Projects & Digs

Excalibur Pot

History

In 1981, Divers passed two short sumps at Bogg Hall Rising near Kirkbymoorside, to discover Bogg Hall Cave, sporting over 200m of superb river passage. This was the first active cave to be found in the area. The source of the water was traced to the River Dove, sinking further up the valley. However, what was more surprising was a trace to Hutton Beck, which also sinks a mile to the north, but in the next valley to the east.

The Hutton Beck sinks were of the greatest interest, as these were of 30m higher altitude than Bogg Hall, thus offering the best potential and vertical range for a cave. Scarborough Caving Club dug at Hutton Beck during the 1990s, although digging was unsuccessful due to the frequent flooding of the beck prematurely terminating their efforts.

Several years then passed before York Caving Club members Matt Ewles and Gary Douthwaite started ‘The Moors Project’ in June 2007 to reinitiate cave exploration in the area. Our digging efforts commenced at Hutton Beck in collaboration with Scarborough Caving Club members Richard Wilsdon, Andy Brennan and Chalky Thomas. By August, after only five full weekends of digging, we had broken into Excalibur Pot.

The stories of this digging and the discovery can be found in our first Journal, which is available to buy through our online shop.

Excalibur is approximately one mile long and sports excellent formations and an amazing main streamway passage carrying the entire volume of Hutton Beck. Excalibur today is the North Yorkshire Moors caving showpiece and a visit is highly recommended.

Since 2007 York Caving Club and Scarborough Caving Club have maintained an active friendship and digging collaboration, with ongoing digs at Excalibur, Jenga Pot, Bogg Hall, Guinevere’s Slit in the River Dove, T’une Mouth, Dowson Pot, MSG Hole (a major Windypit discovery from 2011) and several other surface explorations across the moors.

Current work at Excalibur

Several digs are ongoing throughout Excalibur, including Laura’s Demise, the south-western most point of the cave, where the main streamway passage becomes too small and the water is lost. The survey shows that this is only 100m from popping out into the River Dove in the next valley. Recent work has confirmed that this water does merge with the sunken River Dove water before resurging at Bogg Hall, however, experiments have shown that the merging point must be to the south of Guinevere’s Slit and The Well. This implies that the subterranean rivers run parallel for some distance before merging.

This raises hope for an extensive network of sumped passages in the area.

Our major dig at Excalibur is Screek Passage (discovered in 2009 and so not shown on the current version of the survey). Screek heads south east for approximately 300m, following the course of Hutton Beck down the valley directly towards Jenga Pot. During a digging trip in April 2010 we heard roaring water in the distance while digging at the mud-choked end of Screek Passage, hence our continued digging activity here. Screek may provide a back door into the cave system that is suspected to be located beneath Jenga Pot.

Survey

The survey of Excalibur is available to buy directly from our website. The initial run of 30 copies of the A0 survey has now sold out so we now print on demand, so it may take up to a week to deliver a survey after we have received payment.

Navigation Guide

A navigation guide for Excalibur Pot will be supplied with the permit.

Access

Access to Excalibur is controlled via a CNCC permit system.

Any BCA-registered caving club can apply for a permit to visit the cave, and short notice requests can usually be accommodated. The need to control access derives from the cave being on a private shooting estate, which is also agriculturally active. Details of the access conditions and contact details for requesting a permit can be found on the CNCC website.

References

  • Descent Magazine (202) 2008,
    Douthwaite, G. & Ewles, M & Wilsdon, R.
  • Descent Magazine (213) 2010,
    Douthwaite, G. & Ewles, M. & Wilsdon, R.
  • Journal of York and Scarborough Caving Club No.1. 2010,
    ISSN: 2046-049X - click here to buy it
  • Survey of Excalibur Pot, North York Moors 2010
    York Caving Club - click here to buy it