Friday, 13 July 2018

Mossdale Sessions 54 - 57

Mossdale Session 54

Fri 29th June 2018

(Simon Beck)

'Decadence don't pay the bills!'

Late night, which really messed up my plans! Finally got away just before noon, with only the surveying gear, got to the scar around 1pm.

Decided to scrap the surveying and drop the gear at the White Hotel for the following day. Would do a little light work instead.

Effortless load, quick trip down there.

Had a massive tidy up, filled in Leftfield Dead, and partially began to wall it up.Once this is done I should beable to remove the vast majority of the cage, for reuse if necessary.

I paid for my late night regarding my original itinerary, but still got a tonne of compulsory little things done.

Speedy trip out. Scorcher of a walk back.

Trip Duration: 2.5 hours

Mossdale Session 55

Sat 30th June 2018

(Simon Beck)

'Black Edge copyright infringement'

Away for a similar time as yesterday, but feeling far fresher. Brisk walk over, again very hot!

Rich G did the call-out as usual, although this time they were on the fell themselves.

Came across a bunch of reflective markers during entry. Having not seen any bags during entry I did wonder if it was from the previous evening.
Makes me chuckle there's no longer a nice easy phone line for folk to follow anymore, albeit I was the one who went through the anguish of clearing it up, so the satisfaction was more than earned.
Bumped into the party in question mid-way through the Swims, as I approached the duck. A pleasant chat with two of the three ensued, with the third scurrying off sheepishly and pretending he didn't know who I was.

Surveying went well from word go. Have simplified things a little, capturing less of the un-necessary detail and better organised, though I've some ways to go.
I didn't over do it, and was feeling the effects of the cold after an hour and half or so. The new stuff is far airier than the previous limits.

I'm trying to tie-up as much as I can before entering in to the next phase. Once I find a way on, I know all my extraneous obligations will suffer, either until I'm through, or need a break. Plus, I would rather get up here everyday for 2.5,3 hours than have a big session which requires a rest day.

Did a little more walling up and collecting scattered tools.

Removed the base jack from the A-frame to see if anything budged. Plan is to prop the A-frame with what little I leave of the cage.

Quick trip out. Pleasant visit.

Stopped on the walk back to Yarnbury to meet up with Rich G, Hucky and Phil Ryder, just one of our WRPC splinter groups.

Huge plumes of smoke from the fires on Winter Hill could be easily seen from Grassington moor that day.

Trip duration: 3 hours

Mossdale Session 56

Sun 1st July 2018

(Simon Beck, Richard G)

Rick surprised me a helluva lot today. In fact I think he surprised himself as well. Firstly, for finally agreeing to a visit after years of excusing himself, and second, with how well he did and how flawlessly he moved in there.

I asked him, part way through the trip, how long it was since he was last here, after a moments pause he came back with 30 years.

You can always tell a lifelong caver, regardless of the loss in agility, they still move through those environments with relative ease and grace.
The fact that Rick is still, in many ways, recovering from a stroke, is testament to his dedication. The zero chance of any rain whatsoever, i think, allowed Rick to focus on the physical/mental exertions in hand, without the usual peripheral concerns like the weather, or a tsunami.

I think Rick had also forgotten just how pleasant the early to mid reaches of this cave really are. The awkward entry to Ouroborous was the next test for him, which he had to really fight to get through. I'd given him the option of turning round just prior, but think he didn't want to let me down, knowing I had a little work to do.
At that point I left him to make his own way down, at a leisurely pace, while I headed off to finish my list of small jobs.

Continued walling up Leftfield Dead. Sourcing the stone at that point was becoming an issue, so had to go back to an earlier stash of broken boulders in Piston Chamber. Handled this stuff far too many times now. Father always told me, never touch things more than once. I've never had the benefit of taking room for granted at this site I'm afraid.

Once Rick had joined me we headed through to the White Hotel. He'd more than earn't the right to be the 3rd person to visit the extensions, especially after all the years stressfully managing my call-outs for me. He chose not to descend further than the White Hotel, but instead waited while I went to inspect the limits once again.
Found a number of torturous looking routes, missed last time, one which appeared to be heading in the general direction of Leftfield Deep, though still some way short.
Observed where the water first appears from the lower end of Ouroborous in times of flood as well. There's an obvious looking inlet at the North West corner of the 2nd boulder chamber after the pitch. It must be rather spectacular down here, likened to a cascade as it crashes down the mid way slabs. The overall appearance is very clean washed, with small banks of mud where it obviously backs up.

Headed to the lower end, not far from the previous limit reached, and dug a hole in the floor of the boulder alley. Mainly cobbles, which quickly opened up a further drop of more than a metre, maybe even two.
I haven't dismissed the possibility of a route onwards, via a choked cleft, between the large floor blocks. Especially with proving it continues down some. It's definitely on a par, as a feature, with Nemesis.

Headed back to Rick feeling non the wiser about where next. This factor has at least allowed me to relax a little and take a step back.

Visited Confusion Cavern during the return. Typical Rick couldn't help having a root around.

Intensely hot walk back. Saw a mole travelling overground, before making a dash for cover when we arrived. Strange! Maybe to do with the dry ground?

