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The Descent Of King Pot

a new find on Scales Moor, Yorkshire

by Martin Bishop.

On Friday 22nd June, Trev Hughes, Tim Large, myself and Rocksport's own Fiona, set forth for Yorkshire and the Northern Cave Club Brada Garth Hut in Kingsdale.  I had been previously invited to attend their annual barbeque at the entrance to Yordes Cave, but then I was told of the new find - there didn't need any further persuasion!  Anyway, we managed to make the Craven Heifer in time for a beer, meet the lads and arrange our King Pot trip for the following morning.

Saturday morning 'dawned' about 8 a.m., and after breakfast a short discussion and some cider (we always take the necessaries) Trev, Tim and myself and Dave Gallavar (NCC) set off for the cave, sorry - pothole.  Our journey was to be interrupted by watching the fanner and friend castrating sheep using an amazing tool which resembled a miniature hatchet!  From this point to the entrance, Trev made Tim quite ill by insisting on a sheep’s nuts kebab at the barbeque.  Eventually we made the entrance end after a quick check of our gear we began the descent.  Enough of this frivolity, I'll now get down to the business of describing certainly one of Yorkshires best trips and certainly one of the most impressive.

The cave consists of an awkward 25ft entrance pitch, followed by a 10ft rope descent into a small chamber.  From this chamber a 35ft pitch leads into a series of crawls through boulders to the head of a 10ft pot.  This crawl marks the end of the 'old cave' and the scene of the breakthrough in early June.  Beyond a 10ft climb leads into 25ft of rift passage to the head of the 5th pitch.  A 30ft ladder dropping through boulders takes you into a few hundred feet of passage to an exceedingly loose choke.  About halfway along this passage a climb takes you into a grotto full of straws which rivals Easter Grotto in the Easegill System. Once past the unstable choke you enter, what was for me, the worst part of the system  A short rift passage leads into a flat out crawl in a narrow phreatic tube with a 3ft deep, 6-8" wide trench cut in the floor.  After 100ft the passage (still small) goes through a tight 'S' bend and through a tight squeeze to the head of the next pitch, 25ft ladder required.  At the bottom of the pitch a 2ft wide, meandering stream passage continues for 700ft and up to 40ft high, at the top of which is a 8ft dia. phreatic tube full of pretties.  At the end of the meanders, a 10ft pitch quickly followed by a 15ft pitch leads to a loose climb up a slope to a large chamber beyond which is an even larger chamber entered via a 45ft pitch - King Henry's Hall (150ft long, 100ft wide and 100ft high) - so named after the boulder at the head of the pitch which is about the size of a mini-car and has no visible means of support.  At the end of KHH a 35ft pitch down a narrow (Cuthbert's style) rift leads through 200ft of rift passage to two very large un-named chambers.  From this point about 600ft of canal passage with a good stream, takes you to the head of the 70ft pitch.  The pitch is really superb and has a rock bridge which spans the head of this 30ft dia. pot.  After a fine descent the stream passage below leads 300ft to a sump.  Back under the 70ft pitch, a 10ft climb over a rock barrier leads to a muddy, flat out and wet crawl to some small chambers and an inlet junction on the right of the main passage gives was, after a climb up a mud bank, to a chamber with some fine abandoned gours about 8ft wide and 100ft long.

Dropping back into the main passage, 700ft. of canal leads into the Scales Moor Main drain. Downstream from the junction about 450ft of superb stream passage with a hell of a lot of water, ending at a big, blue and very deep sump pool.  Upstream of the junction 300ft of passage ends at another sump of the same calibre. So we start out, breaking the journey by looking at two inlets, one halfway back through the canal and the other at the far end.  The first leads to a lake and a passage beyond that has a strong draught issuing from a choke and looks a promising site to push.

The other inlet is gained by a 5ft climb up into a classic 12ft dia. phreatic passage.  This continues for about 220ft and stops at an abandoned lake chamber; the acoustics in this passage are phenomenal.  On the return trip we split into two parties, Tim and Dave racing on while Trev and yours truly taking our steadier pace. About three and a half hours later we gained the surfaced knackered but dead chuffed at being the first non-NCC cavers to be allowed down. My next visit to this cave will be with two NCC members to dive the terminal sumps, to do this must involve a 10-15 hour trip, so I could be after some ‘bottle-boys’ - any offers?

To conclude this article we go on to the barbeque which proved to be a very good night with stacks of beer and food; to Trev's disappointment no Sheep's Ball Kebabs but after a few beers he was not bothered.  Tim Large must be getting old - he found it necessary to go to bed at about 11.30p.m. – SOBER!  Trev finally disappeared by 2.30am and I strolled (or staggered) along Kingsdale with the dawn, rising behind me.  So come Sunday.  Cider for breakfast, then to the Craven Heifer for lunch where Trev and I thrashed the NCC and (commiserations to Funky Dibben) the Derbyshire C.C. at darts after a few more beers at Dave Gallavers house in Horton-in-Ribblesdale, we made our way home.  A great weekend.