KINGSDALE by Jim Cunningham
Since the H.W. Hostel moved to Kingsdale, much time has been spent by Club members in this area, and the work done found very rewarding. This is a review of the work done and the discoveries made.
Starting on the Gragareth side of the valley, the first big discovery was Turbary Pot found on 4th October, 1964 by Dave Taylor, Mike Myers and P. Matley. We have persuaded Mike Myers to write an account of this and the reader is referred to this on page 35.
Moving along Turbary Road to Simpson's Pot, a very interesting variation to the normal Slit Pot route was explored around Christmas 1965. This was found by Leeds University about 1963 but there seemed few people who had heard of it, so it is perhaps worth mentioning. An eight feet climb from the top of Aven Pot (prior to Slit) leads into an extensive roof series. Straight on the passage follows the lower passage to Slit Pot, as confirmed by descending one of the numerous connecting holes. If the left passage is taken however after about twenty five feet a small window through the calcite wall is reached. A strong draught can be felt blowing through it.
One hundred and twenty-five foot of ladder lowered through this comes out in the middle of a very large chamber above the final chamber in Swinsto Hole. It is very spectacular ladder climb. It starts off fairly constricted between wet walls covered completely with flowstone, but after about thirty foot, it opens out and suddenly one finds oneself dangling like a spider from the roof of a huge chamber. The chamber had obviously not been visited very often. Loose boulders were everywhere and there were also many undisturbed mud formations.
The way to the bottom of Swinsto is through a hole in the floor. A fifteen foot ladder belayed to any fairly stable boulder being needed. If this hole is traversed another hole is soon reached which is climbable, and leads to a passage sloping steeply down. This ends when the mud floor sloping at about forty-five degrees meets the roof at about the same level as the the bottom of Swinsto. A dripping sound can be heard very close beyond this blockage and this would seem a very good place to dig. However, timber would be needed to shore up the loose mud and a lot of mud would have to be removed to obtain a reasonable digging position. It would seem though, that a long day’s digging would remove the obstacle making it possible to find where the Swinsto water sumps.
Returning to the surface and walking further along Turbary Road to just past Jingling Hole, we come to another very interesting sink at about the same level as Jingling hole and about one hundred yards further over towards Yordas, a medium size stream sinks in tight clints. About ten yards upstream of the sink was a small shakehole which obviously took flood water. Five or six years ago Mike McShea started digging here, but it was not until the end of last year (1965) that digging really started in earnest.
A large shaft about ten feet deep was excavated and after several ‘Derek Brandon bangs' a small horizontal passage was reached. A tight squeeze led into a small ‘chamber’ with room-enough to lie down and even turn over in comfort. Boulders were moved and access gained to another tight squeeze going off at right angles to the 'chamber.' However, after six feet the passage narrowed to about six inches. The floor dropped in a series of steps and about six feet ahead the passage met a cross joint. The surface stream water could be heard ahead dropping in a waterfall, almost within touching distance it seemed. We returned with some difficulty to the surface. There seems to be little hope of getting in this way without extensive blasting, and even then the cross joint looked as though it may be too tight. An attempt was made to blast through where the water sinks but again this looks pretty hopeless. The main chance of getting into the system appears to be by digging out another shakehole of which there are plenty close by.
Now we come over to the Braida Garth side of the valley, Scales Moor. There are many small potholes on Scales Moor but only one of any depth - Spectacle Pot. It seems highly likely that several of the others could be pushed to this depth, and possibly into a Scales Moor master cave, so we decided to investigate.
King Pot seemed hopeful since it was already deeper than anything in this area except Spectacle. In May 1965, a tight crawl was pushed leading off at a high level from the chamber at the 'upper' end of the known cave. This soon became too tight but a continuation could be seen ahead. The constriction was blasted by Derek Brandon of Salford R.C.A.T. and access gained to two new chambers. The larger is about ten by twenty feet by eight feet high, and the roof follows a bedding plane. There are several calcite 'eggs' on the floor and short straws decorate the roof.
A lower crawl was pushed also from the same chamber by K. Taylor and J. Rushton. A bulge on the floor stopped progress after about forty feet. Much time was spent with a hammer and chisel attempting to remove this, but there was not enough room to swing a hammer properly. It was decided to blast, but unfortunately the blast caused a roof fall completely blocking the passage. However, from the survey it seems that this lower passage passes below the new chambers, so there is a chance that the blockage can be by-passed by digging in the chambers.