3 October 2023

Beck Head Stream Cave

Most cavers will now be aware of the problem of ash dieback. It’s a serious disease of ash trees, often resulting in death. Affected trees are regarded as a hazard as they become weak and can collapse with little warning. 

We have reported on issues of ash dieback at several sites recently, including Gaping Gill, Alum Pot, Bull Pot of the Witches, amongst others.

Back in 2021, Clapham’s Ingleborough Estate was, for safety reasons, felling ash trees alongside the public footpath in the valley leading to Trow Gill. Unfortunately, one of these ended up hanging right over Beck Head Stream Cave, also causing loose rocks and soil to pile up. The tree was later cut up and removed carefully thanks to a great effort by Darren North, to avoid any timber plugging the entrance.

Access for cavers was still unsafe however, due to the debris piled at the entrance. 

Beck Head Stream Cave is a short but interesting trip so John Cordingley raised this with CNCC’s Conservation Officer, Kay Easton, who agreed to organise a team to sort it out. We are grateful to Philip Farrer at the Estate, who was fully supportive when the work was being planned.

Three people went up on the 2nd August, to find that Darren had made an excellent job of removing the remnants of the tree away from the entrance. The entrance area was cleared of vegetation, twigs and loose rocks, and then the entrance itself was cleared of rocks and twigs that had fallen in, and generally made more stable.

Fortunately, the drop into the stream cave is offset, so it didn’t appear that any significant rocks had rolled that far. The rift and bedding above were cleared of twigs and cobbles. The bedding at the bottom of the rift was flooded, so couldn’t be entered, but it appeared to be free of debris.

An attempt was made to clear the bank above the entrance of loose material, but this was deemed to be too dangerous. Therefore, in due course, more material may fall in, but nothing of significance. The bedding at the bottom of the rift needs checking out when dry, but hopefully the cave is now accessible again.

Report by John Cordingley and John Gardner

Photos showing (1) the entrance with the felled tree, (2) following removal of the tree, (3) debris remaining at the entrance to clear, and (4) the restored and reopened entrance. Photos courtesy of John Cordingley.

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