Lancaster Hole was first entered on September 29th 1946 (Eyre & Ashmead, 1967:117). The Graveyard was one of the first areas explored and on the third trip into the cave, one month later, A.Gemmell and D.M.Boothman took on the task of surveying it. Gemmell gives us the first written description of the Graveyard Avens: "Returning through [the Graveyard] we found another annex unnoticed before ... It was an inlet passage of irregular shape and led to a number of magnificent avens: towering, circular shafts with sleek and shiny walls reaching beyond the range of my lamp even when focussed as a spotlight." (Gemmell & Myers, 1952:92)
The second account is given by Jim Eyre and Peter Ashmead in their monumental description of the Lancaster - Easegill system: "To the left [in the Graveyard] a black aperture opens onto an annex of the chamber, where a rubble floor inclines steeply to the foot of three impressive avens..." (Eyre & Ashmead, 1967:70)
Only two other accounts of this interesting series of passages are known to me, both in Northern Caves. The 1st edition notes the existence of two avens whilst the 2nd is more detailed: "From the foot of the ladder [into the Graveyard] the passage enlarges quickly, and a branch to the left ends in two fine avens; the left hand one has been bolted for 80ft (24m) past several alcoves to a ledge, from which a route up through boulders enters the Chapel of Rest - a large chamber with very fine formations and all ways out choked." (Brook et al., 1975:109; 1983:50)
None of the descriptions provide full details of the passages which ramify from the 'black aperture'. In addition to the avens there are other passages which appear never to have been described, although they must have been explored. Of the surveys currently available, none show these passages and all are inaccurate in their portrayal of the avens. The present contribution provides a full description of the Graveyard Avens Series, a survey, and a record of work carried out over the past few years.
The right-hand route is more complex. A muddy floor carries a small trickle which sinks under the corner of a large boulder. Behind this, a vertical slot descends to a bedding passage. However, the slot is too narrow and the bedding has not been examined. The main passage bears left and becomes very muddy. A steep slope passes a blind rift on the right and eventually a short climb opens into the base of Graveyard Aven No. 2. This has been climbed using bolts and free moves for 25m to a loose and unsafe chamber of small proportions. There does not appear to be any way on.
Across the aven from the point of entry, a hole drops down to a choked dig. In the right wall next to the dig, a narrow rift passes over a pitch but becomes too narrow. In wet weather water enters in the distance and can be heard at the bottom of the pitch. Unfortunately, this too becomes too tight only a couple of metres down.
Aven No. 1 was bolted over a number of trips in 1981-2 by several CPC members led by Dave Allanach. The top was reached by Graham Proudlove, ably supported by Pete Seed, in September 1982 (Proudlove, 1982). The No. 2 Aven was inspected at the same time, but nothing was done. Paul Ibberson and Howard Jones (LUSS), acting on a tip from GSP, began the ascent on December 7th 1985 by free climbing about 7m. Two solo bolting trips by GSP on 22nd & 23rd August 1986 took the climb to 16m. Solo climbing is terribly boring, so Andy Waddington joined for the next two trips, on 6th & 13th September. The top was reached on the latter date. Some of the free climbing in the middle third of the shaft was precarious, the worst bit being a move onto a 2m long, hollow, 'Sword of Damocles', which threatened to fall, taking the climber with it, at the least provocation.
The other passages were examined fully on 26th November when the whole area was surveyed by Simon Farrow, Chris Danilewicz and Graham Proudlove.
|Brook D.; Davies G.; Long M.H.
Sutcliffe, J.R. 1975
|Northern Caves, Volume 4: Whernside and Gragareth 1st Edition|
|Brook D.; Davies G.; Long M.H.
Sutcliffe, J.R. 1983
|Northern Caves, Volume 4B: Leck & Casterton Fells 2nd Edition|
Ashmead, P. 1967
|Lancaster Hole and the Easegill Caverns, Casterton Fell, Westmorland|
Transactions of the Cave Research Group of G.B. 9(2)
Myers, J.O. 1952
Dalesman Publishing Co., Clapham, Yorkshire.
|Proudlove, G.S. 1982||The Chapel of Rest, Lancaster Hole.|
BCRA Caves and Caving 15:9
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