Trips for Novice Cavers
Summary of easier trips for novice cavers.
Long Churn Caves (some SRT skills required if descending Dollytubs):
Entering at Upper or Lower Long Churn, a trip to Dollytubs Pitch is a classic (albeit wet) trip for absolute novice cavers. The pitch itself is a simple, easy descent for those who have basic SRT skills. The view out over Alum Pot from the bottom of this pitch is stunning. This cave does flood quite quickly so settled weather is required.
Sell Gill Holes dry route (some SRT skills required):
This is very simple SRT with easy pitches where supervision is possible at all times. This is also passable in most weather conditions.
Available to all skill levels for a small fee, and with a suitable torch and old clothes/wellies it is possible to go exploring at the bottom on the routes out towards Bar Pot of Mud Hall.
Bar Pot (some SRT skills required):
For those familiar with the basics of ropework, a route to the Gaping Gill Main Chamber by Bar Pot is an excellent and fairly simple caving experience. The entrance pitch is a little narrow and awkward, and may cause issues for some novice cavers particularly coming up. Therefore, a route down Bar Pot and back out up the winch is recommended.
Heron Pot (some SRT skills required):
This is an excellent and inspiring easy cave. The wet route requires two very easy (but possibly very wet) pitches. The water can be avoided by a more challenging traverse route which, although protected by a rope for the full length, will test the nerve of a novice caver.
Just near to their respective Pots, these caves, which carry the water into the potholes, are fun to explore for all abilities without requirement for any ropework skills.
Valley Entrance (some SRT skills required for descent to Master Cave):
A trip to the balcony overlooking the Kingsdale Master Cave is a fine, easy trip, and for those with simple SRT capabilities, a drop into the Master Cave and a short journey upstream is excellent. Be sure to avoid if the water at the bottom of the rope is deep or with strong currents, as there is a sump pool just next to where the rope lands.
Calf Holes (one very simple pitch at entrance):
A single, easy, entrance pitch, but then an excellent stream passage leading to a lower exit at Browgill Cave.
Both of these can be explored without any ropework skills at all, although Birkwith Cave in particular requires dry weather.
An excellent and very popular trip for absolute novice cavers with no ropework required.
Ireby Fell Caverns (some SRT skills required):
For those with some SRT capabilities (those who can ascend and descend ropes safely, and who are aware of basic pitch safety), Ireby Fell is an outstanding trip. The pitches are quite short, simple (no difficult re-belays or deviations) with ample space to supervise at the top and bottom. Ensure the weather will be settled during your trip though!
Not specifically mentioned in this guide, however, underneath the Ribblehead viaduct are a number of short, easy caves, and an enjoyable day with novices can be had exploring these many short caves followed by a drink at the Station Inn and a fine view of trains crossing the viaduct. Ask at the congress for more information.