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Photograph of the volcano formation in Witches II Cave

Wretched Rabbit to Stop Pot via Depot No. 1 Passage

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This series of articles is intended for the guidance of experienced cavers, who may not be familiar with the details of the best routes through the more complex systems in the Yorkshire Dales. To echo the sentiments in Northern Caves, it "is intended as guidance for the wise, not the obedience of fools"

This is a fun route, somewhat off the beaten track, and ideal for the group that want to add a bit of spice to a trip to or from Far Ease Gill. It is a route more for the stout in mind than for the stout in body, as there is a squeeze through which the manlier physique won't easily fit. The route is negotiable in both directions, but it is described going in as that is the easiest to follow, and it's also easier to make a strategic withdrawal if somebody cannot negotiate the squeeze. Once you're familiar with it, it becomes an optional return route. There are a couple of climbs, so a short travelling rope will be found useful.

There are two ways to the start, but the easiest is to follow Wretched Rabbit as far as the top of the cascades. The normal way to approach these is to step over the hole down which the water flows, into an oxbow which goes past the exit of Middle Parallel Streamway. One then traverses for a couple of metres until it is possible to drop down to the floor of the combined stream passages at the head of the cascades. Our route, however, goes up Middle Parallel Streamway for a few metres as far as a boulder chamber. Turn left up to the top of the boulder slope where you will find three metres of rift passage apparently blocked at the end, but there is a low bedding passage on the right at head height. Wriggle into the bedding, and after a couple of metres there is a four metre-deep hole in the floor. Drop into this and almost immediately find a junction with a small stream passage. Turn left downstream.

The passage soon assumes more comfortable proportions and passes an aven on the left. It then enters the sizeable Ahaa Chamber, where a couple of passages lead off on the far side. On the near side the water drops down a calcited rift. Descend this, and enter a short flat-out descending crawl over flowstone. There is room on the other side to turn round, so you can go head first. Beyond this is the crux - a boulder sticking out of the floor. Racing snakes go over the top, normal people squirm past one side of it, and manly chests struggle. On the far side there are another couple of metres of flat-out crawling over flowstone to reach the main part of Flashbang Crawl.

The following forty metres are also flat-out until a junction is met where a passage goes off to the right, and a short climb down descends into a larger passage. This is best tackled with a rope, which may or may not be in place. You are now in Depot Passage No. 1, and the way from here is straightforward - just follow your nose down the main passage. After a few metres a passage leads off to the right into an impressive sandy chamber (worth a detour), and downstream gets bouldery with some traversing which terminates in a second climb down where a rope is useful. Beyond here, the passage gets bigger, veers to the left, and finishes on a shelf overlooking Stop Pot.