NPC Newsletter (2nd New Series) No. 27 - 1990

MALHAM COVE RISINGS - The true story.

John Cordingley

Have you heard the one about the Viking Longship discovered this year at the foot of Malham Cove? Ask any tourist who has been there recently and you'll probably get the lot, the broadsword, deck planking, the gold bullion - even "Hagar, the viking duck with the bent beak and still flying on 'L' plates".

Sounds daft? It's amazing how gullible tourists can be and you have to keep yourself amused somehow whilst waiting for each diver to return. What's really happened of course is that the Pennine are once again into new cave passage. Most of the diving has been done by R. Carter and J. Cordingley but stalwart support has been received from several N.P.C. members who have carried tanks, manned the brewstove and generally kept the tourists at bay.

We started digging underwater only 50m into the main rising entrance. After many dives a breakthrough was made into the passages found from the flood rising by the N.C.C. in the seventies. Various inlets were examined and the Malham Cove Risings system was thus a single underwater cave with a total of 265m of passages.

The most obvious lead was a low bedding plane with a strong current 160m from the entrance on the left. This was dug out over a couple of months for 10m and led into a long awkward section on the main flow. In the middle of February this year we had been stopped by a fairly unpleasant boulder choke 240m from the entrance. 20 man-hours and one month later it finally went after an upward dig of 3m. Just beyond, the route took the form of a low and unpromising bedding squeeze; we thought that our work had all been for nothing.

What lay beyond the squeeze was a complete surprise - the walls and roof vanished as the side of a very big submerged tunnel was entered, going both upstream and downstream! Most of this is shallow and there is a group of large airbell chambers (called 'Hel's Bells' after Hel, the queen of the underworld in Norse mythology). To date, three dives after this breakthrough, we have reached another large boulder choke 570m in on the upstream route. Downstream has only been pushed for 110m so far but this will be remedied soon. It seems that we have found the Malham Master Cave at last and the total explored length so far is 800m or around half a mile.

The survey shows that this fine passage runs directly under the Watlowes Valley behind the Cove. When the end of the sump is reached there will probably be anotter Notts II to be explored. Lets hope that this time we will be able to find a dry way in for the lads!

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