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Hard Decisions at Sleets Gill

Last weekend marked the 26th anniversary of the rescue of Roy and Les from Sleets Gill cave.

This rescue was special for many reasons…

It was one of the first ever British underwater rescues from a cave, which combined mountain rescue and cave diving teams, working alongside the emergency services.

What makes the story so amazing is despite this being one of Les’ first ever caving expeditions, he carried on caving afterwards.  At one very emotional point in this film, Roy and Les talk about how they were certain they were going to die in the cave.

Les is one of the most courageous people I have had the privilege to meet.  Not only has he continued caving, he has gained a reputation as one the the best cave leaders in the region.  I am lucky to have him as my tutor.

Having been underground with Les many times, each trip proves to be a great experience.  Les is hilarious!  He has a wicked sense of humor and is very light-hearted.  He has a wealth of stories to tell, many of which are not suitable for this blog…

Les is over seventy now and he is still caving, which I think is pretty epic!  He often makes jokes about his age when I go underground with him.  Thanks to the bravery and expertise of the men in this video, he lived to see the last 26 years.

I am deeply grateful to the rescue teams for getting both Roy and Les out of that cave.  I feel very fortunate to have Les as a caving buddy, and a friend.

The photographs below are from the twenty fifth anniversary, last year.  Quite rightly, a few folk thought we should celebrate the fact the rescue was successful.  This celebration was made all the more poignant and bittersweet by the fact that Roy, and Les’ wife, Jan, are no longer with us.

The event last year raised funds for the Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association.  If you would like to support the work they do please feel free to make a donation so that they can keep up their remarkable work so that people like Les and I can keep enjoying Britain’s beautiful underground world.




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