A Summer Memory – King Pot

July 18th. 1981

   The original plan was for Bob, Mick, Paul, Alan and myself to descend on Friday night with all the tackle which was to be left for the multitudes to bring out on Saturday. “Plan one” was abandoned when, on Friday evening Paul phoned from t’Snotty (Snooty Fox Tavern). With carefully hidden relief he announced that due to short numbers for Saturday the night trip was off and we would all have to get drunk in the pub instead. However on arriving back at the farm later that evening we met Gary, Chris & Roger who informed us that with others expected on the morrow there would be enough people to de-ladder King Pot after all. The night trip was back on.                             

1:00a.m. Alan, Bob, Paul & I left the farm in Al’s .car with Mick following behind with his car and all the tackle.  We called in at my house for a brew and to collect my gear, but Mick, who we had omitted to inform, failed to appear and had presumably gone straight •up to Kingsdale.

2.00a.m., We drove up to Kingsdale where it appeared Mick had given up waiting and gone back to the farm. On making this discovery, we followed in his tracks. On the pay back Paul narrowly. avoided being set upon by a bloke who accused us of calling him names over his C,B. radio.
But that’s another story.                               .                                                                        

4:00a.m., Bob, Paul & Mick had had enough and went to bed. Therefore It was only Al & myself who set out yet again, only this time with all the tackle and no excuses.      .                             

4:30a.m., We arrived at Braida Garth and decided to just “have five” before setting out for King Pot.

8.00am.,  We wake up in Al’s Capri with the sun blazing down. “Must have fallen asleep (Shucks)” .  We decided to whizz down to Bernies for some scran and get back for an “early” start to avoid being caught by the others and ridiculed for not ‘living up to our words of the night before.   .              .

 To use Al’s words it certainly was a mega-morning” as we drove down to Ingleton. Although the sun was high it was still brilliantly clear & fresh as we returned and walked up to the entrance. This would have been a pleasure if it, hadn’t been for the five pieces of tackle each of us were carrying. (Ah well, when you’re ‘ard, ‘Dave! Ed.) The volume of gear would ‘have been even greater if it hadn’t have been for an N.C.C. member at Braida Garth informing us which items we could leave out. To avoid the responsibility for any accidents due to lack of tackle to any of those following, we left a list, an Al’s car of exactly what had been left out with a message saying “-- bring if you require”. Note the careful wording. At this point I think I’ll take the opportunity to insert our tackle list

Tackle required :-   Entrance Series:- 

Entrance:  20 foot ladder,  Slope: 25foot handline,  2nd pitch: 30 foot ladder. 3rd pitch: I5 foot ladder,

4th pitch:  25 foot ladder.

Below dig.

Emma:  30 foot ladder,  Anne: 10 foot ladder,  Bloodaxe: 40foot ladder, Victoria:  26foot ladder

Elizabeth:   70foot ladder, Jane: 15ft up &10ft. down      

Tackle omitted – pitches free-climbed.

It didn’t take long for Al to find the entrance but as usual we were delayed for the ritual “last fag”. The entrance series proved very tedious with the tackle, especially in the blasted crawl. Fortunately this section also used up three of the ladders. After another fag at the dig, we made fairly rapid progress along the crawl into the new cave and to the start of the infamous key-hole passage, with four pieces of tackle each it was desperately difficult to prevent any of it falling down the slot below, as it was impossible to crawl and carry the tackle at the same time. The method of transport is to crawl forward a couple of feet, stop, then pull the tackle over yourself from behind and try to place it in front where (a) you could get past it & (b) it wouldn’t be lost down the trench. This accomplished you could then crawl forward again, and so on. It vas a painstaking business and Al managed rather better than I did; probably due to the assistance of his long arms. Just as I popped out of the end of this murderous section, grunts and groans could be heard and soon the lights of the main party were seen emerging behind Al. Bob & Mick were the first to slide out followed by Gary, Chris & Roger. Paul was not with them as he had gone home in disgust at the “lack of grip” the previous night. Possibly to console Al & I in the absence of Paul, the others had brought a little present - every last piece of the tackle we had left with the note:. Just to show what a complete load of idiots they were, they had even dragged in the thirty foot handline for the entrance climb as there was already an old rope on it. With a little pleading and a lot of self control, we persuaded the others to leave their precious tackle unless it was absolutely vital as there was still a lot of hard cave to be traversed before we saw the bottom of the last pitch. Thankfully we did not have to resort to sign language and they got the message and left the extra tackle.                                           .                         

