Foss Gill Cave
This trip reminded me, as did our recent trip to Bracken Cave, that Northern Caves was largely written by people who had once met someone who had once been down a particular cave….probably.
Foss Gill Cave was one of the little gems I had been saving up for a not very rainy day, having heard tales of deep, cold water, a pit-like sump issuing a fine, clear flow and a possible dig at the end. We had already secured permission from Bushey Lodge and parked up on the edge of Starbotton to have a quick change in the shelter of the walled bridleway – not quick enough by Fay, who was caught out by some walkers, with me being pleased to have mastered the quick change into a 2-minute job.
This is a beautiful spot with the geraniums in full bloom and we paused to take in the view of the Wharfe from the footbridge before walking up the gill to the cave entrance. Steve Warren had sent me a picture of the entrance and I was looking out for a crawl under a bedding. The first feature turned out to be a false alarm and the cascade above was bypassed by a climb through the trees to reveal the low wet slot with a gentle flow running over the mossy bedrock. A low section that would readily sump leads into a deep, cold canal that would quickly deter the casual visitor. With shorty and wetsuit I was quite cosy, although Fay was whimpering a bit!
With the passage opening out into a wide, jagged-floored streamway, we paused to get the camera out and soon found the sump shaft that Simon had described to me, with a picture taken here too. The high rift above was climbed as high as safely allowed, although a rope and some climbing protection would have allowed a bit more progress to shine torches up into the gloom, before we continued upstream along a bedding section.
Pausing at a wet squeeze, I removed my helmet and passed through the body-sized section that was half full of very cold water, advising Fay that in her gear she would soon be hypothermic. The next obstacle proved to be a squeeze into a low crawl, not over mudbanks, but over rock intersected by deep crevices filled with clear water, possibly associated with the water issuing from the plughole sump. NC1 describes an obstruction barring access to passage beyond – now absent, with a bit of bang wire in-situ, leading to a further wet squeeze into a turning spot where the impassable passage continues as very narrow, low rift that would be a grim dig even by WRPC standards….and I have endured some miserable situations in the company of the B-Team diggers, so enough said.
A quick exit with a pause for a photo exiting the wet squeeze and we were out in a few minutes, after enjoying this super miniature gem.