© Yorkshire Ramblers' Club. Reproduction of this article is not permitted.
However, short extracts from it may be used, for non-commercial purposes, provided their source is fully cited, acknowledged and referenced as:
Cuttriss, S.W. (1922) The Leck Fell Pot-Holes. Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Volume 5 Number 15: pp60-64. Leeds: YRC.

The Leck Fell Pot-Holes.

The group of chasms called the Leck Fell Pots is not in Yorkshire, but in a curious projection of Lancashire, which covers the west side of Gragreth between the ridge and Easegill, as far as a point on the ridge not a quarter of a mile from the summit above Dent.

Follow the fell road from Leck and after a steady climb up to the iron hut and half a mile past it, you reach a gate from which you see Leck Fell House on the far side of a great pasture. To the left and north in this pasture lie the Leck Fell Pots. Just behind you on the right, over the wall, you have passed a couple of sinks which contain the entrances to Lost John's Cave, and the beck which enters is the nearest water to the iron hut.

With one exception the pot-holes are all in a line, and are easily found by walking along the road nearly up to the next gate till you meet the stream from near Leek Fell House. It crosses the road and falls rapidly to the north. Where it is swallowed, an entrance looks possible, but very low. Slightly to the left is Rumbling Hole, fenced, and with trees growing from it, while straight on in the dry hollow you come to the long and narrow Long Drop Sink with the cave at the far end, a 10 foot passage leading to Long Drop itself, a perfect round dry shaft, 25 feet deep. There is no exit.

Sketch Map - Leck Fell Pot-Holes.  © Yorkshire Ramblers' Club
Sketch Map - Leck Fell Pot-Holes

The dry hollow now tends to the left, and you find Eyeholes, fenced and with its tree too. It is possible to climb this, 30 feet at most, quite easy with a fixed rope, starting of course down a chimney into the shallower hole. A little further is Death's Head Pot, also fenced and with trees. Further on still, you cross a wall and on the left there is obvious the great chasm of Gavel Pot, with its wealth of trees, unfenced, while on the right is conspicuous the top of an ash tree, which grows from the bottom of a deep sink, called, I suppose, Ash Tree Sink.

Short Drop Cave I believe to be the swallow hole of another watercourse half way between the hollow you follow and the wall you pass at the first gate, and which is climbed over to go to Gavel Pot. Short Drop is connected with Gavel Pot.

Lost John'S is a very interesting cave, even without passing the first pitch, and about two hours are required to explore this portion alone. Balderston (Ingleton: Bygone and Present) appears to have used the dry entrance, but the obvious way in and out is by the beck. After one or two pools and a few trifling obstacles you reach a T junction and join another stream. Upstream you soon reach another fork ; the left branch is short, the right much longer. Both appear to terminate below surface sinks, and it is possible that the longer comes from a fine pot-hole, 200 yards east of Lost John's, which can be descended without much difficulty, and is named Lost Pot by Cuttriss. Down stream you have a climb which the stream has luckily left dry, and next the first pitch which has to be passed by the formidable Roof Traverse.

The rest of Lost John's is well described in the Y.R.C. Journal, Vol. II., pp. 28-34.

The following notes on the first explorations of Death's Head, Rumbling Hole, and Short Drop are extracted from Mr. S.W. Cuttriss's papers, which he has generously placed at the disposal of the Club.

Rumbling Hole (May 21st, 1899, W. Parsons, J.W. Swithinbank, G.T. Lowe, H. Woodhouse, and S.W. Cuttriss). - Under normal conditions there is no water entering this pot-hole, which will probably therefore be practically dry. Owing to the prevailing wet weather, the ground was thoroughly soaked and a stream of water entered the pot at the east end, about 30 feet from the surface.

The chasm was descended from the west end, where the rope ladders were quite clear of the waterfall. At about 100 feet down there is a shelving floor covered with fallen stones. The chasm has the appearance of a fissure at this level, about 40 feet from east to west (approx.), by 6 to 8 feet wide (these from memory). The east end only appears to be much waterworn. The remainder of the descent can be accomplished by climbing down the bare rock to the base of the water fall, at the expense of a good wetting. At this point candles have to be lit and the descent continued by climbing to a total depth of about 160 feet from the surface - following the water. Further progress is then stopped by the lowering of the roof to the surface of the water. Parsons and Swithinbank only descended lower than the 100 feet level. I remained at the 100 feet level for the purpose of obtaining photographs. A few stalactites were reported in the lower portion, but none elsewhere. The water channel was said to trend in an easterly direction. - S . W. Cuttriss.

Death's Head Pot (Whitsuntide, 1898, W. Parsons and J. W. Swithinbank). - This pot-hole appears to be one of a series resulting from a main fracture in the limestone. The depth to the bottom of the main shaft is 200 feet sheer. Parsons and Swithinbank report the ladder climb very trying. Beyond the bottom of the main hole is a steep stone slope (dangerous) and then a difficult rock climb to a total depth from the surface of about 260 feet. [268 feet. - ED.] It ends in a rather fine chamber with a small waterfall at one end. These notes are from memory I8 months afterwards, I having lost my note book. - S. W. C., 1900.

Short Drop Cave (July 21st, 1898). - J. W. Swithinbank, J. H. Buckley, and self investigated this cave and as I had already surmised, it was found to lead to the stalactite chamber in the passage communicating with Gavel Pot, so there is a continuous route from one to the other. About 150 feet from the entrance the passage is very low and can only be negotiated by lying at full length in the water and can only be passed when the water is dead low. This appears to be the place where the channel passes from one bed of limestone to a lower one. About 20 feet further on it gradually opens out from the sinking of the floor and continues to increase in height steadily all the way until at the stalactite chamber it may be 30 or 40 feet high. The roof appears to be the flat underside of the bed of limestone. In places the passage is not more than about 10 inches wide, at other times perhaps 6 or 8 feet. At about three-quarters of the way in there is a bridge of fallen rock, which should make an interesting photograph. I only know of one similar case and that is in Douk Cave near Kettlewell. The passage is cut through a black bed of limestone and extreme caution should be observed in walking when past the bridge, as it is impossible to distinguish the stalactite chamber at first, and a false step might be made over the brink to the bottom of the chamber, 12 or more feet below.

S.W.C.

No description of Gavel Pot is available yet.