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However, short extracts from it may be used, for non-commercial purposes, provided their source is fully cited, acknowledged and referenced as:
Rule, A. (1913) Gaping Ghyll In 1913. Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Volume 4 Number 13: pp160-163. Leeds: YRC.

Gaping Ghyll In 1913.

By Alex. Rule.

There is little new to record in connection with the general objects of the 1913 Expedition, but an interesting piece of exploration was carried out by Wingfield and Booth.

Less favourable weather than usual delayed the descent and thus interfered to some extent with the survey work. However, we were able to complete the plan of the Stream Chamber and the smaller passages leading from it and to map a portion of the main passage from the T Junction. Rather more than the normal amount of water was flowing in the beck and it was found necessary to use the dam and divert the stream into the Rat Hole. In consequence a fine waterfall was produced which entered the Great Chamber from the roof, some distance to the left of the Shaft, and heightened very considerably the grandeur of the view from the Northern Boulder Slope. Hastings and Robinson, with the aid of a prodigious quantity of flash powder, secured magnificent photographs of the Chamber, and I trust that we may see them published in the Journal at some future time.

During the second day two members, one above and the other below ground, conducted an elaborate series of experiments with the view of ascertaining to what extent they had obtained mastery over the How of the Fell Beck waters. At given telephone signals the waterfalls were made to perform weird antics, at one time uniting to one large fall in the shaft, then separating at various points and resuming their old positions. Some of the party who ascended during these operations were most emphatic as to their success, especially as to the possibility of uniting the separate streams into one large fall in the direct line of ascent. This interesting piece of research was brought to a premature conclusion by the despatch of the above-ground experimenter to Clapham for camp supplies. Later in the evening the following conversation was quite unintentionally overheard:

H.B. - " It is now quite clear that when the beck is turned down P 152 X, it turns back on itself performs a double somersault about 45 ft. below the sign-post and then flows into the far end of the Rat Hole."

C.R.W. - "I agree, except that instead of the double somersault l think it does a Telemark turn."

And so on .....

This year the social side of the camp life was particularly marked. In the evenings cold winds forced us to desert the camp fire and to seek refuge in one of the bell tents, where we made merry with song and jest. It was felt that the presence of certain distinguished members called for some special mark of recognition, and toasts were drunk to their prosperity. The Mayor was the first to respond. Overcome by emotion he appeared to find the tent pole a welcome support, but recovering from this phase he finally addressed us with becoming magisterial dignity. The Sheriff followed with some witty allusions to the Ramblers' adventures in a previous year on the banks of the Severn, and an imaginary account of an incursion over the border into Wales. Moore rose to express the feelings of the rest of the members at the honour conferred on us by the patronage of these distinguished gentlemen. And so to our tents by those tortuous paths which lead alongside the stream, over it - and on certain occasions into it.

On the Tuesday and Wednesday, after the majority of the party had left, Wingfield and Booth attempted a landing on the buttress which forms the left wall of the Shaft looking up from the Chamber and whose top is about 110 feet from the floor of the Chamber and 230 feet below the jib. The exploration was successful, and Wingfield has supplied me with an account which is best recorded in his own words.

"On May 13th it was arranged with the men below ground that the guide rope should be drawn tight over the buttress, and, when this was done, I descended and landed on the smooth side of what proved to be a small pinnacle. By means of two rounded footholds and a small chockstone I was able to reach the top and to obtain a good view into the fissure beyond. There was a traverse into it, and having ascertained that it would go I returned to report progress.

Next morning Hastings and Robinson descended to take photographs. The guide line was then unrove, the chair hoisted and removed from the main cable, breeches being substituted, and a light 200 ft. tail line attached in place of the guide line. I descended nearly to the level of the buttress, and Hastings, having secured the tail line, jerked it over the pinnacle. I used a horn to signal to Hastings and a whistle for the surface men. While Hastings pulled I was lowered from above on to the buttress and sat astride the little pinnacle with my back to the rock. Fastening one end of a climbing rope to the pinnacle and the other end round my waist I commenced the traverse, Hastings pulling me in and those above lowering. It was necessary first of all to descend a few feet, then there was a level portion, and finally after an upward and inward climb I reached the first of the two large chockstones which are visible during the descent of the shaft.

Main Shaft, Gaping Ghyll - From Chockstone in Roof Fissure by CR Wingfield.  © Yorkshire Ramblers' Club
Main Shaft, Gaping Ghyll - From Chockstone in Roof Fissure by CR Wingfield

After I had left the pinnacle Hastings could only give me a little assistance, and I had the weight of the curve of wire cable as well as the tail line and the climbing rope to pull in. I felt like a spider spinning a web, but I knew that if I came off Hastings would be able to prevent me from swinging against the opposite wall of the shaft below the ledge. I belayed myself and got out of the breeches, which were then drawn up to the surface, and having set my camera for a time exposure (which was quite successful) I sat down to take stock of my surroundings and await Booth's arrival, fully realizing the loneliness of my situation. It was not long before Hastings drew Booth on to the buttress, where he tied on to the climbing rope. I was able to assist him to the chockstone, where there was plenty of room for two. Booth played me up the few feet to the inner chockstone and then joined me, and we found ourselves at one end of an oval bell-shaped chamber with a terrace running round to the Rat Hole Waterfall at the other end, the chamber being intersected by the fissure in the roof of the Great Chamber. The terrace is about 3 ft. wide, smooth, and slopes slightly towards the fissure, but some good handholds and belays make it safe going. The Rat Hole Waterfall was too much for my lamp and I had perforce to retrace my steps in semi-darkness. Booth, who had remained in the breeches, played me back to the pinnacle from the chockstone, a traverse of about 50 ft. He then walked along the continuation of the terrace, which is above the traverse, for some distance. Booth went up to the surface and I waited on the pinnacle, feeling somewhat lonely as I was unable to talk to Hastings below, but in due course the breeches descended and I got into them cautiously, undid my belay which was none too secure, and was hauled to the surface.

Given a dry spell, a spare day, and a party of three with covered lamps and at least a hundred feet of climbing rope, I believe the terrace could be traversed beyond the Rat Hole Waterfall, where there appear to be more chockstones. This is probably the place where the weight I let down from the end of the Rat Hole stuck and jammed in 1912.

I found rope soles much better than nails on the smooth, wet limestone."