Volume 32 Number 3 Article 4
The Exploration of Bye George Pot
Bye George Pot is the new name of the extensions to Smashing Inlet in Pippikin Pot in memory of George Comes, discoverer of Lancaster Hole and a long friend of the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club, who died on 7th September 1995.
22nd July 1995
Team: Neil Pacey, Mike Cooper
After lots of talk about getting some high explosive to remove the corner from the Backbreaker, Neil got fed up with waiting and decided to have another go. He recruited Mike Cooper (alias: Dalek's Brain). Neil was able to get past the Backbreaker by removing his peripherals, such as his battery, helmet, boots and brain.
The squeeze and corner could not be widened with the available tools but Neil was able to make a bit more room around it by the removal of yet more calcite. Mike managed to follow. After some nice curtains and a not-so-nice ochre grovel, they reached the calcite duck and were easily able to chisel away the soft ochreous calcite, which released an orange ooze as they worked. They named this and the previous grovel the "Ochre Winfreys". Above the squeeze was a very unusual blood-red calcite flow. They were soon walking sideways again and stooping under more calcite bridges. At one point some boulders in the roof gave hope of a change in character of the passage but came to nowt. The passage floor came gradually towards the flat roof and as it did so it got slightly wider. Then eventually they popped out into a 20ft by 10ft chamber, called the "Tuck Shop" with a 25 foot aven in the roof. Well pleased with another 100m or so they made their way out.
Sunday 27th August 1995
Team: Pete Hall, Neil Pacey, Beardy, Hugh St. Lawrence
The next trip was not until after the holidays. We made our way to the Cigalere Grand Cascade to find the water exceptionally low and warm. At the first squeeze in Smashing Inlet we all had a little trouble getting through due to an excess of large caves during the summer holidays. Hugh had the extra enjoyment of seeing the new extension for the first time and soon we were at the Backbreaker. The plan was for Hugh and I to survey up to the Tuck Shop whilst Neil and Beardy attempted to climb the aven using bolts and pegs. But first we all had to get through the Backbreaker.
Neil went first with comparative ease followed by Beardy who took about three attempts and twenty minutes. With all the grunting and gasps of "I'll never get through this!" I was sure that I would not be able to do it but I was determined to give it my best shot. With Neil and Beardy coaching me from in front with hammer and chisel at the ready and Hugh backing me up I got my boots off and started pushing myself up around the corner. With some intense shoving and wiggling of my legs I was able to inch forward and up ever so slowly until my chest and hips were through the tightest bit and with a bit more wriggling my legs just followed on through. It was a miracle! One of the lankiest potholers in the country had passed one of the tightest bends. Hugh, the skinny streak of piss, joined me without even touching the sides and we continued the survey. Neil and Beardy's scuffling sounds were audible for a good few minutes indicating the nature of the passage ahead. The survey took forever and the passage was so twisty along some stretches that even with our imagination we couldn't get any legs of more than two metres. In the end we surveyed 250m in 85 legs.
For good measure the "Ochre Winfreys" stopped us drying out too much and it goes without saying that the instruments were barely readable throughout the whole exercise. Our oversuits ripped on every projection, especially Hugh's which was brand new that morning. Eventually we caught up with Beardy and Neil who had climbed most of the way up the 20 foot pitch but had run out of bolts and time. We estimated that only one or two more bolts would be required to reach the top.
It was already eight o'clock so after marking the survey station, we made our way out. Even to get back through the Smashing Inlet extension took an hour and fifteen minutes without stopping and by the time we reached Cigalere again, Hugh's oversuit had a hole extending across the whole of his back and arse. We eventually emerged from the entrance at 10:45 pm.
Saturday 16th September 1995
Team: Pete Hall, Neil Pacey, Beardy, Rob Sinclair, Russel Mutton
The sheer misery of the trip put us off for another three weeks until Neil, Beardy and I met up at the Barbon Inn as usual and planned another trip. Rob Sinclair and Russel Mutton (RRCPC) joined us but Rob was unable to get past the first squeeze. Russell wanted to come with us but when he had got through the backbreaker he decided he had better go back and go out with Rob. We reached the "Tuck Shop" in good time. Beardy started climbing while Neil belayed and I laid out six or eight choccy bars on the ledge ready for dinner. In half an hour or so he was almost at the top when he announced that he couldn't see any way on. We were about to start packing up when Beardy turned his head and noticed a 4ft high narrow passage leading off behind him. Once he was safely at the top he set about putting a bolt in to belay the ladder.
Although he swears blind he drilled it in all the way, the bolt ended up sticking out a good half inch so he backed it up to a couple of naturals. Once we were all at the top no swapping of positions was possible so Beardy led off. After about 60 ft of hands and knees crawling we came to a cobble choke and as there was still nowhere to pass we told Beardy he would just have to get on with it. He was about to start when we heard a strange sound. After shushing each other we all listened... Sure enough it was an aeroplane passing overhead! We were gob-smacked and set to with renewed vigour: Beardy prising out cobbles with the bar and rolling them back for me to stack away in a corner.
In less than an hour he had dug a route around the foot of a run-in from the left side and was crouching just beyond. Daylight was coming in from a hole above and we all started getting really excited. I joined him with some difficulty and he started squirming his way up towards the surface. As he went up lots of peaty mud poured down and threatened to block the way on for Neil so I shovelled it out the way. We each emerged uttering our own expressions of delight: Beardy chose lots of whooping and wailing; l chose the immortal phrase "Well fuck me! I didn't expect to pop up here" from which the pot gets its alternative name; Neil pretended to be The Creature from the Black Lagoon as it had always been his ambition to pop up out of a bog. And I must say, the condition he was in, he really looked the part.
We looked around us and got our bearings. We were down below Leck Fell House in the near corner of the Pippikin field. There was only one more decision to be made as keen club members: Should we go back down and retrieve the mountain of tackle which was strewn about various parts of the cave including the well stocked Tuck Shop? What would you have done?... We went to the pub to celebrate!