They all said it wouldn't go! Apparently the Downstream Sump in the Main Drain had been dived before and the story each time was that the water each time just filtered out through the floor with all ways on completely silted up. However, certain Pennine upstarts didn't believe that there was no way on especially with the volume of water which is last seen here on its way to Leck Beck Head. So, on the 14th May 1989 a strong Pennine and Orpheus team carried Russell Carter and me plus a load of gear into Lancaster.
We took one wall each, keeping in sight of each other, and 80 ft. in on the right there it was, a nice 25 ft. wide cobbly bedding plane at 40 ft. depth. Our 300 ft. of line was soon laid before returning to the lads to make plans for the next dive. Since then we've been back three times and at the time of writing (19.6.89) it's still going.
The cobbly bedding was found to continue until about 500 ft. in when the floor suddenly dives down to 100 ft. depth. The roof continues out horizontally over this void - ie. this is a massive passage. We haven't seen any walls here yet and there must be something else coming in. At the bottom our line continues along a big tunnel at just over 100 ft. depth for the last 500 ft. to the present end at 1200 ft. from base. The general trend is SSW out under Colonnade Chamber and Skittle Alley, then under the dry valley that goes down past Hellot Scales Barn. When we start checking walls for inlets there is a good chance that more dry passages will be found and with all the shakeholes in the valley, hopefully dry ways in!
We'd like to thank those club members who have helped carry the gear, especially Dave Hetherington. It's a pity he's taken up Cave Diving himself:- the best Sherpas always do in the end!
John Cordingley writes to say that the Lancaster Hole downstream sump has now been explored to 1500 ft. from base and is still more than 100 ft. deep. The halfway point has now been reached and future dives will probably concentrate on the Witches Cave end - which means we don't have to go caving any more! Meanwhile the club divers have been exploring new passages in the downstream sump of the Kingsdale Master Cave, resulting in the discovery of a new 4000 ft. loop, and perhaps the way on towards King Pot.