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Photograph of the volcano formation in Witches II Cave

Bar Pot - Entrance Series and Major Series

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This article is based on "Bar Pot and Flood Entrance Pot" written by Phil Johnstone and Colin Boothroyd, and published by the Lancaster University Speleological Society in 1978.

The main way through Bar Pot must be one of the most familiar routes in the Dales, but it is described here in order to locate the side passages and to point out some features of interest.

The shakehole lies twenty metres North-West of the second stile in the dry valley above Trow Gill, to the left of the main path to Gaping Gill Main Shaft (see surface survey). It is almost rectangular, three sides being vertical and the fourth a gravel and grass slope littered with large boulders (and litter). On the right at the bottom is a very large alcove, roofed by a shale bedding which can be followed most of the way round the depression at a height of about 2 m.

The entrance drops steeply down over boulders to the head of the first pitch (rigging guide) where there is a stemple which did not, however, give the pot its name. It is possible to climb down in the narrow rift for about 4m to a ledge, where the pitch proper drops away. The squeeze at the top of the pitch (0.2 m) is best negotiated by keeping out from the ledge as far as possible, but the shaft soon opens out and drops into a chamber with a rubble floor. Three metres below the ledge a shale band has caused a small 'gallery' to form around the shaft, but it quickly becomes too low in all directions

In 2003, John Cordingley et alia entered the passage at the north-west end of the shaft, just below where it begins to bell out. After about 4 m, a red pebble was found which had been previously dropped down a small immature surface shaft located some 12 m to the north-west of the shakehole. A voice connection has been made between this passage and a tight rift at the start of Violet Ground Beetle Passage, and also to the surface.

It is worth recording that Mike Wooding free-climbed out of the entrance shaft following a lone exploration trip into the Far Waters in 1971, after finding that the CPC had pulled up their ladder he had made use of for the descent.

From the foot of the pitch four routes present themselves (survey). Facing the ladder, to the right it is possible to ascend the boulder slope for about 15 m to an unstable looking choke.

Behind the ladder at floor level, a small entrance leads to a muddy and low bedding plane which showed no signs of previous visits. It was pushed for 11 m to a pit from which a 7 m pitch drops down into the back of Bridge Hall (see below). It was named Allen's crawl (after Allen Williams who pushed it to the bitter end) and is unlikely to be revisited.

In front of the ladder, a bedding on the same level leads to the Minor Series. Below the bedding, a climb down brings one to the top of the Greasy Slab, (Point A on the survey) easy with the rope in place but a lot more sporting without. Below the Greasy Slab one emerges at the top of Bridge Hall (survey), the flat roofed bedding stretching away level while the boulder slope descends rapidly. It will be seen that the whole volume between the foot of the first pitch and here is just one big boulder choke with several holes penetrating it.

To the left the hall stretches back and lowers until a muddy pool is reached where the pitch from Allen's Crawl drops down. Just below the roof of Bridge Hall a shelf runs on both sides until the walls close in and the chamber is spanned by a fine rock bridge of a most unstable composition (cross section). On either side of the bridge are flowstone cascades; that on the left goes nowhere, while on the right a slippery 7 m climb (Point C on the survey) leads to the Graveyard Inlet Series and Violet Ground Beetle Passage.

Beyond the bridge the boulder slope ends under a high aven (about 30 m) with drops of water falling and sinking in the floor. There are two exits, the one on the right (Leakey's Way) leading to Whitehall in the Minor Series. That on the left (Horrocks' Way) goes down through boulders to a series of small chambers, containing a few straws, their floors being more or less one continuous boulder slope. Two bedding planes lead off on the left, the first closing down after 7 m, and the second enlarging after 8 m with a blind hole in the floor.

Continuing down the main route one enters a larger chamber which slopes steeply down until at its lowest point a 3 m rope climb reaches the head of the 28 m (90ft) pitch. In the left wall, near the bottom, a muddy bedding plane can be followed for 15 m to a blind enlargement containing a few straws. Before the end, a small rift on the left climbs for 7 m before becoming too tight.

Immediately below the entrance to this crawl a tight passage (Point E) descends through boulders to a muddy bedding which connects with Upper South-East Passage.

Keeping ahead instead of dropping down to the 90 ft Pitch, a short crawl brings one out into the chamber at the top of the Big Pitch (Point D), of 30 m, which can also be reached via either of two traverses on ledges and through a gap at roof level. A couple of bedding planes, one at each level, connect with the Minor Series which trends back behind the 30 m pitch. It will be seen that the pitch chamber is formed between three shale beds about 2 m apart, the uppermost forming the roof, the middle giving a small shelf around the pitches, and the lowermost forming a series of traverse ledges. A 4 m climb above the 30 m pitch gains the Horrocks-Stearn Crawl, a constricted and muddy passage which connects with Flood Entrance Pot above the last pitch.