Bull Pot of the Witches - Cascade Aven.
Rumours of booming digs needing pushing reached us via Pauline Barber, so since we hadn’t been near Bull Pot far many years we decided to have a look. Andy Hall had apparently had a good look at a small rift which led off 100 feet above the upstream duck on the true left side. A meandering muddy crawl led off at the top of a 15 foot climb out of the streamway & emerged after 40 feet in a small collapsed chamber. From here there were two ways, equally tight, one at the bottom and the other at the top of a rift. Previous attempts at penetration had not yielded any distance bar a few feet at the bottom, but there was a superb echo.
On this particular day, Andy, Sedbo, Jim.& Helen Davies went armed with determination to see what could be done. Just before they left the farm, Jim said ”Make sure we’ve got a hammer and chisel”, which turned out to be an understatement when, having arrived at the rift Andy produced a sledge hammer & crowbar, neither of which was a ‘reet lot o’good’ because they were far too long to use in the confined space. However Jim said he’d have a quick look at the passage in the top of the rift and after rounding off a few edges, forced himself into the rift. A lot of grunting & muttered comments about his new wet suit ended when he’d gone 15 feet to a no go bend. Having confirmed the superb echo by passing further comments about wet suit glue, he began a retreat, but after his jockstrap had split he became something of a human rawl bolt. Eventually I5 minutes of thrutching saw him emerge minus oddments of wet- suit.
Meanwhile, Helen, Andy & Paul had begun an attack on the bottom of the rift at a right angled corner that needed knocking off. They had got a fair way, but the next piece of rift was very narrow. Further combined efforts removed more rock but nothing like enough, so with further mutterings about sizes of hammers & chisels, a break was made for tea at the farm. Our next visit, (Andy, Jim, Helen & Pauline) was made a week later. A fair amount of rock was removed with the aid of the same hammer & chisel and Andy’s head which was used as a movable acrow prop by Jim who then managed to force a way into a minute bell-shaped enlargement a few feet further along. Here examination revealed more rock to remove to get to another bend. However due to the size of the H & C no progress could be made, so with mutterings about B hammers & B chisels they headed for tea.
Our next visit ( No, I don’t start every paragraph this way, but there were a lot of visits), Jim, Helen, Pauline and a well known N.C.C. guest, Terry Whitaker, went to the farm for the well known photographic contest. A quickie down B.P. was all that was necessary, according to Jim, who had made sure he had provided his own hammer & chisel. Jim & Pauline successfully managed to lose Helen &Terry, who went upstream for a tourist trip & paddle. Jim spent some time trying to remove a flake on the corner & after 20 minutes work got it loose, but there was a problem of where to put it as he was underneath it. So he came out of the rift and lowered it by remote control with a crowbar. Half an hours frustrating hammering followed while the flake was reduced to a size small enough to extract it from the rift. A. repeat performance was then begun on another flake. However, the lure of the photo competition was too much and they left for tea, just in time to meet the first rush of C.R.O.s offering free trips down Link, but they declined the offer.
The following Sunday, everyone was doing something else, so Jim went solo to remove the “final” flake - nobody believed, this. The same problem as before was met with, but it was worse as the flake was much bigger (4”x18”x24”) and even though it was prised away from the wall it refused to fall under remote crowbar control, So the rift was re-entered and the flake was further prised until there was a one inch gap at the top. It then dropped to order and now fills the bottom of the rift. Another hours hammering removed odd bits along the next piece of passage to enable safe entry into the black void that could now be seen. This turned out to be an aven of fair dimensions, ten foot diameter and thirty-five feet high.
Jim, relieved that it had at last gone, then explored what he cou1d The rift entered the aven halfway up. The upper part consisted of a climbable cascade to a gour pool above which a well decorated aven continued un-climbable (by oneself anyway). A small sprinkle of water descended from above. Below the rift, the water dropped through a slot into an enlarged cross joint and then disappeared down a very narrow rift. Pleased with the days work. Jim left for tea.
Further visits were delayed due to high water conditions after the snow melted, which turned the duck into a 20 foot sump. However “glory fever” was well used to get the eager beavers to ferry the scaling poles to the duck, after which a tourist trip was enjoyed to the downstream sump led by Jim Newton followed by crowds. A few photos were taken and a grovel “nosed” after Jim Newton had “spied” it. Of course we all had tea.
At last our final trip, (so we thought) Jim & Helen arrived somewhat late (2p.m.) blaming the clock. They were joined by Mick Doran after he had had a look at Jim & Peters dig and been down Bull Pot once already for a run around. The po1es were ferried through to the even where they were erected with ladder & lifeline on the end. Jim told Mick to get tied on, but he wasn’t quick enough so Jim seized the opportunity and went up. The aven was well decorated, overhanging at the top and twenty feet high. At the top was another gour pool, and an easy climb up a further 20 feet past more pools to a very tight bedding plane which would take a lot of pushing. Meanwhile, Helen and Mick followed and looked around while Jim put a bolt in for a lifeline (in stal). The ladder was belayed to a piece of stal, because that was the strongest bit of rock in sight. The whole aven was developed on a hading rift which was a bit shattered and might be a fault. The group then retreated with pole leaving it tackled so that Andy could survey it.
This should be the end of this, but we left the poles to check out any other avens that might go. However there was a long delay in returning to B.P. after Ian Plant’s tragedy, but eventually we decided to finish the job we’d started. The only aven left in that area was the on opposite Cascade Aven, this went up 20 feet to a ledge and a further 20 feet to the roof, where use of a hammer produced 4 foot of progress forward to an impossibly tight rift. The result of all this work is that there are only 3 ways left in upstream B.P. One is the sump and the other two are the top & bottom of Cascade Aven; but chances of extensions to Aygill are very low.