Heron Pot

Connor, Dave, Maz, Pete, Scott, Sophie, Tom, Will

Another visit to a Wednesday night leisurely classic, the Heron Pot mini exchange. New prospective victim Will joined us for his first trip and handled everything like a pro, and took some cracking pics (and the odd LiDAR scan).

Both routes rigged, a poke around in the high level fossil series and a brave push out the bottom exit from Connor.

Pics by Will

Heron Pot

Dave, James, Matt, Maz, Pete, Scott, Tom

Nice little exchange on the two routes. After heading down the streamway we broke off into two, with Scott rigging the High Level route followed by Pete, Tom and James, and the classic route rigged by Matt with Dave and Maz following.

After a chat in the bottom chamber and a quick wander along the lower streamway, we decided it really wasn’t a night for the through trip and headed back out – Matt and Dave doing the High Level back up, and the rest of us heading up the classic.

Well done Pete for his first de-rig, and nice work everyone else for handling the icy conditions like champs 💪

Illusion Pot

Sophie, Tim K, Ray + Mary Clifford (friend of Sophie’s)

Report from Sophie:

Lovely little trip down Illusion pot with Ray, Tim, Mary and Sophie. This little pot never fails to amaze with all the sparky decorations. The walk up in the sunshine showed the Dales at its most picturesque. Despite the unquestionable beauty of this little gem, and I don’t often say this, it was almost too lovely to go underground.

I think Mary was more than ready for the pub when we got back to the surface so it was a trip to the Marton arms for a supper of beer and crisps.

A before and after shot…
Report from Ray:

Where is everyone? We had about 11 people for this trip last year! Still, what we lacked in numbers we made up for in… errr… ummm… well, perhaps we just lacked numbers.

The walk-in was pretty hot and the entrance area was midge central, so we didn’t hang around on the surface. Progress was easy enough as far as the “sump”. Due to the recent dry weather, we were expecting this to be dry… but no, there was still quite a bit of water in it. It was passable without having to resort to an ear in the water (or worse), but only just. Mary didn’t fancy it, not having done much caving (at least, recently), so she and Sophie headed out. Tim and Ray forged on fearlessly.

Soon we were out into the big stuff. First we headed one direction, then the other, but could we find the way to the sump? Well, no. Not without checking up every nook and cranny at least once. For some strange reason, we decided not to look down one slope because that obviously wasn’t the way. Looking back, I can’t quite understand why we wrote this particular passage off, other than it had a bit of tat down it (which was obviously just for hauling a digging bucket???). Anyway, after we’d done pretty much the whole cave twice, we went back to said passage and, of course, that was the way on.

Soon we were at the start of the traverse to the sump. Hmmm, was it this scary last time? Ray bravely set off, with just a hint of Elvis leg. Tim decided against it – very wise. It actually wasn’t that bad and the sump was as crystal clear as ever.

A hasty retreat was beaten and we were out in no time. The midges were now much worse, almost all the way to the cars. Luckily there was a considerable breeze down the valley, which kept them away while we got changed. Sophie, Mary & Ray retired to the Marton for a debrief.

Thanks to Sophie for another great KCC Wed evening outing. Sorry you missed some of it.

Heron Pot – 29th May 2019

Darren kindly offered to lead this trip, opting for the high-level route in case of wet conditions.  It had rained most of the day, but water levels in the becks were reassuringly low.  We were soon at the pitch, where I dangled for a while for Darren to get some photos (not necessarily of my best side!) from below.  Scott had the job of lighting me from above while balancing on the tiny ledges at the pitch head, not easy when you’re trying not to look down!  Tom later mentioned the traverse to the pitch had got his heart racing – I assured him his was not the only one.

I recalled the guidebook mentioning a high-level Phreatic Inlet, so we decided to find it.  At the first right-hand turn, I sent Darren up a fruitless climb in the roof, but there was another turn soon after, at which we managed to climb up to a promising passage – except Tom, who was exploring downstream.  The passage went some way to a nicely-decorated chamber with another awkward climb out of it.  Scott conquered this and slithered along a narrow rifty passage above for a little way before returning.  It might be worth returning to pursue this to the end, but the guidebook doesn’t hold much hope of ‘marvellous things’.

Returning to the pitch bottom, we realised we hadn’t made a plan with Tom – which way had he headed?  In the end, Scott nobly volunteered to get wet going out the downstream entrance in case Tom was waiting there, while Darren and I ascended the pitch.  We found Tom waiting for us at the entrance – had he gone up the rope first?  No – he had pushed on out of the wet exit on his own and come back to meet us.  Good effort!  As we walked down the hill, we met a dripping Scott and returned to the cars in what passed for daylight, low cloud having descended as we walked back.  Still, a good trip, and nice to find a ‘new’ section of a familiar cave.



Illusion Pot

Wednesday night saw us taking advantage of the dry spell for a bit of caving in Illusion Pot, Kingsdale. After exploiting a variety of parking options – mine as usual seeming to be the furthest away from the actual cave – we met up, walked and began the search for the covered entrance in a shakehole.  In this crack team of speleo-explorers were Darren, Ali, Jason, Tony and myself; Tony and Ali had the excuse of never having been down Illusion before, and I mumbled something about it ‘being all snowy the last time I was here’, leaving Jason and Darren to put us on the right track.  After some determined searching they found the way in, and we all descended the fixed ladders into the underworld.

Muddy passages led to a bailable duck, but today the water levels were low enough to get through without any difficulty. Refreshingly moistened, we continued into the impressive chamber of the Missile Silo, and then Ali led the way up into The Pretties…  Here are some beautiful straws, curtains and even helictites, which we were careful not to sully with our muddy hands.

