Hammer Pot


Fountains Fell Episode 3

Location 34/853697

January 13th 1957

A disappointed party of N.P.C. members had emerged from the newly discovered Fornah Gill caverns the previous day. The way to Brants Gill Head was not yet open. Various shakeholes to the south of Gingling Hole were examined and one very interesting hole with a small stream entering was carefully noted. The "Fincham - smoke - draught test" showed that this sink was ventilating inwards very strongly.

January 20th 1957

A week later, a digging party consisting of J.O.M., A.F. and R.S. set to work in the noted shakehole. The actual place where the water sank was not dug, but a small shaft was sunk a few feet further down the shake hole in hope of hitting the passage in a more suitable place for an entrance. After dropping a shaft of about four foot, spaces appeared between the boulders and a draught was felt as the opening increased in size. A small stream could be seen in a clean washed passage of negotiable height and width. One of the party (A.F.) crawled inside and proceeded downstream for several feet and reported that the passage narrowed but would be passable with rock flakes hammered away and boulders in the floor removed.

(February 3rd 1957) Members: G.B. and A.D.M (guest)

Boulders in floor removed by passing through entrance. Flake hammered off the wall and a little progress made. Passage appeared to end, but more boulders removed from floor might allow progress. Passage about 2 feet wide and 5 feet high (Rift type).

(February 4th 1957) Members: J.O.M., B.He., R.S., A.F., C.C., G.B.

The following day a stronger party of N.P.C. members set to work on the blocked passage. Large boulders passed along passage by chain of horizontal diggers and deposited outside on the fell. Soon B.He., the leading digger, disappeared into the dug hole in the floor. A larger stream passage continued, but still only of crawling dimensions. After a few yards, the passage turned into a fairly tortuous rift, but still passable. Soon a 20 foot pitch was reached with B.He. already at the bottom. This was laddered and the party descended into a small chamber.

With high hopes, the party followed the continuing passage downstream, finding a rift of narrow width and about 10 feet high. This was followed for about 20 yards till it was thought that further progress was impossible without removing some clothing and enlarging certain places with hammers. The draught at this point was intense and a slight rumble could be heard in the distance.

(February 9th 1957) Members: B.He., B.Hu., R.S. and G.B.

Rift passage again attacked, a little progress made, but the passage appears to become increasingly tighter.

(February 10th 1957) Members: A.F. and B.Hu.

A way hammered through rift with considerable amount of work with hammers. A medium sized chamber, followed by an easy walking passage followed to a pitch thought to be in the region of fifty feet. Retreat due to a lack of tackle.

(February 17th 1957) Members: J.O.M., B.He., B.Hu., A.F., C.C., W.H., A.D.M. (guest)

The 50 foot pitch descended by five of the party. Rawlbolt inserted for ladder belay. Pools on ledge baled out before descent. C.C. volunteered to stay at top of pitch.

From base of pitch a fairly long stream passage of walking height followed to a 30 foot pitch. Back under ladder, short stream passage and 6 foot drop to small chamber. From chamber, a crawling passage, easy at first, hands and knees, then getting increasingly lower. Small stream flowing, large amounts of sludge deposits on floor and sides of passage. Very loud distant rumble urging party on. After a squirm through mud a small inlet encountered on left. Passage increased in size but still hands and knees.

Five yards and another large inlet on left with fair depth of water flowing. Just downstream the passage grows in dimensions. Large chamber on left with mud slope. Stream passage now of Clapham Cave size with 18 inch deep stream flowing. Confusion of formations including clusters of helictites. Party pressed on downstream at a fast walking pace. After an estimated 200 yards the stream plunged over a pitch of unknown depth. Retreat..

(February 24th 1957) Members: B.He., A.F. and G.B. (underground) J.O.M., B.Hu., R.S. (surface)

Conditions very wet owing to melting snow. Survey as far as the 50 foot pitch. Hole for Rawlbolt drilled above the descent into Showerbath Chamber.

Surface party improving entrance.

(March 17th 1957) Members: J.O.M., A.F., R.S., C.G., G.B.

Sink above Hammer Pot started as a dig. Large excavation required. Water sinking believed to emerge in Showerbath Chambers in Hammer Pot.

(March 31st 1957) Members: B.He., B.Hu., G.B.

Descent to stream passage, water fairly low (12"), hardly any flow at first inlet.

Large, old, inclined passage discovered beyond dry chamber. Rift - just man size, descended, without possibilities of progress. Passage terminates in large aven approximately 50 feet high, climb up wall, leads to another passage 20 yards long and finishes in another aven 40 feet high. These avens believed to be within 60 feet of surface. May prove to be an easier entrance to the pot.

(April 7th 1957) Members: B.He., B.Hu., R.S., G.B.

B.He. and R.S. survey from 50 foot pitch to aven before Sludge Passage area.

B.Hu. and G.B. dig in top of inclined passage - no success. Survey from this point back to Sludge passage area.

Water conditions - very low.

(April 19th 1957) Members: B.He., B.Hu., A.F., T.M.

Tackle taken through pot to head of wet undescended pitch. Traverse discovered to right of waterfall. Dry ledge between wet and dry pitches used as a stance and belay point. Pitch descended and estimated at 45 feet. Very large, pure white calcite cascades on opposite wall of pitch, the largest cascade formation members of the party had ever seen.

Phreatic type of passage leading away from bottom of pitch ends in large sump area. Numerous large gritstone boulders seen at one point.

Retreat !

(July 14th 1957) Members: A.F., G.B.

Exploration of main stream inlet found to be a sub-aqua rising. Passage now named the Sad Passage for two obvious reasons.

Passage only 30 yards long (approx). Main stream passage surveyed to head of cascade pitch 45 feet. Retreat.

G.B.Gordon Batty   A.F.Alan Fincham
J.O.M.Jack Myers B.He.Brian Heys
B.Hu.Brian Hudson C.C.Cyril Crossley
C.G.Colin Green R.S.R.Smith
T.M.T.Marsden W.H.William Holden

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