After yesterday’s sunshine, Mike Knipe and I braved the morning dreichness to rendezvous in Settle. Booth’s car park was a suitable rendezvous point, but in the absence of a café therein we wandered up the street to a deserted looking ‘Poppies’ café. The coffee was good, and seated in the far corner were some familiar faces – John Towers and his wife. ‘Out of context’ (ie not on the TGO Challenge) Mike and I were greeted by baffled looks, as if we had just arrived from the moon! John’s twin brother David soon arrived, and he and Mike burbled on for a while about their forthcoming 20th and 10th Challenges respectively, before Mike and I released ourselves into the misty atmosphere and rescued Bruno (Superdawg) from beneath a picnic table.
During our sojourn in the café the light rain had ceased, so we enjoyed a dry stroll to Malham and back, albeit in rather seriously overcastness.
The town remained in a November pall of smoke tainted vapour.
If they were testing the ‘bullets’, they passed, but if they were testing the armour plating – I’m sorry, but it failed!
Mike enjoyed one of his customary mid-morning snacks….
…before diving down a cave. There are many caves in this area – you are reprieved from my intended discourse on the ones we passed, due to the ‘Malham and Penyghent’ volume of ‘Northern Caves’ being ‘in preparation’ during my ‘caving phase’, so I’ll leave any extra information to Mike*. We did get quite muddy, though, and Bruno the cave dog was pleased to return to the surface as he hadn’t been provided with a lamp.
We probably managed just 10-15 metres down here, Miner’s Hole – in the vicinity of Pikedaw Calamine caverns, where gritstone meets limestone to provide numerous underground cave systems.
We passed a manhole cover under which a 23 metre ladder – about 9 inches wide, disappeared into the murky depths of a bell shaped cavern. Bruno declined the invitation to go down this, and a few minutes later decided he didn’t want to fetch this pair of electrically powered boots that had been put on a ‘washing line’ high above the path.
The Buck Inn welcomed us in, mud, dog and even Mike, to its warm interior and an excellent dose of Skipton Brewery’s Copper Kettle bitter. Here we met another group of ramblers – virtually the only folk we saw all day.
After stumbling off for more pies, we approached the magnificent rock wall of Malham Cove. Mike fantasized about the waterfall that must once have flowed over here, and about his previous life as a mountaineer, when he climbed here.
Today we climbed it by a different route, as Bruno had forgotten the rope, though he did lead his boss over some quite difficult terrain when he got the chance.
A fair part of the afternoon was spent on a well surfaced track that led from Langscar Gate, to the north of Langcliffe Scar, all the way to Jubilee Cave and beyond, whence we took a slithery footpath above Langcliffe, heading for the rapidly brightening lamps of Settle.
Here’s an outline of our 23 km route, with 830 metres ascent, taking around 7 hours, including some nice long breaks.
An excellent day out. Thanks for your company, Mike.
[Mike’s take on today’s walk, using the same photos but different text, is here.]
I believe we may meet again on Sunday 15 November for a walk up The Calf – meet at SD 698 969 at 9.30 am – all welcome.
* There’s no escape – Mike has emailed the cave data:
”Just to confirm the names and statistics of the caves on yesterday’s ramble:
The first one, which I thought was Spider Cave is actually Bivi Cave Grade 1 10 feet.
Pikedaw Calamine Caverns is 3200 feet Grade 2. The entrance pitch is 75 feet and there are several caverns : Cavern 84, Cavern 44 Cavern 104, The Great Shake, Mitchell's Cavern and an unnamed cavern containing the entrance pitch.
Miners Hole 240 feet Grade 2 (higher grade due to crawls).
Jubilee Cave 300 feet Grade 1 - is actually 3 adjacent caves - excavations found neolithic and celtic archeology.”