Saturday March 11th
County Pot - Pool Sink
Ade, Fleur, Gary, Matt, Rachel, Toby, Josh Young (YUCPC)
A rather late start due to the prior CNCC meeting, but we assembled at Bull Pot Farm at 1:30pm intent on a very efficient exchange between Pool Sink and County Pot. It was Old Farts (Me, Gary, Ade, Fleur) going down County and the younger contingent (Rachel, Josh, Toby) down Pool Sink.
We had a merry trip down County Pot taking the usual Upper Trident route to avoid having to rig any pitches other than the one just below the entrance. This route has one challenging climb, but is otherwise tackle-free. An excellent description of the route to Stop Pot from County via Upper Trident (as well as via Poetic Justice and Manchester Bypass) can be found on the CNCC website, although I am biased as I wrote them!!!
The stream was up a little, but of no concern and within about 45 minutes of entering the cave we were at the bottom of the Stop Pot boulders.
It had been some considerable time since I have done Pool Sink, so navigation to it was a little uncertain, but Fleur had a better memory than me. In the end, it's dead easy; head upstream from the foot of Stop Pot for a few hundred metres, keeping left and gradually rising up onto boulders perched above the stream. After about 75m the stream is lost from immediately below the boulders but continue onwards regardless. Another 75m later (still continuing over boulders), the passage ahead narrows and there is a hole in the floor under the right wall leading back to the stream. This is Holbeck Junction.
Return to the stream here and turn right (downstream) in walking passage for 20m and into an obvious crawl on a shelf on the left. This leads into approximately 10 minutes of easy and varied caving (passing the very recognisable serrated limestone walls; the Bacon Slicer, characteristic of this part of the cave). We didn't know where we were going so we just followed the most obvious route which seemed to work fine. We reached to the bottom of the final pitch of Pool Sink just as the others had got to the bottom, so we traded banter and parted company again.
Pool Sink boasts an absolutely cracking selection of short, easy and enjoyable pitches, which we quickly ascended. The final section of the cave which leads to the surface is annoying; a narrow crawl with a few awkward bends, but it's extremely short and daylight soon beckoned ahead.
Returning down the valley to County Pot we met the others just coming out - Perfect timing! Total time underground only 2.5hr!!!
Plenty of time for tea at the NPC and then curry in Bentham. A great day out.
Saturday March 10th 2012
Pool Sink to Holbeck Junction (Easegill)
Matt, Gary, Chuck, Ade
Having explored much of the Main Drain part of Easegill over the last several years, one classic entrance was not yet familiar to me. We have been wanting to do Pool Sink for some time, but being one of the more flood prone entrances, we have been rained off in favour of some of the safer entrances in the past. We had a permit for Pool and County this time, but the weather was looking OK (although the fell was very wet underfoot) and so we went for Pool Sink.
We were going to pop in and pre-rig County Pot for the through trip and a pull through down Pool Sink, however, we were not 100% confident in route finding to Holbeck Junction from Pool Sink, and we didn’t know what the water level in the Main Drain would be like. So we decided to stick with going in and out of Pool Sink on this occasion.
The entrance is easy to find, a natural, worn rectangular slot about 5-10 minutes walk upstream of County, to the side of, as the name suggests, a deep pool (which I guess would be dry during summer). Not to be mistaken for Wretched Rabbit (which leads after only 15m to the top of several free climbs with fixed ropes). It was quite wet and the fell was saturated, so we moved some rocks to slightly lower the level of the pool outside the entrance and to allow it to drain should the water levels rise while were underground.
Once inside, the entrance is a narrow winding tube with a couple of sharp bends causing pain for the taller caver. However, it’s really quite easy, and enlarges to stooping after only a few minutes – this was the only slightly hard part of the trip! The first pitch was soon reached, which we rigged with a deviation from a P-hanger 5 m down to stay out of the slight drizzle coming down from above (and to safeguard the return trip against a rise in water levels).
A more significant stream was then joined and followed downstream. I was having quite a leisurely trip, and I didn’t pay much attention to anything beyond this point until we got to the bottom of the final pitch – but the description and rope lengths in Selected Caves is spot on and you can’t really go wrong. It’s all quite easy and enjoyable, good simple classic Dales caving. You actually forget that you’re in Easegill.
We didn’t know what to expect from the bottom of the final pitch – the route to Holbeck Junction sounded easy in principal, but we suspected that there were sure to be some complications. Not so! Although there are a few bits where you could go wrong if navigating without description, the Selected Caves description is spot on and you really can’t fail to find your way to Holbeck Junction. The only bit with slight confusion is the huge block, which Selected Caves says almost blocks the passage - if you're not paying attention you fail to notice that this is a block, as it just looks like a blank wall, forcing a stoop down to pass it - but you still can't go wrong!
A quick chocolate bar and we were on our way out, just in time to catch a lovely sunset across Casterton Fell. First class gentle trip and looking forward to doing it as a pull through next time.