Report by Jules Barrett
Cavers: Jules Barrett (EPC), Chris Schofield (EPC)
Chris and I set off from Sheffield early on Saturday morning and spotted Gingling Pot in Mike Cooper's book 'Not for the Faint Hearted' whilst having breakfast at McDonalds in Keighley. The book describes Gingling Hole as "the indisputable caving gem on Fountains Fell offering a truly grand day out with something to please everyone." Since neither of us had caved on Fountains Fell before this sounded perfect. We had decided to do the Big Pitch route and after stepping out of the car we looked closely at the pitches. According to the book we needed almost 190 metres of rope which was rather more than I hoped we would need to carry between the two of us. In fact we ended up with about 210 metres of 10mm plus associated hardware (P-bolts haven't reached this part of Yorkshire). I had a few long ropes in the back of the car but Gingling Hole needs lots of short ones and one big one. Half an hour later I had one less long rope and more short ones. Unfortunately we didn't have anything handy to melt the ends so many of our ropes had frayed and rapidly fraying ends as they went into the bags which was nice! We trudged slowly over to the cave entrance towing our two 'pigs' behind us.
Fortunately the walk to Gingling Hole is 25 minutes on the flat and when we were in the right sort of area Chris climbed onto his tackle bag to get a better view. We found the entrance, rigged the 9m entrance pitch with a bit of (frayed) rope and abseiled down into a chamber with a sloping floor. From here a drop through a slot in the bottom (called the Letterbox) landed us in a small streamway with sections of canal. This led to the top of the second pitch which was already rigged with a rope of unknown vintage. There are some good footholds here so we handlined down the in-situ rope to land in a small chamber below. Since the pitch was rigged we ditched the second pitch rope that we had brought and carried on following the water down a narrow twisting rift which leads to the top of the third pitch. This was similarly rigged and so we traversed out and abseiled down, dumping another rope. An awkward downwards squeeze in a narrow rift led to the fourth pitch which overlooks Stalactite Chamber and a nice 10m pitch lands in the bottom of the chamber. We were having a great time having rigged precisely nothing and finding the caving very enjoyable. From here the route on is through a small slot in the bottom of the chamber and into a low bedding which leads to the well-decorated Fools Paradise. This is a lovely and well-preserved section of walking and stooping passage with straws, columns, large stalactites and flowstone curtains. We found the fifth and sixth pitches rigged and eventually arrived at the 'Ammered Ole'. We had opted for the 'Big Pitch' route to the bottom which meant abseiling down the 'Ammered 'Ole pitch' which is very tight at the top. In fact our 'Big Pitch' bag wouldn't fit through here so the end of the rope had to be dropped down for Chris to pull it down and re-pack the bag...kept him warm anyway whilst I wrestled with the pitch head. At the bottom there's the 5m 'Little Pitch' and before long we were at the top of the 62m 'Big Pitch'. There was no rope on here so we rigged our own and I set off down. The pitch needs a couple of deviations and despite a very good look I couldn't find the lower one so came back up to the pitch head without having descended the full length of the pitch.
By now we had rope and hardware liberally strewn throughout the cave (and virtually none of it in use) and set off back up to collect it. This we did with much swearing but were soon on the surface having enjoyed a superb trip.