year when we regularly get together

Anyway, back to the outdoor stuff. The Sunday needed something to get the kids engaged (walks are “boring”). We decided to take them caving (after some small scale play in the Runscar caves last year) and all the kids gave it a go. We took the very sensible decision to rent lamps and helmets (a bargain at only £3 each) and it proved a masterstroke – they give off way more light than your average head-torch. ED had done his research and found a small cave just outside Ingleton, Skirwith Cave. It was an old showcave but sounded accessible. After a short while searching the hillside for the entrance (a steep slide down a concrete pipe) we were in. What can I say but it was great, easy walking and loads of interesting features and flow stones. Alas I forgot my camera so if you pop over to ED’s blog, he has some excellent photos

That first cave was enough for most, the delights of cake and carols proving tempting. However the oldies and the Dangerous Brothers wanted more so we headed back to Great Douk Cave. I messed around in here many years ago with GM and ED and my memory was of  a fun but short expedition. It turns out my memory let me down as I had no recollection of just how long, varied and feature packed it was. I did take some photos but they are, as you can see, a bit crap.






Again ED has much better photos over on his blog.

There was flowstone, waterfalls, roof openings and crawls and of course the now legendary “Pumffrey Back-Passage” (last time we were in here, GM got very excited thinking he dug out a whole new cave network until he realised me and ED were standing there looking at him as he burrowed back into the main passage . The DB’s were in their absolute element and despite the cold loved every minute (as did the grown-ups, lets be honest). By the time we returned to the exit the day was fading and we’d had pretty much a full day of enjoyment. More to come next year please, plans are already afoot

Interestingly whilst my photos came out badly, the video worked fine, there vare some clips in the brief slide show at the end

Another awesome weekend to kick off what has become our annual “leave home and the Xmas chaos behind” winter trip. We said our goodbyes and headed off to Luton Airport for another two weeks of fun in the sun


8 responses to “The First Post (of 2017) – Above and Below Ground in the Yorkshire Dales

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  1. A great weekend, so relaxing. Your fellow DB’s will definitely be up for more caving. Odd about the photos and the filming, although I’ve noticed a similar discrepancy in low light. Maybe its something to do with how the different modes of recording work?


    • I need to practice taking photos in dark places before we go caving again, already looking forward to next years exploits. Long Churn would be good if there isn’t too much water. Cracking weekend


  2. Looks like a fun holiday with friends! Love that you toured a cave. How fun!


    • We have several of these gatherings every year and they are always a highlight. We’ve known each other for over 30 years now, makes me feel old and young at the same time! Caving is great fun for the kids (and adults) if you stay away from the difficult and dangerous stuff


  3. Traditions like this, need to be treasured. I hope the young’ins will continue to join you for many more years.
    Fun in the sun – I await your next post.


    • Absolutely. We plan these trips a year in advance to make sure they happen. The younger ones are starting to raise eyebrows at the thought of camping and staying in bunkhouses but we have plans to keep them interested 🙂
      Fun in the sun posts to start later this week….


  4. Had some great times down there caving- Alum Pot- Long Churn Caves etc and it’s definitely better with the right lights and gear. Also warmer underground in winter as long as you are not in the water too much.


    Blue Sky Scotland
    • Long Churn is a classic and on the list for next year if its not too wet. Kids loved this trip, a real sense of adventure without any real danger – shame my photos were so bad!


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