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Ibbeth Peril to Upper Hackergill


Well-known member
I was not sure if I should put this in the digging trip reports section or not, see the below report as to why I might want to.

It's strange on paper it looks like an excellent and challenging through trip but I could not find much info about it, other than what pieced together from the Northern Cave's descriptions. I am not sure even if anyone has even done a through trip since the 90s? I also heard from Chris Sharman who was my partner for the day that according to UKC Upstream downstream passage is completely silted up.

Still, we thought we would take a look. We took SRT kits and a rope as we planned to rig the pitch in Ibbeth Peril 2, to act as a bail out, or as a bypass if Upstream Downstream proved impassable. We found Ibbeth Peril 2 al-right, entrance lid of a slab propped on a log was “secure”. However, only two body lengths in we found it was almost completely blocked at the flat out crawl with flood debris, and would not make an easy dig. Not looking good for the trip then and we now have no bailout option to boot!

Still we ventured on into Ibbeth Peril 1, which was not blocked. The next problem was route finding as the only thing I had was my phone with a picture of the survey from Northern caves, as my printer had ran out of ink. After several wrong turns we eventually found Upstream Downstream passage. For those that are interested, head the normal way to the two sumps at the back of the main chamber, instead of going down the hole you come across, traverse around on the left into the continuing passage, Upstream Downstream is the second passage on your right, partially filled with water.

Northern caves describes the whole passage rather vaguely but mentions a tube bypass and a canal of varying air space, so we had taken neo-fleeces. At first it was right, a wet wallow of about 30m started us off, but then it all became dry and tight, in-fact too tight! So I started digging with my bare hands, it seemed rather hopeless, it looked just as low for a while. Progress was not great but after a bruising squeeze I managed to get into a slightly bigger part. Chris spotted a crawl off to my left with a higher roof, which bypassed all the too low stuff. I followed this tube left and right across the wide bedding passage.

Unfortunately, my companion, was not able to get through the constriction, every bit he dug just resettled itself in his way again. It was bloody tight, so it was left to me to see how far I could push it.

After a nice tubular passage on the left “the tube bypass, described” I assume ended, and then came to another too-tight squeeze, this time in water. This was thankfully more rocky than silty though and after another 10 minutes of digging with my face half in the water I was able to clear this enough to just be a tight squeeze and make another 20m progress up the stream, all of which flat out, before another part that needed digging.

I eventually gave up with the digging here and started heading back out but found a slightly higher bit on the right of the passage, that did not need that much digging. If I do this trip again I may bring a small spade!

After another 40m of easier flat out crawling, easier as it was just slithering and not digging the passage height rose to just crawling absolutely luxury it had to be almost 1m high! I could hear waterfall that I soon reached after the passage branched into two (the left choked). This water streamed in from a small hole in the roof which is meant to lead directly to the pool outside the entrance of Ibbeth Peril. The relief of “just” crawling ended here and another hard flat out slither that started directly under the water fall ensued with a bit more on-route pebble clearing. This again seemed to go on for a while but I guess it was only 20m, I was certainly starting to feel this trip in my arms, as I dragged myself along. I emerged into a barely flowing stream that was merely just flat out, which after a while improved again to crawling and wait I can stand up here! A small passage on the right just before this point lead into Ibbeth Peril 2, but as we could not even get into it to rig it, there was no easy way out here. I will leave that for another day.

I noticed in some easy crawling how tired I was from all that “digging as you go” so I hoped I would find my way out Upper Hackergill. Thankfully, the passages now were all rather easy a bit of scrambling over boulders and a few formations, half of it walking height. At one point it was evident that some brave soul had been doing some formation cleaning as there was a wire brush propped against a pretty formation. I assumed whoever had done this, they had probably entered by Upper Hackergill, so it can't be far now can it?

The large passage stopped and a tight solid rock squeeze blocked the way on. There would be no digging this. However, I did not need to. A bit of breathing out and wriggling and I was through into a lovely tubular passage. The tube exited into another small chamber with straw formations. There may have been a route to my left but if there was it was completely choked with rocks and pebbles. I carried on carefully past the straws and into another crawl, this crawl ended in a too tight passage. Bugger, where's this 5m climb then, where's the way out? I searched for a good while and could not find my way, unless I missed something in the chamber. The only guess was it was behind all those rocks and would need some serious digging.

Well out I went then, thankfully it was quite a bit easier than the inward journey as I just followed my dug channels, that was until I came to that final squeeze where Chris had turned back. This took me a while and a lot of wriggling to get through.

When I got out I read the guide book and it did not mention anything other than saying the 5m climb was beyond the tight squeeze, well no, no it was not. It's possible I could have some how gone wrong but unless I ventured into some dodgy boulder chokes off the main route then I have no idea where that could have been. Anyone got any ideas?

