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Photograph of the volcano formation in Witches II Cave

Ingleborough Cave - Some Notes on the Secret Stream Area

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This series of articles is intended for the guidance of experienced cavers, who may not be familiar with the details of the best routes through the more complex systems in the Yorkshire Dales. To echo the sentiments in Northern Caves, it "is intended as guidance for the wise, not the obedience of fools"

Sketch map of Secret Stream Area, Ingleborough Cave

During the foot and mouth epidemic of 2001, John Cordingley and Adrian Hall were exploring the flooded passages between Giant's Hall Bedding Plane and the Near Wallows. In doing so they found some major discrepancies in the survey of the Secret Stream Area, and I went in to investigate. The survey is wrong, and as these passages are not well described elsewhere, I thought it would be useful to put on record what is actually there.

Secret Stream is a section of respectable size passage which is a fragment of the otherwise flooded route for the main Gaping Gill water between the Near Wallows and the Giant's Hall Bedding Plane (GHBP). It can be entered by free-diving a short section of sump from the far end of the GHBP, but it can also entered from some (mostly) dry crawls on the far side of GHBP.

The easiest way to find these is to look for the start of the Far Eastern Bedding Plane (FEBP). This takes off as the right-hand branch of a Y-Junction, with the left-hand branch being not quite so obvious. The latter passage starts of as a crawl up over sand (passing another passage off to the right which is an alternative route into the FEBP, and into a low, wide rock crawl. At the top of this, the main passage turns left, although another passage does continue straight on. This gets tight after 10 metres or so, and hasn't been pushed, but it possibly links to a passage coming in from the left at the same level in the FEBP.

The main passage continues low for a few metres, before a junction is reached. Straight on, the the main passage continues slightly larger as a rocky crawl, and eventually makes its way back down into the GHBP, where the crawling board may be seen in the distance.

To the right at the junction, is a slither down to a pool of water. This is Chip Slab Cairn, and a diving line leads off underwater. This was laid by Ian Watson in 1984, and links up with Black Pool from near the Middle Wallows.

To the left, a low passage climbs up a muddy slope. After a few metres, another slither down to the right leads to a brown pool. Airspace may be found to the left, and a wallow for a few metres leads to a rift, and the start of the larger Secret Stream Passage. Immediately to the right, John Cordingley's line disappears off on its way to the Near Wallows. The Secret Stream Passage is comfortable going for 50 metres, before ending at the dive into GHBP.

Back at the top of the slope above the brown pool, the passage continues low and muddy before finishing in a 2 m high slither down a mud slope near the top end of the GHBP.

These are passages for the connoisseur, and have been visited by very few since the original explorations in the early 1960s. But they do make an interesting detour on the way through to Inauguration Caverns.