An Afternoon Down Roaring Hole

It was 3 p.m. at the Hill Inn on a photogenic day as we set off towards the grandeur of Ingleborough. Tourists gaped at us as I carried a crowbar, rope, ladders, cement, a bucket and a scaffolding pole. Frank Walker carried an even odder selection of spades, etc. - our aim - a promising dig 400 feet underground, leading upstream towards Sunset Hole and to de-tackle & take out sledge hammers, etc.
The pot itself is somewhat bizarre, consisting of short stream passages and several large but totally different chambers. The steep boulder floors of these chambers mean one descends very quickly with very few pitches to a stream passage and a blind pot. There is a traverse round this, then two minor pitches into a short but atmospheric passage, the water from Sunset Hole which suddenly thunders down a 30 foot shaft into a very deep sump The hole is 440 feet deep - a total of 80 feet having been dug!!.
We were soon at the entrance dig and dropped into Machu Pichu chamber then via the next dig into the huge Auditorium Chamber. Poles & tackle were pushed and dropped down the next excavated hole end soon we scrambled through to the Morecambe Pier dig, 30 foot deep, is name arising from it’s building materials and also as a flood warning. We then descended 150 feet via this and Mason & Slab Chambers to the next bit of streamway, picking up more tackle and cementing a pole in to support some dicey boulders en route. Soon we arrived at the blind pitch, put a pole in ‘for a belay and descended taking with us a mass of tackle in a large net sack. At the bottom, a large mass of river type boulders lead up & over to an obvious flood rising from Sunset, 500 feet away.

We dug along the low crawl, ten feet away the roof obviously lifted - soon we were in a short rift passage, then a fissure to a 4 foot drop which was forced with a bit of hammering. Onward lay a phreatic ramp sloping downwards. The obvious fact that tennis ball sized boulders had been forced up this and the 4 foot climb made one uneasy - this was not a hydro jet tube but more like a volcano vent. In front lay a U-tube where digging was impossible and not desirable. Sunset was now only 400 feet away on the same rift..

We now had the task of taking out our present digging tools and all the others strewn about the cave. Fortunately most fitted into the net sack which with the aid of a rope was dragged along. Eventually we arrived at Mud Chamber where Frank got the idea of cleaning it up. This included coiling up 100 feet of six inch fire hose - thankfully too ‘heavy’ to drag out. Then we gathered up the really heavy gear and set off to the first pitch where we hid the scaling pole and demolished the dam. The cave roared back into its normal life. On nearing the entrance, Frank even decided to remove the wooden ladders - these were taken out and used as a stretcher for the huge bag of gear.  Just as well, it was too
heayy. for our backs as we stumbled and fell towards the car.

Tackle required :-        1st Pitch.  25 foot ladder.
Slab Chamber.  25 foot ladder or rope.
Blind Pitch Traverse,  Rope essential.
2nd. Pitch.   15 foot ladder.
3rd. Pitch.    15 foot ladder.
Last Pitch     30 foot ladder, long belay.
Blind Pitch,  25 foot Ladder.

Hazards:— In extreme conditions even the dig to the first pitch has been a millrace sump. Despite its Bar Pot- like location, water from Sweetwater Hole & Meregill Diversion enter the cave.

A. Walsh.

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