Dunc and I (Rob) decided to head to Chapel le Dale to have a look at a few unheralded caves in the Meregill Hole area. The weather was dry but it was fairly cold (2-3 c) with little wind thankfully.
This is located in the field before you cross the wall to Meregill and fairly obvious. We decided to enter via a small fenced off shaft (7 metres) rather than the bedding plane entrance which looked wet and cold. The water is followed on hands and knees for quite a while, low at points, over cobbles until it gets very low. The water eventually reappears in Roaring Hole. This is a short but nice little warm up trip.
Hallam Moss Cave (P 101a)
On the Meregill side of the wall, head towards Black Shiver area and you will see a faint (shallow) dry valley. At the bottom end there is a small hole covered with slabs of stone. There is only room for one person to go down because it’s quite small, but the way on is a very tight crawl. At first sight I could see there was no way on. I dug a bit with my boot but there was no way I could fit. Dunc descended to dig further, resulting in the tube being made bigger but he could only just fit his legs in! So I had another go. I dug more rock and silt out and it certainly looked better than the first time, but it was definitely impassable. We reckon this requires much more digging and maybe some rock from either side shaving off. So we replaced the stones and headed off.
We easily located P 101 to use as a landmark to find P 101b. After looking in all the shakeholes we could see, we ended up back at Meregill Hole. The water comes through P 101b and into Meregill, so we decided to see where this was. NC suggests that this can be a through trip: the options being either to drop a ladder down the north west end of Meregill or free climb from the end of P 101b. Having looked at the alleged free climb, I wouldn’t recommend that option. There was very little to rig of either so a daytime assessment might be needed.
Wanting to avoid more failure, we opted to try and find the entrance again. Thankfully we did; P 101b being located in the only hole we didn’t look in! It is quite obvious because there is a good stream going in. I would suggest that if you are standing at the north west end of Meregill, head towards the summit of Ingleborough for about 175 metres.
The cave is a clean washed winding rift, awkward in places, particularly with tackle. A small chamber is soon reached for brief respite. From here, don’t go the dry way (like we did) because it’s a dead end. The way is in the stream, low at first then easing to hands and knees which you must endure for virtually the whole way until the pitch. This is 4.5 metres, quite pretty but free climbing would not be recommended. I quickly descended (Dunc had stopped earlier) and had a look at the exit into Meregill. I would strongly advise against a free climb exit which would almost certainly end in disaster or death. A better idea in fact would be to rig a rope (20 metres ish) and descend into the end of P 101b and tie an end off somewhere inside for easy exiting (a free hanging rope would be very difficult and dangerous to reach).
A swift exit was made, to find Dunc on the surface getting cold. We ran/walked very quickly back towards the van to get warm (it was pretty chilly). No pub because it was quite late and the brave Dunc had to be at work at 5.30 am!
Sounds like an interesting evening trip. I was out round grassington doing nav training. Lots of interesting mine workings up there including one that took a substantial stream.
Having looked at the survey the bedding entrance would have led us to the upstream portion of Sweetwater, which we missed (must read NC in more detail before heading off on these adventures!)
The slit we dropped down and found too small to proceed is indeed Hallam Moss (again, survey shows location). It needs a small team armed with a bucket/tub to clear the water/mud then some rocks need removing from the floor. Perhaps then entry could be gained!
P101b, definitely need daylight to assess rigging options and less snow/ice around the edge of the hole. Looking at the Meregill survey it appears right underneath where we stood (the one flat ledge where we could see down to the water). The tree might be an option, although it wasn’t the healthiest looking specimen! I retreated a bit before the end due to cold (water was bloody freezing) and a dash of dehydration starting to kick in, took it steady exiting and only waited a few minutes for Rob to emerge.
And yes, I was knackered on Saturday! Worth it though.