“Here is a real blast from the past, an extract from the caving diary of Wilf. Taylor our honorary life member. I hope he dosn‘t mind us using it.” Ed.

Lancaster Hole. (24/8/47)

At last another chance to see the now famous Lancaster Cavern. But only as a working party. The weather was perfect and it hadn’t rained for weeks, the prospects of new exploration was very great indeed. I travelled from Settle to Gale Garth on Leakey’s motorcycle with Cymmie in the side car. Poor old Cymmie, face as long as Buckhaw-Brow on the beautiful day it was, but he bucked up later as he went below for four hours with George and Mrs. Aspen down into Cemetery Caverns taking photographs.

The party assembled were many in numbers but not as a whole experienced men. After a job of opening the lid, a feat indeed, as Comes had lost the key at work, I walked up to Cow Pot for a drink. But alas, no water so in the company of others I crossed to Bullpot for a drink and helped carry one of the steel ladders back. On arriving back the descent was well in progress with Boothman, Leakey and three others having already descended. Having already descended I waited for two others then nursed them down the eyehole into the master cave. Here I met one chap whose lamp had gone, He hadn’t any spare batteries. (What’s changed? Ed.) I don’t know what people think about. To enter the Master cave without proper lights and spares is damned foolish to say the least. Anyway Martin Ridges appeared from the Master cave dragging two old ladders taken out from Montague Hall, I pushed on as the chap was a friend of Martins. On reaching the big cave I found that Leakey had laddered it at this end so taking a short cut direct to the assumed sump. I found Leakey ready to descend and after changing the belay I lifelined Leakey down.

After a time we were all stood in the sump pool, a pool black with depth and as far as we could see. The sight of it gave me the shivers! Leakey now stripped off to the waist and waded in, hell I bet it was bl———— cold. I shrank back just in case Leakey got any bright ideas about dragging me along after him. He swam out of sight then returned with just one rest. He did look funny, just a light coming at you on top of the water, then as he drew near I could see his tash cutting the water like the bows of a ship. Leakey, assisted by others now started to survey the Master cave upstream so I suggested to Martin Ridges that we’d take a look at the two inlet passages I had noticed further back on the bend. So we set off together and entered the nearest passage to the sump. This we found opened into a huge rift with a very high roof. On our left a waterfall of some forty feet poured down and disappeared down a low passage. It wasn’t possible to climb up the waterfall and the mud slope on our right didn’t go any place so we returned to the Master cave and entered the next inlet.

This was more promising and we climbed steadily up. tubs until we found ourselves in a small chamber, From this we climbed a knife ridge up about thirty foot into the upper passage. We carried on and reached a further chamber. Here an eight foot overhang confronted us. I stood on Martin’s shoulders to get up but when moving me across to reach a handhold he slipped. I grabbed and hung on. A near thing, Just a bruise. I carried on, the passage going up in steps. As I could see the passage was still clear I returned and hooked Martin up the climb.

We carried on, passing a nice piece of carving shaped like an anvil. The direction being NW until we swung west then up a couple of water chutes into a large cavern. I was very surprised to see it and excited too, the height I should say was six to eight feet and the width ten feet, we explored up this (NW) until we reached a pool. Here the roof touches the water, not a proper siphons though, as gravel beds hold back the water just letting a steady stream on the right go down the cave.

We now had some of Martin’s chocolate, lovely too, I’ll go with Martin again I like blocked energy! We now turned back until we reached the spot where we entered, here we carried straight on until the cavern forked, we kept to the left fork until we reached a huge mud bank. The passage above here is blocked with hundreds of straws, but at the foot of the bank was a six foot deep cutting, without doubt
a flood outlet.

We could hear the sound of running water close at hand so I dropped myself into the cutting and after a few feet found myself looking into a stream bed. We explored downstream to the top of the waterfall (assumed same fall as we saw in the inlet from the Master cave), then upstream until the roof got lower and the passage forked. Martin explored the wet passage for a distance but time, was getting on so we returned. Everything was O.K. but Martin cut his hand and on returning to the slot into Bridge Hall we found a queue. It’s hell that slit, I can’t get up without a tug.

So ended a very enjoyable day.

Wilf Taylor.


BACK TO:   Volume Contents