Gowerdale Windypits (Windypit IV / Windypit V)

Moorland Caver (2003)

Until recently the Gowerdale Windypits had been used for the dumping of “farm waste”, rendering descents particularly unpleasant. However thanks to the good offices of Pete Roe and funding from English Nature the holes have now been cleaned up; let’s hope they stay that way! Nice one Pete.
(A.k.a Windypit V, South Gowerdale Windypit)
NGR:SE 517889
Length: 12m
Depth: 33m
Alt: 302m
Access: Permission to descend is not granted
Grade: II+
Entertainment value: I

The fissure, usually covered with timbers (replace), lies in a patch of uncultivated ground to the east of the field. Gowerdale I consists of a simple, albeit deep, single fissure. An absence of suitable belays makes a descent a problem; one solution is to lay a stout pole across the entrance. A descent of about 22m (with ladder resting on various chock stones) leads to a landing on rubble, followed by a second 6m pitch (ladder belayed to first) down to the bottom of the fissure.
Those who have bothered to come this far will be disappointed to find the fissure is blind.

30m ladder, possibly belayed to a sturdy pole across the entrance, alternatively stake & sling.

Gowerdale 1 was discovered and descended in March 1936 by the Y.R.C. who named the hole Windypit V.

(A.k.a Windypit IV)
NGR:SE 518889
Length: Circa 95m
Depth: 27m
Access: Permission to descend is not granted
Grade : II
Entertainment value: ?

Gowerdale II lies in the next field east of Gowerdale I. The hole will be found at the north western corner of the field, surrounded by a wire fence. Belay ladder to tree on northern side of the fence. A descent of 6m lands on a rather unpleasant “rubble” floor. (3m down the pitch is a small eye-hole giving access to an 8m long fissure with a false floor). The way on is through a constriction in the floor. When visited by the authors in 1999 the constriction was blocked by a very offensive choke of bagged animal remains. At the time no one had the inclination (or strong enough stomach) to dig their way through, so the following description, in lieu of a more contemporary one, has been taken from Cooper et al (1976):

“The open entrance hole descends to an earth and rubbish slope ending at a small hole about 20′ down. The ladder must be fed through this hole.

The pitch then continues down one end of a chamber 8′ wide, 30′ high and 30′ long, with light coloured walls decorated by small calcite flows. A landing is reached after 53′.
To the right of the ladder a descending fissure floored with mud can be followed to a zigzagging lower passage with three sharp bends roughly equidistant from one another. The passage ends in a choke. Back at the bottom of the pitch, holes in the floor lead into a lower chamber beneath, showing that the main chamber floor is formed of wedged blocks. The lower passage ends in blank walls. At the western end of the main chamber a traverse past a hole leads round a bend and through a short crawl to a fissure passage which passes over a 3 1/2′ step down, to a 6′ upwards slope, and then chokes.”

Northern Caves (Brook et al, 1988) recommends:
“25m ladder, stake and sling belay, 30m lifeline”; however a more suitable solution would be to belay to a tree circa 6m away.

Gowerdale II was discovered and explored in April 1936 by the Y.R.C. who named the hole Windypit IV.
The 8m fissure 3m down the pitch was dug into by Rick Stewart in 1999.


Yorkshire Ramblers Club – Journal 7 (1938)

North Riding, Hawnby, Windypits IV and V. (alt. 970 ft., S. edge of Gowerdale. Leave car E. of Silver Hills Farm, I mile from Boltby Bank, and go N. Leave must be obtained to remove the substantial coverings).—No. IV, April, 1936, H. L. and F. W. Stembridge and E. E. Roberts. 85 feet of ladder with a landing on the roof of the lower storey at 60 feet. Zigzag rift with three right angle corners, body width. Total depth 95 ft.

Pennine Underground (1965)

Moldywarps Speleological Group – Journal 6 (1973)

Northern Caves Volume 5 (1974)

BCRA Transactions – Vol.3 No.2 – The North Yorkshire Windypits (1976)

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