Pool Sink to Holbeck Junction

13 March 2012

Posted by
Matt Ewles

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.