A true classic Yorkshire pot hole! This cave should be on every SRT cavers list of things to do.
The sun was out (for the first time in ages) and despite our concern that it had been too wet we set off from York anyway. After all Matt had a wet weather backup-plan-with-no-drawbacks which consisted of... "chuck another 60m in and we'll find something else to do". Hmm.
A swift and very cheap breakfast at the Copper Kettle (or some such) cafe in Settle then we were on our way to Horton. The tourist infested village was particularly busy on arrival and with non of the Yorkshiremen in the car willing to pay £4 to park, we opted for giving £2 to a dodgy looking man in a field. After leaving our car in the hands of this portly gentleman, we headed off on the long but not too steep walk to Little Hull Pot.
The entrance was rather a relief after what I had been told. After a couple of years doing some of the horrific things in Not for the Faint Hearted, I had become used to and expectant of a low, wet, awkward entrance. This was not the case; the roomy stoop lead into an easy cobble floored crawl before being able to stand again. More easy passage followed to the head of the first pitch. Nice easy rigging soon gave way to a swing through a window and an (almost) hanging traverse to the free hang. At this point I became aware how little water there was, despite several weeks of rain. The CNCC guide says it floods badly (and may well do) but there was no sign of this today. This was probably for the best as the next pitch went right down the waterfall. Well, it would have, had I not rigged it wrong. Matt pointed out more anchors higher up leading to a rather acrobatic manoeuvre through a squeeze to pop out head first over a 50m pitch!
The rigging became more scary with a very exposed lean out over the pitch to reach the not-so-well placed anchors on the far wall. I put the first deviation in just a few meters below, although it wasn't required, before starting the 40 odd metre decent down the middle of the very fine shaft to land on a large shelf next to the waterfall (but far enough away to stay dry). A single anchor (re-belay?) formed the start of a continuation down the last 10m to the rift floor below.
Some horizontal work now, with a short easy crawl leading to a low wet section. After some time spent being wussy and looking for a way over the top, I opted for the water (which wasn’t too bad). After popping up on the other side and inspecting the route over I found that I had been one boulder away from completing the dry route. Oh well, wet now. Should I tell the others the dry route? Foolishly I did!
A good 15 mins of rift followed, awkward in paces but following the worn route was easy enough. I had gone off ahead to start rigging the final pitch, and as I was doing so noticed the others about 5m below in the rift! After telling them that was very much not the way down, they had to retreat back to find a place to climb up.
Some interesting rigging via a very long 'Y' hang from the opposite wall and an almost 90 degree deviation (only just avoiding a rub point on a sharp rock bridge) drops down the final pitch to a roomy chamber.
Well worth exploring this area as we found an awkward chimney up into an unusual dry sandy chamber leading to the final sump. Not much else to see so back up and out in only a couple of hours for Curry in Settle.
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