Monday, 26 July 2010

Three Counties Cave System

An article in yesterday's Mail on Sunday about the Three Counties System, in the Yorkshire Dales National Park is also on the Daily Mail website at


Cavers have been exploring the various individual caves in the system for the last 30 years, looking for and making connections.  The system now totals around 70 miles in length.

The new connection links Notts Pot with Lost John's Cave.  During 1985/86 Steve Gough, Ric Halliwell and I spent over 100 hours digging beyond Acrobat Pot in Notts Pot, at a site previously dug and abandoned by Lancaster University in the 70s.  We had occasional help from others, notably Ian Jepson, who is now sadly no longer with us.  We broke through a very unstable boulder and mud choke into a new piece of cave, which Steve and I explored for a couple of hours one Monday, comprising a mud filled hall having an aven with a roof of jammed boulders and some clean washed, narrow stream passage with a few fine formations leading to a flat out bedding plane crawl partially filled with loose cobbles. We named the aven Hangingwater Hall and the passage, Clay Pigeon Inlet (because it had a chute part way along it).  We published our discovery in the CPC journal for that year.  When we returned the week following the break-through, the route into this new stuff had collapsed and despite many weekends of digging, which involved lying in mud in an increasingly smaller space, poking above our heads with a large iron bar, we never got back through.  Our feeling was that this would have been a dry way into Notts II, which had recently been discovered by divers.  This preceded the opening up of a route to Notts II from the surface by about 10 years. This link to Lost John's goes off from at inlet in Notts II.  This is nowhere near our dig but it's very satisfying to see the connections gradually falling into place, even if it has taken more than 20 years to get this far.

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