EASE GILL DIARY
RECENT WORK AND DISCOVERIES
IN EASE GILL CAVERNS

From RRCPC 4 (1967)

BOOTH-EYRE CRAWL.

The Booth-Eyre crawl is a small tortuous passage leading off from the bottom of a 45 feet pitch towards the far reaches of the C.R.G. Extension. It was discovered and tentatively explored by J.Eyre and M.Booth in 1959, and the running water which could be heard at the furthest point reached was assumed to be the second waterfall reached in Wisdom Tooth Passage. A colour test was tried and failed, but it was thought that a survey would settle the question. Accordingly in June 1961, P.Ashmead, D.Marsden and myself surveyed the first 350 feet. The results showed that the passage was heading in the opposite direction to Wisdom Tooth Passage.
In August 1963 a determined effort was made to push the crawl to its limit. About a further 100 feet were added to its length, to where it led into a small chamber. The passage continued beyond but was impossible - at least to the writer.
A 45 feet pitch in a bell-shaped chamber leads via an 8 feet climb into a small circular chamber. The crawl leads off from this. It is at first a low, sinuous passage containing a small stream, but gradually increases in height and towards the end becomes a rift passage. Here it is also very narrow - less than 12 inches in places.
After about 400 feet the rift opens into a chamber. Just before this the dip of the floor increases and the sound of the water running down this steeper portion must have been the waterfall heard by Eyre and Booth. It is necessary to climb down into the stream just before the chamber which is about 15 feet high and 10 feet wide. The rift continues in the far wall but is only about 9 inches or less in width.

C.M.Moseley.

DEPOT PASSAGE No. 2.
This passage had apparently been known for some time but was unknown to the Red Rose. However, on hearing a report of a passage adjacent to Depot Passage, the sandy choke on the west side of the entrance was excavated and Depot No. 2 was entered.
It proved to be 240 feet long and a regular 7 - 8 feet wide. The height at the start was 3 - 4 feet rising to about 6 feet near the end where the passage petered out in a mass of angular boulders. Over most of its length it had been subjected to block fall, this being greatest towards the end.

C.M.Moseley.

 

GREEN & SMELLY PASSAGE.
Certain discrepancies in the Ease Gill survey suggested that the original plan of Green & Smelly Passage was incorrect so it was decided to resurvey it in the hope of finding the error. Although there are three routes the passage is usually entered by one of two routes from Holbeck Junction - a high, dry, sandy passage and a wet crawl. As only the dry way had been surveyed we took the opportunity to survey via the wet route and also explored a few low crawls near the junction of this with the downstream continuation of the Main Drain.

C.M.Moseley.

FAR EAST PASSAGE.
This passage was discovered and surveyed during a routine trip to survey an inlet at Limerick Junction. It is entered through an obvious hole in the floor of Nagasaki Cavern and had probably been entered before and forgotten or not recorded.
Far East Passage is of importance as it is a section of the Main Drain between Limerick Junction and Thackray's Passage - a problematical region. For much of its length it contains a prominent gypsum bearing shale band which has probably influenced its development. It varies in height up to an estimated 20 feet near the end where a T junction is reached. The western passage is dry but leads to the continuation of the stream passage beyond a shattered area. The continuation is too tight to explore however. The eastern passage is an inlet which consists of a crawl 3 to 4 feet high at first but becoming much lower towards the end. It leads into two boulder chambers beyond which no route could be found.

C.M.Moseley.


EXTENSIONS TO UPPER TRIDENT PASSAGE & PIERCE'S PASSAGE.
The original exploration reported in Journal No. 3 did not include several recent extensions near the junction of Trident Passage and Pierce's Passage, although they were included in the survey which accompanied that report (q.v.).
About 50 feet before White Line Chamber is reached in Lower Trident Passage is a ledge at shoulder height from where a 30 feet climb can be made high into the roof. About half way up, Upper Trident branches off in a southerly direction. At the top a steadily ascending passage in a northerly direction soon meets a junction.
To the right, after a tight squeeze, leads to a circular chamber with a hole in the floor. The hole drops into a 30 feet high snaky passage which is blocked both upstream and downstream. This passage is extraordinarily clean though is now non-active, and has several crystal pools in the floor which need care to avoid.
To the left from the junction, a complicated way over, round, and beneath a block fall leads into a straight rift directly to a point 30 feet above the junction of Pierces Passage and Trident Passage. The continuation of the rift can only be entered from Pierce's Passage.
A short way downstream from the junction of Pierce's Passage and Trident Passage a short traverse above the stream leads into a bedding plane. A climb up through a slit in the roof leads into a high rift passage the continuation of the Trident section.
In a southerly direction the rift can be followed back to the junction on the opposite side to the Upper Trident rift.
In a northerly direction the rift leads into the bottom of Cotton Chamber where "Ignorance is Bliss" enters at roof level. Climbing up the boulder slope at the opposite end another rift runs for some distance directly above Pierce's Passage to where descents can be made. Several complicated passages also exist below this final rift

