The Melrose Explorer Unit with leaders Lesley Mathison and Mhorag Heger took it upon themselves to travel to Great Towers, Windermere to participate in a weekend of caving.
With some trepidation we drove to Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales on Saturday morning to meet up with our instructors, the only instruction was, ‘we’ll be in a black van outside the public toilet’, intriguing! Ian and Lin Patrick were however fantastic and made sure that everyone’s apprehensions were settled before we headed for the hills.
Donning our attractive and slightly damp ‘caving suits’ we started to feel like real adventurers and this was strengthened when we had to find a random hole in the ground which we soon disappeared down. At first we were all a bit wary of getting our feet wet but that soon changed as we were soon up to our thighs in water and squeezing through gaps we never thought possible. This, as we were soon to find out, was only the warm up!
Saturday’s main adventure came in the form of a free abseil down into Calf Holes cave followed by a belly crawl to a T junction where our feet dropped down a hole and we slithered down a chute into Browngill cave. Climbing, slithering and squeezing our way through we then arrived at an underground waterfall, truly spectacular.
Alum pot cave was our destination on Sunday, a huge cave system with some interesting and challenging parts. I think everyone will treasure the memory of the ‘Cheese Press’, a 22 cm squeeze where breathing out was the key to getting a few extra millimetres to get through. Another surprise was the ‘investisaurus’ crawl where Oliver went in a Scout got invested while in the beast and was re-born an explorer helped by his three birthing partners, truly a one off experience! Topping all this however was the 10m abseil down to see the Alum Pot waterfall and then the exceedingly challenging ladder climb back up, thankfully followed by a chocolate bar break to give us the strength to climb back out of the cave.
The day was rounded up by the Explorers going through ‘Wilson’s Cave’ by themselves which was as Ian put it was a ‘through trip, with a low air space exit’, that was an understatement , they had to crawl through the water on their stomachs to exit into the sunny outdoors.
All in all the trip was a huge success, meeting our goals of increasing confidence, working as a team and obtaining our Caving badge.