Fossil Pot Newbie by Adele

Fossil Pot: Steve Woods, Adele Ward (8 Oct 2017). 

Fossil Pot has been on the radar for a while. Just about every single one of my friends have been there, so super keen I met Steve in Grassington. A detour to Hucky’s as we had to collect gear. It’s always a pleasure to hear Hucky’s tales of caving and diving, the only problem is I asked so many questions, we stayed longer putting us a little later than expected for Fossil pot. 

 It’s nice to be relaxed with time, so around 12:30 kitted up we walked towards the dry stream that hides Fossil pot. Steve removes the lid, with my breath held awaiting – the expected flurry of spiders running towards me … they did not arrive. Poking my nose down for the first time, thinking this is going to be fun, we begin. 

 Its a funny feeling heading down, initially its snug but fine – I enjoyed heading towards the first pitch. Its always best to be honest with my caving partners, Steve had been duly briefed – sometimes I ain’t good on a rope. Trying to remember the passage and enjoy the time looking at the rock in front of me is captivating. It’s called Fossil pot for a reason – its bloody gorgeous! 

So we are at the pitch head, all are feeling happy. I’m determined not to have an epic, its SRT time. Watching Steve rig the pitch gives me some time to shine my light around. This is a hospitable pitch – there is no exposure, the hangers are easy to get out to…. I’m staggered that was so easy. This trip is going to hold much poking around in different grotty holes, memory will fail me to explain all of …. except one. 

Landing in a place I have never been before always leads to mixed emotions and questions – what’s ahead? What’s it going to be like on exit? Looking at Steve, feeling a little puzzled as to where to go next, attention is drawn to a slot that hasn’t been noticed. The pie muncher…. I love pies, recalling the last pie scoffed yesterday my attention is drawn to the technique of how to pass through. Steve suggests a foot first twisting motion, leading to standing up. Sounds fun, its always easier seeing someone doing it. Resisting the temptation to head down head first, it’s ok. So where to next – I was surprised to find us heading back up. Further passage is enjoyed and explored – this probably takes longer than anticipated

Arriving at the 40 ft pitch, quickly rigged, so that we can progress with ease. All down – let’s head to this sump I have heard so much about. But whats this “ the pie munchers revenge” this can be best described as entertaining. 

The down stream sump is inspected, I imagine times gone by of Ian trying to dive this little nasty. We arrive at a chamber that felt familar  (even though I’ve never been there ). This is done by a duck and a flat out crawl – not sure which came first! 

Poking around various different changing areas are noted. Thought-out this trip, curiosity had to be served. Having a habit of ambling thought caves, getting caught up with the beauty and potential, its taken longer than expected to arrive in the stream way and this place feel like it needs work.  

Poking around we head up a boulder slope, which I can best describe as unreliable,  areas are explored. A puddle seems to hold the end to my play time. Steve recalls the survey, reckoning the way on should be here. I’ve had good mentors; what would Ian do? Wearing a wetsuit can be a curse and a joy in Fossil pot. Moments like the duck and I’m laughing. The initial series, will make you warm, time spent washing the endless clay from my Warmac Wetsuit is a pain. 

So back on topic – looking around thinking what to do, I decide it’s best to leap into the puddle, and have a little paddle. Poking my legs under the rock curtain, this is what I was hoping for. This lead to me by hand trying to push the water back up the mud slope, using my body as a human paddle. Steve with a more practical brain hands me a plastic cut out bottle, in order to aid my progress. 

So this is heaven for me, a comfortable spot, something to do, but there is a question ahead. Aware steve may find my water throwing duties a tad boring, I check out its ok to for me to indulge myself. Starting to bail the water out, I distract myself from looking at how much the water has fallen with endless chit chat. About 30 mins in and daring to have a look at if its all been worth it – the water is lower. I maybe should have offered steve a chance to bail the water out, has he looked a bit chilly. Boiling hot I suddenly feel a change of temperature – theres a draft ! 

I actually wondered if  I was hallucinating around this time – “Steve can you feel that ?” This unsurprisingly helps pick up the pace. For every container full of water thats bailed, 50% falls back in the now small puddle. Stopping for a moment, wanting to have a peak, the water is low enough to progress a little. Forgetting to remove my helmet, I back out asking steve if he has a dive torch. Steve produces something I wasn’t expecting – its the most tiny torch in the world. Gulp ! This can this device produce any light, YEY ! Now with the back of my cornea burnt out from gazing into this tiny device, I decide the only way is forward. Quick chat with steve and we argee I wont progress past a point he could pull me out of. 

Slithering through glorious mud, nose pressed to the ceiling, with my tiny light, its opening up.

Some people pay for mud like this !

Shouting loudly i can hearing an echo. Its tempting to move forward but I’m a bit scared that I’m wrong, my eyes are deceiving me, if I progress further my friend wont be able to pull me out. Back ward shuffle… quick chat. Why don’t you have a look mate ? Aware steve aint got a wetsuit on, and its grim muddy water, I explain precisely what I’ve seen. Steve heads down while I catch my breath. Following I hear the words, “someone has been hear already”.  Mixes emotions and thoughts are felt. The best thoughts are questions: who, when, why, what were they up to? Why did they stop?

Feeling excited we are in a chamber, presented with some really dodgy looking ladders, some bolts and a hammer! To preserve archaeological remains we avoid the ladders, the bolts placed on a rock are firmly stuck – the hammer is the only relic movable.

Checking to time I realise we headed down here around 1:00pm (possible a little later due to messing about with kit) its 5:00pm. We have taken our time getting to this point, lots of areas have been explored or at least poked about in. Thoughts turn to exit time. 

Heading back out we note familiar giant scallops, that look familiar. arrival at the bigger pitch, kitted up – I announce I reckon I deserve a reward! Pit stop completed – chocolate bars and setting the world to rights chat is had. 

Turning around, to progress, I’m struck by a thought. This feels like a big place, it ends abruptly. The climb up to the pie muncher’s revenge proved a little testing for me. With Steve offering a human foot hold, progress out is quick. Checking the time it’s getting late; 5 hours of fun has been had. This cave leaves me with more questions than answers. 

The midgeys are biting tonight so a hurried retreat to the car is had. Picking up my car from Hucky’s the drive home is filled with questions in my mind. Reckon I best re-read, the club’s long history with this cave.