© Yorkshire Ramblers' Club. Reproduction of this article is not permitted.
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YRC Committee (1947) Cave Exploration. Yorkshire Ramblers' Club Journal Volume 7 Number 24: pp177-183. Leeds: YRC.


The Golden Age of pot-holing is over long ago, but digging has had some extraordinary successes, and a large number of minor caves have to be noted also.

I.—New Discoveries.

Fermanagh, Florence Court, Pollnagollum [of the Boats) (alt. 610 ft., 200 yds. N.E. of Legg Farm on path from Marble Arch to Pollasumera).—31st July, 1938. Fred Booth, Gowing, Nelstrop, Marsden, Godley, E. E. Roberts. From the open pot 24 ft. ladder through a small hole into a chamber ; through another tight hole to a stream. A few days later the rubber boat was used on a pool 50 yds. long, but the party were checked by a third curved pool. May, 1939, parties of six and four with two boats went to the end, 700 yards, three-quarters of the way to Pollasumera. Four fine side ascents almost to the surface.

Fermanagh, Rourkefield, Pigeon Pots (alt. 1,000 ft., 300 yds. S.W. and N.W. of Legacurragh or Leg-na-Hurry, a nick in the E. escarpment of Cuileagh, 2 miles S.W. of Rourkefield, which is not named on O.S. map, 2 miles S. of Florence Court).— August, 1938. Gowing, F. Booth, Godley, Marsden, Roberts. —No. I, large open pot, 36 ft. ladder, greatest depth 83 ft. No. II, rift with waterfall. 36 ft. ladder. In darkness twenty foot climb and second ladder pitch, 74 ft. Total over 140 feet depth. No. Ill, to N.W., fine large pot-hole with trees. Steep slope to 24 ft., then 80 ft. ladder, at foot to the N. a fine ascending chamber.

The three are obvious from the W., but not easy to find in a maze of shakeholes from Legacurragh.

Fermanagh, Knockmore, Reyfad Pot (alt. 990 ft., air-line half-a-mile S.W. of Pollanaffrin).—May, 1939. Marsden and E. E. Roberts. Open pot, 37 ft. A short passage leads to a huge shaft, estimated at over 150 ft. deep. The second really deep pot-hole found in Ireland.

Knockmore, Murphy's Hole (alt. 980 ft., 1,500 yds. S.E. of Reyfad Pot).—May, 1939. Marsden and Roberts. An easy 50 ft. climb. Rattle Hole, not far off, a fine rocky 70 ft. shaft, has to be climbed down vertical chimney, and was not quite finished, needing a ladder. The description of Praeger's descent does not fit.

Clare, Slieve Elva, Pollnagollum [Baker's) and Pollbinn. First visit, 1880, Westropp, Joyce, Christy. Names to be seen at 537 yds.—1942-3. Messrs. Coleman and Donnington have added greatly to the part of this very long watercourse above the main pot, notably the Long Gallery, 800 yds., making a total of 2,450 yds. for the Pollbinn series. Their survey, a magnificent feat of many days, has been carried down the main cavern 2,137 yds. to the pool which stopped Baker in 1925. Neither they nor the Hooper-Carhill party in 1939 found the bypass and the " throat " used in 1936 to regain the river, but both visited a passage 100 yds. back, and the former, dry passages lower down. Total of survey, 3J miles ; total known, nearly 3! miles.

Ingleborough, Gaping Gill, Flood Entrance.—August, 1909. The names, not hitherto recorded, of the first parties to exchange places on the final 125 ft. ladder climb, were C. E. Burrow, Davis Burrow, O. Stringer, R. F. Cook, E. Simpson and W. H. Greenwood.

This remarkable discovery was picked out in 1908 as being the only possible place where a connection could exist with the internal Two Hundred Foot Pot, and much work was done to force entrance in confidence in the soundness of this deduction.

Gaping Gill Hole, Amphibian Crawl.—June, 1938. Nelstrop and Matheson penetrated 148 yards into a wet bedding-place, on the left at the start of the short crawl to the landing place of the Two Hundred Foot Pot, and must have been close to the Hensler System, which was reached by Nelstrop and Fred Booth the day before.

The Boulder Chamber Pot owing to movement of the rocks was found only after a long search, and next day the second descent was made by Wardle, Rigg, Godley and Roberts. In spite of-loose rock, Rigg crossed the top of the lowest pitch and found another shaft beyond.

Gaping Gill through Disappointment Pot.—In 1944 Mr. R. D. Leake}/, B.S.A. crawled, totally immersed, through the water at the end of Disappointment passage. The floor has been worked on since and a way forced into a four pitch passage, the deepest and last being 45 feet, into the Hensler system. A very fine discovery.

Ingleborough, Birkbeck Trench [A.G.) Pot (alt. 1,325 ft., in the conspicuous sink 100 yds. E. of where the Trench scrapes over the ridge to the wall).—1943. Opened out by Mr. A. Gemmell. Narrow going, I mile, 250 ft. depth in all, pitches of 45, 10, 33, 10, 15, 20 ft.

