Phil Ryder believes that one of the interesting things about our club is that we do caves that are off the beaten track. So it is and I often follow in the footsteps of another connoisseur of the unusual, Peter Ryder of Moldywarps fame, in exploring the obscurities of the Northern Dales. Think of such neglected gems as Elph Cleugh and Whirley Gill and you get the idea. In fact there is a cave that I have searched for several times and failed to locate – Yad Moss Cave – that has driven me to such distraction that a 200-foot grovel has no right to! Hence I record a few meanderings through the area to remind readers of these obscure gems.
Sometimes I am drawn to do visit a cave or climb a route by its name – Juniper Gulf for example conjures up images of natural grandeur, so Hazel Bush Hill Hole might similarly invoke thoughts of a grovel beneath a shrub, so maybe that wasn’t the case this time!
Lying in the bleak moorland between Bowes and Tan Hill, in a region normally only seen by gamekeepers, grouse shooters and Pennine Way tickers, is a rare Northern Dales sinkhole cave, Hazel Bush Hill Hole, which I visited several years ago whilst exploring this wild area. Parking up south of Bowes, a short walk through peat bogs and heather finds a stream running along a limestone bed, with a small crevice in its north bank forming the entrance to HBHH. In truth it’s a simple crawl through non-descript passage ending at a too-tight slot, but investigation lower down the valley finds the imposing resurgence of Eller Beck Head – not to be entered without a wetsuit, whilst further upstream on the opposite bank, some recent shoring by a crevice led me to investigate what I later found to be another MSG find of Lost Pool Sink – which can actually be found online featuring a stuck moldywarper!
An afternoon of solitude wandering around these largely forgotten areas is a welcome change from the honeypots of the dales – go on, have a look.
By Ian Cummins