Out Sleets Beck Pot
Ian Cummins, Simon, Fay.
Still feeling the effects of an all-night expedition the weekend before, I fancied a shorter trip and Out Sleets had been on my list for quite a while. Steve Warren had been keen to come along earlier in the year, but we had cancelled due to an incorrect bad forecast and a sore shoulder ruled out any SRT for Steve for the moment, but Simon was keen and Fay also came along.
Like many caves in my old ‘Wharfedale and Nidderdale’ Northern Caves, the description for OSB is rather forbidding, with talk of dam-building and settled weather required, but a dry day was forecast and a healthy stream was running well below the boulder dam at the entrance.
Fairly straightforward caving leads to an awkward climb down, which I thought must be the first, very short pitch, although a little further on the presence of P-bolts at another easier, but wetter, climb proved to be Pitch 1. Since the water was pleasantly flowing, we didn’t leave a rope here, but carried on to the first proper pitch – Cascade Pot. We rigged this with a 20m rope, omitting the first traverse P-bolt and taking a line just to the right of the water from a P-bolt and a thread. Much more rope is required to make use of all the P-bolts present here. From the base, it is apparent just what an aesthetic pitch this is – perfectly symmetrical, with the water gushing out free from a beak-like spout, to land on the flat, cobbled base. Despite its modest size, this is one of the nicest pitches, in my opinion. After a good wash under the fall, a cobbled crawl regained the water and a section of pristine, crystalline, cauliflower formations was passed to the final pitch – Deluge Pot, rigged from 2 bolts and a P-hanger, again just to the right of the water with a 20m rope.
The highlight of the next section of the cave is the canal, with deep, Guinness-foamed water between slippery walls – a bit of fun in a wetsuit, with a slightly tight section to pass at a bend! Below this section we all noticed a bit of a toilet smell, which passed further downstream and at the time of writing I am showing no signs of impatigo, sickness or ear infections that I used to get from Mendip caves!
One of the features of OSB is the bullet-proof rock in the cave, particularly in the coccled rift on the cover of NC1, although in the final sections we found it to be well muddied and the final part of See-Saw passage brought us to various closed-down crawls and pits.
As is often the case, the trip out seemed very short and whilst waiting for the others to ascend Cascade Pot, my mind wandered, as usual, to thoughts of climbing the pitch as I spotted a fine line of juggy flakes leading to the final bulge. Needless to say, if you arrive back at this pitch to find your rope missing and there is not a torrent falling on your head, you may enjoy a fine climb on very sharp holds, with a nice stretch over the final bulge!
A trip of about 3 hours brought us out into a slight mist and strong wind, with the top of Penyghent obscured. I’d recommend this trip as being quite strenuous, but without any really nasty sections – fine, clean caving in a pristine pot.
Next day saw me and children Beth and George, returning to our nemesis – Great Douk, together with the might of the WRPC, to find the exit we had searched for previously (see prior trip report).
I felt rather overdressed in full wetsuit for this trip, but there was plenty of water to be found, as it happened and Beth has grown sufficiently to wear my neofleece anyway. George had to make do with a couple of shorty wetsuits and a pair of trousers and seemed not to mind crawling on his elbows! After throwing the experience of the affable and loquacious pairing of Ryder and Bushel at the problem, we managed to locate the climb up at the end of the wet, cobbly crawl (is this really only Grade 1?) and climbed out onto the warm clints (or are they grikes?). We could hear Steve’s ammo box rattling below and he emerged from another exit a bit further on. What a brilliant cave this – okay it may be missing some straws from the streamway, but even after tens of thousands of people have passed through, it still has a superb array of helictites, flowstone and fossils to enjoy in the fine, wet passage and whilst Beth and George walked down the path, I had a quick run though the cave to catch them up in the field below. A brilliant trip in fine company – thanks to all.