Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Mossdale Session 75

Mossdale Session 75

Friday 2nd Nov 2018

(Simon Beck)

'Purpose breeds the determination'

Another fortnight between encounters. Which is pretty reasonable considering the season.

With the heat off the push, and back to snagging, the wait felt bearable. Yet an unusual habit developed over the course of those few weeks, of sleepless nights, deep in thought regarding the extensions, satisfying an urge to work things out and predict the next move. I couldn't help feel there was more to it than that. I've been plagued by Mossdale since I was in my mid-twenties.

The break also gave me a chance to quit the fags again. Today's session was the second day of non smoking. There isn't a cat in hells chance it could've been the first, hence the pressure to quit the day before the planned trip.
With the schedule ahead brimming with nicotine dependency, I knew it was my last possible opportunity for sometime to come.
Usually I would fail so soon after restarting. Savouring sacrilege just that bit longer is too hard to resist.

Yarnbury for ten, Scar eleven, with my business face on. The tedium to come surveying, or struggling, as I choose to refer, had obviously galvanized my defenses. Or maybe I was just excited and focused about spending all those precious Mossdale Air Miles on something that comes a very very distant third to the caving and writing side of this project. The fact that I despise the writing side at this point should give some indication of my feelings.

Water levels down, lowest I've seen for a few months.

I was planning to take a picture of the Blackpool Bar during the commute (mentioned session 72) for comparison with a 2006 version, but found the old I-phone provided had a flat battery, even though charged the previous eve! Reconditioned phones for you! Felt like one hassle saved at the time.

Dealt with the flood damaged head of the 1st pitch in passing. Only took me five minutes to sort. The plumb vertical, and slightly awkward 2.5m drop, is now a nice easy staircase type affair. The title of 1st pitch, which it didn't really deserve anyway, will be re-considered.

Dried my feet and changed to fresh wet socks at Depot Chamber (formerly D-Rift), plus some lightweight waterproof top and bottoms to add some insulation overall. The fact I didn't think about my feet again for the next hour or two was a huge bonus. I actually forgot all about them come to think of it.

Never got a rhythm going with the surveying, but pushed on well beyond the face of defeat. Only the North East branch remains in the lower series of the choke now.

The intention that session also, once surveying ceased, was to inspect the lower floor (false) of the main (NE/SW) Rift, which leads back to the Notch in Featherstone Chamber. The draught was actually felt whilst finding a station a little further down the Rift, where entry to the Lower Chambers is made, appearing to emanate from the floor.

Surveys at base of article for reference to features and working areas

With the surveying done I began digging trial holes in the lower rift floor, and quickly uncovered a cavity between solid looking walls. The spot was beneath jammed boulders and the bridge of mud and blocks - which forms the floor of the 3 way junction - the integrity of which I didn't wish to test. There was also little room to work and stack stuff. Excavating the floor of the Notch, only a few metres away, from within Featherstone Chamber, appeared the best option. Work there began immediately.

Most of what remained of the session was spent enabling easier working access to the Notch. The floor of Featherstone Chamber converges on this feature like a funnel. Opening up the base of the slope just prior to entry allowed a little more room and digging options, aside from headfirst only with legs/feet trailing up slope behind.
Some very large awkward lumps were rolled up and out of the way, one of which I can still feel in my back now. Around an hour was spent at the Notch, allowing some excavation of the target area as well.
No conclusions were drawn, regarding how promising this may be, but it is looking like the best prospect found so far in that section of the choke.

The fact there may be hope in the old Notch yet felt like a huge success that day!

I could have stayed longer and continued work, but reminded myself I was mean't to be taking it easy, and should be thankful, that more than just bland surveying came of the session.

It wasn't till packing it that I fully appreciated how much better my feet felt. Usually by now they'd be squelchy and numb, and racked with that trapped nerve type sensation.

A thoroughly enjoyable exit was had.

If I never made an ounce of progress here, the individual character of every commute would be worth the effort alone.

Got back to the car to a flat battery and a stimulating backwards off verge jump start, requiring a push to begin with and a dash for the controls.

Look well to everyone of these, there aren't many left in the year.

Trip duration: 4 hours

The vast majority of the 2018 extensions. Most of the Alley Cat Series is missing from this, as well as the Boiler Room and the area where the scaffold cage/leftfield deep were located back towards Piston Chamber. Hope it makes some sense.


Next Installment: Mossdale Sessions 76 - 78, update(04/05/19) although they will lack the usual effort, I will try get these done this weekend. 

Update 17/05/19

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


  1. Seasons greetings and all that old bollocks Simon, awaiting updates on your Mossdale adventures with baited breath! Hope all ok your end, keep the faith........

  2. Thanks, same to you. Paying the rent and stuff has taken priority of late so many an opportunity were missed. Won't be long till I get going again. I'm charged with this duty no matter what.

  3. Thanks Simon, do you mind if I link you in on my blog?

  4. Hi Simon, I'm a non-caver but have read all your posts avidly. I'm developing a feature film about a (fictional) cave rescue set in Yorkshire and I realise it's probably not your cup of tea - which blog was it where a film crew waylaid your trip to the cave!? - but as your adventures have been truly inspiring I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to at least try and meet with you in person. I've actually been developing this for a couple of years so have met with the CRO and UWFRA and taken a couple of simple forays underground but perhaps like you - the incidents at Mossdale played a large role in my fascination with this as a story. Anyway long story short if you fancy a meet up please email I'll be in the area around Feb 19/20. Best, Dan

    1. Hi Dan, apologies about the delay responding, hadn't logged on for a few weeks, have emailed you.