CTS 87.2291/h: NPC Journal 4(1), Jan 1987, pp 24-26

Conclusions and Future Prospects

Pete Riley and Andy Waddington

The probable existence of a substantial length of open passage beyond the downstream sumps of Notts Pot has been realised for over a decade. However, the relatively remote location of these sumps and the initial technical difficulties have kept explorers out. In fact thirteen trips to the sump and seventeen dives were required before the sump was finally passed on December 7th 1985, which is a tribute to the persistence of those involved. That support was forthcoming for the further exploration of over four kilometres of passage is less surprising, but still a mammoth effort by all concerned. 'The Nott Slog', shows just how great this effort was. We would like to extend our thanks to all those who carried gear in or out, or who helped with the radiolocation, sundry prospecting, heavy digging or surface surveying.

As well as two kilometres of open streamway, there are over twenty inlets of varying length and size, ending in avens, chokes or sumps. With a continuing downstream sump leading past as yet uninvestigated further inlets, and the roof tube in the main stream not traversed for all of its length, there is obviously considerable scope for further exploration. Perhaps most important, there is the possibility of a way in to the extension for non-divers. 'Dry' access would make rescue from the extension for the seriously injured caver a possibility for the first time. Obviously this would make scaling and digging operations much less serious than at present.

It didn't take long to realise the seriousness of prolonged trips beyond sump 1. John Frankland was consulted for advice, of which perhaps the best was "Be Bloody Careful". The remoteness of the extension led us to take in an unusually well equipped first aid kit in two tightly packed rocket tubes. This contains many items which would be needed to help stabilise an injured caver during the many hours it would take to get even a light rescue party through the sump. The rescue dump, still in place at Curry Junction, also includes food and insulation for such an emergency situation. The first 'Sump Rescue Symposium' held at Castleton in summer 1986 highlighted just how difficult it would be to evacuate an injured caver from beyond any reasonably long sump. We would strongly recommend any visitor to the extension to bear these risks in mind if attempting any climbing or digging.

For anyone working beyond a sump, it is worthwhile finding out just what equipment would be available in the event of a rescue. The divers involved took a trip to the CRO depot in Clapham to familiarise themselves with the gear and the procedures. On top of this, armed with St. John's Ambulance first aid certificates, we hope we have the bare minimum requirements for amateur body repairs.

Future Prospects

From the divers' point of view, perhaps the most exciting project is the continuation downstream leading towards Gavel Pot and a possible link with the major part of the Three Counties System. So far, 295m of line has been laid, in the general direction of Gavel Pot. This leads to a further short section of open streamway and sump 4 - undived so far. Owing to the lack of a proper survey of this remote section, it is uncertain how far we still have to go. The best estimates put us anywhere from 50 to 200m from the limit of upstream diving in Gavel, depending on the precise line taken by sump 3. The sumps explored so far in Notts are in sharp contrast to the upstream terminus in Gavel, being generally large tubes or beddings at shallow depth. If a connection is to be made via the deep flooded shaft explored by Rob Palmer, then the through trip will be outside the scope of all but the specialist diver using mixtures. There is always the hope that the main flow enters the Gavel sump elsewhere. Against this, however, broken lines in the deep shaft imply very powerful currents emerging from it. This is strong evidence that, at least in flood, most of the water comes this way.

Of much greater interest to the non-diver is the possibility of a 'dry' way in to the extension. The potential for this can be split into three possible areas.

1) Back to Notts Pot at high level
2) Direct to the surface from one of the inlets on the left
3) Into Lost Johns' via one of the inlets on the right

A dry connection towards Gavel Pot seems very unlikely at this stage.

High Level Route to Notts Pot

A dry route bypassing the Notts sump has been sought after for many years. Much prospecting and digging has been carried out in the older, higher-level passages. Although these older passages must lead towards the extension, there are no obvious leads on the Notts II side, so the chances of a connection seem fairly small.

Direct route to/from the surface

There are two inlets which lead 'down-fell', and thus offer hope of a surface connection. Inlet 13 ends at choked avens below the dry valley containing Kango Hole. Kango itself is still a possible dig, but looks fairly discouraging. At first sight, Committee Pot (Pirate Pot) seems more promising, and the old Pennine dig was reopened here. Since the old workings were unstable, an entirely new shaft was sunk. This was expertly shored by Gordon Batty and Kev Millington, and numerous Pennine members laboured over several weekends until the dig was down to its former level in a stable, stonewalled shaft. Unfortunately, at this stage, the way on led under a very large mass of rock which is supported only by material which must be removed for further progress. There is no obvious way to shore this, and work has currently ceased. In the absence of other places to dig on the surface, an attack from below may be possible. However, the remoteness of the site makes digging upwards in boulders a very serious undertaking.

Inlet 5 also leads towards an area of possible surface digs. Dead Dobbin Pot lies not too far away, although its general trend is parallel with the main stream, away from Inlet 5. There are a number of other shakeholes nearby, though the end of Inlet 5 is a couple of hundred metres away and considerably lower. Interestingly, the end of Inlet 5 seems to be an old downstream passage, with the sound of a stream in the distance, which appears not to be the main Notts II streamway.

Connection to Lost Johns' via Lyle Cavern High levels

There are several inlets on stream right which come quite close to the Lyle Cavern high level area. Inlet 10 ends in a choked rift which seems to be related to a major joint or fault which also controls a huge shakehole in the Lost Johns' dry valley. This suggests that the choke is at least 40m deep, and is an unlikely place for a dig. Inlets 7 and 11 both end at large and impressive avens, both in the region of Lyle Cavern High levels, though at a lower level. Heavy drip water entering avens in Lyle Cavern High level has not been proven to enter the main Lost Johns' streamway and could well be the water observed entering either of these avens. Lazlo Stroganoff's aven in Inlet 11 has already been scaled for 25m, with at least 10m still to climb. Oliver Lloyd aven, while wetter, is also a candidate for an NPC commando raid. However, radiolocation, with Molefones in both Notts II and Lyle Cavern High-level, seems a useful first step if digging in Lost Johns' is to be considered.

The problem with all these possibilities, of course, is that the most promising lines of attack are all on the Notts II side. This will no doubt mean another season of regular carrying trips down Notts, but with less spectacular results than last season's extravaganza. The search for a dry way in will obviously be very high on the list of priorities, but the divers themselves are very keen to find the way on through sump 4. It should make interesting material for the next Pennine comic.

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