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Calf Holes to Browgill, Yorkshire Dales

Listed under Caves & Caving in North West England, United Kingdom.

  • Photo of Calf Holes to Browgill, Yorkshire Dales
  • Photo of Calf Holes to Browgill, Yorkshire Dales
Photo of Calf Holes to Browgill, Yorkshire Dales
Photo by Ralph Johnson
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This is a superb little trip for beginners to the sport of caving but should only be attempted in good weather when rain is not forecast. From the village of Horton in Ribblesdale take the minor road leading north from the bridge over the river to High Birkwith and Old Ing, there is room to park between the two farms but the road is unsurfaced beyond High Birkwith and is not for the faint hearted or low slung sports cars!

It is a good idea to check that the lower entrance (Browgill) is not flooded before descending the 11 m pitch into Calf Holes- this requires an abseil rope or a ladder and lifeline. It is advisable to leave this in situ as it can easily be retrieved later on the way back to the parking area and avoids the embarrassment of being rescued should you be unable to make the through-trip!

A few hundred metres downstream the stream sinks into the streambed and at this point a low bedding plane (Hainsworth’s Passage) leads off to the left, it’s tight but not as tight as the next bit where a squeeze (The Sausage Machine- see photo) is followed by a short drop of a couple of feet into a small chamber.

From here a rift passage soon leads to the stream, the route lies off the right (downstream). In dry weather it is just possible to follow the steam but it is best to avoid the difficult climb down the 6m waterfall by staying high in the stream canyon and following the obvious crawl on the right which, after an awkward descent (rope recommended) one rejoins the stream at the foot of the waterfall. However the best exit is not to descend to the foot of the waterfall but to take the passage leading in the opposite direction (at the foot of the awkward descent) which leads to the streamway and Browgill entrance

On reaching the stream daylight can be seen and this is the lower entrance to the system (Browgill). Climb out of the canyon and head straight up the hill to join the track, head right and you will pass Calf Holes on the way back to your vehicles.

If you have time it is worth visiting Old Ing Cave (SD807768). This is a sporting stream passage with plenty of deep pools that can be avoided with a considerable amount of skill! Again this is not a place to be in wet weather. Old Ing Cave connects with Dismal Hill Cave via two sumps (not recommended since at the time of writing the dive line is broken) or via a tortuous squeeze at high level. Neither of these routes is suitable for beginners.

Written by  Ralph Johnson.

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