Lancaster Pot.

Just after the war the Lancaster group of the British Speleological Association led by my old friend George Comes were instructed to proceed to Leck Fell and there find the master cave. This cave, old Simpson, the great man of the caving world was convinced existed.

Now being true and obedient, Comes and his merry men attacked the problem from Casterton Fell. First we poked our nose down Bull Pot, then Cow Pot. Next we began to poke in every sink hole that we could find. We found a hole near the wall not far from Cow Pot. I was pushed down this hole being the “ferret” of the group. The hole went down about twenty feet, and although narrow, seemed at least a prospect.

At that moment a voice above said “Come up Wilf, we’ve found a hole”. They sure had found a hole. But not in the usual place, ie: in a sink hole. This hole was near some limestone outcrops just a few yards south of Cow Pot.

Anyway it seems that air coming out of the ground and blowing the grass gave the clue to Bill Taylor and Comes.

After a little digging we soon had a hole. Next we dropped down a rock, Sure enough we reckoned out a hundred foot drop. The next step was to dig it out enough to get a body through.

This honor fell to Wes Oaks, he was pushed down on a twenty five foot ladder, which was all we had. He reported a nice big hole with water going down it But that was it; there was nothing more that we could do for the present.

But the following weekend we headed for “them thar hills” with plenty of ladders and high hopes of a new pothole. We soon laddered the hole, using a limestone outcrop as a belay I’m not sure who went down first but I think it was Bill Taylor then myself. He disappeared up into the unknown while I crawled down a passage which led to the Graveyard. I got stuck with a rock right across the passage At that moment Bill Taylor shouted “Come up here, I’ve found a chamber full of formations”,

Boy! He sure had. “The Collonades”, what a sight for any man. The floor covered with calcite, and the Collonades, not forgetting the “Ivory Towers”.

I’ll never forget that day. To be one of the few to see such a sight was a “cavers dream” come true.

Next we poked around the slit in the floor near the entrance pitch. I squeezed down a slit which led down into a blind tube and another passage which led to a sand cavern. At the end of this I found another slit with a hell of a draught but no go. I now backed out to find another passage which again was blocked by a rock. But I’d no doubt whatever that it was the way on. The draught was like a “Lancashire Boiler’, but alas I couldn’t move the rock without a crowbar.

The following week we again set off up to our find. But, alas, I was elected to stay on the top with the lifeline. It was Bill Taylor, who with the crowbar, moved the rock and so into “Bill Taylors Passage”, and on into the master cave.

Later on R.D.Leakey opened up the “Girder Route’ which made entry much easier. Later again, with a big effort, “Kaths Way” made entry much, much better. Then it was “Fall Pot” and so on and on for many, many weeks. So, there it was, we had found a way into the master cave. Not under Leck though, but under Casterton. Old Cymmie of the BSA was delighted, but I don’t think he believed us at first, but later on, “Brandy and aspirins”, he went down as far as Fall Pot.

But one little episode does stick in my mind. Before Fall Pot there is a hole in the floor which drops straight down into the stream bed. We went down with Leaky and then onto the sump. Leaky began to swim into the sump; he wanted me to follow on the end of a rope, being a non-swimmer, I told him what he could do with his rope. I then backtracked and found the exits of Waterfall Passage and climbed into a passage that was to be named after me. A good climb, but with bloody sharp edged rocks which I broke off for safety. One slip up the climb and I reckoned my voice would have altered.

Wilf Taylor.

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