Over the October half term fourteen Air Cadets and five supporting staff from 42F (King’s Lynn) Squadron spent five days enjoying adventurous activities in the Yorkshire Dales.
Early Friday morning they left the coastal flatlands of West Norfolk and headed inland to the dales. After arriving, unpacking and eating lunch the group set of on a medium sized walk to visit one of the local waterfalls, during which they enjoyed the rare sight of a red squirrel. This first walk was a good opportunity to have some training and practice in navigation.
For the remainder of the expedition the group was split into two for logistical reasons enabling two different activities to be undertaken at the same time.
Cadet Alex Grimes of Group 1 explains what they did on the Saturday; “We awoke at 6:45, had breakfast by 7:00 and were on our way to the cave system known as Bull Pot of the Witches by 8:30. As we arrived we were given a safety brief and we were soon undertaking our caving expedition. We began by descending into the cave via a narrow pathway and then being winched down an extremely narrow gap in the rock. At this point the group was split into two; one group was sent to begin exploring the cave and the other was sent to begin abseiling. I was in the caving group to begin with. Firstly we clambered down a slippery rock face into the unknown; then we crawled for roughly 25 metres and meticulously manoeuvred our way over a less well eroded area. After this we reached a cavern where we found a small stream and then we began our route back to the other group. From here we began our abseiling following a strict briefing about all of the various safety equipment and the hazards involved with abseiling into an abyss of black. With this in mind, we carefully lowered ourselves into the cave and then ascended back up with the help of a rope ladder. This had been a brand new experience and I was scared at points, but I overcame my fears and conquered the black crevasse”
Group twos Cadet Edward Dew explained; ”After an early breakfast at 7:00 we were on our way to Ingleton and the Inglesport Climbing Wall by 8:30. To start the day off we took part in some small scale clambering while learning how to get to grips with the ropes and belaying. Once we mastered this we progressed onto the larger walls and swiftly completed them with great fun being had by all. After some much needed lunch we travelled to Long Churn caves where we were given a detailed safety brief about the possible dangers and hazards of a wet cave. We then made our way to the cave entrance which we carefully manoeuvred ourselves into. Over the course of two hours we inched our way through the pitch black caves beneath the Yorkshire dales. At points the course was so narrow that some members of the team couldn’t get through (because of the copious amount of beans they had consumed in the morning)! Although, after some fantastic teamwork and grit determination, we exited the cave with beaming grins on our faces, and very wet feet.
The rock climbing was different to my previous experiences and it helped a considerable amount with the caving, which was a hugely enjoyable experience. What a day!”
Cadet Dylan Cooper commented; “I had immense fun today, and I even overcame my sudden claustrophobia!”
On the Sunday the groups swapped activities, but they did them at different locations, abseiling and caving in a different cave a few miles away from the previous day.
On Monday morning group one took part in some mountain biking and learning many new techniques. Group two walked into Hawes to visit the Wensleydale Creamery and then travelled to the village of Aysgarth where the River Ure tumbles over a series of broad limestone steps known as Aysgarth Falls. Although not particularly high the waterfalls are one of Wensleydale’s most famous beauty spots (having been featured in the Kevin Costner film “Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves”), with a pleasant riverside walk linking the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls. All enjoyed this walk through the woodland which had been decorated by the park rangers for Halloween.
During the afternoon group two did the mountain biking whilst the rest took part in a high level walk up to Stagg Fell. This time was used for training in navigation, and all learnt new skills, which will help with their Duke of Edinburgh Award when they return to the hills.
Tuesday it was time to clear the hostel and pack for the return journey. On route, while still in North Yorkshire the two minibuses detoured to allow a short walk to Malham Cove, a natural limestone formation 1 km north of the village of Malham a famous beauty spot. It is a large curved limestone cliff at the head of a valley with an area of limestone pavement at the top. They also visited Gordale Scar a limestone ravine 1.5 km northeast of Malham. It contains two waterfalls and has overhanging limestone cliffs over 100 metres high. The gorge was said to be formed by water from melting glaciers or a cavern collapse.