P.Ashmead.


STAKE POT INLETS.
On the south side of the Stake Pot chasm, at the foot of the rift climb is a wide ascending boulder slope which leads to a very small tight hole. Through here is a large long chamber. A descent of the boulders leads to another large passage followed by a short crawl which opens in the wall of a vast chamber containing four very high avens.
A climb up out of this chamber leads to another dry but smaller chamber with several calcited slopes leading off. These lead to a confusion of passages in the region of Bob's Boss and are not fully explored.
Just below the slopes a gap in the boulders leads to a crossroads where a stream running at right angles has entrenched itself some 5 feet lower. Downstream the passage is very snaky, but it can be followed to Stake Pot where it joins the Main Drain. Upstream leads to two high waterfalls. One of these was scaled by the club using rigid aluminium ladders in order to pursue the unknown source of the stream. It could not be reached at this attempt but access was gained into another series of passages apparently near Painter's Palette.
These mysterious regions between Stake Pot and the chasms of Scylla and Charybdis remain largely unexplored.

P.Ashmead.


BREAKDOWN CAVERN.
900 feet upstream from Stake Pot an abandoned oxbow was found. The passage is 500 feet long, 12 to 15 feet wide, and shows very good examples of cavern breakdown which eventually cuts off the passage abruptly in a complete block fall.
Further oxbows in this region (Oxbow Corner) are in the process of being explored and much work remains to be done on elucidating these extensive features.

P.Ashmead.


