There can’t be many cavers who are unaware of the Mossdale Caverns tragedy that occurred to a joint party of the Happy Wanderers, Bradford Pothole Club and University of Leeds Speleological Association in June 1967.
On that day June 24th 1967 six experienced cavers were drowned in a flash flood in Mossdale Caverns near Grassington.
The names of the cavers were:
Dave Adamson 26, Geoff Boireau 24, Bill Frakes 19, John Ogden 20, Michael Ryan 17, Colin Vickers 23.
Every year since that sad day the friends of the six cavers have visited the cave to remember them and the good times they all shared.
Colin Vickers was the only one of the cavers who had any children, a daughter Rachel who was 18 months old at the time of the tragedy. Obviously Rachel does not have any memories of her father, but she expressed a deep desire to me to go up to the cave to see where her father had died and to lay some flowers at the now sealed up entrance.
Due to her disability the journey to the cave presented some difficulties for Rachel and so the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association kindly volunteered to take her up to the cave in their Land Rover.
This was arranged to coincide with a weekend visit to the cave by friends of the dead cavers and the day chosen was Sunday June 22nd 2014. It wasn’t possible for all the friends to attend on the Sunday so a large group of Happy Wanderers went up to the cave on Monday 23rd including some who had visited the cave on Sunday specially to meet with Rachel.
The group who walked to Mossdale on Sunday started from Yarnbury and went by the Bycliffe Road to the entrance. After a bunch of flowers was taken to the entrance for Rachel the group carried on passed the shooting hut and up onto the moor to visit the Mossdale Memorial Cairn which was erected in 1967 by Alan Brook. The cairn is sited on the moor over the spot in the cave where the bodies were located in June 1967.
After visiting the cairn the whole group carried on over the moor to the hut at Howgill Nick where some members of the ill-fated party had spent the night before the tragedy. The group then walked back to Yarnbury through the large area of disused mines on Bycliffe Hill.
Sunday’s group was:
Alan Brook, Dave Brook, Dave Cobley, Sue Cobley, Mick Melvin, Kenny Taylor, Carol Whalley, John Whalley, Stu Whitmey, Julie Whitmey.
Monday’s Group was: Frank Barnes , Dave Cobley, Sue Cobley, Jim Cunningham, Jim Farnworth, Bob Gillibrand, Mick Melvin, Grace Barnes, John Rushton, Marilyn Rushton.