VESPERS POT

Well at least I spelt the title rite this time, but 1 don’t want to side track as per Hugh so lets get on with the story. Early one cold, windy morning in February my slumbers were disturbed by Graham as he rose from his pit. “What’s this,’ I thought, he must be keen, getting up this early for a club trip.” But my illusions were soon shattered when over breakfast it transpired that the clubs illustrious debt collector was only taking novices down Lancaster. Not to be outdone by this blatant chickening, Steve & Alex were planning to dive Keld Head and Jim was going digging for a change.
Our numbers were looking sorely depleted as we sat around supping tea after breakfast, but things began to look up with  the arrival of Bill Holden. He soon whipped everyone into shape (must be the new blue wetsuit). Meanwhile Steve Green had talked me into abseiling down Spectacle Pot to make it a through trip, but he failed to persuade Mark. Quote from Mark: “It’s about time I did a club trip completely on 1adders.” In the outcome a strong. party changed at the farm & drove over to Braida Garth; thus avoiding an unpleasant strip in the icy north wind blowing down the valley & up any exposed parts. The walk up onto he limestone bench was fairly short, steep & very icy. The Growling Hole basin was located more by luck than judgment & here the fun really began. The basin is full of shake holes which in turn were full of snow. We ferreted in several before deciding we had come too far & returned to the dry valley which leads into the basin.

After a while a small blowhole was located in a minor shake hole containing a frozen stream. Furious digging then commenced at several points in the depression, while the less enthusiastic members of the party sat around hoping that they were digging in the wrong spot. Suddenly, with a jubilant cry Bill sprang into the air, pointing vigorously to the snow covered plank at his feet. This boosted everyone’s morale, except for Keith who looked most upset & was heard to mutter something about human excrement.  It looked as though we were going caving after all. The herds began to descend the awkward entrance followed by liberal quantities of snow & as usual Frank hardy bore the brunt of it. It was soon obvious that it would be a long wait for those still on the surface as Keith was already stuck a mere ten feet in. At this point I set off with Steve & Pete to locate Spectacle Pot & after a short search the hole was found but this too was snow-filled. This gave us an excellent opportunity to chicken out, so we returned to Vespers to find some people still on the surface. We eventually descended & made smooth progress through an awkward entrance rift followed by a couple of hundred feet of hands & knees crawling which gradually rose to a more tolerable height.

Soon the passage intersected a fault rift at a climb down on a sharp left hand bend. From here on a traverse was followed at roof level past some fine stals leading to the first pitch of 25 feet. The take off from this proved a little awkward as the ladder hung in a narrow rift, but a well placed bolt aided the descent. Below the pitch the passage was again fault controlled but after 50 feet it began to wander off the fault and a narrow, twisting crab-walk continued for a couple of hundred feet (The Meanders?) to the next pitch, Porthole Pitch. This leads down past a window in a series of steps for about 30ft. into a chamber, followed immediately by a choice of routes. Either on down the rift, or traversing along. rotten ledges surrounded on all sides by hanging death. Naturally after a brief reconnaissance, the lower route was chosen. The way on down involved two short climbs in the continuing rift to the head of the 90 foot pitch. When we arrived Keith & Bill we rigging this pitch but seemed in need of Pete’s assistance, although we never found out why. Pete, who was at the back as usual, so as to avoid carrying tackle, was thrust forward to join the hard men. Mark & I made encouraging remarks from the rear of the party such as “Get a grip” & “Why are we waiting ?”

Well with Pete’s invaluable assistance the pitch was rigged and Bill began cautiously to descend. The takeoff was tight & awkward and proved difficult to reverse on the ascent. On reaching the bottom, Bill was quickly joined by Keith and the tackle for the next drop of 130 feet. It was then that I decided to offer my services as a life liner. Obviously, this had an ulterior motive, namely to jump the queue & get down the pitch sooner. After lining a few down I was soon at the front. Meanwhile, people at the back were getting fed up and starting to. Make their way out including Mark whose light had failed. (Duff gear again, Mark, fix it yourself next time.) I descended the 90 to a large ledge in a wide shale hand where several people wee sitting around. Bill was already on his way down the 130 which followed immediately. I took my turn life lining the others down what proved to be a loose climb. Keith found this out much to amusement when he was hit on the head by a sizeable pebble while descending. However, we knew he was O.K. when a string of obscenities came floating up the pitch. This pitch descended at the extreme end of an enormous rift and at the bottom is the Great Bubble Heap, the landing for the penultimate pitch of Spectacle Pot. It was possible to climb up this pile of unstable boulders, one person at a time. At the top a fine view along the rift was obtained as at this point we were some fifty feet above the bottom of the final pitch in Vespers. We soon had a one up –

one down system working on the pitch. & eventually nine people bottomed the hole.
De-rigging turned out to be a slow business on the two big pitches but all went smoothly & various bods set off with tackle for the entrance. The final person exited from the cave after eight in the evening, to be greeted by a dark, cold, windswept Kingsdale. I was glad I didn’t have to change at Braida Ga±th.

Well it certainly was a good hole. When are we doing the through trip ?

 

A. Hall.

Back to Contents