TRIP REPORTS - what have you been down to? > Digging & Exploration Trips in The UK

Five Ways Pot, Dowlass Moss, Ingleborough


We have been digging in Five Ways Pot for quite a while now. All the early work was done to stabilize the long muddy scree slope down what we have called the Tonga Trench (we had named an equally remarkable descending rift in Shep Pot, Leck Fell, the Marianas Trench, so this was the next best name). We have scaffolded and shored nine steps down to the bottom and fixed a diagonal zip-wire along it to enable drag free hauling. All the spoil has been used to build a large imposing wall and tower at the foot of the second leg of the entrance pitch. So great has the quantity removed been that the leg of this pitch has all but been reduced to a single step. The attached photos show Geoff on the two parts of the pitch and then the state of the wall at the end of the dig yesterday. Other snaps show Badlad at the top of Tonga at the hauling stance and the zip-wire engineering, along with shots of JJ, Mick and Duncan on the steps of Tonga.

At the foot of the Tonga Trench is a 5m long low and tight rift crawl into what appears to be the foot of a shaft. Over a metre in diameter, one wall is a teetering heap of mud and cobbles - almost entirely sandstone. Water flows down the Tonga into this space as well as pouring down from above. This is the site of our currents efforts.

I've used up my six snaps - so another post on the way.


Yesterday, Badlad, Mick, Geoff, Duncan and I set to shoring up the cobble wall and clearing the plug in the floor. The water was pouring, intermittently, down a small crack on the left. It kept blocking up and a small lake formed in the approach crawl. The attached snap of Badlad was taken on a dry day; yesterday, he would be lying in the pond, head in the water. The entrance to the shaft is illuminated by his headlight. All that mud in the snap has now been cleared out and zipped up the Tonga Trench. We did what we planned and shored up the cobble wall. I knelt in the approach passage, on the edge of the pond, and passed the drill and tackle to Badlad in the 'burial zone' ahead. All I could see were his legs as he broddled the upper cobbles down with a long plank from below and all I could hear, once the shoring was in place, was the rumble and clatter of cobbles as they crashed into it. It was alarming and brought back memories from my own 'broddle digging' of chokes from below in Bruno Kranski's Passage in Notts 2, there, with Darklord and Joe, we brought down blocks with a scaffold pole - we gave that special little spot the apt name of 'Blood Gulch', on this equally dismaying occasion, Badlad just avoided my fate, so perhaps 'Mud Gulch' is apt.

The job done and more cobbles sent up the Tonga Trench. The aim of the dig is to push the water course (great sound of it crashing below) though it is evident that we have joined another trench (same joint?) that heads back to the surface - possible peculiar little through trip?

A snap of Dave at the top of Tonga.

Digging continues.

With Pinocchio put on hold after the floods, Badlad, Geoff and I returned our attention to Five Ways. With such a small team we could only stash the dig debris at the foot of the Tonga Trench, however, that didn't stop us experiencing a transformation of the dig. It is now looking much more promising.

Yesterday, we cleared all the mud and cobbles that had washed in since our last visit and further scaffolded and shored up the giant cobble hopper above us. We capped out the large flakes beneath us and the way on began to open up.

It is a fascinating place. What we can see in glimpses and traces is a large joint structure. It is now evident that the rift we have opened in the floor cuts back beneath the approach rift we have called Ice Age. It could go all the way back to the foot of the impressive Tonga Trench we have shored up in nine steps. In a crack in the left wall of the Tonga descent, on the penultimate step, Geoff pointed out the distant sound of falling water. The giant cobble hopper above the dig face is on the same joint as the Tonga Trench and, if you imagine the removal of all the cobbles, looks very similar to Tonga - the sandstone cobbles suggesting a way to the surface. The two trenches, if that is what they are, appear to merge in this area.

Yesterday, we left the dig with the initial tiny crack, down which the water drained, as an open rift about 2m deep jammed with loose flakes, gravel and mud - solid limestone on either side appearing to match the width dimensions of the Ice Age approach rift. The Ice Age is well named as it is perishing cold down there with an icy blast blowing from the rift. Chilly though it is, it's looking good.

The attached snaps show Badlad at the start of the day - there is now a substantial hole there. Also, a hint of how muddy it was getting - snap taken at the top of the Tonga Trench. Final snap is of the Tonga Chums warming up on the surface after the struggle with hypothermia below.  ;)



Update on our dig in Five Ways.

Since July's last post we've had a bit of a break from this cave, firstly to return to Pinocchio Pot

(see write ups here

and then we fancied a new dig in the sunshine - more of that one later  ;) ;) ;D

However recently we have had a few trips and very exciting it is too, but also very wet.  Due to the approaching winter weather and things happening elsewhere to distract us we'll be putting this one to bed for a few months.  Here a a couple of short video clips taken on a wet day in the summer to give a flavour of the cave and the way on.

First the pitch

Then the Tonga Trench Steps

The limit so far

We will return - please respect our openness.  Happy days

Thanks for the videos...interesting....hope you make further progress


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