Tatham Wife Hole

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2010-11-27

Initially Bob and Nick were coming, but Bob succumbed to the lure of the snow, and then Nick was poorly. Fortunately Jude and Johnny were doing the trip with Earby Pothole Club, and invited us to join them and use their tackle. Very fine tackle it was too: eight 25’ ladders, 3 dozen or so MRs, a couple of belays, two trusty 50m lifelines and one spreader. The trusty lifelines were apparently vintage 1990 – Earby are clearly very careful with their money.


There were around 12 of us altogether, including a few older members of Earby, coming for an outing before their AGM in the evening.


I went with Jude and a few others on the advance rigging party. We had a brief detour to the Hill Inn, thanks to Johnny’s navigation, then a very cold walk across to the cave. The cave was like a sauna by comparison. Jude asked me to rig – she probably knew the quality of the tackle. It was a real blast from the past for me – I hadn’t been on a proper ladder trip in the best part of twenty years. I’d forgotten the trade-offs between laddering in the water or having a long step out to the ladder.  The interesting selection of tackle made for some creative improvisation in the rigging, and by the third pitch, I’d run out of lifeline. The top two bolts there had failed, to make matters worse, so it was quite a long straddle round to the remaining good bolt. The ramp after that didn’t need tackle. The duck was quite refreshing, and was as far as most people went, and the last pitch was fine.


On the way back we found the second party had brought another line, which improved the third pitch. Emerged around 3pm to a bitterly cold late afternoon, and my belt froze on the walk back to the car.

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