Yarnbury

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Since I ‘retired’ in April, I thought life would be easy. I would have plenty of time to myself and could explore the moors at will. How wrong I was…

I seem to have ‘acquired’ a couple of clients who want me to consult for them…lucrative, but time consuming, and I seem to spend more time on the computer than before. I stupidly said I would do it as a favour to an old friend who needed help and these things escalate. I will have to put my foot down!

I have also been neglecting Mackenzie, my 9 yr old grandson, who is my ‘Best Walking Buddy’. We haven’t been out for ages…and we both needed a long walk, something more substantial than the 2 or 3 hours on the moors we often do.

Mackenzie loves caves, and he asked me which was the most dangerous cave in England. Easy, Mossdale Caverns. High on Grassington moor a large scar swallows a fast flowing stream, and is the entrance to the notorious cave.

Completely flood prone, 6 of Britains finest cavers were drowned in the far reaches in 1967 and are buried in the cave. It was Britans biggest cave rescue and it was too late to save them. The cave was sealed and is a grave…although people do go in from time to time, permission is not granted. Mossdale is half an hours drive away and a long walk through some superb scenery…ideal to blow the cobwebs away.

So on a beautiful summers afternoon we parked the car at Yarnbury, outside Grassington village, and walked along the old lead miners track into the moorland.

At the bottom we swung left and made our way past the abandoned dressing floor and some crumbly some mine levels and across several fences and stiles. Waist high thistles and nettles made the going hard for Mackenzie, and he grazed himself (not seriously) on a fence post. Fortunately I carried a first aid kit so managed to patch him up and we continued on.

We eventually arrived at the ruin of Gill House and had a sit down. We watched the stream in front of the house sink into the cracks in the stream bed and I explaind that there was an unexplored cave there that the water was going into. The whole area is like a Swiss Cheese with the mines and cave tunnels below. Periodically parts of the moorland collapse downward into some unexplored chamber, and I am always glad to be out of this area. There are also some mine shafts about in this area so caution is a must.

Several years ago some friends and I were exploring an area near here called Silver Rake. Returning a week later to the same spot, we discovered a hole 60 ft long and 40 ft deep had appeared! Obviously some underground cavity had swallowed the ground above and we were lucky not to have been there when it happened, although I would have liked to have seen it drop.

Following the wall for half mile or so, we came across the remains of an aircraft buried in the moorland. A Wellington bomber crashed in the fog killing all five crew aboard. The remains have lain here since 1945, little visited due to it’s remote location and also that few know about it’s existance.

We continued through waist high grass, and a mushy bog, before we crossed a stream and found the gamekeepers track to the cave. Following this along for a couple of hundred yards, we came to Mossdale Scar.

This is one of those places that I used to come to a lot, although not for a few years now. I have written about it previously in this blog, and it is one places that fascinates me somehow. Maybe it is because of it’s notoriety, and also the remoteness of the place. But to me it is one of those places that for some reason I will return to again and again.

We sat and watched the large stream disappear into a jumble of boulders and I told Mackenzie about the rescue. I know several peope who were involved and how harrowing it was for them. The known cave is over 6 miles long and the end is a large choke. The lure of the cave is to find out what is beyond the choke – probably miles and miles of passages, but the risks are immense. It is very little visited these days.

So now we headed back, along the gamekeepers track, alongside fields of purple heather with some exceptional views.

As we headed back towards the lead mines, we came across a ruined building, probably a Winding House…we stopped for a drink and then continued along the side of a high wall, past some mine shafts and eventually hit the road back to the car.

A good five hours walking with some superb views and excellent company. Thanks again Mackenzie!