Trip Duration: 4.5 hours

2020 note. Session 56 is one of those days I look back on and regret immensely. Another one of those times an effort is made for someone you thought worthy, well maybe that's an exaggeration of how I felt about this person even then, but I still made it nonetheless. This was a person who some years earlier at introduced me to a friend of their's, who it turns out was a convicted sex offender. Not only did my so called trusted friend not make me aware of this persons criminal status, but later down the line - when I found out about it - they denied any knowledge they knew about it. A can of worms was then unwittingly opened relating to my friends own possibly sinister and deviant past, when others were asked whether he'd really known. Apparently he was the one I should be worried about not the one convicted. If there is any truth in what he was accused of doing then hopefully one day he'll be made to answer for his actions. The fact this man worked in care is an absolute travesty.
I'm sure you're now regretting not just telling the truth to begin with, not to mention the ensuing expose that occurred as a result.
I foolishly gave this person the benefit of the doubt, and continued the friendship, but made it clear repeatedly that all I wanted was the truth and no more lying. I stuck up for him on occasions even though I agreed with most people's issues, he did suffer grand delusions. But inconsistencies and lies continued to crop up, as did my disgust for this person, and in the end I said enough's enough... I was willing to draw a line in the sand, walk away and forget about it all, but some people don't play fair. They obviously can't take responsibility for their own actions, preferring to blame others instead, albeit in a very cunning sly manipulative way.
The reason I'm wasting my time writing this here, you may ask? Because, first and foremost, I've no wish for others to have to endure years of this man before realising what he really is, as I did.
Finally, keep your kids well away from this man.
Fumes from a Dream Liner

Mossdale Session 57

Mon 2nd July 2018

(Simon Beck, Adele Ward)

'A marathon not to be obsessing about'

Fourth day for me in a row!

Adele commented that I'd walked a marathon over the previous days, just getting there and back.

Another hot but very windy walk over. The wind can be a great benefit some days, where as others when it can really grate. I may have already said that before.

The day's plan was a little surveying in the extensions and take a further look at where to attack next.

Water levels really have hit rock bottom!

With the heat and comfortable water temperature on the surface, I'd been wondering why the Swims were no where near as warm, nor steaming like last year. Obviously it takes a larger volume entering the cave, than at present, to have an effect on the large body of water that constitutes the entirety of the Swims. Water levels were far higher this time last year.

Tried to capture a few pictures at the confluence of Broadway and RH Passage. Didn't quite come out as I'd wanted. Will have to play about again in the future to get desired effect. (pictures at foot of article)

Hurried ahead part-way-in to continue with the walling up of Leftfield Dead. Tidy job, though I could do far better if pride in any way outweighed necessity. Reserve scaffold is like gold dust down here.

Surveying went well, though with hindsight a little rushed. Got half way through what was left and then called it at that. Realised I'd be better continuing with it alone instead of rushing. Adele was wearing a far thinner wetsuit than I would recommend for this type of work, and was noticeably shivering soon after work had begun.
I'd hoped to complete the surveying but I guess I reap what I sow with this one. I've chosen to do this project in such a minimalistic style, so have to suffer when I can't manage with what little help I've allocated.

'The way I see it is this, of those I could invite, how many of them would be in my place right now if I wasn't? Put simply, there's your answer, to all those who keep rattling on about how much I would benefit from others helping me.'

Before calling it a day I investigated the choke (Black Edge) a little more thoroughly. A number of further possibilities were investigated and lightly excavated, though requiring more than primitive techniques to make use of.
Visited the very limit of the choke for the first time since my first foray here. A boulder alley ( later named, Charlie's Alley) leads to a small, very loose looking chamber, which I'd dismissed as a complete no go previously.
A cool breeze could be felt, which lead me to realise, what I'd thought was a solid wall of mud and boulders, was in fact hollow beyond. Dark dripping spaces could be seen and heard beyond and the strata appeared to have changed. It appeared very dark and malign beyond that point.

My mind was then racing again thinking about strategy. Will be a challenging job to support the chamber enough to safely punch through the boulder wall, but that didn't matter, the next phase of this operation had begun!
I'd mentioned earlier in the day that we may find the truncated passage on the other side of the choke, this appeared to be what we'd found.

From that moment on, non mossdale time, was a state of constant duress. Just hoped I could get through before the weather broke.

Decided to take some more scaffold with me next time as well.

Trip duration: 5 hours 

Next installment: Mossdale Sessions 58 - 62

© Simon Beck, 2018. The copyright for this article and photographs, remains with the author. It should not be reproduced without permission.


  1. Congrats on the breakthrough sir, exciting stuff indeed!

    1. It's only a trivial breakthrough regarding length of passage found, but a slightly bigger one where breaking through the strata is concerned. It continues to put up a fight. Just back from two days in a row battered and bruised!

  2. Congrats on the progress! Could you possibly explain to me the significance of breaking through the strata? - I climb but have no experience with caves, I find your writings on Mossdale absolutely fascinating!

  3. Hi J
    Put simply, which is all I have the vocabulary for. The water that sinks at Mossdale Scar, does so within the Middle Limestone, the water then passes through several further beds of limestone, bordered with sandstone/shales before entering the Great Scar Limestone, which is the band of rock it re-emerges from at Black Keld.
    The present explored limits of Mossdale are confined to the Middle Limestone, unlike the neighbouring Langcliffe Pot, where early explorers broke through to the Simonstone/Hardraw Scar Limestone via a fault/gulf at Nemesis. Breaking through the strata is just another step in furthering the limits of this cave system. Hope that makes sense. Simon