More Langstrothdale Sumps by Ian Cummins

Goat Inlet Sump 2, Langstroth Pot: Ian and Simon (16th May 2009). 

Having caught the White Rose Langstrothdale fever, I’d left a rope on the last pitch on another pull-through trip recently to facilitate diving access to Goat Inlet.  After a wet night, we were expecting a lot of water in the cave, but it must have all flushed through, allowing an easy ascent of the pitch after diving through the cave sumps with a tackle sack.

Kitting up again at the inlet, I dived through first, again enjoying the sensation of working through the portholes to emerge in the deep water at the upstream end.  With Simon safely through, I began the crawl to the second sump, pushing my gear ahead, taking care with all the nice formations around, before kitting up again as the water deepened.

Simon had done his homework and advised me of a constriction a few metres in, so I was mentally prepared for a bit of a struggle and worked my way down into the clear water to a depth of about 3 metres, I would guess.  With good visibility going upstream, I soon reached the constriction, where a flat-out manoeuvre on the gravelly streambed was required to get under a low arch.  With more spacious passage beyond, I was soon rising up into the air-bell, where the line was anchored in the roof, with out-of-depth water requiring me to hang for a rest – definitely a rather unfrequented spot, but very atmospheric!

I took a few minutes to contemplate a fine white stal and roof straws, listening to the echoing drips from my hands, before replacing my mouthpiece and concentrating upon returning through the now murky water.  Reaching the constriction with only minimal visibility, I found that my head was against a blockage, but with my left hand holding the line in plenty of space, I moved over and was soon through and back to relate what I had seen to Simon.

Sump 1 felt rather easier and we took a bit of time back in the main streamway to climb the upstream pitch and have a look at the passages around the major inlet at its head.

After a bit of adventurous climbing to the top of an aven, we descended the pitches and dived out, emerging spotlessly clean – just the way I like it!

Considerable efforts by the club diggers have led to a number of discoveries in Langstrothdale that still have potential – although any further progress will not be easy. Digs at Hagg Beck Sink and Compass Pot yielded tight stream passages ending in sumps of differing character.

Hagg Beck Sink ends in a large chamber with a deep, dark sump pool. Dived by IC, a narrow way on was found in the murk. The carry is painfully tight, but needs to be repeated.

Compass ends in a desperately low sump, where it is possible to wriggle in feet-first and hope that there is more space within. Pumping efforts failed due to the tight situation and the only hope appears to be a rethink of this process or a minimal feet-first dive.