Gaping Gill is a natural cave near the village of Clapham North Yorkshire only 6 miles from Settle and our Guest House. Every year we promised ourselves we would take a visit down into this cave. Two local caving & pot hole clubs organise a winch to take Joe public down on a winch. Usually around the Witsun May and August Bank Holidays. This year was different and Craven Pothole Club brought forward their week to mid August so we were able to take the time off in our busy B&B schedule and venture out.
After getting up at the crack of dawn and walking from the Village up past the Ingleborough Nature Reserve and Show Cave, the path takes you though Trow Gill (rocky section which is a dry gorge) after about 3miles the opening to the famous cave is there (just a big hole in the ground)
This time of year a camp is set up for all the volunteers of the Pothole club to live in during this period.
We are now on the southern slopes of Ingleborough – a 98-metre (322 ft) deep pothole with the stream Fell Beck flowing into it. After falling through one of the largest known underground chambers in Britain, the water disappears into the bouldery floor and eventually resurges adjacent to Ingleborough Cave that we past earlier on our walk!
Gaping Gill retains the record for the highest unbroken waterfall in England and the largest underground chamber naturally open to the surface.
We arrived just after 8am with the ticket office opening at 9am – our £15 fee goes towards the equipment, insurance, rental etc. Before not too long our number was called and a quick safety chat, into the chair and down you go.
WOW what an amazing feeling to be lowered into this massive black hole, the first attempt was John Birkbeck in 1842 who reached a ledge approximately 55 metres (180 ft) down the shaft. The first complete descent was achieved by Édouard-Alfred Martel in 1895 all on a bit of rope! After reaching the bottom and being greeted by another member of the team, we then one by one formed a small group to have a tour of the bottom, walking around, the volume is comparable to the size of York Minster !
Interesting facts about how it was formed and the geology of the Carboniferous Limestone followed, we were allowed to stay down as long as we wanted, then just ask to go back up to the surface. Our camera flash was not too good, therefore the pictures we have down in the cave are courtesy of Leon from Dewhurst Jewellery in Settle who had made the decent a few days earlier with his dog George to guide him to the entrance of the cave!
However the Go-Pro did work for the descent so enjoy this little video!