Potholing in UK’s largest cave

UPDATE: Gaping Gill Winch Meet will be held from 29 May to 4 June 2021.

Have you ever caved?

Gaping Gill in Yorkshire Dales is a unique place for those who love caving i.e. “potholing”. This spot, however, is only accessible two times a year (in May and in August) and is one of the best places for those who are keen on walking – Gaping Gill is only accessible on foot from the village of Clapham.

The chamber and the extensive cave system it is a part of are only accessible to experienced and cave explorers except for the two times, the bank-holidays mentioned above. Two local caving clubs provide a winch to allow members of the public: they are lowered down the shaft on a boatswain’s chair and later winched out again.

Once inside you can just explore the chamber, or the slightly more adventurous can enter some of the easier and closer passages of the 16.6km cave system.

Its main chamber is 130m long, 31m high and 25m wide, the largest cave chamber in Britain – a cathedral would fit inside. Actually, a hot-air balloon-flight was already attempted.

 

Nessie: shall we forget the mystery of Loch Ness?

The latest DNA research by scientists of Otago University, New Zealand have revealed that popular Nessie must have been an eel, however, a giant one. No more monsters at Loch Ness?

The team of Scientist captured more than 250 DNA samples from the lake, even its deepest parts. According to geneticist professor Dr Neil Gemmell of Otago University, there is no evidence of any reptiles in the samples. However, one fifth of the DNA samples is still unencoded – Nessie fans can still hope for finding a giant dinosaur-like monster in Loch Ness.

A gallery of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle

“So there’s no shark DNA in Loch Ness based on our sampling. There is also no catfish DNA in Loch Ness based on our sampling. We can’t find any evidence of sturgeon either,” – Professor Gemmell said on the day the results of the research were revealed, when hundreds of journalists appeared at Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochihe, Scotland.

The legend of Nessie, the monster of Loch Ness dates back to the 6th century when St. Columba, a pilgrim from Ireland first saw it at the River Ness. Numerous stories tell how they met but none of them could be proved. According to one of the stories, St. Columba meets some men burying their friend on the bank of the river. They tell him that their friend was bitten to death by a horse-like monster. Columba later meets the monster that wants to attack another villager but Columba draws a cross with his hand in the air and the monster disappears. Another story tells that St. Columba sends the monster to dig the bottom of the lake and it has been digging it ever since. Several sightings of the monster occurred in the 1930s, and also in this century, a famous photograph and a black and white film was taken of the “something” in the lake. Expeditions and deep-water scanning have also been sent to study Loch Ness but none of these were successful. However, Nessie is a celebrity of Scotland and a must-take souvenir in any format. It also has its own “museum” (The Loch Ness Centre in Drumnadrochihe) and “country” (Nessieland) near Urquhart Castle, a popular landmark by the lake.

U.K. Factfile (data and symbols)

COUNTRY England Scotland Wales Northern Ireland
POPULATION*
(estimated)

*the next Census takes place in 2011

ca. 56,000,000 ca. 5,420,000 ca. 3,125,000 ca. 1,871,000
CAPITAL CITY and its POPULATION London
(ca. 8,8 million in Greater London)
Edinburgh
(ca. 500,000 in the council area)
Cardiff
(ca. 1,000,000 in the urban zone)
Belfast
(ca. 585,000 in the Metropolitan Area)
LANGUAGE English English, Scots, Scottish Gaelic Cymraeg (Welsh), English English, Irish Gaelic
OFFICIAL FLAG england scotland wales uk 1200px-Ulster_Banner.svg
PATRON SAINT St George
(celebrated on 23 April)
St Andrew
(30 November)
St David
(1 March)
St Patrick
(17 March)
FLOWER SYMBOL(S)
OF THE COUNTRY
rose 2000px-Tudor_Rose_(Heraldry).svg thistle Scottish_Thistle_(Heraldry).svg daffodil Narcissus.calcicola.7114.jpg shamrock  Irish_clover
NATIONAL TREE oak Scots pine, heather oak oak
ANIMAL SYMBOL(S) lion lion, unicorn dragon Irish elk
HIGHEST POINT Scafell Pike (978 m) Ben Nevis (1344 m) Snowdon (1085 m) Slieve Donard (850 m)
LONGEST RIVER the River Thames (346 km)* River Tay (188 km) River Teifi (122 km)* River Bann (159 km)
LARGEST LAKE Windermere Loch Ness (by volume); Loch Lomond (by surface area) Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) Lough Neagh

Blank map and other maps

Here’s the list of the mountains, hills, etc. we talked about. Can you find them on the Map of the British Isles?

Can you mark them on a blank map?

COUNTRIES & CAPITAL CITIES:

  • England; London
  • Wales; Cardiff
  • Scotland; Edinburgh;
  • Northern Ireland; Belfast
  • The Republic of Ireland (Ireland); Dublin

MOUNTAINS & HILLS:

  • Grampian Mountains
  • Cumbrian Mountains
  • Cambrian Mountains
  • The Pennines
  • Cotswold Hills
  • Yorkshire Dales

PEAKS (SUMMITS)

  • Ben Nevis
  • Scaffel Pike
  • Snowdon

MOORS & PLAINS:

  • Salisbury Plains
  • Exmoor
  • Dartmoor
  • Yorkshire Moors

LAKES, RIVERS & SEAS:

  • Loch Lomond
  • Lough Neagh
  • Loch Ness
  • Lake Windermere
  • River Thames
  • River Severn
  • River Tay
  • Celtic Sea
  • North Sea
  • English Channel
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Isle of Man
  • Isle of Wight

Landscape

Look at the pictures and revise the words.