Dunald Mill Hole, Carnforth – the way on??




Way back in 1770 no grander cave was known in the UK, a place of awesome wonder.  In the next 100 years naturalists came with candles and an excellent scientific history and study was done as well as a famous woodcut. Then, its potential was well recorded, 1.5 miles and 75ft from the end to drop to the flood rising. Tests and flood pulses etc. suggest mainly open streamway!!                  .                      

I first went down nearly 60 years ago with the whole family and the dog, using lots and lots of candles all the way down!! That’s the way to get kids caving!! Over the years we would cycle up with friends, and the Red Rose did it as trips of interest.


The most interesting phenomena was the fact that the final sump kept dropping, exposing a new chamber in the 1960’s, then later a tiny airspace. I had a go at this, getting very cold but it went on, so I got the Ellwood’s in the next week.

However fear and thinking about it led to us bringing a back up rope, nose clip, hood and a hose to expel CO2 and even a compressed air bottle in case of a short sump or problem as it was a tiny airspace in a tight crawl!

After 20 ft I got to an airspace big enough for my head and arms but beyond this it was still underwater. This was confirmed years later by M. Holroyd diving 40ft beyond.


2014 has been dry and it is 10 years since a visit to the sump. ( I had done a few trips with Lugger, capping in the central passage above the big boulder  into a 2m high chamber and dead end ) Roll on to Monday 15th. September,  3pm, and a quick trip to the sump. Me and Terry Regan, who also wanted to film and also like me to get back in time to put a name to tea. We found the entrance very overgrown, Damsons rotting on a tree - nobody had been for ages, even the gate was a tangle of growth!! Filming progressed, main problem was slippyness of the rocks and huge flood debris trees, that sort of thing. Large boulders not Easegill tiddlers but Goydon Pot frighteners!! I think with hindsight it was glacial stuff and the smaller bits are now getting washed away. Indeed the cave is getting bigger and opening up more lower down.


Arriving at the sump past more devastation. IT WAS NO MORE!!! It too had opened up to a nice hands and knees crawl to a crouch. Up in an old air bell beyond a crawl went on for 20 ft and the roof slowly dipped to a definite sump and near this we found the end of Martin Holroyd’s dive line tied to an 'anchor'. Beyond, feeling with my feet it is + 2 welly boots high, on the right side it is very shallow. We did not expect to do so well then, near the air bell on we crawled into a 10 ft high jam-jar shaped chamber with a sumped area. Beyond there was easily enough room for two to enjoy this new bit under Lancashire!!  This looks a fair place to kit up and dive in the main sump beyond our limit.


This is a prime DIVE SITE, IT IS 2km. AND 25m. LOWER TO BACKLANE QUARRY CAVE. This is a reasonable cave, quite roomy       ( now under the M6 ) I’ve been! All information, and temperature of the water suggest much open cave. -  a good diver should consider?


Well we did do a video and got back to make tea by 6pm. Ah! Super husbands agai


Andrew Walsh


Stop Press: 

October 2014. The final sump has now been dived by Simon Cornhill for a further 20m. It is reported to be wide but lowish being only about 0.8m high. He will return for another dive soon.


Now read on about “Back Lane Quarry Cave   


Dunald Mill


An early engraving of Dunald Mill Hole