Smeltgill Beck

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2009-06-28

I was looking forward to Surfer Bob’s trip to Smeltgill Beck, despite stories of rapidly rising water levels and near death experiences. But sadly due to Bob and Isobel not knowing what each other was planning Bob was unable to lead this trip.

I eventually volunteered, and on the day was joined by Chris. We met up in Brough only to find the café and the toilets closed for the summer.

We set of eastwards on the A66 hoping the truckstop would be open, it wouldn’t be caving without coffee before hand.

Not knowing exactly where the cave entrance was we did manage to faff about a bit, ok, quite a bit, not like walking over the fell looking for Pillar Holes, more like driving Eastbound, then Westbound, repeat as necessary. Eventually stopping a local and being told whereabouts Cold Comfort Farm was, we drove there, walking a mile or so to the cave, got bitten by a few midges and realised how close we had been when we asked the ‘local’, about 100m away. Needless to say we drove back to the original location and got changed ready for speleo. One of the very nice ladies at the hotel I stay at had asked for a picture of me in my gimp mask so I got Chris to take a picture of me suitably rubbered-up.

Because of the initial wet entrance I decided to wear my half-man suit, good choice, plenty of water in the cave to keep cool if you start to overheat.

As you can imagine, not many people go in there due to the cold water, but this makes it even more special, there are huge amounts of calcite formations to be seen. Lots of walking passage, sometimes reasonably deep other places quite dry, lots of it quite tight, no problem for Chris and me, we went through like racing snakes.

At one point I was on my hands and knees crawling and decided to re-arrange my dangly bits only to find that my camera had parted company with its sling. The sling was abandoned at this point, could look for the camera on the way back.

We continued on until we had found all the sumps, great fun! When we arrived back at the abandoned sling I started searching for the lost camera, which usually meant crawling on my hands and knees in fairly deep water, found plenty of stones. In a narrow passage I found something that wasn’t a stone, it was an albino fish about 6 –7 inches long, if only I had a camera.

After a lot of crawling, walking and cold water we reached the entrance series, wow, the heat was overpowering. Back to the cars and get dried in the wonderful sunshine, then back to Brough, surely we could find a pub open.

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