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Trip to Nettle Pot (Gawthrop) -- 30th August 2008

Group: Dave, Ian

The weather forecast was good for Saturday and since Mary wasn't coming we pondered doing Tatham Wife (One of Mary's least favourite caves) but in the end settled for having a look at Nettle Pot in Gawthrop. The cave is described in Volume 5 of Northern Caves, however the description is pretty inaccurate - particularly in respect to the location of the entrance and the general cave topology.

We arrived at Gawthrop via the outskirts of Dent and parked up at the side of the Barbon road where there is sufficient space for a few cars. A wander through the village located the bridge by a few cottages on the Dent road we had just driven up. The gill appeared dry where it passed under the bridge. We headed back to the car and kitted up before climbing over the bridge parapet and heading downstream as directed by the book. After a fruitless search we headed back to the bridge and wandered upstream. The cave was about 100 yards up from the bridge on the LHS by a small waterfall.

There was quite a bit of loose vegetation and other assorted debris around the entrance and it was clear that you wouldn't want a heavy downpour while you were in the cave! We crawled into the entrance chamber and then groveled in the low crawlway at the back. This goes straight for a few feet and then veers to the right and opens up very slightly as you near the pitch head. There are a couple of 8mm splits in the floor of the streamway which are probably usable if you remember to bring a couple of hangers (we didn't!). Fortunately there is an eyehole in the limestone lip near the edge of the pitch and a short way back is a limestone spike in the roof for a backup belay and anchor for the lifeline.

The pitch head is quite cramped and there is not a lot of room for maneuvering, however the entrance crawl will have already eliminated any rotund cavers. The pitch is only about 20' and so it didn't take long to get down it. At the bottom is a stooping height passageway directly ahead and a small passage on the RHS which runs back in the direction of the entrance. We didn't explore this as it looked like it would close up anyway and headed down the main passage. This varies in height and width considerably and there are a few formations in the ceiling and some interesting yellow colouration which looks organic in origin. Eventually the sound of water is heard and there is a short low crawl as the passage joins the streamway. This contained quite a bit of wooden debris to remind you that this is probably a bad place to be if it rains.

Following the water the passage squeezes through some narrow sections with chert walls (not good for caving suits) and eventually leads to a junction with a large stream passage coming in from the LHS at an acute angle. Continuing downstream leads to 'calcite corner' and towards cascade alley.

Cascade alley contains some very good formations and is easy walking.

Eventually the ceiling starts to lower and you have to grovel in the streamway. Ahead is a long pool and given the volume of water we decided to head back towards the junction to explore the RH branch.

When we got back to the junction we followed the RH branch upstream and after a few tens of feet this led to anther junction with three exits. The Left hand and middle passages seemed to be blocked after about a hundred feet, but the right hand passage containing the stream seemed to go on a considerable way and may lead elsewhere in the system. We stopped where is narrowed and headed upwards and retraced our route back to the main junction. There were quite a few pretties on the route back.

We headed back to the pitch, derigged and crawled back to daylight. This trip was very worthwhile as the formations are very good. Its a pity the description of the topology in Northern caves is poor as we couldn't match what is described to actual reality. A survey would be useful...

Overall trip time about 3 hours