Shorty Hole, the continuing saga....

Never heard of Shorty Hole? Why not? Its been the scene of some furious digging recently and has the potential to go big (of course I would say that wouldn’t I).

If you don’t know where it is than look in the new guidebook for The Three Counties System and read all about it. Many months ago, perhaps even a year, a slide show at the farm showed some of Keith Lewis’s aerial photographs of Casterton Fell taken from his microlight thingy. The surface features when tied in to some of the underground stuff gave some original ideas for new dig sites. One of these was a “draughting clint” down the dry valley from Lancaster Hole. Enquiries to the encyclopaedic Jim Newton revealed that it had been dug before but with no real success.

I think it was the Savages that set to work clearing the entrance and in no time at all had cleared all the fill and rocks from the clint. At the bottom a thin bedding plane beckoned and even more encouraging was the howling draught that it had. At the end of the bedding was one of those head-first climbs that makes you wish that you had gone in feet first. Only a few feet but painful with a crowbar under your belt. The climb was into a trench like passage ending in an impossible corner that issued a powerful draught from its letter box dimensions. A job for the bombers!
A strategic shot-hole easily opened the way up and scared the wits out of some poor unsuspecting soul coming up Lancaster Hole! The way on was down a climb of around 5 metres under a pile of loose gravel chippings.
The rift at the bottom proved to be a stopper for all but a few malnourished dwarves but the way on led to another 5 metre climb into a small chamber. At present this is the terminal dig with all effort going into using our newest digging tool, SLB, to dismember a large thin corner. Beyond this a pitch can be seen and rocks throw down fall for about 5 to 10 metres. In all probability this will be a free climb as all the other pitches are too tight to ladder!

In order to give an ideas where the passage enters into the Lancaster system (it’s not likely to go anywhere else, is it?) a party descended Lancaster Hole to Bridge Hall while two pyromaniacs were left on the surface with a big box of matches and several extra powerful smoke bombs! On the surface, discussion waged as to how many smoke bombs were needed concluding in three being set off simultaneously!! The smoke poured out and was instantly sucked underground like a genie out of the bottle but in reverse! The smoke was so thick in The Graveyard that some had to stoop down to see the floor! Conclusion: that Shorty Hole enters into the Graveyard via one of the avens on the near side as that was where the smoke was thickest.

The exciting thing that may emerge once progress is resumed is the possibility of breaking into abandoned phreatic passage at the Colonade Chamber level such as the Chapel of Rest above Graveyard Aven No. 1. Where that would go is anyone’s guess but towards Skittle Alley would be a feather in someone’s cap!

Paul Wilkinson

BACK TO: Volume Contents