With this problem solved we all sped off down Queensway. Although this is a relief from the crawling I wasn’t particularly impressed and it took rather longer than I had imagined. The stoop/crawl through Canutes Canal gains the top of Emma, a pleasant thirty foot pitch, though it is a little damp at the bottom. At this point it was a good job the opportunity was taken to count up the tackle, for one of the ladders had disappeared in the pool beneath the pitch and wouldn’t have been discovered otherwise. Annes pitch is no more than a climb through piano sized blocks but once down this the unexpected size of King Henry Hall develops to reach a climax in the aven above Bloodaxe, the next pitch. Victoria pitch is down the rift back to the streamway. Moving further down the cave it is quite a surprise to have to crawl again. Unfortunately this gets lower & lower and you’re just deciding whether scraping your chin through gravel is a pleasant experience when Kakemono Hall springs out of nowhere. For me, this one place as the nicest of the whole cave. Probably because it is such a welcome breather before it vanishes, as quickly as it appeared and you’re back in a crawl. Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Pitch, which follows is the most spectacular of King Pot’s pitches. Fortunately it can be hung dry by dropping the ladder the far side of a flake, joined to the top of the pitch by a curious rock bridge.                                                                           .                                

Alan & I were first down and after a nose round the chamber, passed through the rock archway into another aven with a rock wall barring the way on. This is Jane pitch and laddering requires lasso tactics to rig. Of course, ‘ard’ men don’t need ladder, so we climbed up it & down the other side. Because this climb over is not too obvious, Al & I decided to sit down with our lights off while Bob, the next down, tried to find us. I guess he must have read the description (for a change) as it did’nt take him long. With no pitches left we decided to leave the others & complete the exploration ahead of them. Once in the Master Cave, we waltzed downstream to the large foamy sump at which we gave a long thoughtful stare. The upstream sump was just as impressive but less awe inspiring. The next step was to find the bypass to this sump and enter the upstream continuation of the Master Cave. The inlet passage, on the left down from the sump, was followed up to a long blue pool where the passage conveniently reduced in size to about a tenth at the exact point the water was met.

Al:       ‘Oh yes, this must be the low duck.’                                                   .
Dave:   “Water’s very cold.”                                                        .
Bob:    ‘Ready when you are, Dave’.                                             .
Dave:  “Airspace looks pretty desperate too.”                                                                .
Al:       “The only reason I came down here a second time, was to, get into the upstream Master Cave.   So stop stalling and get a move on.” Dave:     “Well you go first ‘then.”                                              .
Al:       “You got here first.”                                     .
Bob:    ‘I’ll go if you go, Dave.”                                                      .
Al:      “We’ll miss the pub if we do go.”                                              .
Bob:    “The others will be wondering where we are.”                                                .
Al:       “So what’s it going to be”.”                                          .
Bob:    “Ready when you are,’ Dave.”                                       .
Dave    “O.K.. let’s go out.”                                               .

The others who had visited the Master Cave in our absence were waiting at the top of Elizabeth when we arrived. As soon as we were up they scuttled off, leaving us to de-tackle. We next met up at Bloodaxe. According to plan this was where we were to overtake them on our way out. Bob, who had stuck to Al & I all the way so far in the hope of getting out early, gallantly stayed behind, leaving just the two of us to sprint for the entrance as fast as we could It still seemed an awful long way off. We carried a ladder and rope apiece, though by rights we shouldn’t have had anything considering we had only left the others with two ladders between them. All this after carrying in all the tackle to start with. To use one of Paul’s expressions “There’s no rest for the ‘ard’. .“ (This heartrending story is too much! Ed.)                                                   .

As it was, everyone kept fairly well up to Al & I (with our burdens) until we reached the horrible keyhole passage. Assisting each other we were soon, through, though I think the others must have found it a sharp contrast to their inward journey without tackle. Consequently the two of us left them far behind as we raced through the entrance series, to shoot out of the entrance like nuclear missiles from a silo. With plenty of the summer evening still left we stripped wetsuits and drove with a car full of midges to t’Snotty for a pint or six.

D.J.Crellin.

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