Author Topic: Birks Fell Cave Poll  (Read 1397 times)

Offline CNCC

  • player
  • **
  • Posts: 79
    • CNCC
Birks Fell Cave Poll
« on: January 21, 2020, 11:32:46 pm »
Have you visited Birks Fell Cave in Upper Wharfedale in the last couple of years?

Please respond in our one question poll...

https://cncc.org.uk/birks-fell-poll

Thanks :)
Council of Northern Caving Clubs; Working together for northern caving since 1963

Offline CNCC

  • player
  • **
  • Posts: 79
    • CNCC
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #1 on: January 22, 2020, 02:28:03 pm »
A gentle bump to keep this at top of the list for a few days.

Birks Fell Cave is an excellent trip (in my opinion one of the finest in our region). I was lucky enough to enjoy a trip last August bank holiday and loved every minute of it; such variety.

Birks Fell remains on a permit system. Negotiations over the last five years have managed to reduce the duration of the closed season but have failed to make any progress in bringing this CRoW-land cave towards landowner consented open access or a more flexible solution (e.g. the online booking system).

As we progress to a point where Casterton Fell will soon be on the Online Booking System (more news soon hopefully), this means Birks Fell will be one of the few CRoW-land caves in our region where permits are still required (and need to be obtained in advance and shown at the farm on-route to the cave).

Negotiating easier landowner-consented access here could be challenging. Furthermore, our permit statistics over the last several years have shown a steady decline in requests for access to Birks Fell (see newsletter 4 from June 2016 (https://cncc.org.uk/publications/) for some stats).

At the time of writing it appears only one club has applied for a 2020 permit.

Is this decline due to a loss of interest in Wharfedale in general, or Birks Fell Cave? Or are more people accessing the cave without a permit? We know Birks Fell is a tricky situation as it needs settled weather and low water, something which happens not too often, and when it does happen people are keen to take full advantage of with minimal notice, meaning advanced permit caves are officially ruled out. Instead, in dry conditions people flock to Diccan, Meregill, Black Shiver, Sleets Gill etc.

Is it just that so many other caves are now open access or easy to book last minute, that poor old Birks Fell with its requirement for advanced permits gets overlooked?

We are keen to get some idea for the number of visitors Birks Fell actually receives to know whether this should be a priority job for CNCC Officers over the coming year, or whether resource might be better diverted elsewhere to benefit more people.

Additionally, would more relaxed access requirements at Birks Fell encourage you to put it on your meets list, or consider it as an impromptu trip when the forecast is good? We'd love to see more people enjoying this splendid cave.

Matt Ewles, CNCC Secretary
Council of Northern Caving Clubs; Working together for northern caving since 1963

Offline Brains

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 2326
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2020, 03:24:18 pm »
I had some trips in here decades ago and thoroughly enjoyed the cave, an excellent spot. I am hoping to get a trip if we have a summer this year. The problem of needing to be in a club and getting a permit in advance are big hurdles to me as I am currently a DIM. Some of the peeps I do cave with are members of clubs, so I am hoping to get on a trip that way.
The online booking systems for Leck Fell etc. are really good and easy to use, so I am looking forward to the expansion of this style of booking. Open access and ensuring the cave of choice is available is a great way to go  ;D

Offline Ian Ball

  • junky
  • ****
  • Posts: 862
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2020, 04:24:42 pm »
Inclusion in the black book is usually enough to keep me away.

Offline MJenkinson

  • forum star
  • ****
  • Posts: 517
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2020, 05:47:23 pm »
It's certainly on my list but it's hard enough planning trips - let alone weather sensitive ones with an advanced permit requirement.

Sod it, I will go and apply for one now actually.

Offline Cavematt

  • menacing presence
  • **
  • Posts: 197
    • York Caving Club
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2020, 07:28:17 pm »
Hi Ian

Despite being a Black Book cave, a trip to Shale Pitch in Birks Fell isn't too hard (by Black Book standards).

There's a little bit of a flat-out crawl five minutes in (Bradford Crawl) which is only 6-7m long, and then a wet canal crawl (a bit cold but not hard and you can keep upper body dry so no wetsuit needed), and from there on it's mostly a few hours of spacious easy caving until Elbow Bend. On-route you are treated to some of the finest cave passage in Yorkshire. Beyond Elbow Bend is some deep water (a brief dip, chest deep) and some wet crawling to Shale Pitch, but again nothing too hard.

I have never actually been down Shale Pitch (it lacked usable anchors until a couple of years ago when it was fitted with IC anchors). I think the hang does position you right under the waterfall though. Perhaps the hard bit is beyond that, or perhaps it makes the Black Book due to the length of the trip (it's tiring!) or the flood responsiveness. But certainly just to the top of Shale Pitch and out (thus not requiring carrying the Shale Pitch rope) is a splendid trip and not usual Black Book territory at all. Don't be put off by that!

The purists may now berate me for encouraging a trip that plans to turn around before the final sump...  :spank:
York Caving Club

Offline molerat

  • regular
  • *
  • Posts: 73
  • ULSA
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2020, 09:33:31 pm »
We know Birks Fell is a tricky situation as it needs settled weather and low water, something which happens not too often, and when it does happen people are keen to take full advantage of with minimal notice, meaning advanced permit caves are officially ruled out. Instead, in dry conditions people flock to Diccan, Meregill, Black Shiver, Sleets Gill etc.

I think you hit the nail on the head here. Permits usually end up unused due to unsuitable weather, and when the weather is good nobody wants to go to Birks Fell without a permit.

Offline kat

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 14
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #7 on: January 23, 2020, 12:32:36 pm »
The answer to the one question poll is no - but that is for reasons that are nothing to do with the cave or permit system.

Have been down several times over the years and think it is a fantastic cave - has a bit of everything.  Have only been down once since Cascade Pitch was bolted (which was probably years ago now!) but now that you can avoid the squeeze though the hole in the floor or the desperate free climb beyond, am hoping to make it further in on my next trip.       

It's usually on our club meets list once a year and am not aware of any reduced interest in it - but a more relaxed access arrangement or on-line booking system would make it easier. 

Offline Alex

  • forum hero
  • *****
  • Posts: 4067
  • BRCC, UWFRA.
Re: Birks Fell Cave Poll
« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2020, 12:48:07 pm »
I dis ask why he wanted permits, when I last went probably 5 years ago now and I was told so he knew if we were safe, i.e. we were down there as if acting as our un-official call out. If we had not come out that day I think he would have phoned Cave rescue. One would think you could persuade him to the on-line booking system provided he has access to it, to know if anyone is down the cave at the time, or call at farm and no advance permit needed?

Shale pitch is probably the hardest bit of the cave. When I was there it was either go down the waterfall or, go down the side shaft (which was still bloody wet) and get a lot of rope rub isntead as there was no re-belay. From the bottom of shale it is quite squeezy but again nothing super hard, except for the final free climb which was difficult due to the need to sky dive to get onto it, but the climb itself turned out to be okay.

Quote
I think you hit the nail on the head here. Permits usually end up unused due to unsuitable weather, and when the weather is good nobody wants to go to Birks Fell without a permit.

Yep that was the biggest problem with the old permit system. Anything more than a few days ahead is pointless.
Anything I say is represents my own opinion and not that of a any club/organisation that I am a member of (unless its good of course)

 

Main Menu

Forum Home Help Search