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Trip to Hagg Gill Pot -- 19th October 2008

Group: Dave, Ian, Graham, Chris

The weather wasn't up to much and heavy rain was promised later in the afternoon, but it seemed an age since the last caving trip and Hagg Gill Pot was meant to have some pretty formations. We piled into Graham's discovery and headed for Langstrothdale, stopping briefly at Yockenthwaithe Farm to seek permission but nobody was at home :-(.

We parked up on the grass bank opposite "Cow Garth Barn" and changed into caving gear, Graham opted to use a wet suit under his oversuit and this meant he seemed to delight in taking to the water at every opportunity. We headed up the hillside to find the entrance to the pot and located it without any problems. It didn't take long to rig a ladder (15m) and lifeline before sending Ian down first, who being pretty thin, had no problem with the squeeze just below the bottom of the scaffolding. Chris & Graham went next and had a bit more difficulty in the squeeze, but managed without too many problems. Finally Dave descended while being lifelined by Ian from below.

From the foot of the pitch we decided to head upstream as that promised to be a dryer route. We followed the streamway which contained decorated sections and alcoves. There were several places where a fair volume of water splashed down from above giving the explorer an unwanted shower. Some of the formations partially blocked the passage forcing a grovel in the streamway. Eventually a chamber was reached containing a fantastic flowstone pillar.

Continuing along the passage led to an easy climb up with a fixed rope in-situ and this led to a narrow passage with formations on the walls and care had to be taken to avoid snagging them. A bit further on a climb up through a small hole led to a tall chamber with a waterfall and an flowstone wall. Above this wall could be seen a mass of straw stalactites. The climb up the flowstone was fairy easy starting on the RHS and traversing to the left. Inside the upper chamber great care was needed to avoid damaging the formations of straw stalactites up to 5' long, some interesting helicites and weirdly shaped stalagmites. After a few photos we descended and reversed the route back to the pitch.

We decided to limit the time spent exploring in the downstream direction so we could be back at the pitch before the predicted heavy rainfall. We climbed down the streamway, which took a reasonable volume of water and passed through a couple of chambers. Following the stream onward led to the sump with a diving line. Just before this was a rather tatty fixed rope heading up towards the roof which probably led to some dig or other. We decided not to bother climbing it as it looked a bit iffy. Retracing our steps to the chamber we climbed up the cascades on the LHS. There was quite a bit of water in the cascades and various maneuvers were needed to try and keep out of the water (except for Graham!) We pushed on up the passage and found some plastic piping which seemed to lead to another sump. The way on was not obvious and I guess we missed a low grovel in the stream at some point.

As it was getting late and some of us were wet enough we headed back down to the chamber and climbed back up to the pitch. Dave headed up first with a big tackle sack and had a few challenges at the squeeze manhanding the sack while trying to swing the ladder into the right location. Chris got jammed in the squeeze and at one point managed to disengage the lifeline. A bit more struggling and the offer of assistance from above saw him safely through the squeeze and with a reattached lifeline - phew! I think in future we will just use harnesses rather than belts for lifelines...
Graham popped through with a tight rope and Ian didn't even touch the sides. We de-rigged and walked down in slightly damp conditions and just as we were getting changed the heavens opened.

Total trip time about 3.5 hours