Entrance shaft viewed from the Main Chamber
|Location||Ingleborough, North Yorkshire, UK|
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|Depth||198 metres (650 ft)|
|Length||11,600 metres (38,100 ft)|
|Access||Ingleborough Estate Office|
Gaping Gill (also known as Gaping Ghyll) is a natural cave in North Yorkshire, England. It is one of the unmistakable landmarks on the southern slopes of Ingleborough – a 98-metre (322 ft) deep pothole with the stream Fell Beck flowing into it. After falling through one of the largest known underground chambers in Britain, the water disappears into the bouldery floor and eventually resurges adjacent to Ingleborough Cave.
The shaft was the deepest known in Britain, until Titan in Derbyshire was discovered in 1999. Gaping Gill still retains the records for the tallest unbroken waterfall in England and the largest underground chamber naturally open to the surface.
Due to the number of entrances which connect into the cave, many different routes through and around the system are possible. Other entrances include Jib Tunnel, Disappointment Pot, Stream Passage Pot, Bar Pot, Hensler's Pot, Corky's Pot, Rat Hole, and Flood Entrance Pot.
The Bradford Pothole Club around Whitsun May Bank Holiday, and the Craven Pothole Club around August Bank Holiday, each set up a winch above the shaft to provide a ride to the bottom and back out again for any member of the public who pays a fee.
History of exploration
The first recorded attempted descent was by John Birkbeck in 1842 who reached a ledge approximately 55 metres (180 ft) down the shaft which bears his name. The first complete descent was achieved by Édouard-Alfred Martel in 1895. In 1983 members of the Cave Diving Group made the underwater connection into Ingleborough Cave.
An extreme rock-climb (graded E3, 5c) is possible up the main shaft which requires very dry conditions. It was first pioneered in 1972 with ten points of aid. The first free ascent was made in 1988.
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- Beck, Howard M. (1984). Gaping Gill: 150 years of exploration. London: Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7090-1552-6.
- Brook, D.; et al. Northern Caves 2 - the Three Peaks. Dalesman Press. ISBN 1-85568-033-5.
- Farr, Martyn. The Darkness Beckons: History and Development of Cave Diving. Gardners Books. ISBN 0-906371-87-2.
- Mason, E. J. (1977). Caves and Caving in Britain. Robert Hale. ISBN 0-7091-6195-6.
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