Long Churn Cave

Long Churn Cave

A dozen cavers were rescued after getting trapped underground by rising water in a popular Dales cave.

Rescuers had to wait for flood levels to subside before they could enter the system on the lower slopes of Ingleborough yesterday, Wednesday.

A total of 48 cave rescuers from two teams took part in the operation after they were alerted by police about 1pm to the plight of the underground party in Lower Long Churn Cave near Selside.

The trapped caving party included two instructors, eight young people aged between 16 and 25 and two adult leaders. The group was taking part in a personal-development programme run by the Groundwork organisation.

A spokesperson for the Cave Rescue Organisation, which had 36 of its volunteers working with 12 from Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association, said: “They had been reported by another caving group who were caving in a dry section of the cave system. Without their information, it would have been more difficult to locate the group.

“The extreme weather conditions and high water levels meant that the rescue team had to wait for a window in the weather for the water levels to drop slightly to allow them to enter the cave in more safety. It was estimated there was a 50-minute window to get the party out.

“The first party of six rescuers went underground at 3.28pm and had to rig the cave with ropes to ensure maximum safety.

“The group was found at 5.53pm in an area beyond a cave know as the Cheese Press. All the group were well; some had lost their wellington boots but all could progress the 200m to the exit escorted by the rescue team where the evacuation was assisted by further team members.

“The rescued party were all taken to the Pennine Hut at the roadhead, with the cooperation of Leeds University which owns it, where they were met by ambulance personnel who confirmed that all were fit and well and none needed hospital treatment.”

Long Churn Cave is often used by novice caving parties, though it was the scene of two deaths when Caroline Fletcher and Stuart Goodwill drowned in 2007.