Brown Hill Pot.

Having a day free from college I decided to meet Paul in the dales and together wed tick off an ard pot. The hole chosen was Brown Hill Pot on East Kingsdale. On the previous weekend wed grabbed a motley collection of tackle in readiness. Kingsdale was deserted, the absence of weekend hordes seemed to lay a peaceful air over the valley. The morning Sun cast a brilliant light on the surroundings, setting a leisurely pace the walk to the entrance was quite pleasurable. Dumpling the tackle near the entrance, nervous energy sent me to answer a call of nature, but soon there was nothing to do but don gear and set off. The main reason that wed chosen Brown Hill was to make Neil Jealous, but now the challenge had begun, and the bull shit was over.

The entrance consists of a slide down oil drums followed by an awkward bend through a squeeze. The tackle was manhandled through and we soon stood in a small chamber. Vague memories of the description suggested that we should stay high in the preceding rift. The next 2OOft. Was, to put it mildly, a little bit of a struggle. Straining to keep in the top of the twisting rift was made doubly hard by the tackle. After what seemed a hell of a long way, and sweating buckets, we eventually reached the first pitch. A manky old bolt was located and the ladder dropped down. The relief of being out of the confined rift was tempered by the alarm bells in my mind as I considered the return journey. Still, in good spirits we were confronted by the next pitch. An easy drop of 25ft. was a pleasant surprise, above on the left the original entrance joined the pitch, (we had come through Floyds entrance).
Once again we were traversing in a large rift, this one more spacious, but still awkward at times. The main problem was finding the right level, several blind alleys meant tiresome thrutches back up, or painful squeezes down. My tattered over suit was taking a battering from the rough cave walls, one knee had already disintegrated, and the other was well on the way to the same fate.

Scuff marks and scratches signaled that we were at the right level, and in quick time we found ourselves at the head o-f the big pitch. Still jammed in the rift we donned SRT gear, each of us being very careful not to drop some vital bit of gear into the depths. The pitch was s fine hang, the previous obstacles floated out of mind, as I sailed down the shaft. On the far side flowstone slithered down the walls in eternal cascades, and the limestone was scoured clean and shiny by falling water. Dry freezing weather above ground meant that the second half of the pitch was nice and dry. The question was, would our rope be long enough, would the ledge have used too much rope? This was answered when about two feet from the bottom I docked onto the knot. Everything was going smoothly, wed had no cock ups or getting stuck. The final part of the cave was a complete contrast, a sporty streamway tumbled down small cascades and along a spacious walking passage. This type of caving is just about my favorite in the UK, no more was it a miserable cave. What it needed was about two miles of this excellent streamway followed by a lower entrance out to the road, and next to a pub! My daydreams came to an abrupt halt as we reached the last pitch. I free climbed down this, but Paul thought it more prudent to descend using a rope. Round the corner was the terminal sump, it looked murky and uninviting. Apparently a couple of days later it was dived by a C.U.C.C. diver, who passed the reported terminal constriction with ease, to find himself in an open passage. It was left still going at a shallow depth, an interesting prospect, but I dont fancy carrying his bottles.

After a short pause for chocolate and reflection we headed out. For the last couple of days I had been suffering from a groggy cold, but I had ignored it on this trip. I suddenly realised that it was beginning to catch up on me, and I was starting to feel quite tired, and not as fresh as I would have liked to be. Small climbs and thrutches suddenly seemed more energy consuming, and I set myself on autopilot putting all doubts to the back of my mind. Apart from the odd occasion the journey back to the entrance pitches was very smooth; so far I had only struggled on two occasions, but had managed to curse and thrutch my way up.
Paul led, taking the rope bag, I followed de-rigging the pitches. The constricted nature of the head of the first pitch made coiling the ladder problematical the fun was really going to start now! My enthusiasm was at a low ebb, I pressed on thrutching to the top of the rift and along to join Paul. At a small chamber we sat and rested, and I tried to regain composure before the most awkward section.

Progress was painfully slow. Paul struggled with the tackle bag, luckily he was able to jam it in the rift at certain points and rest. My burden of ladders would not jam, they just dangled in the rift, snagging at every opportunity, causing me to swear and waste valuable energy. Every time Paul rested at a comfortable spot I was always stuck behind him in an inconvenient position. Needless to say, on several occasions some hard and indelicate wards escaped our lips. At one point I emerged head first from a horizontal squeeze at the top of the rift, I thrust my elbows out to jam myself but nothing happened and I continued down head first. Panic welled up as I thrashed about wildly, luckily an elbow jammed in a handy crack and my downward motion was checked. A few swift moves saw me upright and panting heavily.

After what seemed forever we reached the small chamber, and were soon clambering back up the entrance into the fading daylight. The freezing temperature prevented our lingering, but the red orange glow of the sunset made Kingsdale look even better. After a cold change we drove back to Lancaster, thoughts and conversation analyzing a fine pothole.

Chaz Frankland.

 

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