MOSSDALE VOICES...Compiled by Mick Melvin
ANTHONY ROBERTS AND ROBERT LAMBERT TALK TO RAY KERSHAW
Anthony Roberts owner of the shooting rights describes Mossdale Caverns
Its four and a half miles up a fairly rough track, and although we could get our farming vehicles up there, it was impossible to get any of the fire services up there. All the farmers provided their Land Rovers and some Tractors to put the pumps on. The fire services first priority was to try to pump away as much of the flood water as they could.
After that they brought in a lot of metal tracking which they laid down in order to get bigger vehicles right up onto the site.
The decision to seal the cave
We all supported that because we felt it would have been unfortunate to have tried to get the bodies out and reinterred them on the grounds of safety really. The fact that it was sealed as a grave would have deterred other people from trying to go down and explore the cave system.
Permission to remove the bodies
It was really a question of trying to get them higher up in the system so they wouldn’t get washed away by waters. It was all done on a totally unofficial basis, there was no written correspondence about it, and I think that it was all done verbally. We gave our permission for them to go down, it certainly wasn’t publicised. I got the feeling that the least publicity at that time the better.
Are you aware that cavers had been going down the cave since 1967?
No I am certainly not and if it had been happening on a regular basis I’m sure that the gamekeepers who are up there nearly every day of the year would have seen some signs of it. I am not saying that it has never happened but I think that it is highly unlikely that it has happened very often. I know that there is a linking pothole somewhere on what they call Black Edge, and this may well be where potholers are accessing it now rather than going down the main cave entrance.
Robert Lambert tenant Farmer
They put steel roads in all the way up, and seeing it to what it was before they, altered all the structure of the stream where it comes down the fell to try to divert it, it was a completely different piece of scenery.
Referring to the rescuers
I really admired those lads, because probably if they had done risk assessment as they do now, nobody would have been allowed down. Their only priority, which it always had been, was to get them out if they possibly could.
On whether permission to visit the cave should still be granted
We don’t grant permission, I’m not saying that people can’t find a way in somewhere. Experience tells me that if you say no, it’s every encouragement for somebody to go in by illegal means; but if we say no the onus isn’t on us if another tragedy happens. The rivers rise that fast on the fell, it comes from rain and a little stream soon becomes within half an hour a raging torrent. Everything disappears down Mossdale, I mean everything. Everything that I know about Mossdale, I would want to say no!
Ray Kershaw ‘In Living Memory Mossdale Caves’ BBC4 19th March 2008