Slanting Cave aka Sheep’s Graveyard
I have been keen to visit this pothole for a while so with the weather sunny and dry, off we went. With Dunc and myself in attendance, we quickly located the shakehole and entrance.
Having read an ULSA report and the recommendation for neoprene, I was boiling for most of the day. The ULSA report also suggests a 35 metre rope for the 2 pitches, 2 slings, 3 krabs and 3 bolts for rigging purposes; the major problem is that the pitches are right at the end of the cave so even though it isn’t a lot of rope, moving tackle is very hard work through this place.
Just below the entrance, there are hundreds of sheep bones -the cave is in fact littered with sheep skulls and assorted sheep bones for at least 60 metres. I believe many previous trips have been delayed by the need for carcass removal.
Down from the entrance slanting rift there is a low crawl which will be a duck in wet weather and may well require cobble removal. From here, after a bit of low crawling you traverse above the stream into a rift, 8 metres high in places. It can be quite confusing where you need to be in the rift and I recall this was an issue from another recent BRCC trip. Although conscious not to descend back to the stream too early or the wrong place, we still did, wasting energy. Once you are in the rift, stay high, past a small stal and then round a sharp right hand bend. Still staying high, the way is eventually blocked by calcite and you have to descend a short distance, but then you need to go high again.
The way on (the FMC breakthrough point) is a small hole (squeeze) upwards which is very snug and awkward. I tested it and wriggled through but I wasn’t sure if Dunc would be keen. I wriggled back and asked Dunc to have a look to see if he could fit with the recommended way facing the left hand wall. After a couple of attempts and being half way in, Dunc said it was too snug and used his “get out of jail free card” (he was feeling extremely cave rusty!).
We decided to head out after our unsuccessful attempt to pass the squeeze. So having hauled the tackle in and out without use, the cave beat us. I expended a bucket load of sweat for my effort wearing that bloody neofleece!
Due to a shortened trip, we headed across to Gaze Gill and had a mooch about. We had a quick look in Heron Pot resurgence, East Bank Cave and Upper Brown Hills cave before Gaze Gill Cave itself. This has quite a bit of interest with 244 metres of length and more than one entrance and is a good short side trip. We decided to exit via a very tight side passage which could only be done on your back.
It was a good few hours caving although a return to Slanting is on my agenda.
Interesting trip report. This makes the third failed attempt by Black Rose members to bottom the cave. Granted the first two attempts were a failure on my part (at the right hand bend just past the stal at the top of the rift passage). Scaife made it through though. But this trip report isn’t about us – it’s about you and Dunc.
I guess I need to make a visit there then.
As Rob will testify I most certainly didn’t have my caving head on. That with the aforementioned rustiness (only my 4th trip this year) and poor fitness meant I gave up too easily. I could have got through if I really tried- the exit from Gaze Gill was probably tighter, but that was out to daylight not heading further in..
The cave definitely warrants the grade, with sustained awkward going for most of the way!
Ha beat ya as ive not been down one cave this year, I’d have got through though.
Beyond the right hand bend, you traverse a bit further until the calcite blockage forces you down a bit. Then it’s back to the top of the rift until that squeeze I wrote about. I went through the squeeze but it was tight on me and a little awkward. I was wearing a neofleece however which is a bit thicker and reduces flexibility sligtly. I am the same size I’ve been for about 6 years so it is definitely tight!