Trip to Rift Pot 23rd Jan 2011
By Doug Thompson
It’s not unusual to find us wandering about on the Yorkshire moors looking for a pothole entrance, and Sunday 23rd Jan was one such occasion.
The cave guide had led us to understand that the entrance was in a small wood, close to the entrance to Marble steps, Easy then, because we know where Marble steps is, and since the moor is almost devoid of trees, apart from the ones around its entrance, any others would stand out like a sore thumb.
I can tell you now, that there is probably not another tree, within a three mile radius of the little group that surround Marble steps.
We all split up and searched in different directions, with Paul, and Mike, going uphill, while Guy, Adam, and myself, fanned out downhill.
Guy finally located the entrance in the bottom of a large shakehole, where it turned out that the “wood” was on the front of the entrance, that is, wood as in planks, not trees.
After removing some of the wood, we set off down the rift, Mike and Guy went ahead to rig the entrance pitch, it turned out that the pitch was already rigged, so after some discussion they double rigged it and we dropped down about forty feet or so, past a lot of scaffolding and stuff.
At the bottom, Mike and Guy had already set off down a flat out crawl, to rig the next pitch, by the time I got there, so as there was only one way to go, I set off after them.
After I had got in a few metres, I could hear mike, cursing about how tight it was getting, and after a few more metres I could see what he was moaning about, I could hear them trying to get their srt kit off in the confined space, so I decided to do the same and I called back to Paul and Adam to take theirs off before entering.
By now I was lying in a large puddle, trying to wriggle out of my harness, and recalling that the cave guide had advised that, in moderate rain, this passage fills with water and becomes impassable, funny how you think about weather forecasts, and how it would have been nice to look at one, at times like this.
The way ahead was becoming tighter and I was struggling, because I could not get my srt kit in my bag, so I had to drag both the bag and the tangled mess of my kit behind me, where it kept snagging on rocks, and I couldn’t turn around to free it.
The passage, if I can call it that, twisted and turned for what seemed like a hundred metres before ending in a 2 metre vertical drop which required that you turned around and entered it feet first, (or land on your head), fortunately, as Mike was in front, the rest of us were able to benefit from his experience, and turn around at an appropriate place.
Here, we had to get re kitted, in a very tight slot, before tackling the next pitch, which was split, a third of the way down, by a traverse, and rebelay, it was very tight to get into, but then opened out into a cavern of generous proportions.
At the bottom, we left our srt kit, and set off in different directions, to explore, I got my camera out at this point, and didn’t put it away until we got back to the rope, such was the quality of the formations.
After wandering about for a while, and stopping for some tea, we found the way on, through a high level passage.
We were looking for the connection, between Rift, and Large, for a possible, future exchange trip.
The others motored on to the end, while I dawdled along, taking photographs, until, eventually I met them, coming back, they had found a sump, which they thought might be the connection, but it had seemed too tight to get through.
I was not looking forward to squeezing myself through the little eyehole at the top of the pitch, so I was happy to let Mike, go first, then, he could pull me through if I got stuck.
In the event, it was not as difficult as I expected, and even the very tight crawl, between the two pitches was a little easier because we knew now, to remove our srt kit, and bag it, before attempting, the tightest part.
It was getting dark as we clambered out into the cold moorland air and it was very dark, by the time we were all changed, and sitting in warm cars, obviously the best place to be now, was the pub, so we headed off for the Marston arms to partake of their best cider and beer.
The way home was almost as much of an adventure as the caving, when Paul who was driving, pulled over into a lay by, so that Adam, could relieve himself, then we got a puncture.
That was just the start of the problems, Vauxhall, apparently, do not see fit to give you a spare wheel these days, instead, you get a can of foam, and a pump.
As the puncture was in the sidewall of the tyre, it was not possible to use the foam, so Paul had to ring the AA, who could not locate a tyre, to fit the car.
Next, they sent a breakdown truck, winched the car on the back, and we all settled down in the crew cab, then the driver told us he would only be taking us to Lymm services, there they unloaded the car and we waited for another truck to take us on, to Paul’s house.
I felt sorry for Paul who at 12.30 at night, then got his wife’s car out to run us all home.
Mental note for me, never buy a new car unless it has a spare wheel.
The trip was, exceptionally tight, in places, but it was worth it, to see the formations in the main passage.