Lancaster Hole to Oxbow Corner


Team:          Phil Luff, Hugh St. Lawrence, Claire Wilkinson and Derrick Butcher.

From Lancaster Hole we followed Kaths Way and Bill Taylor’s Passage to clamber down through the boulders to join the stream below.

There was hardly any water flowing through the main drain and the walk was a delight. It was the first time I had visited the system and, like Claire, I had not expected to see so many formations. It was interesting to see how flood debris had been incorporated into the structures of the stalactite straws. Also of note were the bowls scoured out of the sides of the canyon, polished smooth by swirling pebbles.

On the way, Phil took a look at an inlet while Hugh led the way through the boulders to Oxbow Corner. After a quick look at the original entrance to Maracaibo - which looked impossibly tight - we set off upwards to explore some possible extensions above Scylla and Charybdis. Hugh and Phil thought that they seemed worthy of further investigation and a bolting trip is planned.

We returned to the stream and retraced our route to Phils inlet, a short distance downstream of the boulder choke. An inclined entrance led to a collapsed area beyond which a climb revealed a partially choked crawl. Claire and I left that to the experts and retreated to look at a bedding plane nearer the junction with the Main Drain. She managed to force herself in and explore, but it proved too low for real progress. It was interesting though, and contained some curious muddy fans, which formed delicate traceries suspended at various levels between floors. As we made our way the short distance back to the stream we were surprised to meet Phil coming the other way. He had managed to dig a new way through to Oxbow Corner.

We set off downstream, and passed Fall Pot to visit the sump. The scenery changed abruptly, with the walls coated in mud as a result of the sump backing up. Side passages beckoned, but after a look at the sump pool we made our way back to Fall Pot and headed to the surface.

Claire’s suggestion had resulted in a very enjoyable and rewarding trip for all.

Derrick Butcher

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