The Northern Pennine Club was founded on 22nd June 1946 by its six founder members. From this small beginning it grew so fast that that within a few years there were about sixty members, many of them already cavers of long experience. This was one reason why such a young club made such a big impact on the northern caving scene. Another reason was Crow Nest near Feizor, the club's home for the first ten years. It was so derelict that at first the club paid no rent, but members soon made it into a comfortable base for weekend caving. The Crow Nest era lasted until 1956, by which time the hut was too small for the growing membership, and anyway was no longer available for rent. Greenclose then became and still is the club’s base. At first a rent of 10/- (50p) a week was paid and a few years later Greenclose became the property of the club at a cost of £850.
The Northern Pennine Club’s Constitution has evolved over the years, but the exploration of caves has always been its first and most important aim. The first major discovery came in 1949 when Stream Passage Pot was entered and soon connected to the Gaping Gill system. The next discovery was Penyghent Pot, which still ranks amongst the finest potholes in the North. The Pennine now concentrated on Ease Gill, finding several new entrances, of which County Pot became the most popular. Many kilometres of passage were found and surveyed, and a connection made with Lancaster Hole. Much of this was achieved jointly with the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club, which was founded in the same year as, and in similar circumstances to the NPC. A later generation returned to find Link Pot, which provided a connection between the caves of Casterton and Leck Fells. Meanwhile the Pennine found several fine potholes on Fountains Fell, such as Hammer and Magnetometer Pots and made a major extension to Gingling Hole. Exploration has continued here more recently with the discovery of Strangle and FOUL Pots. The club has also had success in East Kingsdale (Vesper Pot), in the Marble Steps area (Low Douk Cave, Large Pot) and on Leck Fell (an extension to Gavel Pot).
Since the 1980s cave divers in the Pennine have made dramatic discoveries in Notts Pot, Malham Cove Rrising and the Fountains Fell Master Cave, found by diving from Gingling Hole. Further afield the club has found plenty of cave, such as at Fairy Hole (Weardale) and Thackthwaite Beck Cave (Wensleydale).
All these adventures and many more have been recorded in the Northern Pennine Club Journal, which has been published erratically, but has remained essential reading for anyone interested in cave exploration in the north of England. (All but the current journal are available on this website, together with much other historical information.)
Caving in the Dales has always been the Pennine priority, but the club has also been involved in the wider caving scene. Members have served in the Cave Rescue Organisation, the Council of Northern Caving Clubs and the Cave Research Group, which was founded in the same year as the NPC and evolved into the British Cave Research Association in 1973. The club has caved far beyond the Dales, from holiday caving in Europe to remote exploration in Asia and America.
At present the Northern Pennine Club has about 150 members and is in good shape. There has always been a blend of members, some of many decades’ standing, yet the club has also been continuously rejuvenated by new members, often from universities such as Leeds, Cambridge, Imperial College, Coventry and York. Greenclose remains an essential asset, where the welcoming atmosphere is valued by members and visitors. In recent years many members have introduced their children to caving on Family Meets, which have become very popular and rather more than hint that the Northern Pennine Club has a bright future.
Clive Westlake - February 2018
Much of the above material has been slowly getting converted from paper to digital with various club members helping to do this over the years. Lots is currently available on the club archive website - http://pennine.ddns.me.uk/NPC.
The plan is to update and move this archive to the main website in the coming months.