Little Hull Pot.

It was a beautiful summers day, (one of few) in the middle of June. The arrangements were as follows: Club ladder meet, Little Hull Pot 14th. June, meet in the car park in Horton in Ribblesdale for 1O.3Oam. sharp! With being a learner driver, I set off extremely early and arrived on time, which is more than I can say for the rest (typical Red Rose members). Jim “man of a thousand digs” Newton (leader) and Doug Wayman arrived next and had trouble finding space to park, Frank Hardy followed and Roy Breakell was last. By now it was between eleven to half past eleven. Much time was wasted with idle chatter with some friends that Jim knew. With such a poor turnout there was talk of choosing a different pot but thank goodness it was only talk.
After getting changed and being loaded up with many ladders, belays, ropes etc (the list is endless) we trudged off up the track to Pen-y-Ghent; this seemed to go on for miles, Frank went in front moving like a hare and Jim plodded behind like a snail, pouring out buckets of sweat.

Little Hull Pot is situated over the hill from Hull Pot Lane near the old shooting hut. The tiny opening is hidden in a shakehole in the middle of the barren moorland. By the time we reached this we were all knackered and had a well earned rest for some time.
The entrance was small and a little bit grotty, this was followed by a stony flat out crawl through a shallow pool, the crawl continued for some time and became a pain in the posterior, it was slow going, hard work, and wet. This emerged into a fine easy going passage with some nice formations, and crystal pools, after a hundred yards or so we reached the head of the first pitch which was 65ft. deep, I was a little nervous because on my last trip I had an accident, and hurt my ankle and was badly shaken up. (You’re supposed to slide down PJ not jump. Ed). I didn’t let this put me off though, because I was determined to reach the bottom of this 365ft. pot. This pitch was a peculiar one; it falls away to the side of the passage into a parallel fissure, this is separated by a thin rock flake with a large window at the top, the ladder was hung over the flake, making starting extremely awkward, this was done to avoid the rush of water. It was more like trying to walk a tightrope than descending a ladder, it was close to being horizontal after so long!

It was possible to stride across and reach hold of the flake, I felt very exposed, 65ft. in the air, and I spent quite a long time bridging the gap and building up courage to step across onto the thin flake, below me now was a ledge, and the rest of the decent went without trouble. The top of the second pitch followed almost immediately, this was 100ft. deep and at the top the stream flowed over into a large “bath” which was filled up before the water headed over the pitch, the bath was about 3ft. deep and 5ft. long, an ideal shape for scooping. It was baled out before the decent, by kicking the water over the ledge, the noise was tremendous as the water roared down the huge shaft, once the bath was empty the clock  started, you had to climb down the ladder fairly sharpish before it’s filled up again and soaked the unlucky person on the ladder. Frank
and Roy stayed at the top of this pitch just in case the volume of water increased, which would make climbing the ladder impossible, without bailing out the bath.

This sporting pitch is the best ladder climb I’ve seen so far. A fine circular shaft in clear washed limestone, there is a small ledge about 15ft. down and the whole shaft is vertical and smooth, making it easy to get into a rhythm on the ladder. The clinking of steel toecaps could be heard every couple of seconds as we descended in turn. Even with the bath baled out it wasn’t an entirely dry pitch, by the time you reached the bottom the water was coming down with some force.

The hall at the foot of the pitch is huge, with a 25ft. free climb into a gully. The water runs away to the left into the “Dogs Front Door”. This is about a 12ft, long crawl through a hole, three quarters of which is submerged, there is also an awkward rock in the middle that presents an awkward move. The water was unavoidable, and it poured down the front of my troll suit making things uncomfortable, Jim and Doug were both cursing as they went through. The passage got higher and wider after the “Dogs Front Door” and continued for some distance, then it started to get thin at the bottom. Jim and Doug started to traverse, I don’t like traverses because I find my legs don’t reach, and I tend to wobble after a certain height, but I had no choice, so traverse it was.

We continued into a large muddy chamber with a bridge in the middle, this was the third pitch, down to a sump, but it was the end of the cave for us because our 25ft. ladder did’nt reach the bottom.

We returned to the head of the second pitch, and Frank and Roy went to investigate; somehow Frank managed to reach the bottom but could not find the way past the sump. We all returned after a long, hard, but sporting, and of infinite variety, trip, completely knackered to the carpark.

Apologies must go to Roy’s wife who had been waiting in the car for many hours.

Neil Pacey.

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