Ingleborough or Clapham Cave.—1938. Craven Pot-hole Club men estimate that they made 250 yds. painful crawl in the dry bedding plane off the stream below the Giant's Hall.

Kingsdale, Simpson's Pot, nr. Rowten.—Easter 1940. B.S.A. parties. Small entrance, long wet crawl to a " siphon " at 165 ft. depth. Opening enlarged by drill and hammer. April 27th, Messrs. R. D. Leakey and H. Burgess dived through. Later the exploration was carried into the final passage of Swinsto Cave, 395 ft. down.

Leek Fell, Lost Johns' Cave.—July, 1938. Douglas followed a crawl in mud and water, 18 inches high, off the Master Cave, and later Messrs. Weaver and Shaw think they went as much as 600 yds. in it.

Penygent, Hull Pot.—The immense slab which early in 1924 split off and filled the W. end of the pot so that one could climb out as late as June, 1939, was found in 1941 to have collapsed in ruins and left little sign of what had happened. A classic instance of the way in which pot-holes are enlarged.

Horton-in-Ribblesdale, Stot Rakes Cave (alt. 1,225 ft-, the rising of a beck crossing the wall running W. 200 yards from the last stiff ascent on Hull Pot Lane).—June, 1939. J. C. Addyman and E. E. Roberts. Cave containing queer muddy stalactites, all unbroken, 100 yds. long.

Horton, Whitber South Cave (alt. 1,300 ft., almost due N. of the above, by the next wall, which runs to Hull Pot Gate).— December, 1938. Burton, Rowe, Emmott and Procter. Interesting journey to a belfry, 40 ft. high, with a twin from which, once in, it is hard to get out.

Feizor, Huff's Pot (alt. under 900 ft., hard to find, small stream sinks near a cluster of rocks).—July, 1938. Messrs. Huff and Bottomley, 70 ft. deep. A singular discovery. Not very safe.

Wharfedale, Litton Upper Shaft (straight up from Litton through the stile above the Foss to Litton Pot, 16 ft. deep, then 70 yds. uphill).—1939. Rigg and Roberts. Covered over. Hand line and climbs to 38 ft. depth.

Wharfedale, Mossdale Sink.—1941. Mr. Simpson's parties forced an entrance into a cave system of which 3I miles are stated to have been surveyed. It must be tackled with caution. A Y.R.C. party in 1946 failed to get in, probably on account of the high water.

Widdale Fell, Blackside Pols (alt. 1,850 ft., either side of the county boundary wall, N.W. from Little Tarn).—1938. Mr. Fairbank (Craven Pot-Hole Club), later Gowing and Roberts. Small pots in a line of limited extent, deepest 35 ft.

Westmoreland, Great Asby, Pate Hole (Half-a-mile up the dry valley from the village, R. bank).—August, 1941. Gowing and Rigg. 322 yds. of remarkably wide cave, 5 ft. high, to a pool in a lofty belfry; 35 yds. on, another pool across which Rigg swam. A parallel passage with two cross-overs leads back.

Nidderdale, Goyden Pot.—1944. Mr. Francis and party, P.O. engineers, paid many visits and extended " Break Through Possible " by 70 yds. of high passage.

October, 1944. Mr. F. G. Balcombe made a daring and successful crawl under water of 100 ft. into the Lower River Passage. Neither party could find the dry bypass claimed in The Yorkshire Dalesman.

Derbyshire, Castleton, Giant's Hole.—A new passage has been found, see Rucksack Journal for 1939. The lower storey of Eldon Hole was opened up again in 1941.

Somerset, Blackdown, Great Tynings (G.B.) Cave (alt. 865 ft., 200 yds. S. of Shipham road from Charterhouse to Shipham, 500 yds. E. of Tynings Farm).—1939-40. Messrs. Goddard and Barker broke through in November in an area where much digging has been done, and in March, 1940, reached a magnificent cavern, a gorge descending in a big zigzag from 180 ft. depth to 480, length from the surface 500 yds. Its size is amazing considering the small streams entering.

Somerset, Burnington Combe, Sidcot Swallet.—1925 and 1941. A dig by Sidcot School into narrow rifts, old part 67 yds., new part 40, impracticable to a full grown man.

Charterhouse, Longwood Swallet (alt. 750 ft., S. of Lower Farm).—1946. Brothers Stride. Another successful dig into narrow rifts which go down 330 ft. steeply with pitches of 42 and 33 ft. into a large chamber.

Sutherland, Inchnadamff, Cave of Roaring.—1939. Mr. W. Fairbank in the second chamber broke a way through into a considerable cavern with a burn which must be above the Cave of Water. Rigg had previously been down the great slab in the latter.

Devon, Buckfastleigh, Bakers Pit.—1938 on. An intricate system of caverns of considerable length has been discovered and explored by Messrs. Reed, Joint, Carhill and Mr. and Mrs. Hooper.

