As many cavers know, Gaping Gill is open to the public twice a year. This summer it’s the Craven Pothole Club’s (CPC) winch meet and anyone making the walk up from Clapham village is welcome.
The winch is open to the public from the 20th to the 28th August 2016 and until noon only on the 29th, which is Bank Holiday Monday.
If it’s your first time, what can you expect? The descent of almost 100m (330 feet) into Gaping Gill main chamber is a uniquely memorable experience – a little like dropping from the top of a thirty storey building – before you pop through the roof, around twenty storeys down, into one of the largest and most spectacular cave chambers in the UK where you are free to explore at your leisure before returning effortlessly to daylight as the winch skims the cave walls. Another common comparison is that the waterfall alongside you is over twice the height of Niagara Falls!
From personal experience. it’s best to make an early start. To find the cave, park in Clapham village car park and walk up past Ingleborough show cave, through Trow Gill and onto the fells towards Ingleborough, before climbing over a double stile and passing Bar Pot on your left. If you’re not familiar with the route it’s pretty straightforward and you’ll usually find lots of other people heading the same way. Allow around one and a half hours for the walk. Book in at the tent next to the winch, after which you’ll have a good idea how long you’ll have to wait – there can be long delays on busy days – and you can perhaps spend some time exploring Ingleborough.
The first descents are at 8am at the weekend and 9am during the week. On Monday August 29th (Bank Holiday) the first descent is at 08:00 am, please arrive early (pre 8.30) if you choose to come on the 29th as the last descent is around midday.
You’ll find more detailed instructions on the http://www.gapinggill.org/index.html
Make sure you remember to take a light as caves are dark and although some lighting is installed you’ll see a lot more if you carry a powerful headlamp or flashlight of your own. Helmets are provided, but you’ll need good boots, waterproofs and warm clothing – even on the warmest summer day it’s cold in the main chamber especially if you are queuing for the winch! A packed lunch and drinks are a good idea.
This year the winch meet coincides with the Eurospeleo 2016 conference, the largest caving conference in Europe and the winch is open to conference members only for a week before the public meet.
As always, cavers are also welcome, and several other routes will be rigged. Cavers are asked to sign in and out at the booking in tent prior to and after their trip.
The cost is £15 per person, payable at the booking in tent.