Strawberry Pot by Phil Ryder

This promising hole has been dug intermittently by White Rose diggers since early 1997. It was identified as having great potential after a series of dye tests were conducted in the area over ten years ago, recorded in the WRPC 40 Years Journal, 1994. (Strawberry Pot is shown as S11 on the dye-testing map.) The dig has been the hardest the Club has ever undertaken, over 90% of the passages were excavated and it has been a struggle from the beginning. The rewards when we eventually achieve a breakthrough should be enormous. SD 947737: Alt. 420m: Depth 36m: Length 60m

The pot is located in a large shakehole, some 8m by am, a kilometre or so to the north of Moorend Farmhouse. The dig was started by Chris Camm and Steve Wiseman (Wiz), and soon involved a cast of thousands including Hucky, Nigel Easton, Andy Cole, Richard Bendall, Steve Warren, Edward Whitaker and Phil Ryder. Chris Smith and John Clarke were heavily involved in later work.

The hole contains a floor of boulders that slopes down from the surface at the southern end to 7m below the moor level at the northern end. On inaccessible ledges in the shakehole numerous wild strawberry plants grow, which led to its name. It has also been called Bar Pot Two after a similarity with its counterpart on lngleborough.

At the west side of the northern end, a stream emerges from a tight rift passage just below the bottom, it is this stream that has been dye tested to Foss Gill Cave 170m below and 800m distant. In the east side of the northern wall is a large fault, up to 1m wide with a displacement of 2m. It was here in the first dig that a large amount of rock was shifted. Large slabs, many of which had peeled off the wall sides, were moved using a hand-cranked winch fixed at the surface. Once shifted with the winch to the best position for breaking, the slabs were hit with a sledge hammer or plugs and feathers were used. This activity went on for weeks and could be best likened to the building of the Pyramids. Part comical and part very dangerous. With two dry-stone wallers in the team (Wiz and Hucky) it was possible to stack up all the deads within the shakehole. At a depth of 5m a stream was encountered. However the dig became unstable and, fearing for our lives, it was filled in and a new start was made directly under the stream on the west side. This place had been dug previously; we believe by the Bradford Pothole Club in the 1960’s.

Following a prominent joint down, with two solid walls, large amounts of scaffold pole were assembled to construct a 1m square shaft. This led via a dog-leg with solid roof above, to another scaffolded section that broke into a rectangular shaped fault chamber, ” The Workshop”, 15m below the surface of the moor. Again the diggers had more than enough encounters with large boulders at this stage, part of the joys of digging. Two ways led on, both draughting. On the south side a space could be seen down through unstable boulders, but due to severe shell-shock from months of flying debris the harder north route was chosen. After another dog-leg this was the continuation of the joint we had followed down the main shaft. Another scaffolded section through mud infill led to the top of a tight rift where water could be heard below. This was enlarged and dropped into a passage with a rift in the floor. A tight 5m ladder climb in the rift dropped into a small stream that became too tight upstream and downstream almost immediately. The passage above was pushed 10m to a squeeze past a large block into a small fault chamber. A hole by the side of the block led back down to the stream, but that too was impassable both ways. At the other end of the chamber a tiny inlet in the roof dropped onto some boulders, these were removed and another way was found down into the stream. About 5m arduous progress has been made downstream, pushing here will be a long term job. However we are heading towards another large surface sink (S10) so the situation should greatly improve if the passages meet.

Strawberry Pot Survey by Steve Warren

A start was then made on the south side of The Workshop, where a horizontal passage was found to continue under the boulders, this was full of sticky clay which made things interesting. A chance encounter with a large flake, (the flake wont), held up the proceedings for several months whilst frayed nerves were rested. Eventually a route was located up through boulders into an inlet passage. The passage up the inlet was blocked by large boulders after a few metres, so too was the downstream side. A large rift above can be climbed up to reach a choke underneath the southern end of the shake hole. The way forward was found in the corner of the boulders where we had first emerged into the inlet passage. in Spring 2000 this tight rift has been modified for 10m to enable us to enter the top of a narrow pitch after a crutch over a rock in the floor, (for thinnies only, l couldn’t get down). The 6m ladder climb drops on to the floor of a fault chamber 1.5m wide, though there’s plenty of space for several diggers, and for stacking spoil. The way on is down through a pile of large perched blocks where a water worn continuation can be glimpsed.

Digging continues.