Bull Pot of the Witches: Ian, Lief, Steve, Emma, Dave, Chris, Geoff and Matthew (21 November 2010).
Bull Pot of the Witches has many attractions, not the least of which is the spectacular panorama from the high point on the road to Bull Pot Farm. It’s a good idea to stop here for a moment and look across to the south and east. The main valley is Easegill, home to more cave entrances than you could shake a stick at. Beyond Easegill, Leck Fell House Farm dominates Leck Fell where another vast clutch of caves and potholes may be found. Behind Gragareth, towering over Leck Fell, lies Kingsdale, home to another potholers’ paradise.
Nearer to hand, on the open moor before Easegill, lies one of the most insignificant cave entrances in the country. However, the 40m entrance shaft of Lancaster Hole, first discovered in 1946, immediately leads into one of the most complex cave systems in the land. More information about the area may be found on the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club website, or by a web search for the Three Counties Cave System.
From the vantage point on the high road, one is overlooking some 75 kilometres or more of cave passage, and as I write, and as you read, an intrepid band of adventurers is exploring even further and deeper, adding, by the day, more and more cave passage to this outstanding agglomeration of caves and potholes. This is a process that he’s been going on since that momentous day in 1946 when the late George Cornes first discovered Lancaster Hole.
Bull Pot of the Witches has a most attractive entrance, just a short walk from the farm, an open pothole surrounded by trees, with a small stream pouring down the western corner. Apart from Dave and myself, this was a new and inspiring sight for the team of eight who had assembled on the green lane on a bleak, dank morning. The sooner we were underground the better, I thought. Taking the natural staircase at the back of the shakehole, the drop down which leads to the bottom of the open pot (Note: this is not Cat Hole) is easy enough, being a highly polished and greasy limestone chimney. Easy to get down, but wait until you need to get out again!
The general plan was to show everyone what was what and where, and to direct various bodies in various directions without getting myself into any embarrassing situations. This was achieved with a visit to the Gours Chambers via the ‘hading rift’ at the end of Roberts Passage. Not everyone managed the final squeeze up the Angel’s WIng, an inordinately tight squeeze, possibly somewhat tighter then on an earlier visit some twenty years previous no doubt, due to the ever-increasing thickness of calcite on the flowstone cascade. Ian, Lief and Emma found the route beyond to the upstream passages but Emma declined the opportunity of a soaking in the ducks to the magnificent upstream canyon passages and 49 Cavern. She was suitably impressed with the Gours anyway. There were plenty of grunts and groans on the return up the ‘hading rift’ to entertain the patiently waiting leader.
Backing up a bit, Burnetts Passage was followed to Burnett’s Great Cavern, an impressive place by anyone’s standards. I was mistaken in believing one could go further from here to attain the lower streamway.
Next port of call was the climbable pitches leading to Long Gallery and the lower streamway. Although having previously taken the precaution of dropping a rope down here, most of the party were content to let Ian and Lief do all the work. Suffice it to say they were more than impressed with the elevated free-climb route back up.
Thus, this short introduction to Bull Pot of the Witches left everyone with little doubt that a return visit would soon be on the cards. After all there are the charming ducks in the lower streamway yet to be seen and tried, and numerous other routes to explore.
Thanks to Ian, Lief, Emma, Dave, Chris, Geoff and Matthew for turning out for a great day’s caving.
Pic by Chris Dudman.