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By John Cordingley

I've always considered  myself incredibly lucky as  a youngster to have  come under the tutelage  of Jim Cunningham,  an experienced caver  and Wanderers member at  the time. Graham Proudlove  and I were at  school together where Jim  was a physics teacher.  We'd read a couple  of caving books borrowed  from the local library  and decided that a  life of adventure  underground was for  us. Our geography  teacher, David Pack  (a man of the  finest calibre on whom  I could write a  book!) organised youth hostelling  visits to the Dales  and Jim was one  of the staff who  used to give up  his free time to  help out.
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Bar Pot

Base of Bar Pot's big pitch.
Graham Proudlove by ladder, John Cordingley holding flash.
Photographer: Jim Cunningham


On Saturday 24th June 1967 at two o’clock in the afternoon, a group of ten cavers entered Mossdale Caverns near Grassington. They split into two separate groups before going into the cave. The first group into the cave comprised of Dave Adamson, Geoff Boireau, Bill Frakes, John Ogden, Michael Ryan and Colin Vickers, with the intention of going to the extreme end of the known cave and to attempt to remove a blockage that had prevented further progress for a number of years.
The second group, Jim Cunningham, Morag Forbes, John Shepherd, and Collette Lord, intended only to go as far as Rough Chamber, an underground journey taking about forty minutes, and then return to the surface.

The second group completed their trip safely and exited the cave at five o’clock. By late afternoon weather conditions outside the cave had deteriorated quickly to thunderstorms, and heavy rain began to fall. The six cavers, who had gone to the far end of the cave and by now on their way out, were overtaken by a deluge of water which had flooded the cave as a result of the torrential rain falling on the fells above. Due to the quick thinking of Morag Forbes Dave Adamson’s fiancée, a major rescue attempt was set in motion by The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association. The story recounted here describes the subsequent rescue attempt through the voices of the people who took part in it. 

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In the summer of 1969, exploration of the Lyle Cavern High Levels, at the upstream end of the Lost John’s Master Cave fell to a mixed team from the Happy Wanderers, London University and Bradford Pothole Club. But it was only 42 years later that these passages provided the vital link between the two long main drains in Lost John’s and Notts. Pot. Through the late 1960s, various members of the London University Caving Clubs had focussed on Lost John’s. They completed the survey of the then-known cave, before starting a search for extensions. Phil Collett made the first dive into the downstream sump (but followed the right-hand wall, thereby missing the Gavel inlet) and dived the predictable link from Shale Cavern to Battleaxe.
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MY FIRST CAVE DIVE by Jim Cunningham

If you walked into the H.W. Hostel at present you would be excused if you thought it was a Diving Club.  Bottles, demand valves, flippers masks, snorkels, weight belts, wet suits and even a compressor, are scattered all around. However, this isn't surprising when you consider that eight members of the Club are also Cave Diving Group members, and another five have cave diving experience. I am one of the five; I have been through Langstroth sumps (one and two!) I did not want to, but our C.D.G. members are very vain, and decided that they wanted photographs of themselves at the other side. I was the only available fool with a caving camera and diving experience. Of course they couldn't tell me, or I wouldn't have gone, so they carefully made arrangements to dive Dale Barn, suggesting that I take photographs in the new passages before the sump.
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John Southworth

With the tragic death of Cave diver Alan Clegg in the downstream sump of Lancaster Hole at Easter 1964, the Northern Section of the Cave Diving Group had for the most part become inactive with only three members still diving, Mike Boon, Pete Livesey and Ken Pearce.
During this period a number of capable divers from the Somerset Section of the CDG carried out some very successful dives in northern caves. Amongst these divers were Dave Drew, Dave Savage and Mike Wooding.
During the latter part of 1965 a small group of northern cavers with an interest in cave diving came together and once again began operating as a group. These cavers came mainly from The Bradford Pothole Club and The Happy Wanderers Cave and Pothole Club. They worked together as a team and began a series of dives in Langstroth Cave Upper Wharfedale in an attempt to scale the 14metre high aven.

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