THE BORE HOLE.
During the early explorations in Ease Gill Caverns, the Red Rose had made several attempts to enter the Bore Hole sink by digging and blasting, but all were unsuccessful.
In June 1964, a letter was received from two unattached potholers (later members of NOLSPEC) from Widnes, Lancashire, who described a cave they had found which did not tally with any known cave.
From their description of position etc. it was suspected that they had entered the Borehole. A joint trip was arranged with the discoverers to explore this new addition in November 1964.
It was not until a
year later in November 1965 that the connection was discovered between Borehole and Green & Smelly Passage under quite surprising circumstances when it was found that a conversation could be easily carried out between two parties: one party having descended Borehole and the other Green & Smelly.
The entrance passage drops steadily to the top of a 6 feet climb into a small chamber. At the bottom a short scuffle leads to the head of a 10 feet pitch which drops into a stream passage of typical T section about 4 feet high and 4 feet wide. We did not explore upstream.
After 100 feet or so, knee deep pools are met and soon a junction is reached where another stream comes in on the right. Again we did not explore upstream. More deep pools occur but the roof lifts and a very tight squeeze through a block fall leads into a dry chamber. Above and to the left is a 30 feet aven, whilst on the right a 15 feet climb leads into a spacious chamber choked at its head by black, shiny round boulders apparently just below the beck adjoining Pool Sink.
Back in the main passage, a low gravelly bedding plane, oval in section, leads out of the chamber. After 100 feet of crawling the roof lifts and the first formations are seen. The passage reverts to a T section and several "tusks" of flowstone hang down from the ledges.
Beyond here some pools are met, and a 25 feet aven. The passage is now lofty and assumes a snake-like aspect. After 150 feet the floor levels off and a climb can be made into an upper dry section whilst the snake passage meanders underneath. On the left a bedding crawl leads after l5 feet to twin chambers each with a 30 feet aven. Downstream can be followed over two 6 feet drops and a 20 feet pitch back to the main passage.
Returning to the main passage, a 50 feet pitch is reached. On the roof of the lower section are some particularly fine examples of anastomoses, the only phreatic feature in this otherwise typical vadose cave. It is possible to traverse over the pitch for a short distance when it becomes choked by glacial sand and gravel.
The pitch is followed by a further 10 feet descent to a rift-like passage forming two right-angled bends. Here a low sandy crawl enters on the right which can be followed approximately 100 feet to a boulder choke behind which can be heard a vigorous stream,
The main passage continues as superimposed bedding planes connected by a narrow mid section. The passage lowers into a twisting crawl over old flowstone. This had been much broken and showed intense re-solution suggesting that the passage had been fossilised at one time and then re-invaded by a stream. A hole in the roof gives access to a spacious chamber
To the right of the chamber above a large block leads to a very wide bedding plane which is choked after 150 feet.
The main passage continues at a comfortable height to a large chamber formed on a cross joint (Mottershead's Chamber). To the left soon becomes blocked by a collapse and the wet mud on the floor suggests that in times of flood the water wells up from the stream passage below. No way through exists here however.
To the right the way on lies beneath a large slab of rock which has peeled away from the roof, to a chamber which displays a leaning tower of balanced rocks (Leaning Tower of Pisa) holding up many tons of blocks.
From here the route lies either above or below the fallen blocks where extensive breakdown has occur Ed masking the stream passage below. The devious rifts all lead to a shattered wide passage at the foot of an 8 feet climb. To the left the passage continues over more blocks for some distance with some fine formations until it is choked by a block fall which must be be same block fall as that in Mottershead's Chamber.
Before the formations are reached however, a hole in the floor leads down through precariously poised boulders to two superimposed bedding planes; a common feature of the Borehole. Back underneath the boulders has been followed back to the 8 feet climb forming a circuitous route.
Forward, progress is made in the lower bedding plane downstream over clean washed rock. After 50 feet the passage shelves away to the right to a tight squeeze leading directly into Lower T Piece Passage a little way upstream from its junction with Green & Smelly Passage.
Avoiding this and continuing along the abandoned bedding plane two stream inlets are passed on the left coming from beneath Mottershead's Chamber, and a rift is met at right-angles. Climbing up the rift leads directly to the floor of the low wide chamber below Spiral Staircase Passage at the head of Green & Smelly Passage.
And so, another entrance a third of a mile in length, has been found into the Ease Gill Caverns although can only be described as a Severe Pot. The lower passages will be totally impassable except in dry weather.
A problem encountered whilst exploring Borehole was the ultimate fate of Slit Sinks stream which has been fluorescein tested to Green & Smelly Passage. No connection has yet been made between Borehole and Slit Sinks although the survey shows them to be in close proximity and both streams emerge at the same point as the explorer at the head of Green & Smelly Passage.
Further colour tests and explorations will be carried out in an attempt to clarify the situation.

P.Ashmead.

GYPSUM CAVERN - EASTER GROTTO.
As a result of the discovery of the connecting link between Gypsum Cavern and Easter Grotto by members of
the Imperial College Caving Club on 6th November 1966, a further survey closure became available. Members of the R.R.C.P.C. surveyed the passage which was very low and a 100 feet long. The difference in altitude between the two ends was no more than 10 feet.
An accurate closing error could not be found since it was no longer possible to pick up from old survey stations, but cannot be more than 15-20 feet which was less than expected.
It is apparent that this passage is not the only outlet from Easter Grotto and the original route onwards is still a mystery.

P.Ashmead & M.Wilkinson.


BOOTH-EYRE CRAWL.

Colour tests have been carried out to find the ultimate fate of the Booth-Eyre stream. Results of the test show that the stream re-appears in the eastern branch of Far East Passage (see above). The fluorescein arrived very quickly and it seems likely that the flow is unimpeded.
The stream in the eastern branch of Far East Passage is larger than the Booth-Eyre stream and it is probable that it picks up from the large surface shakehole.

P ..Ashmead.


TOP SINK POT.
The entrance to the "top end" was dug out early in 1967 and a safe iron frame work shaft constructed. This will facilitate access to the lesser known regions of Ease Gill. Caverns.

P ..Ashmead.


SUMMARY OF OTHER DISCOVERIES.
Waterfall Passage and Bull Pot of the Witches sump were connected by divers - 400 feet.
Wisdom Tooth Passage re-explored recently and showed several levels with laminated clay fill. Survey needed.
Broken chambers entered in Limerick Passage proved to be more than a trifle shaky.

Passage dug and entered off Thackray's Passage still in process of being explored.

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RRCPC 2001