The Crater

1993 has seen a renewed attack on the passage below the crater. Just off Bill Taylors passage near the showerbath inlet is a “wall of death” type shakehole first given attention by Pete Llewellyn and others in 1969. The passage was pushed though a tight duck and an even tighter squeeze to the head of a 6Oft shaft found to drop into the Lancaster Hole main sump (a long way from the shore!). A further crawl above the shaft continued for 200ft to a perched sump. Dave Creedy and myself surveyed the extension in 1971 when I was introduced to ferret about in the vicinity of the perched sump. Nothing was found.

I remembered the passage again early this year and Phil Luff joined me for a look. The duck had shingled up and we got no further. Another visit then opened up the duck but Phil couldn’t follow. Some thinner members were then recruited and we began to bale the perched sump by siphoning. Lots of hosepipe and the club’s antique stirrup pump got things going and we quickly dropped the water level by a foot and half. However, we then lost the stirrup pump and spent several fruitless trips fishing for it.

The tight and squalid nature of the passage lost most helpers to more pleasant parts of Ease Gill, but Pete Hall and I persisted with able assistance from Steve Tooms and the arrival of a new weapon - a bilge pump kindly lent by John Cordingley (NPC). Several pumping trips then lowered the sump by more than 3ft and turned the 200ft crawl into a rather soggy canal.

As we lowered the sump we unfortunately ran out of inlet pipe for the pump, so it was decided to employ a diver to recce the way ahead. After several false starts, Mark Docherty (NPC) and gear was ferried to the sump on the 6th of November. The diver reported a rift dropping to a bedding plane but came out when his lamp appeared to fall. This wasn’t the case and what actually happened, as he realised after three attempts, was that he was divng in liquid mud and couldn’t see an inch!

However, he reported it still going.

That is how things stand at present. A longer pipe will soon be ferried to the site and pumping recommenced. Willing volunteers please contact Pete or myself.

This phreatic passage of uncertain origin or destination is perfectly poised to go to passages beyond the Lancaster Hole main sump - if they exist. A large blank area on the survey beckons. Fingers crossed.

Hugh St Lawrence.


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