Howgill Sink

Link to passage description

Link to Descent Article

from RRCPC 6
Discovered 1970

The sink was discovered in January 1970 and entered in late February. Andrew Walsh forced a silted bedding plane to an extensive series of passages and avens. A spate of unsettled weather and commitments in Lancaster Hole delayed further exploration. Trips were then planned in order to seriously study the system and produce a high grade survey. However, a pilot team found the second squeeze ("hanging death squeeze") blocked by a boulder which had apparently fallen from the roof. (The offending boulder could possible be moved by a hydraulic jack, assuming it is not keyed to any more rocks.) The "Fossil Cave-on-the Cliff" above Howgill was then examined closely as the likely continuance of the choked passage entering the south west sector of Consortium Cavern. Subsequent inspections of this cave have revealed a natural subsidence of 6 feet or more within 12 months. Entrance gained here would yield access to more heavily built cavers who are unable to negotiate the squeezes. (e.g. Jim Newton, to whom I must pay tribute for his ceaseless expenditure of energy in opening up new caves despite the regular exclusion of his person). The entrance passage is the course of a vadose streamway derived from the Ease Gill sink which is only active in times of flood resulting in severe flooding within the cave. The stream sinks through jammed boulders in Consortium Cavern to join a larger streamway below. The source of this water is likely to be the surface stream How Gill which sinks in the Ease Gill bed upstream of Howgill sink. (Note the confusing nomenclature. - a product of the panic search for a name for the Pot.) Possibly the overflow from the Cow Dubs, in normal conditions, utilises this passage also. (An inspection of the Dub during drought showed no sizable outlet.) The further course of the cave is somewhat of a mystery due to the curtailing of survey activities by the blockage. At the time of discovery it was 'hoped to provide the key to the caverns of Leck Fell. (About that time the H.W. broke through into Pippikin.) On reopening it could well yield another entrance into Pippikin and the caverns which are indicated to lie between the Ease Gill and Lancaster Hole.

Howgill sinks probably developed via the "Fossil Cave-on-the cliff" along with other nearby shafts (now choked) on this horizon, before the nick point at Cow Dubs was established. The upper cave is of much larger section than the relatively immature present day sink therefore it must have been subjected to a greater volume of water when the Ease Gill flowed along at this higher level.

References; R.R.C.P.C. newsletters vol.7 No.2 and No.4.

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RRCPC 2001