BB1224: Deeper, Darker, Danker:

Wednesday 1st August 2012

When Pierre de Coubertin dreamt up (or to be more precise, borrowed from a friend) the motto of the modern Olympic games:

Citius, Altius, Fortius

(further, faster, stronger), how did he envisage that applying to the Gold Medal that he, himself, won at the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm?

His sport?   


His winning entry, an epic entitled: Ode to Sport.

Pierre de Coubertin!

In fact, both in ancient Greece and in the modern Olympics up to London in 1948, Poetry accompanied Sport as an Olympic competition.  To be fair, in case you think it was a bit of a stitch up, I should make it clear that Coubertin did the decent thing and submitted his entry, written in both French and German, under pseudonyms, Georges Hohrod and Martin Eschbach.

Had P-de-C been with us today, a new event would have been introduced although he might have declared it to be Hadesian rather than Olympic with a motto along the lines of:

Maior Profundum, Obscurior, Magis Uda

Or in English:

Deeper,  Darker, Danker

Logic suggested that a huge cave, albeit dripping with water, was likely to be a better option than the severe lashings on the fells predicted by the Met Office.

We started, conventionally enough, with an examination of the hidden away, and previously unknown to Tony and me, Killington Hall and All Saints Church, close to where John H lives.

Killington Hall

All Saints Church, Killington

The Austwick Private Army base

The day was, as yet, surprisingly dry and continued so to be as we drove past the Austwick Private Army base and on to the White Scar Cave near Ingleton.  As part of the first group of the day, we followed our guide into the longest show cave in England.  We had tried to make the visit twice previously but had had to abort because when it rains heavily the cavern floods. It was comforting to be told that they hadn't drowned anyone for thirty five years at which point I could hear the distant echo of Kenneth Williams. How long?  Thirty Five Years.

Into the bowels (or perhaps more appropriately, the bladder) of the cold earth we burrowed, half a mile along narrow tunnels in which we had to stoop uncomfortably to avoid the low, rocky roof that would have made nasty holes in our heads had it not been for the mandatory hard hats we wore. For much of the way, water was running fiercely beneath our feet, fortunately below metal grills, or dripping on us from above.

A line on the wall, worryingly high, showed to what level the water reached when in spate.

Many strange shapes were to be found growing with infinte slowness.

Eventually,when the huge and dry cavern was reached, I felt some strange relationship to the Night's Plutonian Shore.  

Geologically, it was an interesting visit.  Not as spectacular as the Caves of Drach in Majorca or as imaginatively illuminated   as one I visited in Crete but well presented by our informative guide.

Once back into the surprisingly warm (and, even more surprisingly, dry) outdoors, Tony drove us to the Old Hill Inn where the landlady had kindly given us permission to park whilst we worked up a thirst.  It was nearing Tony's feeding time so we aimed for a bench outside St Leonard's at Chapel-le-Dale.  Just as we sat down, the first drops of rain started so we took shelter and nourishment inside the Church. 

Comitibus :  St Leonard's Church

Our prayers were answered for as we emerged, the rain stopped and held off for the rest of our circuit.  We followed the track to Ellerbeck, passing on the way an interesting sculpture first seen on BB1129.  No mass of cyclists this time but still some of the goats which a couple of passing youths assured us were sheep.  Bullocks, we informed them.

It was a pleasant stroll along the track below Whernside.  As we arrived back at the Old Hill Inn, the Gods realised that they need restrain themselves no more. Chimes of Freedom flashed and we ducked inside the doorway, thunder crashing.  Or was it rounds of ecstatic applause at the sight of us wearing our Plutonium medals?  Whilst we celebrated with our beer and burger, the heavens opened. The Olympian-Hadesean battle had resumed and the caves would become even darker, deeper and danker.

Don, 1st August 2012


The History Lesson

In  August 1923, Cambridge student Christopher Long was on holiday in the Dales.  

