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Langstroth Pot

An account of this pot by Buckett Tilbury.  The manuscript arrived with a pencilled comment that it had been checked by Graham Wilton-Jones, which makes it the O.K.  High Wycombe account!

The entrance to this fine pot is best found by leaving the road opposite the ancient stone circle, and climbing the fell which takes the caver gradually into a shallow gully. Follow this gully up until a small stream is encountered sinking near a tree.  Just down the gully from this sink is an insignificant slot in a hollow of rock.

To enter, it is best to go feet first on one's side, and as the feet slide over the edge of the first climb, feel for the holds.  This is an easy climb of twelve feet into a small chamber.  The guidebook calls this the first pitch but no ladder is required. From the chamber, slide down by a flake of rock to the bottom of a small rift passage.  The floor of this passage drops to an awkward wallow in a deep pool under a boulder.  The rift continues round a couple of bends until the roof suddenly drops to give a flat out crawl on one¬ís side.  This section of passage is about seventy feet long and about half way, the floor gives way to a small slot, which means that one is traversing as well as crawling. The passage emerges on to a ledge in a walking size passage with an inlet from the right.  Turn left and walk along ledges to climb back to stream level. A short walk leads to where the stream drops down a tight slot under a stale bank.  This is the duck.  Go down the slot into a deep pool under the stal bank with about a foot of airspace. Follow the stream as the floor rises and the passage is a flat out crawl in a small canal.  This ends as the stream goes over a small drop.  Follow the stream or crawl on the ledges to a large boulder.  Emerge either from under or over the boulder into good walking size passage with the stream in the floor.  It is fairly easy going over or round boulders until the stream disappears in the floor and the boulders meet the roof.

The next section is an involved and intricate series of crawls and squeezes until one enters a small chamber with an inlet on the right.  A short climb to the floor of the chamber and a tiny hole is observed in the left hand corner.  This is the Slot.  If you are of slim build, you just stick your feet in the slot and slide gently down to rejoin the main stream in a tight rift passage.  If, on the other hand, you are like most of us and suffer from too many visits to the Hunters, you stick your feet in and get somebody to jump up and down on your helmet, which has the effect of pumping you through.  Getting back up the Slot is extremely difficult. The length of the Slot is about six feet.

From the bottom of the Slot, turn right and climb to the top of the tight rift and traverse along to a slight widening of the passage at the top of the Second Pitch.  The belay is a large flake of rock in the left-hand wall. A ten foot tether and forty foot ladder is just right.  The take off point for this pitch is awkward and tight, but after the first few feet, it opens out into a large high chamber.  The pitch is broken by a ledge and the pitch is wet.  From the ladder, cross the chamber and pass under or over a group of boulders to a smaller chamber with a large ledge and some good straws in the roof.

The Third Pitch follows quickly and there are plenty of good belays with a sling belay and a forty foot ladder.  The climb is dry and down into another chamber.  Leave the chamber, following the stream into a high narrow winding rift passage.  This passage is superbly decorated with helictites along its length - some up to five inches long.  Luckily, most are above shoulder height and so avoid damage.  This passage is a terror to boiler suits and wet suits as it is covered with sharp projections.  The rift ends with a sharp turn left and changes to a bedding plane with a canyon in the floor.  The formations of this section are good, and as the roof lowers the canyon disappears until it becomes flat out crawling in the stream.

The floor drops away in a gulley and the top of the Fourth Pitch is encountered.  A good belay on the ledge on the left is used for the sling belay and a twenty five foot ladder.  A nice climb against the wall in the stream brings one into a circular chamber where the colour of the rock has changed from a dirty black to a soft grey. There is a short section of easy passage leading to the top of the Fifth Pitch.  A flake belay on the left can be used for a sling and twenty foot ladder. This pitch is also wet, and lands in a chamber similar to the last pitch.  The stream is then followed over some small cascades to the top of the Sixth Pitch.  This pitch needs no ladder as it is a ten foot easy climb.  If the water is high, a rope may be useful for the return climb. This pitch can also be bypassed by traversing over the top and climbing back to the stream about thirty feet past the pitch.  A short section of cascades past a large inlet on the left brings one to the top of the Seventh Pitch.

The inlet starts as a high rift passage up which one climbs to a small chamber.  There is no obvious way on from here, but if a short climb is made up the right hand wall, a small rift is found.  Following this rift, the method of progress ranges from hands and knees to flat out crawling in water, as there is a small stream.

The belay for the Seventh Pitch is a bolt low down on the right hand side.  The twenty foot ladder climb is in the stream and against the wall all the way down and the landing is in a deep pool of water.  If the stream is normal the pitch can be made dry by somebody with a large rear end sitting in the stream above the cascade and damming the water to the pitch.  This just gives enough time to get up or down the pitch, unless the person doing the damming has a warped sense of humour, in which case you receive a deluge on the head. From the bottom of the ladder, follow the stream passage, which is mostly easy walking, past some fine arrays of formations on both sides of the passage.

At one point here, the passage enlarges to form a chamber which is filled across the floor with a loose gravel and boulder fill.  This fill is falling from a huge choke in the roof, which is probably the bottom of a large aven.  The water from here on is almost waist deep in places and there are several gravel banks to negotiate.

A change of passage to a series of cascades indicates the approach to the last pitch - the Eighth. A short climb down to a blank wall, a short step to the right, and one is looking through a large 'V' shaped opening into a large chamber.  The belay is a bolt on the right hand wall and the pitch is wet.  A forty five foot ladder lands in a shallow pool in which lie some lengths of old maypoles.  Round the corner from this chamber, one comes face to face with the sump pool.  This sump has a line through it but it is not recommended as a free dive.

On the last pitch, we operated a 'two up, two down' system which did away with the need for a double lifeline.  This pitch can also be made reasonably dry by the same procedure as that described for the Seventh Pitch.

Double lifelines were used on the Second and Third Pitches with a follow-through line on the rest. It is very difficult to get the line to the bottom of the Second Pitch from the top.

This is a fine sporting pot with excellent formations to reward those who make the effort to get past the first difficult sections which make the carrying of tackle very arduous.