Gaping Gill - 24th August 2009
Date 24th August 2009 Description Gaping Gill
Start Point Clapham Village Peaks Climbed Ingleborough 724m
Total Time 8hrs 25min (inc GG)    
Walking Time 4hrs 45min    
Stopped Time 3hrs 40min (inc GG)    
Distance 9.75 miles    
Moving Average 2.1 mph Start Grid Ref SD 74561 69197
Elevation at Start 156 metres Temperature 18°C
Total Ascent 612 metres Weather Sunny Intervals and Rain
Max Elevation 724 metres Walking With OFC (11 walkers)

Clapham Village - Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail - Ingleborough Cave - Trow Gill - Clapham Bottoms - Gaping Gill - Bottoms Rigg - Brunt Riggs Moss - Simon Fell (slopes) - Ingleborough - Little Ingleborough - Gaping Gill - Clapham Bottoms - Trow Gill - Ingleborough Cave - Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail - Clapham Village

On a bright and almost sunny start to the day 11 explorers and 2 dogs met in Clapham village for the now annual event to Gaping Gill. The forecast was mixed so it was a day to wait see what happened. The group consisted of Liz Lemal (who organised the event), Barrie Fearnley, Steven Procter, Lorraine Barks, Dave Dimmock, Peter Burgess, Brian Burgess, Mary Singleton, Stephen Siddall, Matthew Siddall, and myself.

After waiting for everyone to arrive we set off from near the National Park Car Park the village at 9.50am. The walk through the village is a very pleasant one following Clapham Beck before walking down Church Avenue to arrive at St James’ Church with its 12th Century tower. As the sun was out a few photos were taken at this point. We then continued on to the Old Sawmill and the entrance to the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail. Once upon a time there used to be an honesty box here but now it’s as if we are all cars and have to pay at the meter!! There was quite a delay as we had to fumble around for some loose change in our pockets and rucksacks. Once we were all “legal” we placed ourselves into “gear” and headed off along the path through the nature trail.

We passed a lake and a folly (where group photos were taken) before arriving at Ingleborough Cave. Then it was onwards to Trow Gill where the melt waters of the Ice Age created this spectacular ravine. The path through the limestone ravine is quite steep and rocky. After a short time we were all safely through the Gill and heading to the moorland beyond.

Eventually we arrived at Gaping Gill (the highlight of the day). Gaping Gill is one of Britain's most famous caves. The stream of Fell Beck plunges 105 metres (360 feet) into the Main Chamber and is Britain’s highest unbroken waterfall. Those wishing to descend to the depths below registered their names with the organisers of the winch meet (Craven Pothole Club) and paid their dues. However we were informed that there was a waiting time of 2½ hours. Like in previous years this gives plenty of time to ascend Ingleborough (one of Yorkshires Three Peaks). Some of the party did not want to carry on to climb Ingleborough so they stayed behind and waited.

Steven Procter, Lorraine Barks, Dave Dimmock, Peter Burgess, Brian Burgess and myself set off across Bottoms Rigg and Brunt Riggs Moss to the slopes of Simon Fell. Then we joined a well trodden path to the summit of Ingleborough (723 metres). Strangely the summit is quite flat and very rocky and also used to be a hill fort in Roman times. There are great views in all directions from the summit which has several cairns as well as a large shelter and a Triangulation Pillar. We decided that we were in need of refreshments so we all congregated at the shelter. Here were a group of young people from the YHA all having a good time too.

As we were about to finish our lunch we saw rain approaching so it was time to don our waterproofs, have a quick photo session, and then escape off back towards Gaping Gill. Incredibly we were soon back to greet our colleagues who had been patiently waiting at the pothole. It was still raining when we arrived at Gaping Gill. Liz and Barrie had descended the gill moments before we arrived.

