Walk a Mile with Mick
Walk a Mile with Mick Melvin

Canal Cave Nidderdale

During the 1960s Mick Ormerod and Mick Melvin were members of a small limited membership caving club called the Happy Wanderers Cave and Pothole Club. The Happy Wanderers have always been at the forefront of much of the new cave exploration work carried out in Yorkshire and Lancashire, and often their members would work together with other cavers, or caving clubs in a joint venture to push new ground. The club produced its first journal in 1966 and Mick Melvin’s article describing the discovery and exploration of a short cave in Nidderdale, reprinted below was included in the journal. The original content has not been changed.
Canal Cave, Nidderdale
Mick Melvin

NGR SD100736
On March 6th 1966 Mick Ormerod and I had to abandon a dive in the Nidd Head Risings at Lofthouse due to the volume of floodwater present. At a lost for something to do, we decided to explore the dry river bed to the north of Lofthouse. Approximately four hundred feet above the bridge a deeply cut fissure crosses the river bed, and a small amount of water flows from below the rock face on the left hand side facing up river, and into a pool on the river bed.
Mick and I began to excavate a small hole at the base of the rock from where the water flowed, and within minutes we had uncovered a low entrance about two foot high and eighteen inches wide. As I was the only one wearing caving gear I decided to explore alone. The first thirty foot of passage was a hands and knees crawl in water about a foot deep, after which the floor dropped away and the passage became approximately two feet wide and eight to ten feet high with waist deep water. The cave continued in this fashion for two hundred foot when the passage widened to around six feet and became about twelve foot high with chest deep water. Here I noticed an inlet passage in the roof on the right hand side. A right angled bend followed immediately and the passage width diminished to about fourteen inches. Approximately fifty feet beyond the inlet passage, the main passage became too tight at water level and I had to duck under for a couple of feet. At this point the distance rumble of a waterfall could be heard and as I pressed on the rumble grew louder, until approximately two hundred foot beyond the inlet passage I entered a small chamber where it was possible to stand clear of the water. A spout of water was falling about fifteen feet from an obvious passage into a pool on the floor of the chamber.
I had a good look around to make sure that it was possible to scale the aven without the use of poles, and I noticed another passage in the roof on the right hand side of the chamber. I then decided to return to the surface. A fortnight later I returned to the cave with Mick Ormerod, Mick Bentham and Clifford Lancaster whom I had recruited to take some photographs of the chert bands near the top of the fifteen foot aven before we had to break them down. I managed to scale the aven without any difficulty, but unfortunately I had to break away the lose chert for safety. At the top of the aven the passage took the form of hands and knees crawling over a layer of crumbling chert which was coated with a calcite deposit. This looked very beautiful but I could not avoid crunching it as I passed. The roof of the passage was covered in straws of all lengths and helictites of all shapes, and there were quite a large number of long stalagmites. The stream in the section of the cave was flowing in a very low bedding plane running parallel to the main passage. The hands and knees section carried on for approximately eighty feet, and then the overhanging shale bands forced me to crawl flat out on my stomach. We followed the passage in this manner for two hundred feet, sometimes having to dig our way through bands of shale or break down formations to progress. At a distance of three hundred foot from the top of the aven we emerged into a low flat roofed chamber six foot high and eight foot wide with a pool of water covering the floor, and our passage entering about three foot up the wall.
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Links to Content & Topics...

  1. Canal Cave Nidderdale
  2. The Happy Wanderers Pothole Club
  3. Weardale 1963
  4. The Leadmines of Weardale 1963
  5. Langstroth Cave, a first Cave Dive
  6. A Cave Dive with Bill Frakes
  7. Torquay 2009
  8. Walking in Devon & Dartmoor 2009
  9. Walks on the Costa del Sol
  10. Walking in Spain 2009
  11. Our holiday in Kokkari
  12. A Walking holiday in Samos 2004
  13. Six Young Men
  14. A Poem by Ted Hughes
  15. A Circular Walk from Todmorden
  16. A Castle & three Waterfalls
  17. BSA Conference Paper 1966
  18. Cave Diving in the Northern Pennines
  19. A Descent in 10 hours
  20. Penyghent Pot 1964
  21. A Tribute to John Dixon
  22. Remembering John Dixon
  23. Sleights to Whitby
  24. A Walk from Sleights to Whitby
  25. Climbing the Ahornspitze
  26. An ascent of the Ahornspitze
  27. Around the Schlegeis
  28. A Walk by the Schlegeis Reservoir
  29. Trevor Briggs Tribute
  30. A Tribute to Trevor Briggs
  31. Simon Cooke's Scornful blog
  32. Councillor Simon Cooke Scorns Ramblers
  33. The Guernsey Coastal Path
  34. Bradford CHA Holiday in Guernsey 2001