Whirley Gill Pot - May 2017
I was looking through Northern Caves for inspiration for something different to do, and this cave caught my eye. I found the shakehole without too much trouble, but was a bit confused as the book said it was a boulder belay for the entrance pitch, yet there were no boulders in the shakehole, just peat, and a half rotten fence post. So, I lay the post over the entrance and rigged the ladder, hmm.. not the most secure belay I’ve used. I looked down the pitch again, and realised that I could just drop down a metre onto a ledge, perhaps that’s where to rig from. Well, yes, there was a boulder, but it wasn’t the most convincingly stable piece of rock, still, I could back the ladder up to the post at the top, Hmm.. still not convinced this was safe, so spent ten minutes trying to find a better way to rig. Found a crack a bit lower which seemed safe, so re-rigged the ladder from there, backed up to a dodgy boulder and a rotten post. I gingerly lowered my weight onto the rungs, and down I climbed.
I had no intention of looking upstream, so set off down the climbs, which had an in-situ knotted rope. Then the hands and knees crawling started in the bedding that Northern Caves 1 describes as “unique in Yorkshire”. A fifty foot wide bedding dipping down at 15 degrees. The rock was clean washed smooth, so in places I could propel myself down several metres with just a gentle push with my toes, great fun. However, on the return journey, the smooth slippery bedding wasn’t quite as easy to get back up! The climbs would have been a struggle without the rope being there, indeed, I’m not convinced that I could have climbed them without the rope to pull on.
Up the ladder and de-rig. Walk back to the car listening to the curlews with a satisfied smile, I doubt I’ll ever return to that pot again, but I am glad that I have been there, a couple of hours well spent.
Johnny “Braindead” Baker