Jowett of the Northern Pennine Club soon revived an old interest in Boundary Pot when he wriggled through a gap on the left-hand wall of the sandy crawl beyond the Second Chamber. Just below a rift passage, he came to a heavy waterfall. It was drier on July 30th when Leach, Cornes, Bradshaw and Aspin went down. Leaving the others, Bradshaw crawled off along a narrow tube (Bar Steward's Passage). The sound of his cursings and scrapings gradually died away. It seemed ages before he returned, talking of a stream inlet from the left, and a 50ft pitch leading down into a great chamber. On August 5th, Bradshaw, Leach and Whitehead took in a ladder and descended the 50ft pitch. They found themselves in a chamber of large dimensions, with several choked inlets. A stream ran along its floor, disappearing at the end into a boulder choke, revealing a narrow cave passage. Soon they entered a highly shattered chamber full of unstable boulders (Hiroshima Cavern). There was a rift in the floor which could not be descended without a rope, so they came out. Next day, Bradshaw and Leach returned, accompanied by Myers. They went down the fissure, but could not clear the choke at the bottom. They looked everywhere, but could find no way out. When next they came back they found that Bar Steward's Passage was flooded, a state of affairs that persisted until the following Easter, when at long last the survey was completed (see below).


Meanwhile, the Red Rose Cave and Pothole Club had been breaking new ground in the restricted depths of Pippikin Pot. When the first hailstorms of autumn began to sweep across the moor, they turned their attention to Oxford Pot, where they looked for new high-level passages. There was a false alarm when, after an intricate crawl, they came to a fine 'new' stream passage. Ignorance is Bliss! Cornes and W.Taylor, who came down with them the next weekend soon found themselves back at Platypus Junction, in the original Oxford Pot system.

The tortuosities of The Snake which guards the entrance to Oxford Pot seemed to present no difficulties to these young enthusiasts. On October 29th, Bliss, Sykes, Leyland and Leeks of the Red Rose went down again. Just below Spout Chamber, Bliss spotted a roof passage about 12ft up. With a lot of shoving, he and his friends pushed Leeks up a chimney into the mouth of this low cave. With Sykes, he disappeared inside. The others did not follow at once, but when they did, they found that after crawling for about 24ft along the crystal floor of a bedding cave, they came to a narrow stream passage which had cut down some 5ft below them. Downstream, this passage soon ended at a 20ft pitch leading to what looked like a large passage. They came out in high spirits.

Bliss, Leyland and Sykes returned to Oxford Pot on 5th November. With much cursing, they dragged their camera-cases and rope ladder through The Snake. For a breather, they went up to look at the other roof passages. Then they crawled through Poetic Justice Passage to the head of their pitch. Belaying the ladder to a big stalagmite boss, they climbed down into a roomy passage which soon led off into an extremely high boulder chamber. A stream came in from the right. Bliss was the first to scramble down the boulder slope to the stream passage below, and Sykes following him had hardly begun to move when there was a fearful grinding sound. Bliss set off downstream at a trot, closely followed by a rock the size of a grand piano. Happily, he won the race. Sykes and Leyland then came down more circumspectly. Straddling the water chutes, they entered a steadily descending passage of good height. A noisy torrent rushed along between the rounded cockled walls. Plaques of pebbles cemented by dripstone showed that at one time the channel had been blocked by fill up to 5ft at least. On the average, this, 'Pierce's Passage', was 20ft high and 4ft wide. They splashed on excitedly, forgetting the coldness of the water. Taking to a sandy bank on the left, they soon came to a very much larger stream passage (Eureka Junction). They followed this passage downstream for a hundred yards or more. Unfortunately, the roof then came lower, and although it rose again, the passage soon became a low bedding cave with the stream stretching across the whole width. After a certain amount of crawling in the water, they decided to turn back. They were again in high spirits as they returned across the dark moor, at last a big 'find' for the Red Rose Club.

And yet, when their story was told, did they receive thanks for breaking through where all others had failed ? "You fools !" said those who knew about Lancaster Hole and its further connections, "You should have gone upstream !"

