Tatham Wife and Aygill Caverns

Socially distanced posing around the entrance to Tatham Wife Hole, Ingleborough in the background. Photo credit: Rhys Tyers.

Although individuals have been able to get underground throughout the summer, to no-one’s surprise 2020 hasn’t been the best year for club caving. Greenclose is now open for pre-booking by members in small groups though. A small group of us took advantage of this in September and ended up catching a fantastically sunny weekend, the last gasp of summer before the autumn equinox.

Saturday dawned bright and breezy. There had been no rain for a few days, and none was forecast. Perfect conditions to finally tick off a Yorkshire classic: Tatham Wife Hole, which none of us had done before. I’ve been put off previously by the long steep walk, unsettled weather, or stories about wandering around in the clag looking for the shakehole for hours.

Joined by day-trippers Perry and Arun, we were up at the cave by midday, which was extremely easy to find in good visibility, though we’d taken a map and compass just in case. The breeze meant the walk up was not as sweaty as it could have been (which is not to say I didn’t still find it a bit of a slog!). Ingleborough looked gorgeous under the blue sky.

What a nice cave! Tatham Wife has nice variety, with pitches, climbs, streamway, some damp crawls, and a duck so that you won’t get out without at least half a wetting. It would certainly be a terrifying place in high water, but in such dry conditions and nice company the cave was practically friendly.

At the bottom the others crawled on to the sump. Perry and I agreed that we didn’t need to see yet another Yorkshire sump and lead the relaxed return to the surface. We basked in the sunshine once out, drying off. The others were out half an hour later and we romped back down to the cars. Back at the NPC we enjoyed cake and tea, thanking each other for the day, before Perry and Arun headed off.

Sunday dawned equally bright and slightly less breezy. We had been thinking of visiting Ibbeth Peril in Dent but enthusiasm for the drive was low. We settled on Aygill Caverns instead, another dry-weather-only cave that none of us had done before. A bit of crawling and squeezing leads to a couple of pitches, which drop one into a lovely streamway with fun cascades to climb. We then crawled about in various maze-like passages looking for the terminal sump and ended up in a chamber containing a nice curtain. A bit confused by where we were and desiring a short trip, we headed out, interest piqued for a return in the future.

It was great to stay for a weekend at the NPC again. No matter how many times I stay, when I see it in the sunshine it still feels like a great place to call home-from-home.

Jack also wrote up the weekend on his own blog - click and go read it to see more photos.

September 19th-20th 2020

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