Dismal Bypass and Luff's Passage
Extensions to Near Ease Gill Caverns

Link to passage description

From RRCPC 9

The exploration of this series of passages was carried on over a series of years by numerous members of the Red Rose. It was poorly recorded at the time and the only references I could find were odd news items written by me for Caves & Caving. I have written up what I can remember and my apologies to anyone I have missed out. The story really starts back in the early 1970's, with the explorations by Manchester University Speleological Society (MUSS). In their Journal No. 6 they described exploration of the Gallery Extension near to Platypus Junction.
The Gallery is a large, but little known passage, as it does not appear on the main Ease Gill survey. It runs back from above Platypus Junction at high level towards Broadway. The way leading to the Gallery and Gallery Extension is located about 30m. up Razor Passage on a shelf on the right hand side. A climb up here leads to a crawl passing a right turn up to the Gallery. After about 40m. of crawl including a squeeze there is a junction. To the right is a way on through several small phreatic tubes and an unstable boulder choke which break out into the Gallery above N.W. Stream Passage downstream of Poetic Justice. To the left the bedding plane crawl continues. After 60m there is a junction and the crawl continues straight on, but more of this later. . A climb up over slabs on the right leads into the Gallery Extension. This is a short section of large well decorated passage.

Dismal Bypass 1984

This is how things stood until the Spring of 1984, when Red Rose members took an interest in the area. We realised that the Gallery, Gallery Extension and the high level part of Molluscan Hall were in a straight line and at more or less the same gradient. It seemed that it might be possible to engineer a route from Molluscan Hall to the Gallery Extension. With this in mind Paul Seddon, Pete Seed and others found a route into the roof of Molluscan Hall just before the canal which leeds to Dismal Junction. This leads via an awkward climb and traverse through some blocks to Upper Molluscan Hall- a large elongated chamber. Ways out of the top of the chamber were examined by Paul and Pete. From the S.E. end of this two ways lead on. The first one goes via a crawl behind a block in a muddy passage for 30m. to a small chamber. The second route comes in here, on the right via a rift climb and a crawl. The route continues through a boulder blockage dug by the explorers into a wide well decorated bedding for another 40m. to a choke.

After discussion and examination of the survey we realised that the published survey details of the area were wrong and that the extension beyond Molluscan Hall was quite close to The Gallery extension. The next trip involved Paul, Pete and Hugh St Lawrence in the Molluscan Hall extension , while Andy Hall went into Gallery Extension (other Red Rose members were unable to pass the squeeze). A voice connection was soon established at the N.W. end of the Gallery Extension in the floor of a circular flat roofed chamber and a dig was started. In less than a hour a connection was made and we were able to complete a round trip The connection became known as Dismal Bypass as it provided an all weather bypass to the flood prone Dismal Junction.

Mancunian Way Extension
During the winter of 1984/5 Steve Round, Chris Kinghorn and other Red Rose members were active in digging a route at the far end of Mancunian Way. This was eventually forced to Clough's Passage.
Beyond the Surprise is the well decorated passage, Nice Way. Near the end of the left hand branch of the passage a hole on a shelf on the right hand wall leads down a 5m. pitch to a dug and blasted section. After a short flat out crawl there is a second 7m. pitch with a scaffold bar in place. This is in a rift and is tight and awkward on the return, which was why the bar was put in place by Chris Kinghorn. At the bottom of this pitch is a larger passage. Up dip it quickly chokes, close to passages in Sylvester Pot. Downstream progress is through a shattered chamber to a stream passage which can be followed down to a 9m. pitch. This was found by Steve and Chris to be the top of Clough's Aven in Clough's Passage
This new route provided yet another Ease GIll round trip as it provides a quick route out of the far end of Mancunian Way using a 20m. rope to abseil the three pitches described above. This should only be attempted in dry weather to avoid being cut off by flooding at Dismal Junction.

Luff's Passage
Both extensions were surveyed and almost forgotten about until the end of December 1990. Instead of climbing up into the Gallery Extension, Phil Luff, Dave Creedy, Pete Hall and Liz Daniels continued along the low crawl mentioned in the introduction above. This crawl heads in a S.W. direction until it becomes too low. After several hours digging things looked promising so they returned a second time on January 2nd..
The breakthrough came when the crawl began to increase in height .and eventually it was possible to stand up in a larger passage after about 50m. of flat out crawling. Several ways on were noted in this area but the main way on was followed to a junction. Left (S.E) continued to a chamber, Hall's Hall. This is followed by about 100m. of high narrow rift passage with a small stream. This was named after Phil, Luff's Passage, knowing it would cause confusion with Clough's Passage with which we were fairly convinced we were running parallel. The end of Luff's Passage terminated in a large boulder choke. Back at the junction near Hall's Hall the right hand Northern Passage was followed for a short distance to a place where the way on was blocked by fill.
Next weekend the Red Rose descended the extensions on-mass with bolting and surveying gear. Several avens in Luff''s Passage were bolted but did not go. Northern Passage was pushed through bedding chambers to a choke very close to Molluscan Hall. Meanwhile Neil and others attacked the large upstream choke in Luff's Passage with a rope and crowbar. The choke soon became known as Delicate Sound of Thunder as large boulders were pulled down out of it and trundled down the rift towards the explorers. Neil was able to continue on down the bedding plane crawl which lead to the extension and passed several squeezes along at least another 50m. of passage, Iraq-naphobia. He forced a route through boulders down to a stream passage. This was soon identified as Clough's Passage close to the point where it gets very low as it pops out at Dismal Junction.
We were now fairly convinced that we had discovered the high level route from Sylvester Pot to Molluscan Hall and the survey later confirmed this but I am still convinced that another higher level route exists above this one.
Neil Pacey and Pete Hall returned a few weeks later with Andy Hall to Delicate Sound of Thunder choke. Andy ignored the area dug previously to the left of the choke and climbed up to the right and a dig was started. This proved successful and after some large trundles a way on was pushed by Pete. It led up over 10m. through some hanging death and a small boulder filled chamber to large flat roofed chamber which was very reminiscent of the chambers in Sylvester Pot. I was convinced that we were close to a connection. While Pete and Neil looked for a way out in the roof of the chamber along the bedding plane roof, I found a passage on the far side of the chamber. This went through boulders to a point back above the stream we had left in Luff's Passage but upstream of the choke however the way on was too narrow.
The following day Pete and Neil returned with a lump hammer and access was gained to another chamber, Rocky Horror Show. Several other chambers in an unstable area were pushed. Some more digging forced a way through to the Main Chamber in Sylvester Pot via a loose climb down into the upstream rift leading to this chamber. We now had a second route from Sylvester Pot through to the rest of the System and a far better understanding of this part of the cave.

Andy Hall

Northern News. Caves & Caving. No. 24. p.2. Dismal Bypass
Northern News. Caves & Caving. No. 27 p.2.7 Clough"s Aven
Northern News. Caves & Caving. No. 47. p.4. Sylvester Pot
Northern News. Caves & Caving. No. 51. p.16. Luff's Passage.