The Bear Pit by Phil Ryder

The Bear Pit, Langstrothdale: Phil Ryder & Steve Warren (8 Oct 2008). 

Many years ago shortly after we discovered Hagg Gill, this site came to our attention. About 250 metres down valley and due east of the Shatter Pot entrance, a stream rises from some clints, flows about 300 metres then sinks in a tight rift which has been tested to Showerbath Inlet in Hagg Gill. However the dry stream valley continues downhill for quite a distance until it ends in a depression. Andy Cole piped water down from the newer sink and put quite a lot of Leucophor dye down this old sink, but all the detectors in Hagg Gill proved negative. It was speculated this old abandoned sink might have fed to Cow Garth Cave, some 70 metres lower and directly beneath this sink. I have always been interested in Cow Garth but as this old sink was presumed to be a long-term dig, i.e. needing large quantities of scaffolding, it was left for another day.

Nineteen years later in October 2007 and we finally had a look at this site, the we being me and Richard Gibson (Moldywarps). Only 20 minutes digging and we were making good progress, removing four inches of turf led straight to limestone pavement with a hole in the middle. However a large fallen flake blocked further progress. The following Saturday we were joined by the rock removal team of Chris Smith and Harry Long. Following the pyrotechnics we soon were 4 metres deep with enough space for one person to dig comfortably. There wasn’t anything around to cover up the hole with except some rotten boughs off two uprooted trees. Richard Gibson commented that it was a good trap to catch men or bears hence the name.

The next visit I was accompanied by Steve Warren. We made rapid progress but after about a third of a metre the hole started closing down into a solidly choked rift. The dig was left until spring 2008 when RG and I confirmed that the rift was packed solid with glacial clay, and was not turning horizontal. I returned alone in May and filled the hole back in.

Another site to tick off in the I Spy Book of Cave Digs.