Vulcan Pot.

It was the morning after the night before. Things were pretty gripless at Bullpot farm, the party at Bernies had put paid to any thoughts of the proposed trip down Hangmans Hole. Neil was eventually prized from his pit and the sore head group set off to Ingleton to contemplate breakfast. Plan B was adopted and a decision was made to have a crack at Vulcan Pot. I was dispatched back to Bullpot to collect the ‘snake’ and various odds and ends. Treacherous icy roads and dazzling sunlight slowed things down even more.
The Alum Pot track was overflowing with wally cavers. Lacking in motivation we stood around talking, eventually there was nothing left to do but get changed and pack the snake into two tackle bags. Pete’s tool box was raided when it was discovered that none of us had brought a spanner. Would we ever get underground?

The Dawsons entrance was no more than a rabbit hole on the fell. We sat around vainly trying to think of excuses. The entrance crawl is rather confined and awkward, so one end of the snake was tied to Neil, and it was fed out of the bag as he progressed towards the first pitch. For the next twenty minutes there was plenty of shouting but little action as each of us struggled in the miserable entrance crawl. With the snake spreading out beneath our feet, we all stood in a small chamber at the head of the big pitch.
Pete made the mistake of putting on his SRT gear first; so he was handed the spanner and elected to rig. For some strange reason he set off down a desperate looking slot, which Neil assured him was the right way. Much to his relief Cris put us on course by descending a slightly easier squeeze to an alcove, where he located one bolt. Back in the chamber we chatted idly, and had a smoke, whilst Pete, swore, shook, and thrutched his way through the constricted rigging. Neil tried to have a conversation with a bat, but it wasn’t interested and flew away.

Pete’s muffled shouts signaled that it was time to kit up and follow.. Our initial fears of a lack of good belays was thwarted as several good bolts had appeared. (Even a red one, how did that get there?) If you got yourself organized, I didn’t, the constricted take off wasn’t that bad. The shaft itself is quite magnificent. Down 9Oft. to a small ledge, then nearly all the rest is out in space. About, a third of the way down Nick Pot joins it, and along one wall the slithery Traverse of The Gods can be seen. Near the bottom conditions started to become a trifle damp, the last 4Oft. hung right under the falling stream.. Luckily water levels were very low and it was no more than a shower.
After such a fine shaft it’s a real pity that there is no passage to speak of. One by one everybody descended, small glows high above slowly became bigger — at this point Neil and I had to make a swift exit, and leave the others to de-rig. I had to return my parents car which I’d borrowed, and by now we were well behind time. Once through the wet section, the prussik back up was quite relaxing in such fine surroundings. Getting off the top of the rope and squeezing up through the slot, was much more straight forward than I’d anticipated.

With no hold up the entrance crawl flowed past. We were soon crunching our way through the bitter frosty night. Vulcan Pot is quite a sporty little entrance to a fine vertical pothole, certainly living up to its grade five reputation. After a cold change, a hot brew in Bernies soon revived us.

Chaz Frankland.


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