Minute Grinning by Steve Woods

Shuttleworth Pot: Iain Geldard, Johnny Roe, Steve Woods (August ‘17 / Sat Club Meet).

Sat in Inglesport Cafe eating a healthy breakfast my fellow club members were eager to go caving. The cafe however was full of folks I hadn’t seen for ages. As Sweeney left for Easegill and Si, Di and Frank sat down and started to provide an exciting update on the latest Misty Mountain project, Johnny and Iain headed down stairs to check out the shinny things on offer. I got the hint.

Having proudly displayed our caving pass in the window we were parked and eager for some caving. Getting changed on Leck Fell always seems to offer an odd climatic combination of Antarctica and Sub-tropical midge heaven. Adopting my usual position at the back, my short legs followed Iain and Johnny out on to a fell covered in heather in full bloom in search of the entrance.

As Bull Pot Farm eventually stared to appear in the not too far distance, thoughts of whether our position and the parking spot were now equidistant to the farm or not now and the walk back up the hill were interrupted by Iain’s announcement that we had arrived at what appeared to be a reasonable attempt by the diggers to engineer and present a standard of entrance Wiz and Hucky might describe in terms others could perhaps interpret to be ‘urbane’.

Sat in an puddle positioned nicely to take advantage of the many carefully crafted vents in my favourite oversuit I proceeded to rig the first bit as the others waited patiently. Arriving at the bottom I headed down the cave at my usual speed waiting for Johnny And Iain who arrived to indicate the stunning formations around me which I had completely missed. And Shuttleworth is beyond doubt a stunning place.


img_0557A small side passage beckoned and after a short climb down, there in the chamber below, sat on a mud bank grinning from ear to ear was the remains of a perfectly preserved newt, the sole previous occupant of chamber now named in his honour and sadly no longer sporting any previous outer covering.

After a short thrutch back into the main passage we resumed our gawping at a conveyor array of formation prizes that Peter Dickinson would have given his eyeteeth to announce and must have left the divers who found what lay before us grinning in a manner our new friend would have approved of.


img_0561And then before I knew it that was it. There are many other bits to the trip which we skipped but as we headed back up to the surface the anticipated trudge back up the fell side to the car instead was punctuated with mirth and many smiles. Looking at my phone carefully balanced on the wing mirror of Johnny’s van as we posed for a post-trip selfie our grins say it all.

Post trip newt grinning contest

Shuttleworth is a cave in many ways worthy of a permit system I have often grumped about. Something everyone should have the chance to see and worth preserving for just that. I look forward to going back for peek at the rest of bits to this gem of a find.

(Photos – Johnny Roe)