Underground, overground

Thursday 12 May 2022

A group of Year 9 students challenged themselves to make an underground journey of discovery as they wriggled their way through the Long Churn cave system in Yorkshire, as part of an outdoor education adventure.

The journey down was broken with a brief visit to Bolton Castle, and it was then off to admire the three peaks and the Ribblehead viaduct, before donning caving suits and helmets and heading underground.

It was a wet start as the group abseiled down a waterfall into Dr Bannister’s Handbasin, a low cavern dominated by a huge, deep pool.  There were a few more slips into the water as they climbed down smaller waterfalls and bridged limestone chasms to reach the ‘Double Foot Shuffle’.  Fortunately, nobody fell into this precarious pool as the group worked hard to support and guide each other.

It was then on to the infamous ‘Cheese Press’, a three-metre crawl through a crack less than a foot high.  Not everyone gets through the Cheese Press, and this year our success rate was a respectable 50%.  Emerging into the sunlight, the group were happy to be on firmer footing after spending a few hours way outside their comfort zone.