We had a look at a dig in the floor that led to a flat out crawl, then retraced our steps into the Missile Silo.  At the far end, passing some fine orange speleothems, is the way down to the sump.  Jason, Ali and Darren went along the roped traverse while Tony and I waited and marvelled at the cobbles which were stuck to the chamber walls by only a thin calcite cement – the remains, we supposed, of a past floor at a higher level in the chamber.

The three returned with reports of a final squeeze (which Jason had explored), and we then made our way back out to the surface, emerging to a cloudless evening.  We bum-slid back down the steep hill to Darren’s car (which was great fun, so much that Tony went back up again!).
All said, Illusion is a good and varied trip, and definitely worth a look if you haven’t been before.  Thanks for an entertaining evening fellas!

Vesper Pot – Sunday 11th April 2010

I arrived at Braida Garth early due to an unusual lack of caravans and milk lorries on the A65.  Oh, I’ve got a text from Barney: “Running late”.  Strange, that’s not like him….  As he was trip leader, and I the only other volunteer, I settled down to wait.  Seeing a stranger sorting out some SRT gear, I asked where they were going.  Down Vesper, was the reply !

An unlikely coincidence which was to turn to our advantage as the three, Dave Ramsey, our Darren (though I didn’t know it then) and another, offered to rig if we de-rigged.  Deal!

So when Barney arrived, we were able to give the others a head start and make a leisurely way up to the entrance.  As the guide promised, the entrance was an awkward sideways crawl, but it was ok provided you dived head-first into the cave.  This was shortly followed by a low, but conventional, crawl, which gradually turned into some meandering rift passage.  Tight and awkward, but again ok, provided you climb up to the upper, wider part of the passage when you can.

Before long we came to the short first pitch, now rigged, which had a somewhat tight and awkward take-off, but then gravity is your friend – on the way in.  The guide describes the passage to the second pitch as a ‘tall and tortuous canyon’.  This is true, apart from the obvious misspelling – it clearly means torturous.  Turning the right way to negotiate one bend, you’re then wrong for the next one, and there’s no room to turn….

Reaching the second pitch, we caught up with the advance party going down the third which follows immediately after.  The cave is roomier at this point which comes as a relief.  Both pitches are around 10m and straightforward apart from a small deviation near the top of the second.  It’s then not far on to the fourth, about 30m and nice.  Unless – like me – you go and abseil past the deviation (about a quarter of the way down) – a good way of adding unnecessary interest to a pitch.

At the bottom of this pitch we found a cat’s cradle of traverse lines around the head of the adjacent 40m fifth (and final !) pitch – and a good deal of head-scratching going on.  The pitch is hung from a pair of threads (oddly, considering every other pitch is P-hangered) impossibly far across the rift.  Dave had somehow managed to reach them, but found the screws only went a half-turn before slipping.  What to do ?  It seemed a pity to turn round at this point.  Barney noticed that the rebelay (about 5m down) was P-hangered, so the pitch was rigged direct from the take-off to here, protecting a rub point with a strategically-placed tackle bag.  Hurrah.  But our troubles were not yet over – a distant voice from below called “I’ve run out of rope!”.  Arrgh!  It turned out, that there was just enough rope – provided you land en pointe on a convenient boulder.  So it was that we all gathered at last at the bottom of the Great Rubble Heap, originally of Spectacle Pot.

The rigging party set off, followed by me – fortunately Barney did nearly all the de-rigging (I didn’t want to spoil his fun…), but I was unable to get out of carrying a tackle bag.  No longer on speaking terms with gravity, I found pitches 5, 4 and 3 tiring but manageable.  Getting off pitch 2 was more of a thrutch, being yes, tight and awkward.  Then there was the snake’s intestine of the passage to pitch 1, now made even less enjoyable by the tackle bag.  I’d spent several minutes trying to force myself round a hairpin bend at the bottom of the passage when Barney’s voice drifted from behind “Don’t forget to climb up around there somewhere !”.  Ah, yes, that’s why I hadn’t remembered it being quite this tight on the way in.

Finally to the first pitch, spirits rising with the end being (nearly) in sight.  Another tight, awkward sod to get off, but at last it’s done – come with me, lovely tackle bag, we’ll be out soon…

Getting to the crawl, I can smell the exit, oh joy, round the corner and hallelujah, it’s daylight – only a few feet to go.

But then, almost literally within spitting distance of the exit, I find my hips wedged.  Thrutch, wiggle, grunt, no movement.  By this time Barney had brought up the rear and was patiently waiting for me to stop fannying around and get out.  If only I could oblige….

After a while, I suggested he crawl over me and give my wife a ring as I knew time was marching on.  As he did so, he laughingly remarked how embarrassing it would be if he got stuck at this point.  The only reply I could give at that point was “gmmph!”.  So – did I really want him to phone home to tell Teresa I was stuck in a cave ?  I saw what he meant, but sent him off anyway. (Later, he reported that he’d used diplomacy and said I was ‘on my way’ out.  Later still, Teresa’s version was the slightly less reassuring ‘there’s nothing much to worry about’).

Meanwhile, I’d decided to retreat to the low, but wide, part of the crawl to take off my SRT kit.  After many contortions and a great deal of coarse language, I managed to retreat about a metre before getting wedged fast again.  Perhaps I could go forward now …?  No.  More contortions, but no progress.  I was starting to get bored.  Eventually it occurred to me that I could (just) reach my chest harness buckle and undo it – then the next time I moved forward, the kit stuck – but I moved on without it !  Moments later, I was out, and happier than I’d been for quite some time – just tried not to think about the hour of my life I’d wasted by not getting the SRT kit off before the tight bit…

I met Barney on the way back – he was possibly even more relieved than me at not having to call out his new CRO chums!