I’ve decided to rename the cave Yocken-Not Pot, for reasons that will become all too apparent below.
Not much to report. Sharman and I met in the layby opposite the stone circle near Yockenthwaite Farm at 10am where we got changed and readied the tackle. We took alternate routes up the hill. I opted for the more direct route across the River Wharfe and straight up the hill, while Sharman decided instead to go several hundred metres upstream to a place where he (wrongly) thought the water would be a bit shallower and he could avoid getting wet. We both eventually met at the entrance to Yockenthwaite, which is very easy to find.
It was a bit of a challenge trying to figure out how to rig the entrance pitch. NFTFH says to use a knob of rock as a backup, with a rebelay a few feet below this on the opposite wall. We couldn’t find a decent knob of rock so we used a large tree root as a backup, then a sling around a rock (no knob) just next to the pitch. After a short bit of searching we managed to find the spit for the rebelay, as well as a large barn owl, which suddenly appeared out of nowhere beneath us. Once at the bottom we were immediately greeted by the sound of lots of water. This surprised me as there is only one mention in NFTFH about water in Yockenthwaite.
We wriggled on our backs through the short flat-out wallow in the corner at the bottom of the pitch, emerging in a small chamber at the head of the second pitch. There was quite a bit of water going down this pitch, and even more going down the third pitch that immediately follows. Sharman rigged the second pitch (only putting in one hangar rather than two, for some reason), while I decided to go down the narrow chimney free-climb on the opposite side of the pitch. The first half of the chimney was easy, but it opens out for the second half, making it somewhat of a challenge to get down.
Sharman and I met up at the bottom of the second pitch / top of the third pitch, where I tried to find a place to stay dry while Sharman put in the hangars and rigged the pitch. This pitch was very wet. It was impossible to avoid the water going down, and the only places to hide at the bottom were either a small, somewhat dryish corner or in the short blasted rift passage leading to the top of the fourth pitch. Sharman didn’t like the amount of water that was going down the blasted rift and fourth pitch, stating that on previous trips to Yockenthwaite the cave had been dry.
The top of the fourth pitch is awkward and consists of a slanting sideways squeeze for several feet leading out over the pitch head. We decided we would rig the pitch and attempt to go down if the water level permitted. I tried to get Sharman to play a game of rock, paper and scissors with me to determine who would go down first. Sharman didn’t like this idea though and suggested that I should go first. I got through most of the squeeze and was just about over the pitch head when I decided that it might be a good idea to first try and climb back up through the squeeze, to see how difficult this would be with the water level on the return. I’m glad I did this as it wasn’t easy getting back out. It’s impossible to go through the squeeze and the blasted rift without putting your left arm in the lower part of the rift, which quickly raises the water level, bringing the water very close to one’s face. Sharman and I decided that the risk wasn’t worth it and headed out.
The trip out was uneventful, largely because we weren’t that far in the cave. The walk back to the cars was also uneventful apart from when Sharman decided to do a little impromptu dance, which concluded with him on his ass. It was the first time in my life that I had ever seen anyone fall backwards, with the person’s legs were higher than their head. Lucky for me I was able to see it twice as Sharman was kind or enough to give me a repeat performance further down the hill. We eventually made it back to the cars with only our egos (and Sharman’s ass) bruised. A brew and a pint in The George Inn soon set us straight though.
Note – NFTFH states that a 10m rope is needed for the second pitch, and a 10m rope for the third pitch. However, we rigged both pitches with one 10m rope, with plenty of spare rope left.
It’s a pity you did not go down the 4th pitch, as you only go down a few meters and would be out of the water then. I have been down when it’s reasonably wet but I guess it was really wet when you did it.
I think it was too wet. I was aware that you only had to descend a few meters, but the water was right in my face when I tried to go down. One day…
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