He noticed a slight fissure in the ground, and decided to investigate.

Spurred on by the distant roar of water, he struggled over jagged rocks and through pools, until eventually he found himself at the foot of a waterfall........

The White Scar Cave website contains many spectacular photos and a page dedicated to the history of the cave.

Unfortunately it has been "upgraded" and currently does not seem to be working properly. Maybe you will have better luck.  Try loading White Scar Cave.


From Our Alpine Correspondent

Bryan reports that his recent Alpine trip went well, although pretty "interesting" at times! He comments that these three photos give a flavour.

The one in the sunshine was taken on the traverse of the Valle Blanche. A superb day traversing glaciers and past some of the greatest peaks in the Alps.

The one on the rocks is of a group approaching the summit of Gran Paradiso (we are already there!) the only 4,000m peak entirely in Italy.

It was foggy and icy, and this last stretch involves rock scrambling of Striding Edge standard, but in crampons and with a 1,500m drop to the glacier!

The final one is on the summit of Mont Blanc. Although we had no view to speak of we did at least get up more than people managed next day as the weather worsened. With a 2:30am start we were on top at 9:30 and back at the hut at 14:45. A massive day with no more than 15 minutes of time stopped (no stops for lunch, Tony!)

The lad Im with is Robert. I first met him on the Toubkal trip and subsequently came across him in Sass Fee when I was doing the climbing there.

I knew he was thinking of doing Gran Paradiso so I kept in touch as I had it in mind to do that and Mont Blanc. We went out a few days early so we could get a couple of acclimatisation walks in (to give us a chance of living with any youngsters on the trip). In my case it also helped to get my back settled down a bit before the hard work started. As it turned out we were the only ones on this trip, so we had a guide for just the two of us for the entire week!


He adds that he will put some photos up on Flickr soon.


Sidgwick Comitibus Correction

Regular followers of BOOTboys will be aware of the poem, first introduced to these pages in BB0914, termed Comitibus or Companions of the Boot.  I am indebted to Andrew Belsey for pointing out that, in respect of their roles at Oxford University, I had confused the author, Arthur Hugh Sidgwick, with his father, Arthur Sidgwick

Andrew wrote to advise that:

Arthur Hugh Sidgwick (1882-1917) was always known to family and friends as Hugh (because his father was Arthur), and published his books as A H Sidgwick.

After graduating from Oxford University he was a civil servant at the Board of Education from 1906 to 1915, when he joined the army.

As a captain in the Royal Garrison Artillery he died of wounds on the western front near Ypres on 17 September 1917. He can be found on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database on its website.

He published the following books (the last posthumously):

  • Walking Essays (Edward Arnold, 1912)
  • The Promenade Ticket (Edward Arnold, 1914)
  • Jones's Wedding (Edward Arnold, 1918)

Click on image to read online

Hugh's father Arthur Sidgwick (1840-1924) was a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and university reader in Greek. He published many books on ancient Greek authors and other classical subjects.

A Google search then led me to the Balliol archives and this reference:

Capt. ARTHUR HUGH SIDGWICK , 1882-1917. Balliol 1901-1905.
Several ALS from Capt. Sidgwick to his family, mainly his sister, 1916-17.
Letters written from France and contain detailed accounts of the fighting,
life in the army etc. With newspaper cutting of his obituary.
Given by Mrs. Elizabeth Belsey (niece of Capt. Sidgwick) in 1970.

Andrew subsequently explained that Elizabeth Belsey is his mother, born June 1912 and still alive and well, Arthur Hugh Sidgwick was his great uncle and Arthur Sidgwick his great grandfather. Hugh died unmarried and there are no direct descendants.

The relevant texts on the BOOTboys website have now been corrected.




Wednesday 1st August

Distance in miles:

1 + 3.3

Height climbed in feet:

? + 451



Other Features:

White Scar Caves


Don, John H, Tony


BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. Normally you can follow our route in detail by downloading but not this time!

To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.


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