Thursday, 19 June 2014

Ibbeth Peril

The beautiful Ibbeth Peril 1, Dentdale

The cave rumoured to be the lair of the mythical witch of Dentdale is  one of the most enchanting places I've ever been. That quiet and beautiful river couldron on the surface is nothing compared to what lies behind and beneath the waterfall.

Reassuring though the last week of dry weather was, I couldn't help but feel a bit nervous as I dug through a pile of flood debris to find the small entrance to the cave. The waterfall coming down beside me was only a trickle and the forecast was dry, but yet I still took one 
last glance into the sky to check for any clouds.

Flood debris stuck to the roof of the cave passage was a sobering sight indeed, the idea that the cave regularly fills with water to the roof a frightening one. But a hot and settled day was starting, and there was no need to let these thoughts become a worry.

The roof lowered to about 18 inches above the floor and I started the flat-out crawl. This proved to be by no means a sign of things to come.

Indeed a massive hall of a chamber lay ahead, a spectacular natural wonder. A large (perilous?) boulder field splits the chamber, with gaping "crevasses" everywhere waiting to swallow you up. I took my time, and my headtorch started to reveal the true nature of this cave.

A spellbinding and vast display of formations coats an entire wall and the ceiling of this chamber. How would I ever be able to do this justice with photographs? There were decorations in colours and hues I'd never expected to see, from dark red through to inky black. The tiny "antler" helictites were just as beautiful as the hulking giant of a cascade stalactite that forms the centre piece of the whole grotto.

Not that they even begin to do it justice, but I'll let the photos say the rest.

One of the pristine grottos.

Thousands of white stalactites

The Barn Owls.

Bacon formation.

Just one corner of the massive main chamber, far too large to photograph.

Some weird oily looking flowstone.

The Great Cascade in centre-frame.

Black and white stalactites

A fine array of formations overhanging a gour pool.


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