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April 26, 2021, 02:49:50 pm by Badlad | Views: 1949 | Comments: 17

A recent extension has turned this ‘collectors only’ pothole into a great little all-weather SRT trip.  I’m hoping to write up the story of exploration blog style as time allows so here is the first instalment.

Mayday Hole is located on Dowlass Moss, Ingleborough.  Its small streams are thought to drain to Skirwith.  It was first explored in 1971 by the Craven Pothole club and ended after three short pitches.  The third pitch head was said to be so restricted that only one super slim member (Howard Beck) managed to get down it.  If there was a way on at the bottom it was described as either too small or choked.   It is likely that other cavers had been and looked at it over the years and maybe even passed the pitch head too but at some stage the entrance had become blocked by a boulder slumping out of the side of the shakehole.

During a long assault down Long Kin West in 2018 our travelling support groupies spent some time looking at shakeholes in the area and came across Mayday Hole.  Peering behind the blockage at first glance I think they thought it to be a new hole.  However, research soon identified it correctly and the entrance was later opened up.  Roo descended the first two pitches and reported it had potential although the third pitch needed serious work before any normal sized caver could descend. 

Opening up Mayday again in 2018.  More recent work was often in much colder conditions

It wasn’t until late last year that a few of us returned to see the cave for ourselves.  The entrance starts with an awkward little move onto the first pitch of 4m.  Here, Razor Traverse is entered on good ledges to access the more spacious and delightful second pitch of 14m.  A deviation is needed to pull the rope away from a ledge near the bottom.  Around the corner a 2m climb leads to the top of the Ripper, as the third pitch was named by the CPC.  It would need some serious capping but we decided to give that a go and have a proper look at the bottom. 

At this stage it was mostly, Mick, Geoff, Frank, JJ and myself turning up for digging duty.  We bolted up the cave ready for regular traffic and started capping away at the pitch head.  As this was mostly a solo exercise I was installed in capping position while the others investigated the numerous other possibilities on Dowless Moss such as Bridge pot, Loose Pot, Boggarts, Five ways etc, etc. 

The small stream which collects on the bog above the entrance and can get quite boisterous in wet weather although never enough to be any danger, but it tended to splash onto the drill at times.  I had the brilliant idea of digging a short trench on the surface to direct the water into the next shakehole.  With this done I returned to the front only to find the water now crashing out of a small hole in the wall above and landing directly on the capping position.  I had to abandon the job for the day but we were soon back to finish the job.  It took some 70 holes and hundreds of caps to reach the first widening of the pitch head and make the ‘wheelchair access’ size requirement some in the team demand.  Me and Frank were the first to descend though it was still a little awkward.  It was quite bizarre that when we returned to the others we both reported prospects at the bottom very differently…..

The short P1

Razor Traverse

Taste of things to come P2

Capping conditions at the top of the Ripper.

Photo credits go to Frank Pearson.  I’ll try to write the next instalment in a few days.

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