Ian, Chris, Jeff, Matt, with Alan Crossley (Black Sheep Diggers)
My first trip to Goyden and having looked at the description in NC1, I decided it would be wise to enlist the help of an expert on the system, so thanks are again due to Alan for his guidance. Indeed, NC1 even suggests that those who are unfamiliar with the cave best carry a copy of the survey.
Having been washed out of Langstrothdale the day before and barely venturing from John’s van due to the wind and rain, it was a relief to find the day dry and bright, with an autumnal nip in the air for the scenic drive over the fells to Lofthouse. Good job I arrived early, as I’d forgotten my OS map and there was no obvious sign of the cave. Winding up in Middlesmoor, I stopped to ask an old chap, with a face as rugged as a Brimham boulder, for directions. ‘Tha’s ont wrong road!’ (I’d figured that out by myself) ‘Get back down tid cricket field and turn left’. Nothing else from this man of few words, who made Geoffrey Boycott look like Lionel Blair!
Finding the right road, I was met by Chris’s car coming the other way. He revealed tales of scores of army cadets, but I assured him that the cave was large enough to escape them and we met up with Alan at the roadside. Alan showed his planned round(ish) trip and we were soon making the short walk to the entrance – large enough to easily walk into, but showing enough evidence, by virtue of the tree trunks wedged all around, of the total flooding that occurs in the system, although the entrance was dry on this day. We took a high-level route at first, looking down into the main chamber – very impressive too, before making the wet way to the ‘Ten Foot Climb’ up a short bit of ladder. After investigating the ancient scaling pole up to Telegraph Aven – also sporting a new ladder, we returned to the head of the ‘Twenty Foot Pitch’. This had a couple of grotty handlines in-situ, but Chris had enough 8mm rope in his bag for me to fashion a safe aid for the first tricky move down to the good flakes, allowing a steady climb down. Matt followed and we enjoyed the romp down the impressive passage, with its striking protruding chert blocks, before returning to join the rest of the party for the outward journey. Amazing to note that this all fills up with water!
Arriving at Five Ways, the way to The Labyrinth was indicated (say no more) and we continued out via the main passage, looking at the wide bedding of the sump, before making our way up the impressive bouldery going to the entrance. To complete the tour, we exited via Back Steps and with plenty of time remaining, Matt and I had a rapid run through Manchester Hole to complete a very interesting day out.
Driving back, reaching the summit between Lofthouse and Masham, I stopped to have a drink from my flask and enjoy the fine view – all the way to Teesside and beyond, from this wild spot, wishing I’d packed my rock shoes to take in a bit of grit on the way home.