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Happywanderers Cave and Pothole Club

How the “Happy Wanderers” came into being

Five lads were exploring around Castleton in Derbyshire. We bumped into each other once or twice and formed a lasting friendship. We visited Peak Cavern, Winnats Pass, Giants Hole and Peveril Castle. There was Malcolm (Tiger) Culshaw from Southport, Pete Matley from Salford, Frank Shuttleworth (Bazz of Bolton) and Philip Wallace from Bolton and myself from Barrow. It was summer 1955. We decided to meet up again the following Easter at Ingleton.
Mike Myers

It was summer 1955. We decided to meet up again the following Easter at Ingleton. So in 1956, after exploring a few caves around Ingleton and Clapham, we decided to form ourselves into a proper group. It was August-September 1956 we held a meeting in the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Ingleton.


Finally the Happy Wanderers have become conscious of the fact that their activities and wanderings should be recorded in a journal.
It is here that a short history of the club should be recorded, so as not to confuse readers who have been lead to believe that the H.W.C.P.C. was founded in 1741 by a certain long standing member.
The H.W.C.P.C. was founded in 1957 by a group of Potholers from the Blackpool area. Initially it had a reputation of being a fireside group, but after a number of cavers joined from the disbanded Bury P.C. the name Happy Wanderers struck a chord (?) starting on an upward climb of recognition.
The beginning of the 60s saw the Wanderers installed in their hostel attached handily to the Marton Arms, Ingleton. A period of intense caving with our good friends the N.S.G. followed for a period of approximately two years broken only by the tragic death of Mr. M. McShea.

After this for a period of six to nine months the club hovered between life and death, with four or five members fighting to keep it alive, until several of our friends from the N.S.G sought membership greatly increasing the club strength.
Following this Mr. L. Waite gave us six months to vacate the Marton Arms. We approached Mr. J. Batty of Braida Garth Farm Kingsdale who promised new quarters within a month. January 10th 1965 saw the erection of our present hostel at Braida Garth. Since then the club has experienced intense activity in many fields of speleology.
At the time of writing club membership is closed at sixteen. Small you say, yes, but manageable with no social committee or such organisation and club politics are (almost!) non existent.
I feel sure the Happy Wanderers contribution to speleology from the few articles enclosed in this, our first journal will be of interest to most, if not all speleologists.
We would like to take this opportunity of thanking Mr. J.Batty for providing us with our present hostel and treating us so well over the past twenty months. We appreciate it greatly.

At the start of this journal we are reprinting a description of "our" valley - Kingsdale - which was originally published in 1781 in a book written by the Rev. John Hutton, entitled "A Tour to the Caves," The spellings are as printed in the book.

"After we had got about six miles from Kirby-Lonsdale, to a Public-house called Thornton-church-stile, we stopped to procure a guide, candles, lanthorn, tinder-box etc. for the purpose of seeing Yordas cave, in the vale of Kingsdale, about four miles off: By the advice of a friend, we took also with us a basket of provisions which we found afterwards were of real service.

When we had gone a little above a mile, we were entertained with a fine cascade, called Thornton Force, near some slate quarries, made by this river out of Kingsdale, falling down a precipice about eight or ten yards high, which afterwards runs through a deep grotesque glen to Ingleton.
About a mile higher we came to the head of the river, which issues from one fountain called Kelsehead, to all appearance, more fluent than St. Winifred's-well, in Flintshire: though there is a broken, serpentine, irregular channel, extending to the top of the vale, down which a large stream is poured down from the mountains in rainy weather.
We now found ourselves in the midst of a small valley about two or three miles long, and somewhat more than half a mile broad- the most extraordinary of any I had yet seen. It was surrounded on all sides by high mountains, some of them the loftiest of any in England, - Whernside to the South-East and Gragareth to the North. There was no descent from this vale, except the deep chasm where we saw the cascade, we were quite secluded from the world, not an habitation for men in view, but a lonely shepherd's house, with a little wood, and a few enclosures near it, called Breada-Garth.

It is on the north side of a high mountain, seldom visited by man, and never by the sun for nearly half a year.
No monk or anchoret could desire a more retired situation for his cell, or disappointed lover to moralize on the inconstancy of his nymph, and the vanity of the world. The soil seemed the deepest and richest in some parts of this vale of any I had ever observed, and no doubt is capable of great improvement.
I could not but lament that instead of peopling the wilds and deserts of North America, we had not peopled the fertile wafts of the North of England. I have since indeed been informed that a plan is in agitation for having it enclosed, when I make no doubt but it will support some scores of additional families."