On 12th November, a combined party including W.Taylor, Sykes, Leyland, Eyre, Kitchen and Cornes and Bradshaw of the Northern Pennine Club, with Aspin as 'surface man' marched across the hail-swept sodden moor to Ease Gill. Bliss had caught a nasty cold and wondered whether he ought to go down. In the end he decided that he had to. He daren't let them explore his new passages and him not there. Turning upstream at Eureka Junction along the main drain, the party soon had to take to a roof-crawl beside a foot-high shale band. At a sudden descent over polished black boulders, this crawl opened out into a vast chamber. Two pinpoints of light bobbing about in the blackness high up on a boulder-slope to the left proved to be Eyre's and Kitchen's headlamps. They had climbed up to Stop Pot, whence the B.S.A. had come down from Lancaster Hole three years ago. As a further, and quite indisputable confirmation, Aspin's survey-tabs were presently found on the big blocks. There was no doubt about it. They had re-entered the Promised Land. The pitch down which they had climbed must have been the waterfall reached from below on August 15th, 1948 by Pierce, Crossley and Holden of the B.S.A. in the course of downstream exploration from Stop Pot. Today, Cornes and Taylor led the party upstream along the Ease Gill Master Cave, over limestone platforms and huge fallen blocks edged across the stream passage. Those with bright lights could occasionally see a flat marbled roof through jagged rifts high above the precarious boulder slopes. In the first dry section, yard-thick slabs of fallen dripstone lay at all angles on the earthy floor. Thin new curtains were growing to replace them at the edge of the shale partings just below the flat roof. Reentrants and oxbows were common, with striking interconnecting bored passages suggesting some temporary return to phreatic conditions. Just beyond a corner where an arete of jammed washed-in pebbles came down from the right, they reached an important topographical feature known as Holbeck Junction. Here a hole in the floor led down to the stream passage. Today, they kept to the high level, soon reaching the famous Gypsum Cavern, where the very sand of the floor hid a treasure of amber, and deep red composite crystals, some more than six inches in length. The muddy covering of stones in the central depression had burst apart, pushed away by the myriads of white gypsum needles. The lower parts of some of these stones and also certain stalactites and stalagmites in this chamber showed underwater gypsum encrustations over the calcite, evidence of a long-past reflooding with gypsum-bearing water. There was no time today to do more than glance at all these wonders, from the central taped pathway, before beginning the long return journey.

At Stop Pot it was obvious that the water was rising fast, but Cornes and Taylor insisted on surveying back part of the way up Pierce's Passage. What was going on above, on the surface? Aspin had been putting pretty colours into the Leck Fell side streams above Oxford Pot, proving that they all debouched into Ease Gill, after short underground courses. He came back eventually towards the ladder pitch. To his horror, he found that the bog-cut water was roaring down in full spate. The usually trickling stream outside Oxford Hole was a raging torrent rising every minute, threatening to flood the pitch and trap those below. After putting various puny barricades to hold back the water, he hastened across the moor to the farm and thence to the club headquarters to make arrangements for a rescue-party, should rescue be needed. Down in Pierce's Passage, Bliss and the others had at last realised that the position was getting serious. In Bliss's own words, "It was a nightmare journey back up the passage, holding onto the walls, our feet nearly swept away from beneath us. My shins were barked by boulders coming down the stream."

"When we reached the ladder pitch, I viewed it with dismay. The ladder itself could hardly be seen through the white spray which filled the chamber. Bradshaw went up first, saying "Catch me if I fall". I soon saw his head break through at the top of the pitch, and heard his shout "Come on up". I took a deep breath, rushed through the blinding spray and grasped the ladder. To my surprise I found it quite dryish, merely 'raining'. The ladder was hanging against the wall, behind the waterfall, although to Kitchen it must have looked as if I was right in the midst of it. I climbed on. Glancing up near the top, I saw the solid sheet of water slipping over my head. I got up as high as I could, then, pulling down my helmet to protect my face, I thrust through and was soon on top. We kept moving. It wasn't long before The Snake was safely navigated. I had to help Bradshaw up the chockstone climb. He was done in, and so was I. I dreaded the 50ft pitch. I always do, but I got out safely. On top, we found Ease Gill roaring down in flood, licking a barrier of stones built in front of the entrance to the pot." Back at the farm, Walter the shepherd was greatly relieved to see the explorers, and so was Aspin who presently returned from Settle with rescue gear. Proudly the potholers showed him a small fallen stalactite with a skew crystal at the end. He knew at once where they had been, for that type of encrustation grows only in the Gypsum Cavern. There was happy talk in the 'local' that night before the long drive home.

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------> I : Record of Hydrological Tests
------> II : Notes on the Survey

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