This was my second descent of Gaping Gill so I knew what to expect ... well more or less anyway ... except for how much water was going to pour over me as I was winched into the depths in the safe and secure bosons chair. The descent starts off slowly as the chair nears the edge of the gill then speeds up once inside the huge cavern. When one arrives at the bottom it is so dark that your eyes have not had time to adjust. Anyone looking at you take your first steps must think you are drunk or something as you grope around in the dark. Then it’s an “is that you?” scenario as it’s difficult to tell who’s who with helmets and waterproofs on. Anyway eventually everyone descended safely and gathered for the launch of the new “Lost Sheep” presented by Peter. Well done to Peter for publishing it in time for today’s big event. I guess it must have been the deepest launch its history. It was also amazing that Peter had managed to keep them all dry.

Everyone had plenty of time to investigate the chamber and take lots of photos in the gloom. The chamber is actually floodlit and makes for some great photo opportunities. One downside while at the bottom of Gaping Gill was that it was cold and damp (obviously) and while waiting for the ascent back to the surface (over ½ an hour) we had to stand close to where one of the waterfalls was cascading downwards ... which meant we got quite wet. I can’t speak on behalf of the others but during my ascent I got drenched as I was winched back up through the mouth of the Gill.

Back at the surface it was still raining but however was starting to ease. We were now split up as getting everyone back to the surface was taking some time and therefore we decided to return back to Clapham in small groups. We returned back the way that we came ... through Trow Gill (which had now become quite slippery with the rain). It was early evening when we arrived in Clapham.

We headed to the New Inn for food and drinks. Peter handed out a copy of the Lost Sheep to everyone as well as a signed certificate (by Peter and Liz) for the Gaping Gill Descent. This was another great OFC outing. Well done to all concerned especially Liz and Peter.

Neil Haslewood
Peak and Fell Walking

Picasa Web Albums - Neil Haslewood


Reference Books Used

Maps Used
OL2 Explorer - Yorkshire Dales (South & Western Areas)
Clapham Beck
Surprisingly - Deep Water in The Lake
St James Church - Clapham
© Crown Copywright. All rights reserved. Licence number 100047125
Photography through the trees - The Lake
A strange old seat
A folly on the Ingleborough Estate Nature Trail
Strange Projections
A pleasant walk to Ingleborough Cave
A group OFC gathering at the folly on the way to Ingleborough Cave
Lorraine and Mary in deep conversation
Liz and Barrie walking beside Clapham Beck
Ice Creams at Ingleborough Cave
Outside Ingleborough Cave
Time to set off again
Trow Gill
Path leading to Trow Gill
Looking back down Trow Gill
A slow progress up Trow Gill
Quite a gathering in Trow Gill
Seems like everyone is walking in every direction in Trow Gill
Liz makes it to the top of Trow Gill
Entrance to the caving system
Steven poses on a style
Sam is helped over the style
Ingleborough ahead
Bar Pot
Waiting to go down Gaping Gill
Gaping Gill - Craven Pothole Club Winch Meeting
Tents all over the place!!
The beck which flows into Gaping Gill
Simon Fell
Time for a snap
Ingleborough ahead
It's a long haul up this hill
Taking a breather
Photo time
Pool below Ingleborough
Still having a breather!!
I can see for miles -
Nearing the summit of Ingleborough
Simon Fell from Ingleborough
A path on the edge of Ingleborough
A cairn on Ingleborough
Ingleborough Summit Trig Pillar & Shelter
Ingleborough Shelter
Ingleborough Summit Trig Pillar
Ingleborough Summit Cairn
Ingleborough Trig Pillar Flush Bracket (S5619)
Inngleborough Summit Cairn
Return path to Little Ingleborough
Gaping Gill from Little Ingleborough
Descending into Gaping Gill
Gaping Gill Winch
Peter films his way to Gaping Gill
Lights in the gloom - Gaping Gill
A little "light" rain
Shining in the pool while a ghostly figure looms in the background
Gaping Gill Lights
Gaping Gill Illuminations
A shaft of light & a waterfall
A huge cavern
Waiting to return to the surface
A long queue
Peter finds the perfect shot
The way back to the light
What's Peter doing now??!
Peter looks to heaven for inspiration
Looking "skywards"
Having a good read of the "Lost Sheep" at the New Inn Clapham

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