Report on Serendipity Group Meeting - Caving, Tuesday, 8 July 2014

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Before I write about our walk I need to set the scene. Friday, 24 January the eve of Burns Night a group of U3A members celebrated enjoying good company, food and an exchange of social chit chat – ‘what do you do?’ amongst other things caving, ‘ooh I’d like to have a go at that’, I’m happy to organise a trip, and the rest as they say is history!! Goyden Pot here we come – seven intrepid and slightly potty friends plus leader and back marker. Goyden is a complex cave system under the valley of the river Nidd, which flows east from Scar Dam then south and shortly after disappears underground down several sink holes to reappear at the rising just beyond the village of Lofthouse. Cavers are able to access several sections of this system via the different entrances. Dressed in fetching red and yellow ‘onesies’, contrasting leather belt, helmets with attached headlamps and lots of designer wellies we set off with our experienced leader Graham Mollard who briefly outlined where we going and what to expect, guess he didn’t want to spoil the surprise!! Once inside the cave and after an initial familiarisation we were given a choice to go forward via the easy route or a more difficult adventurous one – we all had to agree. We’re U3A members the difficult route will be fine – the first one to go down the ‘slot’ feet first, (it wasn’t very wide either), was Mary, she’s so inspiring; we all meekly followed into an amazing space. We walked and scrambled over rocks that formed some 350 million years ago, paddled through water, abseiled down a short boulder, used a two rope system to traverse a tricky section and walked crab-like (thank goodness for our helmets) to reach other areas, all good fun!! Graham shared his considerable knowledge explaining about the hydrology and geology of the cave system as well as pointing out chertbands, fossils, blind fish, worms (yuk) and surprise, surprise flies. We had to retrace some of our journey to reach the exit – more scrambling, some over a giant boulder that had recently fallen from the roof – oh joy. We emerge from the darkness into daylight – phew, all present and correct. We all entered Goyden Pot absolute novices and apprehensive, we emerged exhilarated with an incredible sense of achievement – wow. Thank you Graham and Eileen for sharing your expertise and allowing us to experience ‘something’ completely different

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