We met at Higherford and loitered to Horton-in-Ribblesdale for lunch (being but the “short" run of the Nelson section, we were allowed to loiter). At 2 o'clock we erupted from the Golden Lion Hotel, full of lunch and eagerness to tackle the objective of our run — Brow Gill Cave.
We left Horton via the track that branches off the road at the Crown Hotel — and what a track it is! It begins in a fairly decent manner, but it soon sheds all pretence of responsibility and leaves the poor cyclist to flounder along over intermittent patches of muddy grass and river-bed. It was at a particalarly wretched stretch of river-bed that my bicycle went on strike. Skidding violently on some loose gravel my bicycle careered across the road (sic) and deposited me - fairly gently, I admit — into the grass at the hedgeside. I got up and regarded my bicycle sorrowfully. "To think that I have treated you with tender care and loving respect, and then you go and let me down like this,” I said, addressing my hitherto tried and trusted friend. The bicycle hung its head, but replied that if I would persist in bringing it along these wretched roads what else could I expect from a steed whose limbs were now nearly five vears old! I apologised for not giving its venerable age more considration, and, amicable relations restored once more, we chased after the others who had left us to our argument. Soon after we reached Brow Gill and left our bicycles on a natural limestone bridge under which the shy and elusive oil flows.
Lamps were removed from machines and we walked up the foliage covered limestone banks of the gill until we reached the mouth of the cave from which the stream emerges from the subterranean depths of the Yorkshire hills. The recent rains had swollen the stream to a small river, and we looked doubtfully at the peaty water and wondered whether it would be possible to traverse the passage without getting drowned. We decided to risk it, lamps were lighted, wills were made, our favourite flowers were named, tender farewells were exchanged with those who preferred to remain outside and so we began our underground adventure. We made a very inauspicious start; the self of rock along which we crawled was pitted with water - worn holes, all of which were, of course, full of water. A howl from ¢lose behind informed us that "Georjud" had knelt in one of these pools, much to the detriment of his plus-fours. I chuckled to myself and rvecommended "Georjud" to wear shorts, but just. then I knelt upon a knife-edge of limestone and my lamentations were added to the general din which consisted of grunts, mock groans, hymn tunes (cheerful souls), muttered imprecations and chortles of laughter as someone else came to grief. To add to our troubles the roof suddenly descended to within eighteen inches the floor. Fortunately the floor was dry at this point, and we crawled under this obstacle on our stomachs without much damage. This proved to be the worst part for, after passing it, the roof opened up to some fifty feet high and we moved along a trifle more quickly. We came to a barrier of massive boulders which had, in the remote past, fallen from the roof. A cautious whisper from our evidently nervous runs secretary recommended us not to speak above a whisper in case more rocks fell. The advice was received with jeers so loud that his fears were for ever set at rest. Several of us were without lamps (dynamos not being suitable for cave hunting), and to stand perched on the boulders in the inky darkness whilst. the lights were divected to the rear to help the others over the obstructions, was a distinctly eerie experience. “Young Bill" and I, who were the advance guard, Sang and whistled doleful hymns just to enliven the proceedings a bit, but I am afraid that our members do not appreciate good singing for the “Shurrups,” "Can its" and “Put a sock in it" that greeted our vocal efforts could hardly be called applause.
We surmounted the boulder barrior and moved along the ever narrowing passage to the accompaniment of the dull rumble of falling water, a rumble that slowly increased to a deafening roar as we neared the waterfall. The walls made a last desperate attempt to stop us from reaching the waterfall by narrowing to less than a foot apart, but after a few pants, grunts and exclamations, regretting the eating of too much lunch, we stood and gazed on the water that emerged from far above our heads and thundered into a foaming pool at the foot of the boulders on which we stood. The sight was certainly an awe-inspiring one; the lamps made rainbows in the spray that welled up and floated clamily round our persons; the very boulders. trembled with the mighty impact of the falling water. It was well worth discomfort to see such a scene.
The return journey was accomplished far more quickly than the inward one. We scrambled over the boulders and did not worry over much when we happened to be brought to a halt under a shower bath from the diminutive stalactites that hung from the roof. A hail from those in front: "Hooray! daylight!" I turned a corner and the mouth of the cave — which incidentally acted as a frame for the picture of the pretty, tree-hung stream beyond — came into view. We stood on the bank of the stream and grinned at one another. Wet plus-fours, muddy shoes and stockings, occasional patches of mud on our coats, did not improve our personal appearance. We ambled back to our bicycles, enjoying the while the sunlight and cloud shadows on Ingleborough, Penyghent and Whernside, and watched the trains flash down and toil up the hilly Settle to Carlisle railway that stretched along the other side of Ribblesdale. When we reached our bicycles we made an extensive toilet and succeeded in restoring ourselves to our more or less state of respectability. I offered to make “Georjud" a present of the fragments of rock and stalactites that I combed from my hair, but he refused them with thanks, saying that he had quite enough mementos in the shape of sundry bumps, cuts and scratches. Our toilet completed, we began our return journey towards Settle. After crossing a very fair imitation of a bog we arrived at Ling Gill Farm and thence on to the road near Ribblehead. We scampered down Ribblesdale as fast as possible, and arrived at Settle at 5-30. Hanby’s Cafe was, as one member said, f.t.b. (full to brasting), so we continued to Long Preston, and there we had our overdue tea.
We regretfully hoisted ourselves from easy chairs at 7-30 and, leaving the warm fire with glances of longing, began our homeward journey. Dynamos hummed their merry tune and banter passed to and fro as we sped home under the twinkling stars. Gisburn, with its crowd of ’buses, was quickly passed, and we arrived home about 10 o’clock.