Sleets Gill

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2000-02-01

Two Raddled Old Ladies Trip

After many discussions at various social events Ursula and I finally set a date. In view of Ursula's claimed lack of fitness and my own real lack, something non too challenging was required!

Ursula remembered a cave where she climbed down a ladder with a bottle of beer in each hand (before she became an upstanding citizen) but a glance at the guide revealed too many ‘awkward’ ‘very difficult’ and plain ‘dangerous’ adjectives. Lengthy consultations with Tony who was spending the day being minded by Eleanor Rose, produced Sleets Gill Cave. The blurb in the guide begins with these comforting words :

WARNING - Entrance slope can sump rapidly in wet weather, often after a long delay. The whole known cave except The Ramp floods to the roof.

After changing by the road, to the horror and amusement of passing families, we set off. We slogged up the hill in a manner which would definitely not be attributed to spring lambs. The entrance was breath-taking, made more so by the fact that it had obviously very recently sumped. Assuring each other we would leave at the merest hint of too much water we descended the steep scree slope. Pausing to hide the keys by the carcase of an unidentifiable animal we crawled to the main gallery. From here we were able to walk (slide) over mud banks and did our best to avoid disturbing crystal clear pools. Due to skilled navigation we twice missed the entrance to Boireau’s Passage, tantalisingly described as a 75m long strenuous crawl ending in a boulder choke. Instead we opted for Hydrophobia Passage as Ursula assured me Hyperthermia Passage was “fairly unpleasant”. Without wetsuits Hydrophobia itself could also be described as such by wimps like me and after 10mins or so of lying in freezing water I’d had enough. We meandered back through the main gallery, hurtled up the scree slope and came out into brilliant sunshine. Sticky puddings, custard and hot chocolate at Kettlewell rounded off the trip beautifully. Many thanks to Ursula and Tony for arranging, driving and feeding me. (Tony has discovered the way to a girls heart is through endless chocolate! A true hero).

Sleets Gill is indeed spectacular and with the aid of my wetsuit who knows....?

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