Ian Cummins and Ed Tapp (Durham Uni) 22/12/06
Various WRPC/UWFRA/Santa Claus/children/dog
Juniper Gulf had been on my to do list since I was 18. I had applied for a permit for the first day of the holiday, before Ed had to get down to Kent. Fortunately both permit and new harness were waiting at home on Thursday after finishing work. We parked at South House Farm, Selside, as Nick Pot was to be our fallback plan if we couldn’t get into Juniper Gulf. This is also the best place to get to the Allotment if you are coming from the North, making the walk only about 20 minutes or so. It was mild and dry, as it had been for a few days and there was not too much water going into the Juniper Gulf rift. We rigged from bolts at the North of the rift and scrambled down the streamway. This is finely sculpted, clean rock and walking along a quite narrow passage follows until the combined pitches 2 and 3 in a narrowing rift are passed. The infamous traverses followed, but the rock was clean and dry and if you have climbed on Malham’s terrace or Right wing, the smooth, rippled rock is very familiar. It felt fine just to push a gear bag along and the drop belowwas narrow enough not to be a worry. The fourth pitch is tremendous, with a narrow drop-off at the top opening into a fine shaft of 30-35 m, with a little spray nearby. More traversing leads to the clasic final pitch – we were not disappointed at the sight of the clean rift disappearing below, as well as soaring above. It’s easy to rig and I slowly descended, having a good look around all the while. When Ed came down we followed the more conventional stream passage to the final sump, dropped a block in and made our way out.
Jumaring in tandem we were out pretty quickly and back on the surface about 3 hr after entering the cave. Yes – a true classic cave, fulfilling my expectations. Why Juniper Gulf? In the shakehole for Juniper cave is the eponymous, very old tree!
After Christmas it was the WRPC/UWFRA raffle/dinner trip. I came along to reminisce about my first ever cave trip here, aged 14. In contrast to my impressions then, the walk in is short, the water was not chest deep (although I was very small then) and there were no huge cliffs to climb. I had a wander along to the end of the cave alone, while eveyone else was on the mudbanks and could smell the turkey as I came back through Hobson’s choice. I also really enjoyed this trip and I am assured by Steve that there is a lot more to Dow than initially meets the eye.