Trip time was almost 4 hours to make about 300m of progress! I may have a video, if I get round to editing it.


New member
Ibbeth 2

When we started the additional exploration of the Ibbeth system back in the early 90s, Ibbeth 2 was also blocked at the low section between the entrance and the choke leading to the larger passage beyond and the pitch.
Some desparate digging in very unpleasant conditional saw us force a way through and re-open Ibby 2. The blockage was caused in essence by the oil drum lid that had been bent and forced down the passage by the floods. We were very concerned about weil's disease given the state of the stagnant water.
We did fit a lid of sorts to try and prevent the flood debris getting in but this was a long time ago and has clearly failed.
Ideally the blockage needs to be dug out AND then to re-engineer the entrance (the oil drum has all but rusted away) and in the process build in a lid to stop flood debris getting into the cave.

NOTE that the cliff face above Ibby 2 is not that safe and there have been a few collapses in the past year or two.

More to follow on the connection.



Well-known member
At first it was right, a wet wallow of about 30m started us off, but then it all became dry and tight, in-fact too tight! So I started digging with my bare hands, it seemed rather hopeless, it looked just as low for a while.

That was where we gave up a few years ago! Well done on perservering..


New member
Ibbeth I to Ibbeth 2 to Upper Hackergill

The original exploration of the the Ibby 1 to 2 connection was done from Ibby 2. After re-opening Ibby 2 and exploring the rest of the known cave, we checked the passage going back under the pitch (roughlly in a southerly direction).
At the end of this we had a small find off to the right after a short dig - the pretty Pearl Chamber.
Off to the left was a mud filled tube which after a couple of digging sessions got us to the stream passage. Heading downstream the frequent cobble blockages were cleared in our case using a crow bar - our digging tool of choice in this place. Passing under the pool inlet we contined downsteam eventually reaching the very low section mentioned above. However we spotted a tube off the the right of the streamway itself.
This proved an easy (ish) bypass to the low section and led to a wide bedding plane with some height - 4 ft and a series of large sandbanks.
Crossing these sandbanks regained the stream which led to a duck. No way to bypass the duck was found...
The enticing sound of a waterfall/cascade in front meant the duck had to be passed so off we went and found a large streamway with the water cascading off.
Continued exploration led to further large passage - and FOOTPRINTS!
This proved to be Ibby 1 so we had not found a new major cave but had made the connection.

Ibby 2 to Upper Hackergill

From the dig to the streamway, turning upstream lead to a boulder section with further water cascading in through the boulders. This led to the inevitable blockage which was dug through. This occured several times.
We then came across a low twisting passage that was negoitable without digging. I seem to remember the entrance to this needed digging out and was low and a bit desparate. If this has filled up the way on here might not be obvious. This is not for larger cavers.
And suddenly we could stand up!!!
The climb up (15ft) was easy but the passage was blocked at the top.
Now, we had come some distance so on the next trip Roy Holmes went into Upper Hackergill and we went into Ibby 2. A voice connection was made.
It took a couple of trips to dig out the blockage and make the Ibby 2 to Upper Hackergill connection.


If you are planning either a Upper Hackergill or Ibby 2 trip to Ibby 1 take a small crow bar to clear any blockages.
Route finding is not too difficult - and is much easier from Upper Hackergill to Ibby 1. Always look ahead for where the roof is highest. The stream passage is sometimes quite wide so spotting this is important.
If you are going Ibby 1 upwards then after the connecting duck traverse the sandbanks to the left until you get to the wall and the tube.
Ibby 2 needs digging out and the entrance made secure. Some protect from the cliff above would be an idea.
Going upstream from Ibby 2 to Upper Hackergill I do not remember any route finding problems as such - but then we were digging out.
And we were in the boulder section just upstream from the dig to the streamway one day when a boulder moved - we found later there was a small earthquake in the region.

Pete A


Well-known member
However we spotted a tube off the the right of the streamway itself.
This proved an easy (ish) bypass to the low section and led to a wide bedding plane with some height - 4 ft and a series of large sandbanks.
Thanks for all that info, must have missed all that. The tube I used nearer the end, did seem to continue but it was blocked with sand and was too tight to enter forcing me back into the bedding plane where I dug out some of the water. I guess I could have missed something on the right on the way out but I was not looking for an alternative route then.

We then came across a low twisting passage that was negoitable without digging. I seem to remember the entrance to this needed digging out and was low and a bit desparate.
I remember entering a twisting tube, but the squeeze was solid rock and could not be dug, I think I must have missed this low twisting passage entirely. Where my journey came to an end was a passage with lots of 1ft long straws in it. Remember that? (Below are some blurry shots off of my HD hero of that chamber I got to)

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