Owl Hole - Alan Brentnall
Last night saw seven of us kitting up above the cattle grid at the top of Dowel Dale. It had been raining quite heavily, but the breeze was blowing the clouds away, and it was slowly turning into a pleasant evening as we hopped over the fence and began descending the huge crater of Owl Hole.
Our first and main objective was an entrance high on the face of the wall of Owl Hole, and there are two ways of getting to it. You either abseil down through the scrub and bushes, using tree belays, or you climb to the entrance using the in-situ bolts. I chose the latter option, and, despite the wet and greasy rock, we soon had the climb rigged. I added a wire ladder, and the others used this, self-lining on the rope, and soon we were all within the cave.
While Pete rigged the second (downwards) pitch, the rest of us took the opportunity to crawl forwards into Hogmorton Aven, a well-decorated chamber and Chris and Jess even crawled on to view the Pig's Trotters. Back at the second pitch, we abseiled into Crystal Palos to look at the fantastic formations there. Alan and Andy had a good photo session here, while the rest of us went down the fixed ropes to look at the beautiful Gour Chamber. It was also at this point that Gordon joined us.
Returning to the entrance pitch, I de-rigged the climb, while the others explored the Owl's Bottom and the Cascade Chamber extension. And then we all retired to The Quiet Woman in Earl Sterndale for well-earned pies and pints. A very beautiful and interesting venue in an area which we do not often visit, and we made a note to return and explore the nearby Bottle Pot at some point in the future.