Thrope Edge Pot - Kevin Francis
Since summer last year Vicky Bailey and I have been heading out to Nidderdale (our nearest proper caving area) after work to meet up at various locations around the Goyden system with the Black Sheep Diggers. Our first trip in June was to help enlarge the newly opened Goyden 2 connection, Turf Passage. Then followed a number of trips into Guscott Pot where we helped sink a shaft, now about 3m deep, which is hoped will help link the main Goyden system to New Goyden.
This week we needed a dry location and so Thrope Pot, a non-SRT entrance to New Goyden, was touted and we duly joined up with Chris Fox in the snow at 6.30pm. Having never visited New Goyden Chris took us on a tourist trip around the system. The entrance was a clamber down through a tree down a scaffed shaft to a crawl and further climb where miners shotholes could be clearly seen. A dangle on a handline on a calcite slope led two ways - across a scaffold bar traverse to the inlet we would be digging or a further climb down to the New Goyden streamway. We had a quick look upstream which led to ducks before marching down the grand streamway. We entered the Main Inlet and looked at the sump leading to Frog Pot. There was alot of water flowing out and we helped increase this by dislodging many of the rocks and large branches (it must be a large sump) that had washed through and formed dams in the passage. It also appeared that the corpse of a heron or similar bird had been washed in, which we also persuaded further downstream.
We continued down the spacious passage passed an inlet with a rope which led to Frog Pot, an ongoing lead, and the original blocked entrance. We ignored this and kept following the large stream passge until we reached a point before another sump and climbed up to the left and through a boulder choke. This took us to the Planetarium, a large chamber with domes sculpted out of the ceiling filled with iridescent droplets which was quite unlike anything I'd seen before. We looked at a clean washed climb with water entering that Chris told us wasn't normally there - something to look at another time. We scuttled back to the dig after noting a sand filled inlet on the right hand side of the passage.
The dig is in a stooping size inlet heading east with potential for connection with lead mines or New Goyden downstream sumps. We were mostly removing fist size and larger rocks by either simply throwing them down the passages (a dangerous game for the person furthest from the face - I had a few near misses!) and into the drop below the scaff traverse or by filling a drag tray with the smaller stones and muck and dangling that over the traverse drop until the tray was empty. Our main objective was to widen the passage slightly to make more room for a blasting hose that had been installed the previous week. With Vicky at the face and Chris filling the buckets I spent my time lobbing rocks into the void below me and making the passage I was in slightly deeper and smoother to drag the tray across. I've no idea how much rock we moved as I wasn't counting, but we worked for a couple of hours. The highlight was when a boulder 2ft x 1ft x 1ft was shuffled along the passage and gently coaxed over the edge and to a resting place down the 4m drop below - BOOM!
After a while it was time to turn the water on, so I left the cave and followed the hose to an adjacent field. I buried the intake into the stream and spent quite a bit of time making sure it took maximum flow. I then followed the hose back removing all kinks until I was happy it was taking as much water as it could. I re-entered to find the others leaving. Apparently it had given Vicky quite a shock when the hose started throbbing and spraying water at her! As I had left my balaclava in the dig I popped back in to retrieve it and have a look at the hose - this was the first time I had been to the face. The blaster was kicking out a great deal of water and I found it hard not to start pulling out the rocks it was loosening. Chris started shouting that he was heading out so I kicked and dragged one final load of stones out of the dig and climbed out.
A cold change in the snow ensued before the necessary trip to the pub in Lofthouse for a debrief and play with the survey. Looking forward to next week!
If anyone fancies an evening trip (or weekend for that matter) in Nidderdale give us a shout - digging is on Mondays and Thursdays and more hands are always welcome.