4 Sept 2007

Malham: The Bunk Barn and the Cave!

Now that i have at last finished telling you about my recent trip to Italy, i can move on to trip that i did 24 hours after that!
The Gaping Gill had been in my mind since i first saw it way back in Hike 4 when we climbed Ingleborough and had a look at the Gaping Gill while water was still gushing down it.
Chris who is my hiking buddy always stays in that area at the time of year when they divert the water and descend into the cave, so we decided to take over a bunk barn and make a weekend of it. Here is the link for more info and its by the guys who were in charge of the descent
Gaping Gill (you will see some better pictures and more info about the cave).

The weekend got off to great start, with the weather being nice and all my undergarments being wash and dried in time. Remember i landed home from Italy at lunch time on Wednesday and had to be ready for the same time the next day.
The Bunk barn was surprisingly nice Hill Top Bunk Barn, i was expecting much worse. The only bad point was the plastic coated mattresses to prevent stainage from little accidents i presume, but i had a bed cover to prevent my face sticking to the plastic.

The descent was on the Friday and i may have been slightly crapping myself (but i hid it well). By the time we got up to the waiting point there was already quite a queue and i was number 101, remember it is a little winch that can only lower you down one by one. Also i am afraid to say some grannies jumped on front of us, old people today.
Only Aly, Chris and myself were brave enough to face the 340 ft descent, others opting to sunbathe (wimps!). Aly went first and then me! It was very very dark and the worse thing was your face practically scraping the rock face on the way down as your legs have to be tucked under to avoid losing them.
Once you reach the bottom the temperature drops rapidly and you cant see a thing. You are helped off the winch and led by torch light to wait for group. As your eyes adjust to the dark you take in the immense size of the place, it was massive! Once Chris joined us a guide showed us round pointing out various facts and other routes, i was so impressed that we are going proper pot holing when we can arrange it. The best story he told us was about 'Herman the German', apparently the cave was closed during the war and when it was accessed afterwards a body was found. Locals believe it to be a German that had bailed out of his airplane and had the misfortune to land down the Gaping Gill.
I took loads of photos, with every button on the thing but because of the moisture down there i couldn't really get any good shots, also when i did the video i didn't realise it would turn out upside down (for those that noticed).
Once we finished looking around we joined the queue to get winched up and there were those pesky old folk again! The way up was way more fun as you got to see a lot more, although there was that annoying ' am i going to scrape my face' moment.
It i had to rate the experience then it would get a 10/10! For those that wimped out, well lets just say one got very badly burnt! Ha!

The rest of the weekend was relaxed and involved drinking and eating, too much drinking in my case! But we did manage to do this walk again Hike 7.

So ends my travels for the year!


  1. Sounds like a grand ole time! :)

    Glad you had fun, Claire.

  2. oh that does sound like fun....and hike 7 looked awesome as well....tell me who organizes all of these hikes or is it the collective all that decides?

  3. Holy cow. I got a little nervous when you were explaining the way you got down. I don't think I could handle that.

  4. not me honey, nope, not me... you are a brave girl!!! you little prankster!

    smiles, bee

  5. This part of your vacation is really fascinating, truly it is. And I admire your bravado for having the nerve to go down into the depths of this cave too. I would be scared S******s! For sure!

  6. That cave isn't doing it for me Red. Scary if you ask me...everything about it. See, I didn't have to go and I got to see it anyway. Have a great day. :)

  7. Wow. You are a courageous woman. I don't think I could ever be brave enough to do something like that! I surely would have chickened out and sunbathed with the others. The pictures are beautiful. What an adventure! (And happy to hear your undergarments were dry! That would have been slightly uncomfortable.)