Alum Pot/Long Churn by Ian Cummins

Alum Pot/Long Churn: Ian Cummins (13 May 2007).

I called in at Inglesports to collect my wetsuit trousers. Like the previous pair, they seemed to have been made for someone with skinny legs and a beer belly, but I reckoned they would do, feeling nice and thick and spongy – luxury! After shelling out for said trousers I had a look upstairs to see if there were any takers for the Masongill trip – couldn’t see any, so after downing a large coffee I had a chat with the Barrow climbers. It’s great to see climbers like Rob Matheson still super-keen to get out after decades of climbing and after watching the legends dine, I set off for Alum Pot, contemplating a trip down Diccan and up the NW route of the shaft.

Noticing that the streams were running again after weeks of being dry, the idea of Diccan was becoming less attractive, having been stuck in there 26 years ago in a true student club epic involving a misunderstanding over belay bolts, iced-up ropes, hypothermic companions, broken arms, enlisting hikers to haul said injured party up the shaft and dragging delirious hypothermia sufferer up Long Churn – all without involving the CRO and hence maintaining our anonymity.

After parking up and paying my 50p, I put on my wetsuit and set forth with 2 bags of ropes for the pot. With only 1 other car in the lane, it looked like being a quiet day and I rigged the NW drop with a 100m rope and descended, getting very wet on the lower section. Continuing down to the sump, it was obvious that Diccan would be unpleasant, with a white spout of water pummelling the pool.

Jugging back up, I took my time to examine the walls of the pot, imagining free-climbing moves and watching a Yellow Wagtail at work.

Arriving back at the bags, I was in need of a drink, then set of for Long Churn. This is a great cave and was not totally clogged with Boy Scouts for once. Indeed I only saw 2 other people negotiating the cascade at the top of the stream and having got to the top entrance, I reversed and set off for the Dollytubs pitch. This passage is great fun in a wetsuit, allowing for pleasant wallows in the big pools. Descending the pitch, I took in the view and then returned to the Long Churn entrance.

A pleasant afternoon out on a curiously quiet day in the dales, with no cars parked even in the Hill Inn lay-by.