Breconshire, Glyn Tawe, Dan yr Ogof (alt. 700 ft.)—The second full expedition in 1937 over the Pools was actually made by Mr. T. A. Morgan's Welsh party. No great additions have been made though the High Belfry has been climbed into a short passage and a curious bypass found in the roof of the old south passage. The splendid cavern up to the Pools has been developed and when opened in August 1939 had 5,000 visitors the first week.

Pen-y-cae, Ffynnon Ddu (L. bank of Tawe below the Penwyllt road).—Easter 1946. Messrs. Balcombe and Sheppard in diving equipment found the pool 10 ft. deep and 15 yds. long.

Ogof-yr-Ffynnon Ddu.—August 1946. Messrs. Nixon and Harvey sank a 15 ft. shaft above the rising and found a half-mile passage carrying a swift stream and a dry upper system with very fine stalactites. Rigg was in the second visit. More has been discovered.

Pant Canol Cave (a little higher still).—August 1942. Entered by Mr. Powell; Mr. Ashford Price pushed through to a lofty flooded chamber and made a boat voyage of 27 yds.

Penwyllt, Cwm Dwr Quarry Cave II.—July, 1938.—Doyle and E. E. Roberts dug away 4 ft. of hard shingle, and later a party led by Weaver (not Doyle as stated) put down a ladder and found a fine little cave like No. I.

Penycae, Craig-y-Nos Quarry Cave (on the left of the first quarry 50 ft. above the green road). August 1938. Mr. Ashford Price. Restricted, with a loop and a bad crawl to running water. 68 yds., now dug to 95 yards.

Caermarthenshire, Foel Fraith, Pwll Swnd (alt. 1,800 ft., W. of Twrch, on N.E. slope of Foel Fraith, very hard to find). Easter 1939. Miss Tudor and Mr. A. Hill were led to it; next day with Platten a rift 20 yds. in was hammered open and a desperate squeeze made on to a 32 ft. ladder climb. A fine passage of 400 yds. was found, with a close so disappoint­ ing no account has been written.

Rigg hunted for Pwll Swnd three times in vain, and finally neither he nor Hill could get through the squeeze.

Arthur's Pot (200 yds. E.).—35 ft. ladder into a rift 100 ft. x 10 ft.

Brecon, Penderyn, Ogof Fawr (alt. 1,075 ft., swallet of Pant Sychbant, 2,\ miles E.N.E. of Penderyn Church). Easter 1939. Messrs. Weaver, Harvey and others after eight hours' work broke into a fine stream passage down a 20 ft. fall. Not extensive.

Cave Diving.—Mr. F. G. Balcombe has again put in much work and thought on diving equipment. In 1945 he penetrated Keld Head 70 yards, and in Alum Pot went 20 ft. down into the Sump, visibility/ twelve inches. At Wookey Hole, October 1946, progress was made into the Inner Chambers along a route which seems to bypass the Seventh Chamber. In Goyden Pot his enthusiasm had a definite success.

II. Other Expeditions

Ingleborough, Juniper Gulf.—The last pitch is 132 ft. plus 12 ft.

Nick Pot.—The. ledge on the great pitch is a large and comfortable recess, 66 ft. down, with 180 ft. vertical below it.

Hardraw Kin.—A party of five in 1941. The pitch is 83 ft. deep and there is a shale bed very clear at the top, 8 ft. up.

Wharfedale, Beckermonds Cave (alt. 1,065 ft., S. bank, half-a-mile above Beckermonds at the first bend). 67 yds. long, parallel to the beck.

Coverdale, Otter's Cave.—Mentioned and misplaced by man)/ books, quite unknown to the local people, except keepers. R. bank, opposite Melmerby, in the open by the river above a thick wood, 200 yds. below a footbridge. 80 yds. wading, last third in a dull chamber, 30 ft. wide, 15'ft. high.

Middleton-in-Teesdale, Jack's Scar (one mile up the Hudes-hope Beck, on L. bank of a short gorge.)—About 100 yds.

Langdon Beck, Moking Hurth (alt. 1,620 ft., 1 mile E. of Inn).—In a quarry, easily missed. A series of right-angled rifts. Last 65 yds. difficult.

Glyn Tawe, Fan Fraith (or Pont Mawr) Pot (close to the swallet of an unnamed beck, | mile W. of Nant-y-Moch, 1 mile E. of Pwll Byfre).—Neither name is satisfactory. 56 feet from the lip. Passage measured, 160 yds., bearings 1600 and 1800 (true).

Llandeilo, Llugad Llwchwr.—Platten has made the happy discovery that H. T. Jenkins, 1841-44, explored the cave and used a coracle, which he must have dissected and rebuilt inside. Platten has used rubber boats there and Rigg and Roberts did so in May.

Two interesting little caves, noted in books, are Dogholes, Warton near Carnforth, and Eglwys Faen Cave near Crick-howell.

In Mitchelstown Old Cave Arthur Young's passage and inscription (before 1800) have been rediscovered, first by Puttrell's party 1910.