Expectations were high. We'd been fairly keen to visit Car Pot for several years, but weather had thwarted our plans on multiple occasions, and more recently reports of degraded anchors had put us off. However, the recent resin anchoring of the whole cave and a dry forecast meant we finally got around to it.
The poor anchors had put paid to a previous attempt by Adam with MUSC, which at least meant he knew where the entrance was and what it looked like, and his usual reliable and understated sense of direction led us almost directly to the entrance.
I was volunteered to go first, and the enjoyable entrance pitch was soon followed by the less enjoyable approach to the second pitch, made particularly unpleasant by a fairly significant amount of water falling right at the start of the narrow section. We knew water levels would be up a bit after the enormous quantities of water that we'd seen the day before in Kingsdale at the CRO training session, but we were happy that they would be falling all the time we were underground. A bit of a soaking was unavoidable, but in the grand scheme of things the water falling above the second pitch was pretty irrelevant with Baptistry Crawl lurking just around the corner.
I made Toby wait above the Letterbox Squeeze below the pitch as I elected to de-kit for the crawl itself, which turned out to be a wise decision. Baptistry Crawl was pretty unpleasant, not so much from its dimensions, but from the nature of what we were crawling through. Although as I type this report I'm wondering quite why it's even called a crawl. I certainly wasn't using my knees as I lay on my side, one arm stretched straight out in front, dredging my way through the silt, grit, cobbles and fetid water, unearthing what I like to imagine were be bits of wood, but were clearly bones. I consoled myself with the knowledge that it was nothing compared with a trip report I'd stumbled across earlier in the week (https://www.union.ic.ac.uk/rcc/caving/articles/yorkshire-2010-05-08.html).
Thankfully the crawl is very short, and we were soon dropping down the next couple of pitches which were uneventful other than suffering a somewhat uncomfortable moment at the 3rd pitch-head. Ouch.
The inlet before the last pitch was delivering a fair bit of water which was unavoidable on the descent, but the unpleasantness was offset with the knowledge that it was washing away some of the scum we'd picked up from Baptistry Crawl. We all shivered in the draughty Craven Passage as we de-kitted, and did our best to warm up by exploring some of the horizontal passages at the bottom. As promised, there was no shortage of calcite to admire, and the large curtain certainly prompted a few noises of appreciation.
Before heading out we picked up an old ammo tin, some rubber tubing and some scraps of material that were sitting at the bottom of the last pitch, slowly degrading. Our exit was pretty uneventful, if a little chilly for me. Baptistry certainly felt narrower on the return, but not overly so, and I was pleased to find that the mild weather had persisted, meaning I was able to warm up a little after surfacing.
Unfortunately we generally felt like Car Pot didn't really live up to our high expectations, but that's not to say it wasn't an enjoyable few hours underground. It's always nice to visit somewhere new. Baptistry Crawl vs. the rest of the cave certainly provided an excellent illustration of the difference between unpleasant caving and challenging caving, which seem all too often to be used interchangeably.
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