Vulcan Pot: Ian, Fay and Mr and Mrs Kenyon 20th June 2010).
An e-mail from Fay via Steve saw me making up 50% of this Burnley meet to make the descent of Yorkshire’s biggest underground pitch, the mighty Vulcan Pot entrance to Nick Pot.
After a meeting up at Penyghent café, we drove back to South House for the walk in to find Mr Kenyon clearing up after his farm sale the day before, following his retirement after 30 years on the place. With the house also being sold off, I would expect changes to parking and access here if South House is no longer a working farm. Anyway, we thanked Mr Kenyon for his help with access and parking over the years, before walking up the hill carrying all our gear and the 120m 10mm rope that Fay had brought along.
Dunking the rope in the pool at the Nick Cave entrance, we got changed and located the hole that is Dawson’s Entrance, stuffing our kit bags out of sight before I led off with my SRT kit in a bag and the rope end in my hand. Pushing or dragging a big rope bag would not be nice and although none of the obstacles encountered in the 30m or so of crawling could be considered as being squeezes to someone of my minimal bulk, there is little respite and upon reaching the pitch head for the first 4m drop, I climbed down with a bit of aid from the fixed line into the comfy chamber below.
Spotting Fay down the climb, we assessed the exit onto the big pitch, with a trench on the right being the more obvious way down. Take care though, as it’s tight and one must lie and reverse along the trench to drop into space, fighting to get the bag through at the same time, before bigger passage and a re-belay bolt allow the 20m drop to ledges.
Re-belaying here, I was joined by Fay, before rigging the final drop and pausing to admire the majestic situation, with only a little noise from the water below to break the silence – awesome stuff indeed.
I had suggested that a re-belay on the Trouser Flake might be an option – this had been essential on our very wet descent of the Traverse in the Gods a couple of years back, but upon reaching this, the floor seemed to be not too far below and the rope seemed to be hanging nicely, so I continued down to the rocky beach below.
After investigating the short continuing passage whilst Fay descended, I was ready for the ascent when she touched down, noticing the minimal stretch of this thicker rope compared to my usual skinny stuff and with only a neofleece rather than my customary wetsuit, I felt comfortable and able to do the jug up in one, admiring the fine view of the traverse on the way. Back in the chamber, we pulled the rope up and I bouldered up the 4m pitch to drag the rope through the crawl tied to my ankle.
Finding the crawl, as usual, to be easier on the way out, I popped out of the entrance hole to enjoy a drink and admire the views on this fine afternoon after a 3-hour trip. Curiously, the rope would not fit in the bag in its damp state, making it a bit more awkward to carry down, but even with just 2 of us, the carry was not too onerous.
Thanks to Fay for the invite and for the great day out, with thanks and best wishes to Mr and Mrs Kenyon.