Discover: Gaping Gill

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Charlotte Mudd

I am Creative Content Producer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. I am responsible for the digital graphic and video content produced here. I have been involved in the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority for three years, starting as a volunteer, then completing a creative content apprenticeship, to now securing a permanent position. The best bits about my job are: I can be creative, I am able to get out and about in nature, and I get to film in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales! 

Last year as part of my role at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, I was involved with creating a film to showcase the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As part of this, I visited the locations across the Yorkshire Dales National Park which showcased the best examples of each of these special qualities, such as Malham for limestone scenery, Hardraw Force for the highest unbroken waterfall above-ground (30m), and the famous Gaping Gill – the second largest natural caverns, and home to the highest unbroken waterfall (100m) in the UK.

Gaping Gill

Descending Gaping Gill was a stand-out memory of that day, amongst many beautiful locations, Gaping Gill was the most magnificent of all and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Caves and potholes form a major part of our limestone landscape. This landscape is known as karst and the Yorkshire Dales National Park is the finest and most extensive example in Britain. There are over 2,500 known caves in the Dales including the longest system in Britain, The Three Counties, and the famous large chamber of Gaping Gill.

The Gaping Gill winch meet is held twice a year by two small local caving clubs. For a one-week period in May and August, the Bradford Pothole Club and Craven Pothole Club run a ‘winch meet’ event, at which they set up a winch to allow members of the public to descend into the chamber. The chair winch carries one person at a time, 100m down next to Fell Beck – the highest unbroken waterfall in the UK (so you get a bit wet!) Places are a first come first served basis, so you have to get up early and hike halfway up Ingleborough to get a place!

Otherwise, Gaping Gill can only be accessed by expert cavers as it is a 31m abseil down to the floor of the cavern. The cavern itself is huge -129m long, 31m high, and 25m wide, (large enough to accommodate St Paul’s Cathedral) and has three waterfalls cascading into it. Other than the waterfalls the cavern is an open space and the noise of the waterfalls echos around – I remember it being quite loud, you had to shout to hear each other over the sound of the water.


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