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.



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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.


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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.  ;)




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Staff member
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 ;) ;) ;)

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
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After our huge slice of luck in finding Fing Hopeless Pot, the team has returned to Five Ways Pot - with hope in our hearts!

We had cleared all our kit out for the winter - even though we have numerous 'shower curtains' rigged, the dig in the shaft below the parallel aven to the Tonga Trench becomes a sluice in wet weather, and the stream pours constantly in the winter. We have moved back in and the 'noisy neighbour' is, at the moment, quiet. Badlad's videos in the previous posts show what it can be like down there.

When we left the climb down had opened up a rift heading back towards and underneath the densely choked foot of the Tonga Trench. It was too narrow but the draught was incredible - and perishing cold. We were convinced there was a lost subterranean glacier below and named the crawl above Ice Age. ;) We rigged a pulley and dug out the bottom of the climb, opening up a manageable approach to the rift. The debris is becoming an issue as stacking space runs out but with a good chain-gang we can get the 'deads' back up the Tonga Trench to the great leaning towers that now line what was a pitch.

The attached photos of Bones show the climb down and the lower rift after our initial dig (things have since moved on).


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The stacking space at the top of the Tonga Trench has become quite a feature. As has been reported above, we have rigged a zipwire along the Trench to help ferry the buckets up and down. Attached are some snaps of life at the top. The boulder that Badlad appears to be holding up was at one point up in the roof, way out of reach.


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So, to the dig! We have capped along the rift and opened the way to a small criss-cross cluster of cracks - one of these is heading to the right and downwards. At the moment it is dry, when it is wet this carries the stream. It draughts and echoes, Geoff says he can hear water falling / dripping ahead. We have to be wary as we pointlessly capped almost 100m down a narrow rift in Pilgrim Pot - with draught and echoes (they haunt us still!). This downward trajectory pretty much follows the direction and angle of the Tonga Trench above, so we remain optimistic.

Attached photos show the end of the approach rift as it is now and Badlad in the passage to infinity! ;)

It is also a grand ramble over to Dowlass Moss from Cold Cotes - especially in the fine weather we've been having.

We'll keep you posted on progress.




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Yesterday's jaunt over to Five Ways was made up of Tim, Geoff, JJ, Nick, Dave, Chris and your correspondent - the chain gang. The purpose (there is a purpose?! ;)) was to shift all the debris built into the usual mountainous scree slope at the foot of the Tonga Trench after Wednesday's capping trip. This was done in two epic shifts with Geoff, our wall builder, stacking the deads so high up the once mighty pitch it will soon be a tight crawl.

We all went for a look at the end - very promising draught and ever tempting echo. Two metres ahead a widening of the rift is clearly visible at a bend where the passage appears to drop down. I didn't have my camera with me to take snaps but Nick had his phone and should reply to this post with some footage of the end.

The attached snaps were taken of the chain gang perching on the Tonga Steeple! The third snap was taken at the end of the day of Chris and Geoff at the top of the heap. The first pitch is in the gully behind Geoff - if the dig carries on as it is, this too will soon be filled up!




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Further progress was made yesterday with the passage at the front still draughting strongly and reverberating with impressive echoes - that monster pitch can't be far off! ;) We were joined yesterday by our fellow digger from Spain - Alex (Dalton) who took his place in the chain gang and grafted like a well seasoned digger. We had a great day and look forward to seeing him, and Judith and the children, again soon. The attached snaps are of him in the Tonga Trench, at the head of the climb and near the front (behind Dave who was capping in the passage beyond). The final snap is of the team at the end of the day's digging - prior to light refreshments in the Three Horse Shoes.


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Staff member
Now that things are getting more exciting down at the sharp end I've been reviewing a few of my old videos from last summer when we started this dig. We have, of course, been successful at F'ing Hopeless Pot since then, but are now back at Five Ways hoping for more success. The first clip shows what was a fairly miserable way on under a wet cobble choke. There is another video clip of the same place in the fourth post of this thread. That shows it a lot wetter and cleaner.

The second video shows the same place from below, now all dug out to reveal a 5m climb down. It can still be a very wet place especially if you are stationed there hauling the buckets up.

The third video shows the bitter end from a few days ago. A narrow rift 10m long has been capped out to this point (see the other video from 24th May above). There is a good echo ahead which we hope heralds a pitch and something bigger. We'll keep you posted.

Would you dig this?

The same place dug, shored and looking a lot better.

The bitter end - for now. Exciting.


Staff member
....and we're off again! So a good days capping opened up the pitch head shown in the video above. "Make it wheelchair friendly" came the cry. We didn't want to tempt fate by bringing any gear to actually descend the pitch so the day was spent hauling and clearing the monuments of rock to safer places to reside.

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The image shows how it was left for a week - undescended due to commitments elsewhere. Can you believe the restraint. I think that image haunted us for that week as imaginations ran wild. I reckoned about 20m deep and a tad damp in wet conditions.


Staff member
The great day of descent finally came. I was sent to the front with the bolting gear and rope while the others hauled the rest of the rocks from Ice Age to the top of the Tonga Trench. Mick insisted that all was tidied up before the team descended to glory. Not surprisingly there was a good turnout with Mick, Geoff, Frank, JJ, Bones, Dave, Chris all present. Unfortunately Nick and Duncan had to work.

A couple of bolts made a good Y hang for the top and a slide through the slot onto the pitch proper. A bit of gardening was needed to remove the rest of the debris from capping and a few blade-like flakes which were barely attached to the walls. A little ledge big enough for your toes made a good spot for a rebelay. This done I made a quick video before continuing on down which I will upload later. It was a much dryer day and the little stream had all but disappeared but it was clear from the clean washed nature that this could be a pretty wet pitch after some rain. Other dribbles entered leaving little obvious completely dry hangs. A deviation further down completed the job. The 25m rope was just long enough so I guess the pitch was about 18m. The pitch is noteworthy for the clean washed, upstanding blades of rock, so we later agreed to call it Blade Runner.

At the bottom, a duck under headed into a passage carved out in a deep shale bed. Immediately there were four different ways on. A five ways junction in five ways pot indeed!. Being on my own I only really looked down the main route. The stream (dribble as it was) was captured by holes in the floor that were too tight to descend. After only 25m or so I halted at the top of another pitch. It looked like another 20m with a big echo and grand sculpted walls stretching down.

There was still no sign of the others so I returned up the pitch and climbs to where they were still hauling rocks under Mick's instruction. I played down the find, which was clearly going big, while we feasted on a lunch of sausage rolls and custard doughnuts. Then everyone bombed off down to see for themselves. Here are a few of Frank's photos from that day. A couple of vids to follow later.

Geoff below the rebelay

A couple on the shale bed - now called Marmalade Sandwich


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The team of the day back on the surface, Frank taking the shot and Dave gone off for a run.

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