To Hell in a Bucket. And Back!!!
25th August 2007
was beginning to think that I had taken leave of my
senses. People who are far more intrepid than
me kept telling me I must be raving mad and no way would
they dream of being winched 340 feet into an abyss.
Fortunately Bryan and Jamie were equally deranged
so we set off very early with the aim of reaching Gaping
Gill by 9 a.m..
parked at Clapham on a day that got greyer as we went
south and with the top of Ingleborough lost in cloud.
Entrance to the Clapdale Drive short cut cost 50p per head, paid to
a very smart ticket machine whilst, we suspect, the
farmer was watching through the window of the house
Onwards alongside the lake, which is
imaginatively called “The Lake", and up to the
Ingleborough Show Cave (or, as it was known the last
time Jamie and I were there, Santa’s Grotto). Trow
Gill was next, which is like a miniature version of
Scar with its narrowing path and ultimate
scramble through towering limestone cliffs.
out onto the moor, we soon saw the tented village which
comprises the Craven Pothole Club’s Winch
Meet where they have dammed and diverted
the stream to make possible the winchings.
on schedule we checked in, handed over our tenners,
signed to say that we were
both sane and daft enough to go down, put on our dog
tags and waited for our numbers to be called. It
was about an hour before it was our turn. When
your number is called you put on your hard hat and your
waterproofs and wait for your turn in the bucket (actually
it’s a chair).
It comes up, a platform slides
under it and the occupant is unclipped and steps out.
You then sit in the chair with your arms folded
and your legs tucked under the chair. The assistant
(roped up) closes the gate across the front of the chair,
clips up the strap that goes between your legs and slides
the platform away so you are now suspended 340 feet
above terra firma.
The winchman lowers you slowly
at first because the rock face is right in front of
you (although there is a big void to the right). As
the hole opens up, the speed increases but because you
are not yet dark adapted you can see very little. You
gradually start to see more and soon there is a cavern
to your right that is illuminated and you being to wonder
how they managed to place a light there when, to your
surprise, the winch stops and a voice is telling you
to step out and go and stand over there until you are
fully dark adapted.
there is a group of seven or so of you there is a conducted
tour around the vast, damp, rocky, muddy cavern in which
you now find yourself. Our man seemed a little
tired of telling people the same tale over and over
again but explained the history and the geology and
how they get people out if it rains and the dam overflows
so they can’t use the winch.
over, you queue for the winch, step in and get hauled
back up through the edge of what you now know is a waterfall
into the normal world.
You are supposed to be
able to see more on the ascent but my hardhat had slipped
quite low and I was unable to raise the rim so maybe
I missed more than I might.
Out you step, hand
over your dog tag and the process continues.
Note this, you wimps who declined
to join us:
NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST!
scariest moments of the day were yet to come.
picture on Little Ingleborough
the main event, we decided to carry on up the now even
cloudier Ingleborough. At Little Ingleborough
we had a decision to make. Should we continue
up to the top and have lunch with the hordes in the
wind and grot in one of the shelters up there or should
we dine in isolation below the cloud line in the empty
shelter there? It might have been a difficult
decision had Tony been with us but it was exactly 12
noon and there was no reason to defer so lunch right
there is what we took.
we ascended into the gloom to the rather busy summit
and then struck off to the right for the descent and
the aforementioned scary moment number one. We
reached what to me looked like the top of a cliff with
a slight gap in it leading to certain death and Bryan
started to test the route down. Fortunately just
before I could say “Bryan, there is no way I am going
down there” he reappeared and decided we should go back
to the trig point and try again. We did and reached
the same point, the same exploration, the same nearly
uttered comment and the same decision. This third
time, we took a bearing and with one of us walking twenty
yards ahead of the compass man (such a good idea when
things get serious as the compass man can steer the
outrunner- thank you Bryan) we soon found the path,
which was several degrees to the right of our previous
apart from one minor detour, it was a simple trip down
the side of Simon Fell until somewhere near Nick Pot
we chose to take the short cut across the limestone
The route here became almost surreal-
there is a curving trail cutting through the limestone
pavement; a groove about 8 feet wide and about two feet below
the level of the pavement. It is hard to believe
that it is not manmade yet that is what we are given
Groove in the Pavement
led to the bridle path known as Long Road which some
idiots seem intent on turning into a regular road for
four-wheel drive vehicles if the planning application
is to be believed. I hope the council turns them
As the path approaches Clapham it becomes
clear it is part of the national cycle tracks as cyclists
are advised repeatedly to dismount due to an imminent
steep hill and tunnels.
At first you wonder what
the fuss is all about and then you reach the tunnel.
It is bad enough trying to walk through there
in the virtual pitch black, never mind cycle. Definitely
scary moment number two, trying to keep upright on slippery
uneven ground when you can’t see where you are treading.
tunnel emerges just above the delightful village of
Clapham where the car was, fortunately, just where we
to those of you who opted not to join us for reasons
best known to yourselves, let it be known that the three
of us intend to do this again next August and, this
time, we expect a full turn out. Please don’t
force me to make the Agincourt speech- you know the
in England now abed will think themselves accursed that
they were not here and hold their manhoods cheap etc
etc". Believe me, it certainly is an experience
to visit the Gaping Gill Cave but as an exercise in
scariness you will find much worse at Blackpool Pleasure
25th August 2007
Distance: 10.8 miles (Harveys
climbed: 2,467 feet (Harveys / Anquet) and 340
feet by winch!
Ingleborough (Walks in Limestone Country)
For the latest totals
(of the Lakeland Fell Books) see: Wainwrights.
If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let
me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!
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Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large
has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have
been done by which Bootboy
in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent
download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.
anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know
and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!
This page describes a 2007 adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature
years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as
often as possible!
As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that
our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.
As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an
item of footwear but is in memory of Big
Josie, the erstwhile landlady of
the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day
1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!
If you want to contact us, click on