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Hagg Gill Pot

Hagg Gill Pot - a well-decorated active Yorkshire stream cave

Overview:

A Sunday trip to this rather splendid and well-decorated active stream cave in Langstrothdale, which we last visited in 2003.

6th July 2008

Weather conditions: Intermittent heavy rain for much of the previous day and rain that morning. Before we headed up to the cave, the river Wharfe did not appear to be overly full.

Kit required: Entrance pitch: 15m ladder plus 40m rope for lifelining. Can be descended using SRT, but using a ladder is easiest due to the awkward nature of pitch and possible rub points.

How to find it: From the parking area, walk back towards the packhorse bridge, turning left (uphill) by a wall. Follow this up until you meet the stream passing under the wall, then turn left into the dry valley feature, continuing for about 50m until the lidded concrete-capped entrance is seen. Not always easy to spot, especially when the bracken is high in summer!

Access: In theory one should call at Raisgill Farm for access. At the time we visited, we located what we thought was the correct farm but it appeared to be undergoing renovation and we could not get an answer at the door, nor did we have a telephone number for the farmer. Parking is on a flat grassy area by the river, almost opposite a derelict stone barn on the opposite bank, grid ref. SD895793.

Description:

The lidded entrance shaft opens directly onto a roomy scaffolded climb down of about 3-4 metres that then pinches in to a constriction. It’s best to ladder from the top of the scaffold, NOT the bottom of the scaffold near the constriction. A quick awkward wriggle through the constriction drops you out into a nice free-hang for the rest of the descent, landing in a rift at the bottom. Take care not to damage the ladder – it can jam in the rift at the base of the pitch. Bear this in mind when belaying the last person back up. The pitch can be rigged for SRT but it seems hardly worthwhile for a mere 50', the top third of which is climbed on scaffold anyway.

From the foot of the pitch, heading upstream leads through a well-decorated section of streamway, past a flowstone pillar, and before long emerges into a tall chamber with much flowstone and a fine waterfall. Opposite the waterfall a slightly tricky climb up on flowstone (try to keep to the obvious route used by others to minimise discolouration of the flowstone) soon emerges in a chamber with many long straw stalactites. Take extreme care here to avoid touching or damaging the formations. Reverse your route back to the foot of the entrance pitch.

Downstream from the pitch (looking to the right as you face the ladder) a short easy climb down in the water leads to a couple of large chambers with impressive geology. The route on is upwards through the chambers, then dropping back to floor level. The description in Selected Caves of Great Britain clearly describes how NOT to end up at the sump rather than continuing along the main streamway, which is easily done – still, the sump itself is a worthwhile short detour. Back on the correct route, a low scrot through water under drippy stal pops you out into a slightly more generously-proportioned passage with many fine formations. The crabwalk-style passage continues for a considerable distance, passing a vast number of helictites, stalactites and stalagmites which must be passed with great care to avoid damage. Finally, a flowstone cascade blocks the route ahead and the only way on is to climb up. We chose not to pass this point because of the risk of damage to the flowstone.

Returning along the passage, different vistas are enjoyed and you will certainly spot formations that you didn't notice on the way in.

A very beautiful and worthwhile cave, not suitable for novices due to its fragile nature.


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